toodleroo OP t1_j3ubp30 wrote

Thank you! I'll append a little warning to your good advice: Amazon doesn't always have the best deal, the fastest shipping, or the best products.

Getting the headlights for this car was actually something of a fiasco, because I bought them first on Amazon. They were "Used – Like New" Dorman headlights, a more premium aftermarket brand. The shipped from Amazon separately, and when the passenger's side headlight arrived, it was completely broken. The guts of the headlight had been busted off under the glass and there was no way to fix it. There was also evidence that someone had tried to fix it, and the previous customer's return slip was still in the box. Amazon never opened it to check the actual condition.

I was in a time crunch and was worried that the other headlight would arrive in similar shape, so I bought a second pair on They were no-name brand, not Dorman, but they were much cheaper and arrived via Fedex in two days. Surprise surprise, when I compared them to the "Dorman" headlights I'd paid a premium for, it was the exact same product right down to the numbers molded into the plastic casing.

So, make sure to look at other websites, which are making efforts to be competitive with Amazon.,, or even ebay.


toodleroo OP t1_j3tfamb wrote

I've futzed around with polishing kits before, but nothing beats the clarity of brand new plastic. I replaced the whole headlamp assembly on both sides. They were very reasonably priced, and included bulbs:

Typically, the newer the car, the more expensive the headlights will be. If her car was 10 years newer, I'd have paid $250 for a pair of headlights.


toodleroo OP t1_j3tekai wrote

I agree, and you're definitely right about the headlights. I didn't go into this in the image comments, but finding the body panels was pretty tough... there is a surprising lack of Highlanders at wrecking yards. Maybe they're still all on the road? So I thought, I'll just get the headlights and that will be good enough. But it was like putting lipstick on a pig; they looked so great that it made the hail damage look that much worse. So I ended up getting a hood and fenders that were less than perfect, but they look a heck of a lot better than what was on the car.


toodleroo OP t1_j3s7wkt wrote

I was fixing something at the office one day, and was switching between a bit and a philips head driver in the cordless drill. My coworker saw me do this and was like, “wow! How did you learn to be so handy?” I said something like “from my parents,” but inside I was thinking that using a drill ain’t rocket science. People just seem to have an aversion to learning how to do new things, which is a shame because it’s easier than ever with the resources available online. What I think is impressive is that my dad was doing the same things 50 years ago without the benefit of youtube.


toodleroo OP t1_j3pxwah wrote

Fairly handy, but I haven't done a project quite like this before. There's really not a lot to it if you've got the basic tools. It's just a matter of noting the order of removal so that you put things back on correctly, and then fiddling a lot with the fit to get it all right. I live fairly close to a lot of salvage yards and enjoy hunting through them. Also having a Toyota dealership close by to replace small broken parts and clips is helpful.


toodleroo OP t1_j3ptc8i wrote

After working on this for a couple of weeks, my mom drove the car to pick up my aunt from the airport. She didn't even recognize it at first and actually started walking towards a different silver SUV at the gate. When she finally realized, she started crying right there on the sidewalk and basically didn't stop the whole way home.

One detail I left out of the image notes: I replaced the driver's seat belt, which had nearly frayed in half.

Edit: she's so excited. She just texted me a picture of the headlight pattern cast on her garage door. She still hasn't noticed I replaced the frayed seat belt.