New Aftermarket vs. Old OEM Headlights Comparison

Working at 1A Auto, I often find myself discussing the differences between OEM vs. Aftermarket auto parts. Today we have a little bit of that, along with an old vs. new part comparison.  It comes to you in the form of 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan “non-quad” headlights.

A neighbor and friend of mine came to me recently after her van failed inspection for having headlights that light cannot possibly pass through.  The inspector planted a big “R” sticker on the windshield and sent her on her way.  Last year, her husband had tried using the headlight polishing magic in a bottle, which did worked temporarily, but as you can see, it was not a long term solution.  This year, the only good option was to toss the sand blasted, yellowed, 12 year old OEM headlights into the trash, and bolt on a fresh new set.

As you can see, the new lights are identical shapes and sizes as the originals, but they also included the leveling bubbles to help you aim the headlights once they are installed.  Fancy right?  Other than that, it was a simple switcharoo. Pull the old ones out, put the new ones in, and finally see the light.   The End.

10 comments to New Aftermarket vs. Old OEM Headlights Comparison

  • Jeff

    I’ve used the 3M headlight polisher kit on a few cars with good results too.

    • Arco777

      Second that, the 3M kit WORKS.

      Though I would expect that some stock headlights are worse than others, like the ones above, and aftermarket replacements would likely be more durable and resistant to hazing/clouding up. Something about the quality of the plastic used.

  • RJAG

    I bought a pair of aftermarkets for my 99 Taurus. Price was half of what the dealer wanted and they work great plus make the vehicle look a lot newer.

  • Sarahfoot1

    Hi, I saw your dodge caravan headlight comparision and need to buy some new ones for my van too. What is Quad vs. Single? What exactly does that mean? Is it 4 lights vs. 1 light? Which one is better? Can you list some pro’s and con’s for each?

    Thanks,
    Sarahfoot1

    • Hi Sarah! You always want to replace your headlights with the same style that you already have on there. If you don’t, the wiring won’t match up properly. So if your van already has quad headlights, you will want the quad style replacements. If your van has the non-quad headlights, then you definitely want non-quad replacement headlights.
      The quad headlights use two headlight bulbs each, where the “non-quad” uses just one. You can see how many bulbs you currently have just by staring through the front of your headlights. I just whipped up a little diagram for you too. “What’s the difference between quad and non-quad headlights?” Hopefully that helps you out!

      • Sarahfoot1

        Thanks Jeremy!
        That helps a lot! I have the non-quad lights but really wanted the quad style. oh well ;(

        Thanks for the diagram it helped a lot too!

        • Hi again Sarah! I’m happy to see that the diagram helped you out! I think that you will find that new non-quad headlights will brighten up your night even more than you expect. When the factory plastic lenses turn yellow, they really prevent a TON of light from shining out the front of your van. It’s amazing to see the difference. The new ones that I installed on a friend’s van were such a massive difference that she wished she had done a long time ago! :)

          • Sarahfoot1

            Hi Jeremy,
            I’m glad to hear it made a big difference on your friends van! Unfortunately, I will have to get by on my old ones for now, until I finish college and find work, since I don’t have enough financial aid to buy new headlights. I’m not in a rush, since I don’t go to any classes at night :)

            But thanks to your help, I know what lights to get when the time comes, and I can finally get rid of those ugly headlights hehe.

            • I can totally relate, as I have been in the same situation before :) If you are willing to put in a little elbow grease, you can try improving your current cloudy headlight lenses temporarily by polishing them with some rubbing compound, or aluminum polish. From my experience, it usually lasts a couple of months, until you need to do it again. Try it in a small area of the lens first to make sure it will work. If it begins to look better, do the whole lens!

              Good luck, and if you try it, feel free to let me know how it works out.
              -Jeremy

  • JamesR

    Your article title is misleading. I thought you were going to compare OEM to aftermarket parts, you being to in the introduction and then move on to a story that has nothing to do with the title. How would the aftermarket headlights compare to OEM if both were new? Is the saying that “you get what you pay for” true for the parts you sell?

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