Best Aftermarket Headlights

Aftermarket headlights are a cost-effective alternative to the OE headlight assemblies when it comes to the replacement of the lights that got damaged. Also, this is a cost-effective alternative to the headlights retrofit and is a great solution for those, who want to make their vehicle’s front fascia different and custom. Yet, when it comes to the selection of a particular headlight assembly, it’s a real challenge to determine, what’s the best headlight assembly brand on the market.

Best Aftermarket Headlight Assembly

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There is a dozen of well-known and recognizable aftermarket headlight brands that are popular in the USA. Like every product, aftermarket lights by these brands have fans and critics of every brand we are going to cover. But it’s fair to say, that in average the products by these brands feature similar quality and easy plug-and-play installation. So when you make a decision on which brand to go with, we recommend relying on your own needs, budget, expectations, and design preference.

The Best aftermarket headlights

The best and the least expensive aftermarket headlights

So, what are the things you will be looking for when selecting the best aftermarket headlights? First, think of the budget and your own expectations. If you want headlights that will look close to what you had on the vehicle from stock, you can find a quality aftermarket headlight set for $100-$150. You can consider such manufacturers as Spyder, Eagle, Depo, Spec-D, etc.

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The best custom headlights: things to look for

If you are seeking for something custom, first think of the design you like. Prices for the custom headlights vary based on the technologies the lights employ. The leaders on the American custom lighting aftermarket are ANZO, Spec-D, Spyder, IPCW and Recon. Here are some things you may be looking for when shopping for the best aftermarket headlight assembly for your truck, car or SUV:

  • LED accents;
  • LED strips;
  • halo rings (LED, CCFL, plasma);
  • projection lenses;
  • compatibility with OE HID (xenon);
  • U-bars;
  • switchback DRL.

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Are aftermarket headlights worth it?

We keep getting many questions like this. And, unfortunately, there is no single answer. Everyone has their own views towards getting the aftermarket headlights on the vehicle. Plus, everything depends on the budget and brand you are about to select.

Besides, if you do not plan to install the headlights by yourself, consider the installation cost and the fact, that you will have to leave your vehicle in a shop for some time. We have collected the list of strengths and weaknesses of the majority of aftermarket headlights. This will help you better understand the specs of aftermarket headlights vs the OE ones.

Pros

Cons

Aftermarket headlights look different from the OE-style ones and add custom look to your car, truck or SUV.Repairs of aftermarket headlights are costly, since the repair parts for them are not sold separately.
The majority of aftermarket lights you will find on Amazon or major automotive stores are SAE DOT approved, which makes them 100% street-legal. Some headlights come without headlight bulbs (high, low beams and turn signals).
Custom headlights feature CCFL or LED halo rings for even more aggressive look. In the majority of the design options, these halo rings can be replaced when needed. Headlights that feature LED strips that work together with turn signals might require additional load resistors for some vehicles.
Aftermarket headlights are available with projector and/or reflector beam pattern. They can be easily adjusted using the adjustment screws.The majority of aftermarket headlights that feature built-in LED strips come with non-replaceable LEDs (when one burns out, it cannot be replaced).
Many custom headlights feature colored or color-changing accents, LED halo rings and other attractive details, that are unavailable with the regular stock headlights.Many aftermarket headlight brands feature poor weather resistance, so it is a good idea to get the headlights sealed once you get your new assemblies from UPS.
Aftermarket lights come with everything needed for installation, including wiring and headlight bulbs. Many aftermarket headlight manufacturers offer 30- or 90-day warranty. As soon as it is due, you cannot get them replaced or fixed if something goes wrong.
Installation of aftermarket lights is plug-and-play. This means that you will not have to cut into the wiring of your vehicle or rewiring. Also, it is easy to install aftermarket headlights, so anyone with basic technical skills can do that. -
Aftermarket lights use CAD technology in order to boost performance and ensure precisely adjusted beam pattern. -

Euro headlights: Things to know

Euro headlights is an affordable way to jazz up the vehicle’s exterior. These headlights usually come without bulbs, yet the housing is different, than the stock. Aftermarket Euro headlights usually take the same bulb size as the original headlights. So if that is the case, you can simply install the OE bulbs into the new Euro headlights. It is not recommended to upgrade aftermarket headlights to HIDs, as xenon bulbs are not likely to focus right in the aftermarket housing.

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Color-changing halo headlights

When it comes to the headlights that not only have different design, but also different color, color-shift headlights by Oracle Lighting are the absolute leaders. This is the most popular aftermarket lighting solution among those, who want their vehicle look different. Color-shift technology allows changing the color to the one you like and back to white not to get a ticket from a police officer. Oracle Lighting features both pre-assembled headlight assemblies with built-in halos, and the halo ring kits that one may want to wire in by themselves.

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A PRO tip. Some aftermarket headlights feature plastic exterior plastic lens, which is more fragile compared to the polycarbonate lenses used by the majority of carmakers. So it is a good idea to think of headlight protection while the assembly is still new. You can have headlight protector film installed prior to the headlight installation to prolong the lifespan of your lights and protect the plastic from damages, chips, scratches and UV fading. Just make sure the film you select is made specifically for headlights protection, otherwise it may negatively influence the output and headlight beam forming.

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The best aftermarket headlight assembly: brand comparison

We have picked 12 most popular brands that offer custom and aftermarket headlights in the USA. Being honest, each of these brands has plenty of good reviews, yet, just like with any other product, there are people who did not like something about aftermarket headlights. So we’ve put together the comparison table of the most popular headlight brands in America to make the headlight selection process easier for you.

BRANDWARRANTYPRICE
Spyder90-day warrantyCHECK PRICE

Spec-D1-year warrantyCHECK PRICE
Oracle1-year warrantyCHECK PRICE
ANZO1-year warrantyCHECK PRICE
IPCW1-year warranty (projector, LED lights);
6-months warranty (Euro/Altezza lighting)
CHECK PRICE
Recon90-day warrantyCHECK PRICE
CG 90-day warrantyCHECK PRICE
Winjet 6 or 12-month warrantyCHECK PRICE
JW Speaker1-year warranty CHECK PRICE
XK Glow2-year warranty CHECK PRICE
Depo1-year warranty CHECK PRICE
Eagle1-year warranty CHECK PRICE

technical writer at Halo HeadlightsSusan is a technical writer with years of experience in technical sphere. Besides, she is a car enthusiast and never loses an opportunity to visit car events and racing. She is anxious about everything that is fast, loud and bright. Now she is a technical writer at HaloHeadlights.com and is glad to share her knowledge in the car lighting spere with the readers. You can ask a question to Susan using the form.


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Reviews, Questions & Answers

  1. Avatar Robby says : Reply

    I’m looking for some after market headlights for my 2011 Toyota 4Runner SR5. What do you have to offer?

    1. Susan Andrews Susan Andrews says : Reply

      Hey Robert,

      I’m afraid the most popular headlight manufacturers, such as Spyder, Anzo, Spec-D, etc. do not have nice aftermarket headlights for your 4Runner. However, it is a good idea to upgrade your factory headlights by adding extra LED/CCFL halos to the OEM assemblies. This way, your lights will be truly custom. Plus, it’s not too hard to do if you have basic technical skills. We’ve got an article about that:
      Aftermarket Halo Rings: Pros & Cons

      If you are not sure how to do that but you wish to experiment with headlights, it’s better to keep your stock lights and gran a pair of OE-style aftermarket lights and install halos in them, then go ahead and install them instead of the stock lights. Even if you do not like what you’ll get, you always have an option to switch to the stocl headlights.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Avatar houston junk car buyer says : Reply

    Thanks for the valuable info! I’m glad that I came across your site

  3. Avatar Peter Drougas says : Reply

    Hi Susan,
    Have you ever heard of a headlight from a company named Axial ? I am looking for a set of custom Headlights for my 2010 silverado 1500 and ran across the Axial name on American Truck site. I noticed your article doesn’t list the Axial brand , and I was wondering if you knew anything about the company.
    Thanks,
    Pete

    1. Susan Andrews Susan Andrews says : Reply

      Hey Pete, I know that Axial is a good brand. They offer a lot of quality products, which are popular among those, who are into off-road. Honestly, this brand is not too popular among car/truck owners, based on my own experience. However, we’ve installed their LEDs on Wrangler (I am talking about those round 8-inch lights with projector LEDs), and the product is quite good in terms of quality, connectors, etc. By the way, many people who have RC also say Axial products. Though I must say, I have never dealt with their headlights for Chevy trucks, so I really cannot comment on them. But overall, I haven’t heard bad reviews on them. Hope this helps!

  4. Avatar Mary says : Reply

    Hey I purchased spec d headlight assembly and it came with everything but I can’t figure out why the halo isn’t working on low beam

    1. Susan Andrews Susan Andrews says : Reply

      Hey there, there may be a couple of things to consider. If you want your halos always on, hook them up to your driving lights. If that’s what you did, and the halos still won’t turn on with your low beams, check out the connector. The metal prongs in the connectors can be slightly bent, enough to cause the lights to not get power. See the picture in the attachment.
      Spec-D headlight connectors: make sure these are not bent

  5. Avatar Dennis Bolay says : Reply

    I have a 1997 Ford Ranger with the original factory headlights. I am not interested in Euro Style, Extra Chrome, Black Lenses, or Color Changing Halo type headlights. I am interested in clear headlamps that maximize light output.

    What do you consider to be my best options?

    Thank you.

    Dennis

    1. Susan Andrews Susan Andrews says : Reply

      Hey Dennis, there are several options I see in this case. The first thing you want to have is a clear lens. Yellowish, faded, scratched plastic exterior lenses steal the light.

      1) Get your stock lights polished. You can do this professionally or by yourself. Sylvania has got a great restoration kit, around $20 on Amazon, here’s the link for you. Note, that it is a must to use that UV polish after you complete the restoration. This way you will ‘seal’ your headlight lens that will prevent from getting yellowish and minimize UV impact. This is a good idea if your reflector is still in good condition.
      2) If you feel, that the reflector is no longer good and you’d rather replace the whole headlight assembly, Dorman is the way to go, as long as you plan using halogen bulbs. By the way, a pair of good halogen bulbs will also be a great upgrade. I will give you the part numbers of Dorman headlights and Philips bulbs and will show where to find them on Amazon, though you can shop for them in any other place.
      So, the part number for the driver side (Dorman) is 1590206, the passenger side is 1590206. By the way, let me give you the OE part numbers for your stock headlights for reference, just in case you need them in your research. Driver side: F37Z13008B, F37Z13007B; passenger side: F37Z13008A, F37Z13007A. As for the bulbs, see Philips or Sylvania, both are great.
      3) If you consider getting brighter bulbs, halogens aren’t the only option. Think of getting an LED conversion kit. Good led bulbs focus right as they have the same length, as the stock halogen bulbs. Yet, they are brighter, last longer and are resistant to moisture, vibration, etc. as they do not have glass elements. Personally I like Hikari LEDs, but you can also check Katana, Akarui. If you decide to go with LEDs, you will also need an additional load resistor, as older vehicles may not recognize LEDs.

      Hope this helps! These are the best ideas that came to my mind.

  6. Avatar Victor Sullivan says : Reply

    Hello Ms. Susan. Just wandering if know anything about the lumen brand automotive light assemblies whether the headlights or taillights. If there quality is equally as good as Anzo or Spyder. Thank you.
    Victor S.

    1. Susan Andrews Susan Andrews says : Reply

      Hey Victor, we installed Lumen headlights, and they are not bad. Quality is equal to Spyder (quality of the plastic, connectors, etc.). As far as I know, carid.com carries the widest assortment of Lumen lighting. This is a budget-friendly aftermarket lighting brand, but, unlike Anzo and Spyder that back up their products with a 1 year/6 months warranty, Lumen has only 30 days warranty. I cannot say that this is bad or something, just want to let you know about this fact.
      Hope this helps!

  7. Avatar Nicholas says : Reply

    What about a 2012 Ford Focus sel 4 door Sedan

    1. Susan Andrews Susan Andrews says : Reply

      Hey Nicholas, there are so many great aftermarket headlights for your Ford. Let me give you a couple of options to consider.

      1. Spyder black projector headlights with parking LEDs, part # PRO-JH-FF12-LED-BK. These are great headlights for the money, available in chrome and black. Unlike similar Spyder headlights part # PRO-YD-FF12-DRL-BK, they do not have that fiber optic DRL, but hey, they are $200 less expensive, look great and are made well. Note, they work only with Focuses that feature factory halogen bulbs, and will not work right if you have HIDs.
      2. Spec-D Tuning Black projector headlights with switchback LEDs. Here is another great option, as long as you like that switchback effect. These headlights are around $250, and are made well, installation is very simple. Pay attention, that you need to activate that switchback LED function. I know, that these particular headlights have a couple of negative reviews on Amazon, but that’s because people did not activate that function and then wrote, that the lights are bad.
      3. If you need nice aftermarket headlights that have fiber optic accents, do not go with Spyder or Spec-D. Anzo part # 121490 is nice, but is overpriced, as for me. CG offers almost the same headlights that are way less expensive and have the same functions (LED fiber accents, projector lenses, etc.). You will need part # 02-AZ-FU12-PBC-P-A. They are unavailable on Amazon, but many aftermarket headlight shops have them, just google by the part number.

      Hope this helps!

  8. Avatar Joshua Jacobsen says : Reply

    Put spec d headlights in 02. Gmc 1500 worked for about. A week driver’s side main bulbs quit working changed bulbs now they are both very done one that side

    1. Susan Andrews Susan Andrews says : Reply

      Hey Joshua,
      Usually the high and low beam bulbs that come along with Spec-D headlights are very dim. We recommend ordering quality Philips or Sylvania bulbs right when you order the headlights and get the new bulbs in right away.

  9. Avatar Jackson Lini says : Reply

    Hi Susan, Which aftermarket manufacturer of front headlight assemblies would you recommend for a 2013 Nissan Altima SL Sedan 2.5 (original owner). My low beams are so dim that often I can’t tell if they are even on. Apparently this is a common problem with this specific model year in which Nissan will take no responsibility. I recently replaced my halogen bulbs with Sylvania SilverStar Ultra with no improvement. Original OEM parts from Nissan are outrageously priced at around $360 EA. Amazon sells sets of left and right units from manufactures Amerilite, Akkon, AMAutoparts in prices from $159 to $203. RockAuto lists TYC for individual unit prices of $99 NSF to $106 CAPA same part #. Is there a difference between NSF and CAPA? A few weeks ago they had Dorman assemblies for $109 each, but currently no longer available. Dorman HL Assemblies are available from AutoZone and others for $159 per unit. I have a automotive repair shop who said they would install my assemblies for $150, other than he said to be careful in what I purchase as some of these aftermarket units are not considered high quality and he recommended OEM parts. Thanks for any feedback or recommendations.

    1. Susan Andrews Susan Andrews says : Reply

      Hey there,
      Here is what I can tell you from my experience. TYC is worse, than Dorman or Replace (I am talking about the materials of the connectors and plastic clips). I know Replace is available with a limited number of suppliers. I know that carid.com carries them.
      Now, let me explain you something about CAPA certification and NSF.

      NSF Certified: When the headlights or other OE-style products are marked NSF-Certifiesd, it means, that they are approved and accredited by NSF International. This is the organization that tests products to make sure they meet their standards of the collision management system. All the products that have this marking meet requirements of the Standard P377, that governs lighting certification of NSF program. Also, products approved by NSF are guaranteed to provide adequate performance, fit properly and function in terms of the warranty they have. All products that have this mark are backed up with limited lifetime warranty.

      CAPA Certified: This is an extra certifiaction that is not required by the laws. Yet, this is the extra certification level that the manufacturers have to pay for, hence the prices for CAPA-certified products are higher. CAPA certification is a guarantee, that an independent testing facility has reviewed, inspected and approved a product in terms of corrosion resistance, fit and quality of materials. More info about their tests can be found at http://www.capacertified.org. CAPA certified parts feature a limited lifetime replacement warranty.

      Overall, these are different kinds of certifications, with one being more costly, than the other. Hence the difference. In the majority of cases the manufacturers send the same products to CAPA and NSF.

      Hope this helps!

  10. Avatar Matt says : Reply

    I am looking for headlight and tail light assemblies for a 2016 RAM 1500 (not factory projector assemblies). I have looked at Spyder and VipMotoZ brands, but I’m not feeling real good about their 30 day warranty. I found them on Amazon. What is the overall best band for my truck, in your opinion?

    1. Susan Andrews Susan Andrews says : Reply

      Hey Matt,
      Spyder is a good brand. If you are concerned about their 30-days warranty, let me tell you something. If the lights are defective, you will realize this once you attempt to install them. If everything works fine right away, most likely they will work for years. So it is a good idea to order the lights once you know, that you are ready to install them right away, as they start calculating those 30 days right after you get the delivery. The main aspects you should pay attention to when you inspect the lights are LEDs. We’ve seen Spyder tail lights and headlights with defective LED connection, so a part of LED won’t work. But you will see these defects right away. What we do not like about aftermarket lights are the incandescent bulbs that come with Spyder lights, so it is a good idea to order bulbs right away. Go with Philips or Sylvania bulbs, they are great. Just make sure you order the right bulb size (it is specified in the description of aftermarket headlights you will be shopping for). Note, that the bulb size Spyder or VipMotoZ lights take differs from the bulb size of your stock lights. VipMotoZ is also a good brand, but it is less popular, compared to Spyder. The other good brands you can check are Anzo (I love their U-Bar headlight design for the RAM 1500), Spec-D, Oracle Lighting (as long as you like those color-shift halo rings or LED strips), Recon (they are more expensive, but have great design options the other manufacturers do not offer).
      Hope this helps!

  11. Avatar Drew says : Reply

    okay, i have a 1995 oldsmobile aurora and i was just wondering where i could find an aftermarket headlight assembly for it, i was looking for a led, clear lens ,but black housing assembly.

  12. Avatar Drew says : Reply

    I have a 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora and I wondering where i could find a custom headlight assembly, because i wanted a led, clear lens, but black housing assembly. thank you

    1. Avatar Susan Andrews says : Reply

      Hey there, I’m afraid the major manufacturers of the aftermarket lights do not offer such custom headlights for the 95 Aurora. If you are looking for a custom solution and have basic tools and technical skills, you could work on a custom project if you wish to.

      • To start, you will need a set of OE headlights (you can grab the used ones from your local junk yard, or shop for OE-style aftermarket lights by Repo, Replace, etc). You can also do this with the lights you have on your vehicle, but if something goes wrong, this may be a problem.
      • Next, remove the clear plastic lens and bulbs and have the inside part of the headlights painted black. Make sure to leave the reflectors non-painted. It is a good idea to pick a spray that is resistant to temperatures.
      • If you wish to do the LED halo rings, you can grab a pair based on the diameter of the factory reflector in the headlights. You can just measure the diameter when the exterior lens is removed. You can also add extra LED strips or accents (you can also buy them on Amazon or in an automotive aftermarket store.
      • If you want to do LEDs for high and/or low beams, pick an LED conversion kit. We like Hikari, Akarui, Nineo. But you are welcome to pick any other brand you like.
      • When the lights are ready, seal the plastic lens back with the black or clear silicone sealant

      Hope this helps!

    2. Avatar Expert says : Reply

      Hey Drew,
      I’m afraid there are no aftemarket lights for the 95 Aurora. However, you may wish to do the custom project.

  13. Avatar David J Kovalski says : Reply

    Hi Susan
    I have a 2005 Silverado 2500 HD WT pick up and I want to replace the original lights, the original ones are old and shot.
    What headlights, running lights tail lights and Brake light on roof would you recommend that would be easy to install.

    1. Susan Andrews Susan Andrews says : Reply

      Hey David,
      Seems like you are planning a great project! In general, aftermarket lights by Spyder, Spec-D and Anzo are the easiest ones to install. The installation is just plug-and play. The only thing you will hve to wire separately are halo rings. However, this is quite simple: you will just wire them directly to the DRLs and you are good to go! Their products are not overpriced, which is another benefit. The only thing that many people are asking about is 30-day warranty (Spyder, Spec-D). You know, if you get a defective set of lights, the defects will show up within a day or 2, so you will have plenty of time to set up a return/exchange. So if you are looking for fair prices, these brands are good to go. If you are ready to pay $80+ more, pay arttention at the IPCW and Morimoto.

      If you are looking for headlights with LED accents that come with the bumper lights and will not break the bank, consider these black halo projector headlights by Spyder (part # PRO-JH-CSIL03-SET-BK – they will work on your truck as long as you do not have body cladding). The price is around $200 for headlights and bumper lights. Note, that the bulb size of these headlights will differ from what you’ve got in your stock lights. These specific lights take H1 (high beam) and H3 (low beam). However, the bulbs that come in the kit are not bright enough, so I recommend getting good light bulbs separately (Sylvania, Philips will work fine).

      If you are looking for inexpensive LED side marker lights, check out Spyder part # ACC-LED-GMD99-SL-C (around $30).

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