Technical / Installation
Articles - Body Interior / Exterior
Cibie Headlight Upgrade
Article written by Dr. Jones
Date Added: 08/01/2010
Jeepers have absolutely no problem justifying spending money on lift kits, lockers, big tires, axle gears, or pretty much anything else they consider a ?performance gain?.
Believe it or not, we at MOABJEEPER Magazine are actually human. I know it's a shock, but I can prove it. We did this install wrong. Yes that's right of all the projects we do here, we messed up a headlight install. Well not all of it - in fact it's one minor (but important) detail. Still we will be the first to admit our mistake just as soon as someone points it out. In this case it was Daniel Stern himself that pointed it out after receiving calls from confused Jeepers wondering why we instructed them to put the rubber boot on the headlight in such an obviously incorrect way. Well we pulled the bulbs out and fixed our little error and figured that this would make as good a time as any to give a long-term update (in final thoughts) on the bulbs along with our corrected installation. Now, back to the article...
Many Jeepers continue to sleep well at night after spending money on high performance off-road lights. But a surprisingly few number of Jeepers out there put any thought, and even less money, into true high performance headlights.
Sure there is the ever popular Sylvania Silverstar upgrade (yup we?ve done that one too). Yes they?re better than the stock headlights ? in the same way that chucking a set of 2? spacers on top of your coils is better than the stock suspension, and how many of you consider a budget boost ?high performance?? We want something more. We want the full long-arm suspension of headlight upgrades. Which is why we called Daniel Stern.
Daniel has devoted his professional career to high performance automotive lighting. He travels the world sharing his knowledge and expertise in the field. Naturally, he was the ideal choice to help us pick the perfect lights for our project.
The Cibie headlights Daniel recommended for our Jeep are a standard size, 7? round light and are a direct replacement for the factory Jeep TJ headlights (Rectangle versions are also available as well as many other sizes). These are headlight housings, not sealed beam units. They use removable H4 bulbs. This way when a bulb burns out, you just need to buy a new bulb not a whole new housing. And you can experiment with a wide range of bulb wattages and manufacturers to find the perfect setup for yourself.
1. Start by removing the bezel around the headlight. You can pick up the right sized torx screwdriver at most parts stores such as Auto Zone.
2. Carefully pull the bezel out of the clips holding it in place.
3. Use the same screwdriver to remove the metal ring holding the headlight in place. Make sure you don?t turn the headlight adjuster screws by mistake.
4. Separate the metal ring from the bulb.
4. Disconnect the headlight socket and remove the headlight.
5. Open the box for the new headlight housings. You?ll notice a rubber ring in the box with the lamps. Hang onto that, we?ll use it in a min.
6. Before installing the new housings, let?s take a minute and look side by side at the new and old bulbs. The pattern in the lens is the most obvious difference, but also notice the clarity of the glass and how much more reflective the inside of the housing is compared to the stock bulbs.
7. Remove the plastic cover from the back of the housing.
8. When handling the H4 bulbs, DO NOT touch the glass! The oils in your hand will cause the bulb to overheat and crack or burn out prematurely.
9. Carefully place the bulb in the back of the housing. It is indexed to only fit one way.
10. Clip the bulb in place with the metal spring clips.
11. Put the metal headlight ring on the new housing. Line up the split in the ring with the bottom of the bulb.
12. (Updated install step) That rubber ring you found earlier is a dust boot for the lights. Slip it over the installed bulb so the outer ring is tight against the bulb housing. Please make sure the word Top is on top. This is very important to keep water out of the bulb housing.
13. (Updated install step) Plug the socket onto the new bulb.
14. Set the headlight in place on the Jeep. It too is indexed to only fit one way.
15. Screw the headlight back in place. Again, don?t turn the adjuster screws.
16. Carefully snap the bezel back into place and screw it in.
17. Half way done. Again look at how much clearer the new light is.
18. Flip the headlights on, and we can see already this is going to be good.
19. Repeat for the other side.
20. Daniel told us a few times that he isn?t a fan of beam shots, or pictures of the light because they simply don?t do them justice. He?s right, they don?t.... So don?t tell him, but we took some pictures anyway.
All the pictures were taken back to back, the same night, in the same spot, with the same camera, set to the same fixed manual exposure. The idea isn?t to show how bright the new lights are, it?s to show the difference between the Cibie high performance lights, and the factory crap lights. Enjoy.
21. Stock lights low beam.
22. Cibie low beam.
23. Stock lights high beam.
24. Cibie high beam.
25. The Cibie lamps have a sharp horizontal cutoff on low beam that flares up to the right. This keeps the light out of oncoming driver?s eyes. Daniel hates that description of these lights saying, ?That describes the dark area, not the light area; and who cares about the dark area.? The beam cutoff is an important safety feature for other drivers, but pay more attention to the light area. Look how much more area the Cibie housings illuminate compared to the stock lights. Instead of two narrow beams and a hot spot, the entire area in front of the Jeep is flooded with even, bright light.
With the stock lights, the high beams are the same inadequate beam pattern lifted up a few degrees higher. The Cibie high beam is a totally different pattern. It?s sharp and focused miles down the road while still providing more flood than the stock high beams. It?s hard to believe both beams come from the same housings.
Not an installation issue by any means, but you probably noticed we?re not plugging these lights into our factory headlight wiring. We?re using an upgraded wiring harness to get the most out of this modification. Take the time and build one yourself. It?s worth it.
Let?s be honest; these lights aren?t cheap. And the H4 bulbs cost as much or more than sealed beam headlights, so you?re not going to save anything there. They are a performance modification like anything else you put on your Jeep. But if your Jeep is a daily driver like this one, you can use this mod every day. That?s more than can be said for your lockers and sweet suspension setup. Also better visibility = safer. The last thing you want to do with your highly modified off-road machine is slam it into a large land mammal crossing the freeway because you couldn?t see it coming.
Legal disclaimer: These lights are E-Code. That means they are approved for use in Europe. They are not DOT approved. They have a sharp low beam cutoff that is much less offensive to oncoming drivers than DOT approved lights. In all honesty, no one else on the road or at your average inspection station is going to be able to tell the difference, but consider yourself informed - and us not responsible.
Well over a year later, and these bulbs are still absolutely amazing. Installing these bulbs was supposed to be the first step in a whole lighting project including windshield and bumper mounted lights. But after a couple night time trail runs with these headlights, we just lost motivation. They put out such a sheer volume of usable light that we simply haven't needed to add any more off-road lights (especially with the 130w bulbs in place!). After a lot of thought, I have finally come up with a negative to these lights. They'll spoil you. Seriously. After just a few months of driving around with these lights, I'm afraid there is no going back. I have absolutely no tolerance for stock hallogens or even the ever-popular Silverstars anymore.