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Thread: 03-06 GMC Sierra Housing & Bulb Upgrades

  1. #1

    Default 03-06 GMC Sierra Housing & Bulb Upgrades

    Hello, I'm (clearly) new to this world and forum, but hoping I might learn a thing or two by being here.

    In the little information I've been able to dig up about my specific truck application, it appears GM's design (or their vendor) was below par, so I'm off to a bad start.

    I have a 2004 GMC Sierra, and I'd like improved performance for remote two lane roads, particularly improving my chances of detecting animals that may be ready to jump into my path.

    I think this is what I've gathered the recipe is from my searching here:

    *Replace the standard Sierra housings I have with GM Denali housings, which I believe are projector housings.
    *Then I believe changing to 9012 & 9011 bulbs would be appropriate?

    Am I on the right track, or is there better options for housings? Regarding housings, are there any better aftermarket options than factory GM? I'm assuming I can find them through GM Parts Direct or similar, but if not I may be stuck with aftermarket.

    If 9012 & 9011's aren't legal or aren't the best selection for this use case, can anyone please suggest what is?

    Does ceramic coating negatively impact housing performance?

    TYIA!

  2. #2
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: 03-06 GMC Sierra Housing & Bulb Upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by fl0w3n View Post
    *Replace the standard Sierra housings I have with GM Denali housings, which I believe are projector housings.
    *Then I believe changing to 9012 & 9011 bulbs would be appropriate?
    Close. The Denali housings take a 9005 in both the high and low beams so that means you can use the 9011 in both!

    The Toshibas are the best bulb available and you can buy them from Daniel Stern for about half the cost of the Toyota branded bulbs.

    For a total plug-n-play upgrade I would suggest getting one pair of Toshibas from Daniel Stern and one pair of Philips as the Toshibas are a smidge larger diameter and don't fit in one of the holes (I don't remember if it was low or high.) I used sand paper around my finger to clearance the hole, but it made it extremely dusty inside the lamp. I spent a lot of time cleaning them out. There is a small chance of ruining your new lamps and I don't think it's worth it for the difference in output.

    The bases DO NOT need to be modified to fit them in the Denali lamps like most other 9005 sockets.

    I was also advised to relay the headlights to reduce voltage drop and keep the low beams on with the high beams. I plan to get a custom harness from Daniel Stern, but I did install this several years ago to keep both lamps on high. The one I bought also tapped the fog lamps, but I have since disabled them to come on with the high beams as having too much foreground light is unwise while driving over 30mph.
    Last edited by -Virgil-; 01-14-2021 at 11:55 AM. Reason: 11

  3. #3

    Default Re: 03-06 GMC Sierra Housing & Bulb Upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Merk View Post
    I used sand paper around my finger to clearance the hole, but it made it extremely dusty inside the lamp.
    That's because you forgot to wet the sandpaper before wrapping it around your finger and knocking down the plastic ridge that was blocking insertion of the bulbs...! :-)

    There is a small chance of ruining your new lamps
    There is really no such chance.

  4. #4

    Default Re: 03-06 GMC Sierra Housing & Bulb Upgrades

    Well that's good to hear!

    I actually already have Phillips 9012's and 9011's in in my regular 04 Sierra housings, so I can reuse the Phillips 9011 and buy another set of 9011's from Daniel Stern.

    Any comment on aftermarket housings or ceramic coating? I'd like to use Cerakote's ceramic for the housing to keep them fresh and not get sun faded.

    Also, for purely aesthetic purpose I might be interested in a slightly darker tinted housing - I imagine that would be frowned upon here because it's going to negatively impact performance? I don't want any of that gimicky LED or Halo things, I just want the Denali housings but with less of a "chrome" shiny look

  5. #5
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: 03-06 GMC Sierra Housing & Bulb Upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by fl0w3n View Post
    Also, for purely aesthetic purpose I might be interested in a slightly darker tinted housing - I imagine that would be frowned upon here because it's going to negatively impact performance?
    There are some examples of factory lamps where the non-functional aluminized surfaces in the lamps have been tinted at the factory, but no, you don't want to tint your headlamp lenses to any degree. And to try to tint those non-functional aluminized surfaces in the lamps means taking the lamps apart and trying to get them back together again, ruining them.

    You've just committed to spending a bunch of money to improve your vehicle's lamps and now you want to tint them so they work less? (Reference to an FB group "I tint my headlights so they work less" in which they drag the owners of cars who tint their headlamps (so they work less!) in absentia. (Although sometimes the vehicle owners think the group is to praise them.)
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 01-15-2021 at 08:39 AM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: 03-06 GMC Sierra Housing & Bulb Upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by fl0w3n View Post
    Any comment on aftermarket housings
    In general they're best avoided, because they are significantly inferior to the genuine parts. However, those lamps were originally made by Guide Lamp, which for many years was a division of GM. GM spun Guide off in the late '90s...and Guide sank like a cannonball. Their technology was so outdated and their production was so inefficient that even GM stopped buying from them, let alone other makers (I can't think of a single project that was sourced through Guide after the GM spinoff). Guide failed quickly, so GM was left in a lurch for replacement lamps. They wound up cutting a deal with Depo (pretty crappy stuff, but maybe not quite as crappy as most of the rest of the aftermarket lamps). There's supposed to be some additional GM-specific quality control for the GM-branded parts sold via the GM parts system, as compared to the ones sold by Depo themselves -- and that fits neatly in with the business model followed by just about all the aftermarket parts suppliers: their best stuff goes to OEMs, second-best claims to get multiple aftermarket quality certifications, third-best claims to get one quality certification, fourth-best makes no claim to have any of them, and so on down the line, in decreasing-price order until you get to unbranded "both sides for $39" territory.

    So your best bet is still to get the GM units left and right.

    or ceramic coating?
    Miracle non-wax car-shine secret guaranteed formulas, and the tall-tale promotional claims used to sell them, have existed almost as long as cars have existed. The specifics of what's claimed (glass, ceramic, urethane, etc) come and go like kids' toy fads.

    I'd like to use Cerakote's ceramic for the housing to keep them fresh and not get sun faded.
    The first thing here doesn't lead to the second thing. On the other hand, it probably won't hurt anything, so if it will make you feel good to apply whatever clear coat-safe car polish to your lamps every now and then, go for it.

    Also, for purely aesthetic purpose I might be interested in a slightly darker tinted housing
    I'm sure you can find such a thing...but only in the nastiest pretend-headlights level of "quality".

  7. #7

    Default Re: 03-06 GMC Sierra Housing & Bulb Upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    There are some examples of factory lamps where the non-functional aluminized surfaces in the lamps have been tinted at the factory, but no, you don't want to tint your headlamp lenses to any degree. And to try to tint those non-functional aluminized surfaces in the lamps means taking the lamps apart and trying to get them back together again, ruining them.
    Can you elaborate on "ruining them"? I assume you mean achieving the same type of seal to the lens and housing as the factory does, or is there more to it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    You've just committed to spending a bunch of money to improve your vehicle's lamps and now you want to tint them so they work less? (Reference to an FB group "I tint my headlights so they work less" in which they drag the owners of cars who tint their headlamps (so they work less!) in absentia. (Although sometimes the vehicle owners think the group is to praise them.)
    Yes. It's a consideration.

    Net result is still an improvement, is it not?

  8. #8

    Default Re: 03-06 GMC Sierra Housing & Bulb Upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    The first thing here doesn't lead to the second thing. On the other hand, it probably won't hurt anything, so if it will make you feel good to apply whatever clear coat-safe car polish to your lamps every now and then, go for it.
    Can you elaborate as to why not?

    Also, thank you for the breakdown on the manufactures and the links, that is helpful.

  9. #9
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: 03-06 GMC Sierra Housing & Bulb Upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by fl0w3n View Post
    Can you elaborate on "ruining them"? I assume you mean achieving the same type of seal to the lens and housing as the factory does, or is there more to it?
    Proper alignment of the external lens to the rest of the lamp, and preserving not only the original seal, but the original venting, is extremely critical. This is something that frequently fails.
    Quote Originally Posted by fl0w3n View Post
    Net result is still an improvement, is it not?
    No, it's not. It'll be worse than ever before. Even very light tinting that you can tell is present on the unlit lamp results in a major loss of seeing distance at night when you are using them. It's basic optics-- tinting reduces output.
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 01-25-2021 at 03:35 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: 03-06 GMC Sierra Housing & Bulb Upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by fl0w3n View Post
    Can you elaborate on "ruining them"?
    There's more info here, but it's not hard to understand: no matter what kind of glue, goop or putty you might use, the odds are sharply against achieving an adequate or durable seal once a headlamp designed and built not to be taken apart, has been taken apart.

    Net result is still an improvement, is it not?
    I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, but it's hard to assume you are asking this question in good faith. Headlamps are life-safety equipment, they are not fashion toys; nobody cares what the lights look like on your truck, and deliberately reducing their performance can only be described as a blockhead move. Playing contrived little games along the lines of "Well, the new headlights are 40% better than the originals, then I took them apart and tinted them bcuz kewl lol and now I guess they're only 15% better than the originals lol but that's still better than the originals so I win lol" is childish. Please be an adult.

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