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Custom Headlights With IPF H4 Bulbs - Bolt-In Brilliance

Posted in How To on July 1, 2002
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Most new 4x4s come factory-equipped with replaceable-bulb headlamps that feature a halogen bulb that simply mounts into the headlamp housing. The main benefit of this system is that when the bulb burns out, you can simply replace the bulb instead of the entire lamp assembly. One of the main reasons why this type of headlamp has become so popular is because auto stylists can make the housing any size or shape they desire, thus enhancing the aesthetics of the vehicle. That's the upside. The downside is that these lamps are subject to the same beam pattern and light output restrictions as standard old-school sealed-beam headlights, and some are even said to waste a tremendous amount of the usable filament luminance on non-reflecting areas inside of the headlamp. In other words, a large amount of the light generated by the bulb is wasted.

If your 4x4 is equipped with standard 7-inch round or large rectangular sealed-beam headlamps, not only will it not suffer from these problems, but its headlighting can be significantly and easily upgraded. ARB USA offers bolt-in IPF replacement H4 headlamps and upgraded halogen bulbs that radically enhance the light output of your headlights. Before we go any further, we must point out that the headlamps we're going to tell you about are E-code (European-specification) rated, and may not be legal for on-road use in your state. It is a matter of state law as to what sort of headlamps you can or cannot install on your vehicle, but the vast majority of states do not specify any particular type of headlamp as long as it emits white light, has an upper and lower beam setting, and is properly aimed. Some states, like Oregon and Washington, specifically permit the use of E-code headlights because of their superiority in the rainy and foggy weather conditions experienced in those areas. Both E-code and DOT headlamps begin with bulbs that produce the same amount of light, but the E-code headlamp focuses the light much more effectively. The E-code pattern is more even, wider, and less offensive to oncoming traffic because of a sharp cutoff across the top of the beam pattern, or "horizontal," in lighting lingo. DOT headlamps are required to produce quite a bit of light above the horizontal, thus in comparison, the E-code lights tend to throw more light on the road, and not back in your eyes via reflection from rain, fog, and snow.

We replaced the halogen sealed-beam headlights in our '97 Wrangler with a pair of IPF H4 headlamps and 55/60-watt IPF Magic Bulbs (the first number designates low-beam wattage, while the second number designates high-beam wattage). The IPF headlamps feature double-coated reflectors and hardened-glass lenses, and this is said to produce more usable light than the original headlights as well as provide extreme durability under high-heat situations. The lens is prism- and column-cut to focus more light onto the ground and produce a right-hand 15-degree rise for a better view of the road shoulder. The bulbs are called Magic Bulbs because of a phosphorescent ring, which produces a showy luminous colored glow after the headlights are switched off. More importantly, the bulbs use a high-pressure exotic gas mixture to produce brilliant white light and intensity comparable to a bulb of higher wattage. Attitude Performance in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, installed the units in less than 15 minutes.

Also available from ARB are IPF high-performance H4 bulbs in 80/110-watt, 90/145-watt, and 100/170-watt configurations. These bulbs require the IPF High Performance Wiring Loom because most factory headlight wiring is only designed to safely handle a 5.5-amp draw, and the more powerful IPF bulbs exceed that. Attitude Performance installed a pair of 90/145-watt bulbs and the High Performance Wiring Loom in less than 45 minutes. With the 55/60-watt bulbs installed in the IPF head-lamps, the lighting was brighter and more defined, and elicited no negative response from other drivers. The 90/145-watt bulbs created a very impressive amount of light output, and ARB USA says that they should not distract other drivers if aimed properly. It is important to remember that automotive bulbs with a higher wattage tend to have a shorter lifespan, but ARB USA offers a complete 1-year replacement warranty on all IPF bulbs.

Following are the basics of this easy and effective installation.

PhotosView Slideshow

Ready, aim, drive!
Before we removed the factory headlamps we made a stop at Manus and Wichman Auto Center in Pecatonica, Illinois, to have our headlamps aimed. We'd been driving around for the past couple of years with unaimed headlamps due to the installation of a suspension lift, and we had raised the ire of many other motorists with our high-beam pattern. Randy Manus at Manus and Wichman used a mechanical aiming device to professionally aim our lights. It is important to do this before installing the E-code lights because they don't have the little "pips" on the surface of the lens that are used for attaching the aimer cup. This means aiming them after installation would require following the four pages of aiming instructions in the DOT manual, or by adjusting them on a dark road until the pattern meets your preference.


Attitude Performance
Arlington Heights, IL
Renton, WA 98057
Manus and Wichman Auto Center
Pecatonica, IL 61063

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