Author Topic: Depo vs OEM headlight assemblies comparison - 2007 WRX  (Read 2030 times)

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Offline rs_two_five

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Depo vs OEM headlight assemblies comparison - 2007 WRX
« on: April 04, 2016, 05:13:03 PM »
Ok, so I'm sure everyone has sometimes wanted to replace their 9-10 year old, probably scratched, rock pitted, yellowing, maybe fogging headlamps.  I know I used to wet sand & polish the headlights to remove the scratching/pitting once or twice a year to remove the Alberta roadway abuse.. well that was getting a little tiresome.  I know my headlights even after a good wet sand/polish would kind of clean up, but they never looked great because some of the hazing problems were happening on the inside of the lenses..

Well I bit the bullet for you guys, and I bought some replacement units on eBay.ca from vendor 1aautomotive found here.  I'll do a complete external/internal difference comparison of the OEM $550/per headlamp vs a 3rd party aftermarket $200/per Depo headlamp.  Essentially all I wanted from the new assemblies were the lenses.. but while I have the two side by side, and opened up I should be able to comment on the quality or differences between the two.  I'll see if there's differences between the internals, and I'll find out if parts can be swapped between the two or I'll find out if I need to start from scratch and re-retrofit the new units. 

Some things to note, I retrofitted my OEM headlamps with FXR 3.0 bi-xenon projectors.  I used OEM STi ballasts and ignitors, so there will be slight changes internally and a few modifications to the housings that I needed to perform, however I did retain the OEM projectors, so I should be able to do a 1 on 1 comparison of the two.  Plus I painted the factory shrouds to blacken them out, which I'm unsure if I'll do it again.

This review probably won't be finished tonight because it'll take some time to open everything up, take pictures, do any modifications and re-assemble.  So please remain patient.  But, here's a few pictures to show the before everything comes apart.  You can already see that the headlight lenses are noticeably yellower and not nearly as transparent (about a month ago I polished the OEM lights).








Offline Jay89

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Re: Depo vs OEM headlight assemblies comparison - 2007 WRX
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2016, 06:22:58 PM »
Very interested to see if there are differences. Been thinking about getting a set for years. Never got around to it, also never really thought about internal differences.

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Offline Stehle

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Re: Depo vs OEM headlight assemblies comparison - 2007 WRX
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2016, 08:29:02 PM »
Out of curiosity, have you ever clear coated your lenses with UV resistant clear coat after sanding in an attempt to make the job last longer?

Looking forward to the review!

Offline rs_two_five

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Re: Depo vs OEM headlight assemblies comparison - 2007 WRX
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2016, 09:19:40 PM »
Out of curiosity, have you ever clear coated your lenses with UV resistant clear coat after sanding in an attempt to make the job last longer?

No I have not, however most of the problem I was having was on the inside of the housing assembly yellowing/discoloring like mad.

Ok, here's my comparison of the exterior:


As far as the two assemblies are concerned, there's almost no obvious difference between the two, the castings are VERY similar.  However there are a few notable differences which I'll attempt to illustrate.  Some might see this as nit picking.. I call it being OCD..  No surprise but most of the hardware is a little different between the two.. Which I wouldn't blame them on because Subaru hardware is EXPENSIVE as all HELL.





1. If you grab any of the mounting tabs.. they seem to flex a little more, or are a little bit more pliable.. Maybe its a difference between the two plastics, maybe the OEM housing has more strengthening fibers mixed into the plastic.. or maybe a 9 year old plastic is becoming brittle.  I don't know.  This also became very apparent while prying the lens off the Depo headlights.. the rear housing mar VERY easily.. where the OEM ones didn't at the same temp.

2. The wiring retainers are a mix of posts with a channel that the wire has to feed through, well, on the OEM headlight the center posts lean towards the gap.. on the Depo assembly that isn't the case, and the wire harness can easily fall out of their retained spots.  If you attempt to bend them inwards they flex SUPER easy which means the wiring will never hold in it's spot.   Does that mean that the aftermarket lights suck.. nope.  Just means the wires might not sit exactly where they need to be.

OEM


Depo


3. Something I noticed was the most outboard corner mounting post on the OEM unit is very heavily reinforced, where the Depo light isn't.  Again is it a deal breaker.. Nope, I doubt it would make any difference what so ever.



4. If you've got keen eyes you might have noticed that the wiring on the Depo light appears to be thicker than OEM.. however they're both using the exact same connectors and bulb sockets.

5. On the Depo casting you can see the companies name embossed into the housing.  On the OEM light, that spot has the SAE information.

OEM:


Depo:


6. Lastly the bumper to headlight mounting bracket is again VERY similar.  However in my unit one of the holes appears to be drilled wrong which could mean that the bumper might sag a wee bit under the headlight.  Both appear to be built using the same material.




Offline rs_two_five

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Re: Depo vs OEM headlight assemblies comparison - 2007 WRX
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2016, 10:59:53 PM »
Ok, here's the interior comparison:

Once you open everything up, again there's similarities, however almost everything is just a little bit different.

The Lens and Chrome shroud are for all intensive purposes identical/interchangeable.  I ended up using the Depo lens with my painted OEM shroud.  Both went together beautifully and there were no issues to report.

If you were planning to do a Retro-Quick bolt up retrofitsource HID system and use these housings, or install STi HID projectors into these.. I'm afraid it won't work.  Theres quite a few differences between the projector mounting points to render the brackets you get from TRS into paper weights.  However with enough effort and time you can make anything happen.  Good news is, you'd have to remove less material to do a FX-R/TSX because the projector hole is significantly larger already.  Here's both projectors side by side:

My hand is holding the factory WRX projector


Here you can see how the Depo projector mounts (there's only 3 screws and one pin):


Here's the OEM WRX cutoff shield resting in place.. unfortunately the lower bolt holes don't have any material to mount something to


Here's both housings side by side.. Obviously the OEM housing has been retrofitted


It appears if you had to, you could swap the OEM internals to the Depot housings.. but you'd have to swap the whole Projector holder assembly as a complete unit.  So, if you've got a retrofit completed, but you broke a headlight assembly mounting tab, you could just swap everything into the new housing.  Only notable reflector that would not swap would be the side turn signal reflector.  That piece is uniquely cut to the Depo housing.

So here's a OEM retrofitted housing, using a Depo Headlight lens.


Offline Jay89

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Re: Depo vs OEM headlight assemblies comparison - 2007 WRX
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2016, 11:14:25 PM »
Perfect! This is great. Will make retrofitting easier.

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Offline kijho

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Re: Depo vs OEM headlight assemblies comparison - 2007 WRX
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2016, 08:09:39 AM »
Awesome write-up man!

Offline rs_two_five

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Re: Depo vs OEM headlight assemblies comparison - 2007 WRX
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2016, 02:18:42 PM »
Thanks Kijho

Here's a little before/after shot.. I'll admit the photo doesn't do the new lenses justice, as the reflections are a PITA to get rid of even with a polarizing filter.  But you can tell just how much more clear the lenses are.

Before:



After:






Offline seat safety switch

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Re: Depo vs OEM headlight assemblies comparison - 2007 WRX
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2016, 09:56:26 PM »
I've bought a bunch of Depo hardware over the years for various cars and always been fairly impressed.

There's cars where the fitment is not quite 100% (especially in cases where there are subtle differences between Japanese- and NA-assembled cars due to different suppliers) and you have to do things like hog out a mounting hole or throw a washer on a mounting stud to keep the light where it should be on the car.

In the general case the quality they provide for the price is remarkable, even more so when you look at the wide variety of cars they offer parts for.

Offline Mustard

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Re: Depo vs OEM headlight assemblies comparison - 2007 WRX
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2016, 01:10:22 AM »
Amazing write-up... all other write-ups should aspire to this :P
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