2017 Toyota Tacoma Custom Headlights

Amber Reflector Mod, Paintwork, Projector Swap, Switchback Halos/Strips

This particular build was interesting since it had been started by the client and handed over to me when he realized he was in over his head.  To his credit, he had done a significant amount of online research resulting in a well-deserved pride in product selection and performance objectives.  But there are a lot of lessons in headlight building / retrofitting that can only be learned via experience and repetition.  Thankfully, he gracefully handed the project over to me before any irreversible mistakes had been made.


Let’s get this build underway and get these puppies apart!


Since this was just a projector swap and not any drilling / trimming / cutting / fabricating, the first step was to get everything painted.  As much as I love my gloss black 2 stage automotive grade paint, the client was insistent that he didn’t want the beautiful depth and shine of basecoat+clearcoat.  Fiiiiine, I guess it’s not going on my car so I’ll oblige.

Disassembly, prep, and paint:


To be completely honest, the satin black came out really cool.  Definitely a different effect than the gloss black.  I still prefer shiny things but I can really appreciate the reduced gloss and see the proper application of this finish being extremely tasteful.

I also tinted the backside of the amber reflectors:


Next came the fantastically straight-forward installation of the Diode Dynamics Switchback DRL Board.  This replaces the OEM DRL board with a white running light and amber turn signal.


I got to try out a second new effect in this build on the halos.  Client wanted his halos to be angry (why no requests for happy cars??) and had attempted to paint them but the paint didn’t stick.  I went the easy and effective route: vinyl.


Once the DRL lights and halos were complete, they could be assembled to the newly painted parts.  That’s some good looking trim there.


Now came time for the projector swap.  The real guts and glory of this install.  This generation Tacoma has some unimpressive halogen projectors that can be relatively easily replaced with the bixenon OEM RX350 projector assembly.  An assembly, once graced with a clear lens swap and appropriate lens tuning service, is one of the top-performing-all-star-projectors on the market.  There are two versions: an AFS and a non-AFS, and the differences between the two aren’t important right now.  The trick here is to make sure that your supplier (I’m lookin at you TRS!!) sends you two of the SAME types of RX350 assemblies.  In case you were curious, here are pictures of the two different styles of RX350 assemblies side by side:


So the old projector assemblies were removed and new ones were installed!  One went in without a fight… the other not so much.  Oh well, such is life.


Did a temporary full assembly without the outer lens for a sexy photo op:


After final assembly, the next step was to clear coat the exterior for added protection against the elements.  They were then wet sanded down to 3000 grit and buffed and polished.  Here’s the 3000 grit sanded version on top and polished on bottom:


Completed project photoshoot!  I even set out some nice fabric to set the mood.  Ooh lah lah, she sure is pretty.


Now let’s go over to the testing bench to do a photoshoot of the switchback DRL+Halo combo lighting in action…


Very cool.  How about a low beam / high beam output shot on the wall?


MUCH EXCITE… I got to install these bad boys on the truck and make sure all the wiring was done properly.  The results were beautiful!  Btw, he’s rocking the Morimoto XB LED fog lights as well.  Good choice!


And that’s the end of this wonderful tale of headlight evolution.  Tune in next time for … well, I’m not sure, but something else pretty cool!!  😀



This website, like your car, is under construction.