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Pros And Cons When Going To LED Headlights In Your Toyota Prius

There seems to be quite the ruckus about swapping over to LED headlights in the Prius group. Here is what I can tell you about my conversion.


There is quite a lot of chatter on the Toyota Prius Owners Club on Facebook when it comes to LED lights. Some say swapping over is just a waste of time and others (like me) who have loved going to a better lighting source.

I want to throw out a few pros and cons that I have noticed when going LED. I will also share with you where I got mine and what I paid for them. I will list out questions I see then follow it up with a Pro for LED lights or Con.

You Do Not Need Projector Housings To Run LED Lights On Prius
While yes, projector-style housings would be even more beneficial, you do not need them to swap over your light bulbs. I recently put in LED lights in my 2005 Prius with standard housings, and the view was incredible. Take a look at the picture below.

second gen 2005 Toyota Prius LED headlight conversion

My crusty old base model Prius, all of a sudden, felt quite a bit more modern. The light was beautiful and sharp, hugging the road and making everything visible for me at night. I live out in the country where there are no street lamps, so having a light that can penetrate the darkness is a total win for me.

Pro number one: You do not need to change your headlight housings to run LED lights.

Swapping To LED Lights Will Just Blind Other Drivers
This one point where I have to agree. Ever since I have made the swap, I have had a very noticeable amount of other drivers signal me to "turn off my high beams." The thing is, they were not on.

The brightness increase is very noticeable. I leave for work early in the morning when it is still rather dark out, and when I come home, it is also dark out. I use my lights quite a lot, which is why I want to be able to see where I am going. The increase in brightness has so far upset more drivers; I think than helped them.

Con number one: You will get other drivers flashing you, and not in a fun way.

LED Lights Do Nothing But Scatter The Light
Yes and no. If you refer back to my 600 dollar 2005 Prius with real LED lights in it, you will see the low beams are just fine. However, the high beams are a little wacky. The power of the high beam reaches farther than you need to see.

The high beam can appear as if the light is scattered when it is not. The lamps are just shooting farther than what you can use, which does make it annoying if you want to use your high beams. I rarely do, and when I do, it is to light up the side of a mountain. That is what the high beam setting is for on mine anyway.

Con two: LED lights do not have very usable high-beams.

You Can Replace The HID Lamps With LED For The Same Effect
Yeah, not true. The HID system on the higher-level package options on Prius uses an entirely different wiring setup than the standard halogen.

2005 second generation Toyota Prius halogen vs LED headlights

While many Prius owners dislike the HID lights and the cost to replace them if they have the dealer do it, the LED option is not, plug, and play. How unfortunate.

Con Three: Can only be used with the standard non-HID setup.

I have listed out my one Pro and three Cons to having LED lights. I will say this as a final remark. I love the LED even if I can only use the low beam setting. The light is so much better and brighter. I feel safer using them on the road at night.

The cons are just things that I have noticed that may bother other people. They do not bother me enough to want to go back to regular halogen lights. If you are curious enough and want to put the same LED bulbs in your Prius as I did with mine, you can get them here on Amazon.

Toyota Prius 9003 H4 LED lights vs halogen

Thank you for reading, see you in the next story, Top Ten Toyota Prius Memes To Give You Some Holiday Cheer

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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting


Bill (not verified)    December 22, 2019 - 5:05PM

From the photo in the article , it looks like there have been advances in reducing the electric heat dissipation of LEDs, The swap-it-for-ordinary-halogen LED kits that were common even six months ago often came with large multiple fin heat sinks or even fans on the back of the lamp assembly. In a lot of cars there isn’t a whole lot of free space right behind then headlamp assembly. It is wise to know what you’re buying and not to opt for whatever is least expensive, though price is not always tied to quality on sketchy import parts.

Depending on how anal retentive vehicle inspections are where you live, you could run into issues with a no-name import LEDs that break the DOT certification of your headlamps. Be wary of parts marked for off road use only.

Finally, just because you can put insanely bright lights in your car, doesn’t necessarily it is a fantastic idea. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been stuck at a red traffic signal in my Honda Insight with a Jeep driver behind me with super bright LED headlamps and fog lights switched on to boot, lighting up the inside of my car like an operating theater.

danwat1234 (not verified)    December 22, 2019 - 6:05PM

I think the quality of LED bulbs various a lot more than HID bulbs. A lot of times the throw of LED bulbs is not as good as HID. Sure, LED saves a bit more power the HID but not that much.

Brad (not verified)    December 23, 2019 - 1:01AM

I have a 08 prius that had HIDs and i put LEDs in. Had to take the whole front clip off and re wire the new lights in. But paying $100 for the set with lifetime warranty and a few hours was more beneficial then replacing the HIDs that kept shutting off!

Bob (not verified)    December 23, 2019 - 9:39AM

I swapped the halogen bulbs out on my Yarsi (shares many components with the Prius). I had to aim my headlights much lower to avoid so many irritated drivers from sending messages to me. Lowering the aim also improved the high beams. LED bulbs do not give the proper light pattern and even then some drivers are going to be bothered, but getting that aim adjusted helps a lot. I sure wish for a better option, but I'm afraid I won't get it until I buy a new vehicle (probably a Prius).

Joe Lydon (not verified)    December 23, 2019 - 10:59AM

They should ban your LED lights. Get a clue. If others are flashing their brights at you it's because your lights are blinding them.

YW55 (not verified)    December 23, 2019 - 1:00PM

Don't be a douchebag and put LED bulb in none projector housing. You'll be blinding everyone on the road. People are flashing their lights at you for a reason.

Jesse (not verified)    October 26, 2021 - 9:17AM

I have a 2013 Prius. My headlight problem is that the passenger headlight got a crack it it and the reflector got oxidized and darkened. Seems the only cure is a new assembly. Any ideas out there?

Ron Brandt (not verified)    November 17, 2021 - 1:30PM

I run led headlight in my prius & they are great. Almost a bight as 35 Watts HID headlights. If you are getting people flashing you at is because your lights are misaimed. I do not have that problem. From your photo the do appear to bed aimed too high. Such high aiming puts the high beam in the trees. Proper aiming puts half the high beam on the road & half above. This puts the hottest part of beam parallel to road. This will give you the best high beam distance viewing. The low beam with automatically fall to where it should & not blind other drivers.

JG (not verified)    March 20, 2022 - 9:43AM

If other drivers are flashing their lights at you, it is because you are blinding them. That is dangerous and SHOULD bother you quite a bit more than it apparently does. Driving with your high beams on is illegal because it is dangerous. It really doesn't matter what position the switch in your car is in, you have rigged your regular lights to function as high beams and are driving around as if that is perfectly fine because blinding other drivers while they are operating heavy machinery doesn't inconvenience you enough. You are going to cause an accident. If you can't or won't adjust the angle on your headlamps to avoid shooting bright light right into the eyes of other drivers, then you SHOULD go back to regular lamps. It is asinine that you seriously think other drivers signaling that your brights are on is only a problem if it bothers YOU. How self-absorbed.

Ronald Brandt (not verified)    March 30, 2022 - 8:51AM

Looking at then bulbs in question they should have produced the correct beam pattern for an H4 bulb in the prius headlight housings. The bulbs you chose are likely not a bright as claimed due to limited cooling. There is every few fins & the fan vents inside the housing. While the fan venting inside the headlight housings has a side benefit of potentially melting snow off the headlights the potentially major drawback could be vastly reduced bulb life if they were truly a bright as claimed. Higher claimed than real brightness is the norm for most LED headlights. The color temperature of the light contributes a lot to the impression of being much brighter than stock. The are brighter but not the full claimed brightness in most cases.

I agree with previous poster that if your are blinding other with your lights you need to aim them better and make sure that lenses are not clouded at all as this will scatter the light. If you don't do this then remove the LED lights because your are blinding others.

The toyota prius headlights respond well to using LEDs if proper aiming is done with a clear clean lense. In that condition they do not blind others.

Ronald L Brandt (not verified)    September 18, 2022 - 4:33AM

In reply to by Ronald Brandt (not verified)

For me I first aim my light against a wall. This gets me in the ball park as to where they need to be. It also let's me observe the beam pattern & check for how much stray light there is. It is important to check these as it is possible in some cases to get bulb positioned wrong or even if correct placement manufacturer may not have proper depth set. I have had this happen many times where bulb was not manufactured with proper depth to get proper beam pattern.

Important to the nature of the beam pattern is the placement & type of LEDs used. Use only bulbs whose chips size & shape mimics the size & shape of the halogen filament. Do not use othe designs as the beam pattern will absolutely not be correct & you will blind people if used in a low beam setting.

Low beam cutoff line should meet the road 60-75 feet in front of car in your lane. With some fixtures there will be a drop as your cutoff meets the oncoming lane. In this case cutoff should meet road in oncoming lane about 30 feet in front of you. Cutoff will continue to rise after it reaches the fog line but at fog line cutoff should meet road no further than 75 feet.

This will give optimal results for both beams for prius H4 headlights & will not blind other drivers assuming clean clear fog free non oxidized lenses. Dirty oxidized lenses scatters the beam blinding others even if otherwise properly aimed.