After much deliberation I decided to try out the aftermarket 991 LED style headlights for the 997.
These lights are available from many sources online around the world. It seems they are all made by the same manufacturer although I cannot verify this 100%.
It appears the primary distributor for these in the US is Spyder Auto, who have unfortunately been rather uncooperative in dealing with the issues described below which were conveyed to them about a month back.
I’m not a fan of using aftermarket parts, except in rare cases. I’ll talk more about this at the end of this post, because I know it is sometimes a contentious point.
There are specific models for vehicles with Halogen lights and some specifically for HID equipped vehicles, and they are available with black and silver internal housings.
You will also find that there is a lot of conflicting information regarding which model years 997 they will fit. If you go by the listings you might assume that these are not compatible with the 997.2. However after reviewing the Porsche PET diagrams it became clear that the units should work with 997.2 fitted with standard headlights (but not bi-xenon optioned vehicles). (note you have to move the HID bulb, motor and control module from your OEM lights into these units.)
I ordered the lights from CarPart4U on Amazon, and I must say I was very impressed with their service and support when it cam to handling the returns of one of the sets. I ordered the Black HID version as shown here.
The parts arrived very well packaged as you can see below.
The lights actually look really good overall, but the quality of the body housing and the sealing mechanism at the rear is not at the same level of quality as OEM, but it is acceptable.
Installation of the OEM parts into the new housing was pretty easy.
Unfortunately on close inspection I noticed some defects in the LED ring as can be seen in the pictures below.
I figured I got a bad set so I ordered a second set which arrived a few days later. Unfortunately that second set had the same issue in the LED ring, and even worse it had some serious defects in the chrome paint/plating on the Lens housings as can be seen in the pics below. I returned this second set back to the supplier. without any issues
At this point I started to look around to see if there were similar reported issues, and if this was due to some fundamental design or assembly flaw.
I've subsequently seen other pics online like the one below which show exactly the same issue on another vehicle.
I really didn’t feel like trying my luck with a 3rd set, and since I like to take things apart I figured I’d try to see what the issue was and how it could be fixed, knowing full well that I would be voiding the warranty and passing the point of no return.
I tested the lights for a few days to ensure the light beam and distribution was good, and the motor function worked fine. The only issue was some condensation build up occurred one night, but I figured that could be resolved also.
Another observation is that I am not sure why the manufacturer chose to make the LED ring with a white backing, as this is not really consistent with the OEM Porsche lights. I have the OEM PDLS LED headlights on my Panamera GTS and the LED ring has more of a silver backing to it. The issue (in my opinion) is that the white backing makes the LED ring really exaggerated against the black housing (probably not as visible with the silver housing version).
Nevertheless, I decided I would take the plunge and pull the units apart.
Using a heat gun to soften the adhesive, I was able to gradually pull the front lenses off. This was NOT an easy process by any means.
Once I got the units open it became very clear what the issue was.
there are a couple of sharp edges in the black housing that holds the LED ring, and those edges cause the white paint on the back of the LED ring to scrape off, presumably during assembly initially and then gradually more and more over time as any harsh motion occurs (whether during shipping, installing, or possibly even over time when driving). It also may be possible that this rings are installed before the paint is 100% cured.
Below you can see the internal housing and affected areas.
The bottom line is that it leaves unsightly issues in areas of the lights which are are visible. Granted, these may not be visible when standing a few yards away, but a product should simply not be made this way, especially if you’re going to put it on a Porsche.
This issue could have been easily avoided by applying some backing tape to the friction areas where the light ring rests. I first attempted to touch up the damaged paint areas, but it was still noticeable through the front of the LED ring.
What I really wanted to do was strip the white paint off the rear of the LED ring and apply completely new paint, but this just wasn’t an option as it would likely damage the finish/surface of the ring. I reached out in parallel to the distributors to see if I could get replacement unpainted rings but they have not been of any assistance at all.
Having come this far I decided on a different route. I had some Porsche GT Silver spray paint left over from a previous project so I decided to do a few tests by spraying some clear plastic to determine how much I could spray the LED rings and still have the LED’s shine through.
Once I got the technique right I went ahead and sprayed the LED rings. (again - point of no return…)
The result was very nice in that the LED rings now blend more nicely with the rest of the housing, and the LED’s still shine through quite nicely. It also helped to make the 4 LED points stand out a little better when compared with the original setup. the downside is that the light in the rest of the ring is a little more subdued, but it is a compromise I can live with, as I didn’t really buy the lights for the LED ring, but rather for the cleaner overall look they would give the front of the car. In my personal opinion the OEM headlight reflectors detract a little from the otherwise clean lines and look of the 911.
The condensation issue also went away after I resealed the lenses onto the units. I guess they were not sealed very well during manufacturing.
I’m still trying to figure out how to source replacement rings so I can try and paint the rear/reflector portion the way it should have been done to begin with. if anyone knows a better contact (distributor or manufacturer) I’d be most appreciated.
(note: Ill try to get some better comparison pics next to the Panamera GTS. The light color is not bad at all, but the LED's have much lower intensity than on the OEM lights. My next project will be to look at upgrading the LED's)
In summary, I think is a real pity that such an avoidable issue exists with these lights. I think if you have the silver housings it may not be noticeable at all (or at least not enough to be a concern), but with the black housings it is a real issue if you want a well finished product. Hopefully the manufacturer or distributor steps up and offers replacement or spare parts. I'd happily pay for new rings that I can paint myself and reinstall.
The lights give a nice clean look to the car and are actually so discreet that many people don't even realize they are different or non-stock (even when displaying my car at the last Caffeine & Exotics show).