Low Lights: Diode Dynamics SS3 Pro Fog Lamps

Diode Dynamics SS3 Pro LED Fog Lamp Kit for Frontier

After upgrading my headlamps, I took advantage of a few holiday sales and decided to upgrade the rest of my front lighting as well. The first area to tackle was the OEM fog lamp location. For the last 6 years, I had a set of Rigid Industries D-Series LED lamps installed (and they are still working 100%), but I wanted to change up the look. After browsing what was currently available in the aftermarket and watching some pretty good YouTube videos, I made my selection and ordered a pair of Diode Dynamics SS3 Pro LED lamps.

Besides the brand’s already excellent reputation, I liked their SS3s for a few specific reasons: the first feature I liked was how Diode Dynamics made it so to get spare parts – it’s as easy as ordering them directly from their website. Second (and what really sold the SS3s for me) is how I can completely change the SS3 into a completely different type of lamp by simply swapping readily-available parts (with the Rigids, this isn’t an option – what you buy is what you are stuck with.) That means that with the Diode Dynamics SS3s, I can easily change not just the lens color, but also the internal reflector type. SAE fog in yellow? SAE/DOT driving in white? Spot? Flood? The answer is yes to all of the above.

My base light kit was their “SS3 LED Fog Light Kit for 2009-2021 Nissan Frontier” which included the vehicle-specific mounting brackets to make them a bolt-in installation for the Frontier. I started with the Pro level lamp kit with a white SAE fog lens but I also ordered some extra yellow lenses – that’s why the pics show the yellow SAE/fog lens installed. Here’s a photo of an OEM Nissan Frontier halogen fog lamp, my previous Rigid Industries D-Series LED lamp, and the new Diode Dynamics SS3 Pro LED Lamp:

Notice how the Diode Dynamics SS3 has a larger lens area compared to the Rigid Industries D-Series. Although it still has a bezel and doesn’t have a lens that fills the entire fog lamp opening like the OEM, I’m pretty sure the SS3s will easily make up for that with a much brighter/more focused light output.

The next photo shows the housing size difference between the SS3 and the D-Series:

The SS3s are clearly smaller and less bulky compared to the D-Series. Also note that the SS3 does not have a built-in harness, whereas on the D-Series the harness is integrated into the lamp itself and is not easily removable. Another comparison pic for reference:

Alrighty then, on with the installation. As I was setting up the SS3s into the included mounting brackets, I was disappointed here as I discovered that the mounting brackets that Diode Dynamics included with the kit were made of… plastic?!?

I’ve seen this bracket style before – it’s a universal bracket design that can fit both Nissan and select Subaru vehicles. That isn’t a big deal; what is notable though is that a $280 set of aftermarket lamps ($580 if I went with the Max version!) comes with a cheap, slightly flexy plastic bracket. In comparison, the brackets that were included with the Rigids (which cost me about the same price back in 2017) are metal. They’re stiff, powder coated, and have zero flex. I tried using the Rigid bracket on the SS3 lamp but alas the mounting points were not the same and it was a no-go.

To add to that, the soft plastic brackets made it difficult to get the angle bolts tightened without the lamp shifting positions. The side mounting points for the lamp to the bracket are an elongated slot – so it’s not just lamp angle that can vary, but also lamp depth and side-to-side direction. On one hand, this seems like a good thing since that means you can adjust the lamp to exactly the right angle for the vehicle. On the other hand, when you’re tightening a metal fastener (like mounting bolts) onto a plastic surface, you have to get the tightness just right; under-tighten it and it won’t take long before the bolt works its way loose, and the lamp will change angle when you hit bumps in the road. Or, over-tighten it and at some point the bolt (and washer underneath it) will dig into the plastic and create a self-centering impression into the plastic mounting tab. When this happens it becomes a pain to adjust the lamp position properly because when you try to tighten the bolt again, it will want to settle into that impression in the plastic. None of the above happened when I installed my previous Rigid Industries lamps because those came with a proper, solid metal mounting bracket. Sure enough, I started having the tightening issue with one of the SS3 brackets. After fiddling with it for a bit, I ended up adding an extra washer on each mounting bolt, and that seemed to do the trick:

One last thing I had to do before installing the lamps onto the truck – I had to do some extra wiring stuff – not a fault of the kit, as my vehicle fog wiring was already modified. With the Rigids, the built-in harness connected to the D-Series lamps reached upward to the center bumper area where I had relocated my fog lamp wiring. However, with the SS3s I had to create a pair of “harness extensions” with one end plugged in behind the bumper and the other end long enough to plug into the rear of the SS3s:

…and now time to pop them into place:

…and here’s the view from the outside – I do like the SS3’s bezel design, it looks much better than the former Rigid’s “square in a round hole” look they had:

So How Are They?
About 5-6 days after I finished typing this, I ended up removing the Diode Dynamics SS3 Pro’s from my bumper… and reinstalled the clear white SAE fog lenses. The 3000k yellow fog light underneath the 6000k white light from my headlamps just looked weird to me during regular, SoCal fog-free evening highway/city driving. Though I’m sure I will gladly swap the yellow lenses back in if ever the conditions require it.

So anyhow as for the results – on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the best) I’d give them a 3.5/5 which is still a good score for those who care. First, the negatives: I have to knock off 0.5 points because these $280 set of premium aftermarket fog lamps come with not a metal – but a plastic bracket. Then I’ll knock off another whole point because of the plastic bracket themselves! To be honest, I have seen plastic brackets with aftermarket OEM-style fog lamps from eBay that are more rigid than these. But more importantly, all plastic brackets (like all plastics) may get brittle over time. My previous Rigid Industries metal brackets are as strong and sturdy as they were the day I installed them over 6 years ago. If these plastic brackets last that long, then I will stand corrected and will gladly change my score.

So, with that out of the way, the good stuff. Minus the plastic bracket issues, I’m still happy with my purchase of the Diode Dynamics SS3 Pro fog light kit. The light output and cut-off are excellent (unfortunately I somehow deleted the batch of photos I took of the light output so I’ll have to do it again someday). The SS3 lamp’s build quality and materials are also excellent. The ability to and ease of being able to swap lenses is a definite positive, something that other brands should take note of. Oh, and of course – the SS3 Pros look really really good…

…so good that I didn’t stop there. I actually bought more lights for my Frontier than just these SS3 Pros… which I’ll reveal in another post =)