Jeeps are some of most popular vehicles for offroad driving. Rugged enough for rough terrain, classy enough for city driving, they can take you anywhere you want to go and then some. But part of the fun of owning a Jeep is what you do with it after you buy it.
And we don’t just mean going on adventures. We’re talking upgrades. The Jeep world is full of aftermarket kits that can help you improve your vehicle’s performance.
Upgrading your Jeep’s headlights is a great place to start. From modern LED headlights to RGB headlights that change color, these aftermarket kits are an easy, DIY way to get a safer, more illuminated ride, and stand out from other Jeeps while you’re at it.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about Jeep LED headlights so you can make an informed decision before you decide which kit to buy.
Jeep LED headlight basics
Why don’t Jeeps come with LED headlights right out of the factory? The short answer is that some of them do: since 2017, at least a few models of the Wrangler and Cherokee have offered LED or HID lighting upgrades.
But if your Jeep was made before then, or if you didn’t spring for lighting upgrades, then chances are you’ve gotten stuck with outdated halogen technology that’s been standard in many vehicle headlights for years.
Don’t worry: there are plenty of aftermarket kits that look just as good, if not better, than the Jeep’s factory standard headlights, and they’ll probably cost you less too. Plus, by upgrading your new LED headlights yourself, you can be more selective about what features you want them to have, such as RGB or Bluetooth technology.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of Jeep LED headlights that you just can’t get with old-school halogen bulbs.
The lifespan of LEDs
First, although LEDs are more expensive up-front, they’re more economical in the long run. They’re made out of light-emitting diodes instead of bulbs, so they aren’t as fragile and can handle bumpy roads and adverse weather conditions without breaking.
This means they require less maintenance and don’t need to be replaced as often. With a lifespan of 50,000 hours, they can run for 10 years or more without burning out. That’s up to 25 times as long as your factory-installed halogen bulbs will last!
Not only that, but they provide better lighting quality using less power. You’ll draw less energy from your battery, extending its lifespan too.
One potential downside to LED lights is that they can be prone to flickering if they aren’t wired properly. This is because your Jeep’s circuits are designed for halogen bulbs, and they don’t have the computing power to regulate how electricity flows to LEDs.
Fortunately, this is easy to address with an anti-flickering system or harness. Most LED kits come with an anti-flicker module that you can install along with your lights.
All you need do is plug it in and it will regulate the signals flowing to and from your LED, mimicking the power draw of a halogen bulb. This is especially important if your vehicle has daytime running lights on the same circuit as your LED headlights.
An anti-flickering system will keep your headlights from flickering, and ensure that your dashboard doesn’t mistakenly give you a bulb failure warning light.
Another technology that’s becoming more and more common with LED vehicle lights is Bluetooth connectivity. This means you can control your lights using a Bluetooth device, such as a smartphone, in addition to your usual dashboard controls.
Do you need to buy LED headlights that have a Bluetooth connection? Not necessarily. If you only plan to use your LED headlights as driving lights, then you don’t really need a Bluetooth device to turn them on and off.
But if you want to install a more memorable lighting unit, such as halo headlights, then it might be worth looking into. Some RGB halo headlights can produce millions of different hues, and cycle through multiple flashing patterns and color schemes.
If you have RGB rock lights or pod lights, then you can sync them all together, and even direct them to flash in time to your music. This option isn’t for everyday driving, but it will really make your Jeep stand out in an offroad environment!
What to look for in Jeep LED headlights
There are hundreds of different aftermarket headlights for the Jeep, many of which vary in terms of design, quality, and extra features.
It’s important to do your research and make sure that the headlights you choose will be a good fit, not just with your model, but with the conditions you’ll be driving in.
Here are just a few things to keep in mind when comparing Jeep LED headlights:
Are they compatible?
The most important thing to consider is whether or not the headlights will be compatible with your vehicle. Some headlights look alike, such as the circular headlights that come standard with the Wrangler TJ and JK, while others look very different.
Even if an aftermarket headlight looks like it will fit in your vehicle, that doesn’t mean it will. Some Jeeps have different housing units and require a separate adaptor.
For example, if you purchase an LED headlight kit with an H4 harness, it will work with the CJ and TJ, but not with the JK and JL. Those models have an H13 plug, so you’ll need to order a different wiring harness in order for it to fit.
Are they durable?
Purchasing high-quality headlights is always a good idea, but it’s especially important if you’ll be driving in rough environments and adverse weather conditions.
Cheap housing units won’t be able to withstand bumpy terrain or rainy weather. Always check the IP rating of your headlights to make sure they’re waterproof and can handle the environments you plan to drive in.
At the same time, consider what climate conditions exist in your region. If you live in an area with lots of ice and snow, keep in mind that LED headlights don’t produce heat, so they won’t melt any ice or snow that sticks to the front of your vehicle.
If you live in a foggy area, look for headlights with built-in fog lights. That will save you from having to purchase additional auxiliary lights to drive in low-visibility conditions.
Are they street legal?
Headlights aren’t a feature that you can easily remove or cover up, the way that you can pod lights or light bars. That means if you’ll be driving to and from an offroad destination on paved roads, you should choose lights that are street legal.
As a general rule, LED headlights that flash or change color aren’t street legal, but there are plenty of Jeep LED headlights that are. These headlights are great for driving late at night on paved roads, or for use as daytime running lights.
How to install Jeep LED headlights
Aftermarket kits are designed for easy installation. Even if you don’t have any previous experience with headlights, you should be able to upgrade your headlights in just a few hours with a few simple tools. While every kit is different, these are the basic steps that you’ll need to follow when replacing or upgrading Jeep LED headlights:
Step 1: Remove the old headlights
First, start by removing the existing headlights from your vehicle. On some Jeeps, you’ll need to remove a bezel or mounting plate first.
Then you can pull out the lights and unplug them from the wiring harness. Clean out the housing unit to remove any dirt or debris before you put the new lights in.
Step 2: Install the replacement headlights
Next, install the new headlights exactly where the old headlights were. If you’ve bought a compatible headlight kit, then you won’t have any issues. You can connect your lights to the wiring harness and they’ll be good to go.
In some cases, you’ll need to attach an adaptor first. For example, some Wrangler lights require an adapter if you install them on the JK, but not on the TJ.
Once you’ve plugged the light in and installed it into the housing, you can reattach the mounting plate and screw it back in.
Step 3: Adjust the new headlights
Finally, test out your headlights and adjust them before you hit the road. You’ll need a driveway or an open space facing a wall or garage door for this step.
Park your Jeep close to the wall and shine your headlights on it. Use tape to mark a T on the wall where the center of each beam hits it.
Then, back your vehicle up 25 feet and see where the beams land now. They should hit the T below the center line, and slight to the right. This ensures that they won’t distract oncoming drivers when you drive on paved roads.
How to choose the right LED lights for your vehicle
That’s pretty much everything you need to know about Jeep LED headlights – but that’s only the beginning of upgrading your Jeep. If you’re planning on taking your Jeep on an offroad trip, you’ll also want to consider pod lights, rock lights, and other auxiliary lights to illuminate areas that your headlights don’t reach.Browse the listings at Inspired Engineering to see what’s available for your vehicle, and give us a call if you have any questions about what’s the best fit for your Jeep!