Done in a Day: Upgrade Older Jeeps With Low-Buck JK Headlights

Low-Buck Jeep Headlight Upgrade

Jay KopycinskiPhotographer, Writer

Seven-inch round headlights have been used on Jeeps for many decades, and during that time lighting technology has advanced. Sealed-beam headlights have been in use since the late 1930s, utilizing a tungsten filament inside a glass bulb with a reflector. Brighter lighting debuted in the 1960s with the use of halogen bulbs. Since then, headlight technology advancements have also included high-intensity discharge (HID) and light-emitting diode (LED) light sources. The aftermarket is full of quality choices for those looking to increase forward illumination.

It’s relatively easy to swap the ’07 to ’18 JK Wrangler factory 7-inch headlights with their replaceable H13 bulb assemblies into a slightly older Wrangler such as a TJ/LJ. The newer reflector design is superior to those found on earlier Jeeps, and used JK headlights are readily available.

One concern when changing to brighter bulbs is the increased electrical current draw. Some replacement lights may draw significantly more current than the original bulbs and overload the factory wiring harness. We found a JK headlight on low or high beam draws about 4 to 6 amps of current, similar to OEM sealed halogen lamps.

Once you have the H13 assemblies in your Jeep, it’s also possible to purchase numerous aftermarket bulb replacements. The major bulb suppliers manufacture bulbs with increased lighting output for more downroad visibility, without an appreciable increase in current draw. However, these bulbs tend to have a shorter lifespan than the standard bulbs. There are also LED and HID bulbs on the market for those looking for a different lighting color or for even more light output.

We picked up a set of used JK Wrangler headlights and a pair of pigtail H13 connectors for less than $50 and completed the swap into our ’06 Wrangler Unlimited in a couple of hours. We’re pleased with the simple improvement and can now easily upgrade the bulbs if we choose. We’re already eyeing the possibilities of putting these same assemblies into a much older Jeep. Stay tuned.

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