FJ Cruiser Headlight Upgrade HID vs LED

Thinking about upgrading the headlights in your Toyota FJ Cruiser to HID or LED’s? If so this article is for you.

If you are an SUV enthusiast, then you know all about the Toyota FJ Cruiser. It is one of a kind and unfortunately since it is discontinued, it will also be difficult to find.

Toyota stopped manufacturing the FJ Cruiser back in 2014, but fans of the FJ Cruiser still have love for their vehicle. There is even a big market for used FJ Cruiser, and their sales are doing quite well.

Since the FJ Cruiser’s latest model was made back in 2014, it is not the most updated vehicle if left in its original factory state. That is why so many owners opt for upgrading the headlight on their FJ Cruiser.

The question is: HID or LED? If you have been in this dilemma yourself, rest assured you are not alone. By the end of this article, you will have all the information you need to decide whether you want to go the HID route or the LED route.

Why You Should Install New Headlights

Most people upgrade their factory headlights to nicer, looking headlights because they like the look. Although brighter headlights do have a clean look to them, most people forget that headlights have more of a purpose than simply looking nice.

Did you know that nearly half of all car accidents in the United States occur at night?

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), accident rates for pedestrians and cyclists are higher at night than in the day time. Why? This has a lot to do with the fact that the driver did not see these pedestrians or cyclists and that is due to their poor headlights.

Having bright and functional headlights are crucial for both your safety and the safety of those around you, especially if you are driving in the dark.

Are All Headlights Created Equal?

The short answer: No, they are not.

You would think that every single headlight available on the market would have to pass some sort of extensive test to be sold right?

However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested 95 of the best available headlights on the market and they only gave two of them high ratings.

Two of ninety-five! For the headlights available in 2018, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated most of the headlights as being “marginal” or poor.

What is interesting is that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also found that the same car models can come with different systems.

Headlights for Your FJ Cruiser

Having headlights that work well is crucial for driving safety, but it is even more important when it comes to an older car such as the FJ Cruiser.

This is because the factory headlights are not as advanced as the ones out in the market now. Those that want to continue to drive older models have a lot of upkeep to maintain.

This is not to say that you should only buy new vehicles because luckily, a lot of headlights are easy to install. Now that we have covered the importance of headlights, especially in older models, let’s get into what kind of headlights there are available in the market.

There are three types of headlights that are easily accessible; however, each of them comes with their respective pros and cons.

  1. HID Headlights
  2. LED Headlights
  3. Halogen Headlights

For this article, we will only be focusing on HID and LED since they are the most popular and most recommended.

What Does HID Stand For?/What are HID Headlights?

All about HID

  • HID stands for “high-intensity discharge.”
  • Some refer to HID as a “xenon light” because of the gas that the HID bulb contains.
  • Unlike LED and halogen bulbs, HIDs source of light is an electric arc that is in between two tungsten electrodes.
  • Some items that might use HID are street lamps and flood lamps.
  • HID provides a whiter, brighter light compared to halogen lights.
  • HID was first introduced to headlights in the 90s.
  • HID is known for the unique “blue light” that many car enthusiasts, new and old alike, prefer.

HID Headlights

In North America, HID lights were first introduced to the headlight world back in 1991. They first appeared in the BMW 7 series.

BMW is known for its iconic “blue headlights” that many companies wanted to replicate. They are distinguishable and you will notice them in a sea of cars. Luckily, throughout the years, the cost of HID headlights have decreased.

This makes it so they are becoming more accessible, and they are more available within every major manufacturer.

Pros and Cons of HID Headlights


  • HIDs have been around the longest and we know the most about them which means they will be easier to improve.
  • HIDs have a wider selection of colors: from 3,000 K to 30,000 K.
  • HIDs produce light in the infra-red spectrum along with visible light which means if you live in colder climates, then you should consider HID headlights. The infra-red light will not be blurred in colder conditions such as snow and rain.
  • Last about 3x longer than halogen lights.
  • Attractive appearance.


  • Could be dangerous for drivers in front-because HID lights are so bright, they could be blinding to the car driving in front of you.
  • Could be difficult to drive in foggy weather.
  • Expensive to buy: $100-$200 per bulb.
  • Expensive to replace: if the tiny units that control the system fail, they cost around $600 to replace/repair.

What does LED Stand for?/What are LED Headlights?

All About LED

  • LED stands for “light-emitting diode.”
  • LED works by transferring current through a semiconductor which means the electrons in LED generate light, and that is how they can shine so brightly. 
  • LEDs are not only used in headlights. If you look around, you might find that you have a lot of items around your house that use LEDs. For example, your cellphone and laptop.
  • LED lights are also known for their color, this is done by adjusting the material properties of the semiconductor.
  • If you are sold on LED headlights and want to learn more about how it works, please check out this article by How Stuff Works. It goes into impressive details, and it is also quite a fun read.

LED Headlights

Did you know that Lexus was the first manufacturer to include LEDs in their headlights? It started back in 2006; however, it was not a perfect fit right then and there. A year later, in 2007, Audi gave LEDs a try and added it to the headlights in the V10 model of their R8 sports car.

Another fun fact: In their 2013 A8, Audi had a headlight that had 25 individual LEDs per headlight. What this allowed them to do was dim specific sections of the light while the rest were able to stay bright.

So when the driver is driving the car at night, the LED headlights allowed the road in front of the car to remain bright but the areas occupied by oncoming traffic have a dim light shining at them. This provided an overall safer environment for everyone on the road.

Pros and Cons of LED Headlights


  • Energy efficient
  • Low radiated heat
  • Bright illumination
  • Wide variety of color range
  • Long-life/Made to last
  • Directional lighting

One of the best selling points for LED headlights is their expected lifetime. Most manufacturers that create LED headlights stand by their products.

They can guarantee that if you take proper care of your LED headlights, then they can outlast the lifetime of the vehicle you installed them in. Now that’s quite a promise!


  • Costly/Expensive
  • Temperature-sensitive
  • Voltage sensitivity: voltage must be above the threshold and current below the rating
  • LEDs will only light with the correct polarity
  • Could be harmful to insects

How to Install New Headlights on Toyota FJ Cruiser? |The Final Verdict

FJ Cruiser Headlight Upgrade HID vs LED   How to Install New Headlights on Toyota FJ Cruiser? #toyota #FJCruiser #4x4 #suv

Okay, so now you have the full rundown of both HID and LED. If you have already decided what upgrade you want for your FJ Cruiser headlights, then there is only one thing left to do: installing your new headlights!

There are plenty of reasons why you should trust your car in the hands of your mechanic, but changing your headlights is not one of them. This is because installing new headlights is a lot easier than you might think, and it only takes three steps.

  1. Remove your old bulbs
  2. Slide the plastic harness out
  3. Remove the clip that holds the bulb, then remove the headlight completely from the harness.

Yes, it really is that easy and it can be done in three simple steps. If you have around thirty to forty-five minutes of free time on your hand and a willingness to learn, then you can get this project done in no time.

The Toyota FJ Cruiser is a great SUV and even though it is discontinued, it does not mean that you cannot make the most out of your car. If you would like a more in-depth guide, we would recommend this article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Have tried installing LED Light globes on the FJ Cruiser but they bring up Christmas tree lights on my dashboard. obd Reader says might be caused by non generic parts.