The beloved JK version of the Jeep Wrangler was in production for ten years. Being a somewhat primitive vehicle overall, the JK had many shortcomings. One of the biggest ones was its lighting. The factory headlights were as modern as disco ball and as bright, too.
Things got so bad that in 2016 the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety declared the Wrangler to have the worst lights in the industry. Next year Jeep made brighter factory LED lights available. But what about the other thousands of Jeeps out there?
Thankfully there’s aftermarket. Extreme Terrain is one the largest suppliers of Wrangler aftermarket parts. Jeeps are their passion and it shows in the products they sell and in the experienced technical support. I reached out to Extreme Terrain to see if they could help me upgrade the crap factory headlights on my family 2014 Wrangler Sport. Extreme Terrain sent me a pair of the new Raxiom LED Headlights, which are direct replacement for stock 07-18 Wrangler JK headlights.
Presentation is a big part of the product and anyone who has ever got a new Apple product will attest to that. The Raxiom LED Headlights come on a fancy box. Each lights is surrounded in generous amounts of packing foam. There are two wire harnesses supplied with the lights, one for H4 bulbs and one for H13 bulbs, depending on what your Jeep was originally equipped with. There are two sheets of instructions which appear to have clear and high quality pictures.
The light housings, the backs of the one-piece lights, are made of die cast metal. The lenses are made out of clear polycarbonate. They seem very well made to touch, if slightly lighter than they appear – an experience I’ve had with LED lights before. The connectors and wires seem to be of OEM quality and gauge, if not better. From what I see this has all the making of a quick and easy installation.
It cannot be overstated that we are not replacing bulbs here. While H4 and H13 fitment LED light bulbs may exist, installing them into a housing that was designed for halogen bulbs is a bad idea. The emitted light pattern will be completely different, resulting in poor visibility and likely blinding of oncoming drivers. Don’t put LED bulbs into non-projection housings that were designed for halogen bulbs – please and thank you.
The Raxiom LED Headlights are full headlight assemblies. In this case they are one piece, where the illuminating agent is not a separate component. The replacement consist of the removal of factory bulbs, removal of headlight assemblies with buckets, and replacing them with the one-piece Raxiom units.
Raxiom says that these lights will illumine at the color temperature of 6000K (Kelvin). The maker says will results in a cool white color, or roughly the light temperature of bright daylight, a color that our eyes respond to best. Halogen bulbs, for instance, have the color temperature of approximately 3000K, significantly more yellow. Older xenon HID bulbs were on the other end of the spectrum and had a definite blue color to them, which wasn’t good either – these Raxiom LED lights are in between.
In low-beam setting, these lights will put out 2200 Lumens. In high-beam setting the output goes to 3600 Lumens. For comparison, a halogen H4 bulb will have a light output of approximately 1000 Lumens in the low-beam setting and approximately 1600 Lumens in high-beam mode, when new. But the performance of halogen lights degrades significantly over time. In terms of power, the LEDs draw 2.5 amps at 12 volts, which translates into 30 watts for the LED lights, significantly less than the 55 watt each halogen bulb consumes.
More important than the light color and intensity is the light pattern. No matter the color or how bright a light is, it’s useless when it’s not pointed in the proper direction. I will discuss the light pattern of these lights once they are on the Jeep. I will do my best to show the differences between halogen and these LED lights in pictures, which isn’t always easy.
In the next article I will go through the installation process and the evaluation of the light pattern. It is important to note that these lights are DOT compliant for public road use and made to SAE standards. Raxiom gives a two-year warranty on these lights.