UPDATE: Shortly after the below, I undid the replacement. The 3rd party bulbs were much whiter, and seemed to aim higher as I got several “flashers” from oncoming traffic thinking I was using high beams. Dealing with the bulb outages may be dangerous to me, but blinding oncoming traffic is dangerous to others. So, YMMV.
Forgive me, the first part of this post covers some back story. If you just want to see the process, feel free to skip ahead to paragraph 4. Thanks! Please pay special attention to the bolded text, as it’s the main tips I have to offer that weren’t directly covered in other documentation I found.
I own a 2007 Prius Touring Edition, that came with HID headlights. Which, is nice, since they provide a lot of visibility at night. But, around the time I had the car serviced for a CHS (Coolant Heat Storage) water pump service bulletin (TSB-0087-08) my driver’s side light began flickering. Then, it just went out one time. But, upon turning the lights off, then back on, it came back, and didn’t go out again for about a year (odd). Then, it started to do it in ernest, and it’s “friend” joined in (the passenger side started to go out). But, all along, turning off the headlights, then back on, they would both come back on. So, I was a slacker, and waited to call Toyota about it (one time it did it, I stopped by a dealer, and they quoted me $450/bulb!).
Finally, about 3 months ago, it started getting bad. On a given nighttime drive, one or both of the lights would go out at least once (they never went out together at the same time). So, I brought the car into the dealer, and they quoted me $150/bulb, plus $100 in labor. Better, but still $400! So, I called up Toyota Customer Care, and spoke to them. First person said there was nothing they could do, so I asked to be escalated. They took my name and number, and said they’d call back. Which, they did in a couple hours. After some discussion, and another call back, they said they would cover the cost of one of the bulbs (they couldn’t get both to go out at the dealer), but not the labor… so, $100 to do one bulb. I said I could do both myself for $60 ($50 for a pair of bulbs online, and about $10 shipping). They were flabbergasted that it was that cheap. I said “Thanks, but no thanks” and left it at that (with a few choice words about how horrible it was that Toyota was not addressing this issue).
So, I went online, and as per numerous reviews, I ordered some D4R 4300k (4300k is the stock color temperature for the Prius, although I find these 4300k bulbs to be “whiter” than the OEM ones were) bulbs at High Performance Bulbs for $49.99 and less than $10 shipping, and had them here in 5 days (from NJ to OR!). I first tried the “lazy” method (please note, changing the Driver’s side this way is not too difficult. However, the passenger side is extremely tight, and unless you’re rail thin, you will not be able to replace that bulb) of not removing the bumper… it proved fruitless as it’s difficult to know which way to turn the bulb enclosure back, and the space is quite limited. So, I put the new bulbs on the bench and said I’d come back to it in a couple weeks.
So, this last week, while driving for no more than 20 minutes at night, the drivers side bulb went out 5 times. So, I decided to go ahead and do it this weekend. So, yesterday, I did.