A Complete Buyer’s Guide To Aftermarket Headlight Housings For (2014-2021) 2nd Gen Toyota Tundra – Everything You Need To Know Before Buying
When it comes to the most noticeable modifications for the 2nd Gen Tundra, headlight housing replacements have to be near the top of the list. In terms of aesthetics, not much else can change the look of your front-end as well as an aggressive aftermarket headlight. Aside from that though, you can also get better performing light output and an improved driving experience.
In this post, we will dive into everything you need to know about replacing your headlights including, what they are, what features you can opt for, and the best options out there on the market.
Some companies only make headlights for the face-lifted 2nd Gen, but we tried to include a broader range where possible.
What Are Headlight Housings?
Whereas headlight bulbs refer to only the light bulbs that plug into your headlights, the entire housing includes the whole assembly and surrounding plastics. It also refers to the internal pieces of your headlight, including reflectors, light diffusers, and LED DRLs.
We will explain more of these features later on, but the gist of it is that upgrading will mean your Tundra has higher quality and better performing light components than your OEM headlights from the factory.
What Is A Projector?
In your research, you might come across the term “projectors”. But what exactly are they? No, they are not a way to play a movie on your bedroom wall, at least not in this context.
Projector headlights utilize small mirrors and reflectors around the light bulbs that create an extremely tight and focused beam of light. They also utilize magnifiers that increase the brightness of your light bulbs. This style of light is very common on luxury and higher-end vehicles, though they can be a great addition to your truck.
Although extremely bright, they won’t blind oncoming traffic because they are designed to point downwards on the road and not ahead toward other drivers. Headlights that are not projectors, won’t control or focus the light beams as well.
Day Time Running Lights (DRL)
DRLs, short for daytime running lights, are the halos or sections of light that are illuminated on your truck’s headlights at all times. These are the only lights that will be constantly on, even when driving during the day.
While not the most important for performance purposes, they play a significant role in how much you like the look of your headlights. Depending on the headlight you choose, they can be either strips, halos, or circles of LED lights. This is what will give your truck that unique look and allow you to hand-select the style of your Tundra’s front end.
One of the major benefits of replacing your entire headlight housing is the fact that it allows you to select the perfect look for your build. You can select sequential lights, DRLs with halos, amber vs. white lights, and a whole mix of other options.
Being able to select an aggressive and unique headlight will be sure to make your truck catch more eyes.
The next benefit is better light output. In almost every case, your new lights will be LEDs that are much brighter and better performing than your OEM headlights. While you can install LED light bulbs in your OEM housing, using them in a light assembly that is particularly built for it can give you much better results in terms of both output and beam pattern.
Along those same lines, since the headlight housing will be designed around high-performance LED light bulbs, you will get a better beam pattern. This is because the reflectors and lenses are built around an LED platform, so you won’t get any weird gaps in your light output or faded sections of your beam.
Retrofit Vs. Replacement
When considering how to upgrade your headlights, you can opt for a housing replacement or a retrofit. Retrofitting will be much more labor intensive and will include you buying the individual parts (or in a kit) and building your lights into a cheaper stripped-down headlight housing. This option allows for maximum customization as you can select exactly which features you want.
Housing replacement, like the options listed later on this in the post, is more plug-and-play. You receive your headlight, remove the OEM housings, and replace them with the new headlights. You generally should not have to crack open the interior of the housing to work on any lights.
If you are willing to put in the work for the maximum level of customization you get with retrofits, do that. If you prefer a simpler route and like some of the options on the market, skip the hassle and get complete housing. BX Built allows you to get retrofitted lights for your truck without having to do the work yourself.
Photo Cred: @YotaBro
One potential downside to upgrading your headlights is that with poorly built housing, you could get condensation built up inside. If you don’t know what that looks like, it appears like it just rained inside your headlight. This is not only horrible for the assembly but also for your light output. This is why it is important to buy a high-quality unit and avoid having to repurchase it in the future.
While there are some great benefits to enjoy with upgraded headlights, they can often be expensive. I for one was surprised by how much an aftermarket set can cost. While many justify the cost, if you can’t, maybe a headlight bulb replacement is a better route since you can replace just the bulbs for around $100.
If either of these downsides are deal-breakers for you, I would suggest saving your hard-earned cash and spending it on something you know you will appreciate.
Top Headlights For 2nd Gen Tundra
Without further ado, let’s get into the Top 5 options on the market for your 2nd Gen Tundra. The features, style, and light output will be different for each. So, pay attention as these small details can help you come to a decision about which light is ideal for your setup.
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AlphaRex is relatively new on the automotive lighting scene but its stylish, high-quality products are quickly becoming popular. The NOVA-Series LED Projector Headlights for the 2nd Gen Tundra will instantly upgrade your OEM headlights. Its design is based on the 2018+ Tundra TRD headlights.
Their top tier headlight system features four jewel eye projectors, white LED DRLs, side amber reflector lenses, and amber halogen bulbs for turn signals.
When it comes to the housing itself, AlphaRex offers 3 options, but jet black is the most popular. The chrome will give a stock housing look, while the black has a more sporty aesthetic. The jet black contains a glossy finish for a more high-end appearance.
The lens used in this system is made from polycarbonate plastic with an anti-fog agent, ensuring that the headlights perform well in extreme weather conditions. Also, an extra coating protects the lens from oxidation and yellowing.
With a plug-and-play design, installation is pretty straightforward. The Nova series cost about $1000. The Luxx series run around $750. These high-quality headlights may be relatively pricey but are worth the stylish upgrade and better performance.
Note: When installing on TRD Pro Tundra models with stock LED lights, a converter is needed.
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Spyder Auto Signature Series Projector Headlights are designed to be a direct replacement for your OE light housing. Note that they are only compatible with SR and SR5 models. These lights are designed and built by an OEM-approved and ISO-certified manufacturer.
They are reliable and well-constructed. For this particular series, both low and high beams lights are halogen.
Each light housing is equipped with a light bar DRL and comes in one of three color configurations: black, black smoke, and chrome. If you decide to add HID/LED bulbs, note that any warranty you get will be voided.
Installation is completely plug-and-play, and a detailed guide is available on Spyder Auto’s website. Price will depend on the vendor you buy from. Expect to pay somewhere around $450, which is a great bargain if you are just looking for a simple, no-frills headlight housing replacement.
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These high-quality projector headlights are compatible with 2nd Gen Tundra’s running halogen headlights and LED DRLs.
Each housing comes in black and features its patented U-Bar design, low beam projectors, high beam reflectors, fully amber LED signals, and a crystal clear lens.
Installation is a standard plug-and-play and you can check out Anzo Auto’s YouTube page for detailed instructions. Once installed, these lights will be a clear upgrade from your stock headlight housing.
Various options exist for around $600-800.
Featuring a triple projector design with a dual Bi-LED setup, these headlights will significantly upgrade your headlight performance, light output, and beam quality.
The XB Gen II is an updated version of Morimoto’s XB headlights. With this newer design, all three projectors are used in low beam mode.
Morimoto also ups the start-up sequence with this system, designing a two-stage animated sequence for the DRLs that come on whenever you start your Tundra. While this feature may not add much in terms of performance, it will definitely win you some cool points.
There isn’t a separate turn signal bulb for this headlight. Instead, when the turn signal is activated, the DRL light switches to a blinking amber light or a sequential amber light, depending on your preference.
This system comes with a sleek, gloss black housing which is constructed from durable ABS plastic. The polycarbonate lens is UV-coated for extra durability.
Check out the manufacturer’s website for instructions on how to get these set up on your Tundra. It is a plug-and-play design so it shouldn’t be too difficult. For Tundra trims with OEM LED headlights, an adapter harness will be needed for installation.
As for the price, expect to break the bank a bit. These go for $1,489, and an extra $116 for the adapter harness if your truck has OEM LED headlights.
5. Spec-D Tuning
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Spec-D’s C-Bar Projector Headlights will give the front end of your truck a more modern look and provide much better illumination, compared to the stock headlight system. These lights are compatible with 2014+ Tundras and are built by ISO-certified manufacturers that adhere to strict OEM standards.
Each headlight system features:
- An LED DRL C-bar
- One projector producing bright, focused low and high beams
- Amber LED sequential turn signal lights
- Reflex Reflector Parking Lights
- Clear lens
- Chrome, black, or glossy black housing color
They are SAE approved and meet DOT regulations. Its straightforward plug-and-play build makes installation simple. These are the cheapest headlight housing replacement on this list – you can get them for a little over $300. This option is an affordable way to instantly spruce up your truck’s aesthetic and functionality. Just don’t expect the highest quality for the price.
Hopefully, this post has helped you come to some sort of consensus on what to do with your headlights. Replacing the housing can be a great way to improve both aesthetics and performance. Although the price isn’t pretty, it is hard to deny that these lights will make you happier to drive when they perform great and look mean.
If you are looking for maximum quality and the most features in your headlight, Morimoto will likely be the best for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, the lights from Spec-D Tuning are a solid choice. At the end of the day, the choice will come down to your personal preference and budget. However, proceed carefully to make sure you purchase a set you will be stoked about.