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Adjusting your Jeep Wrangler headlights or "I promise, they're on low beam"

Jeep Wrangler headlights, LED or the regular ones, need to adjusted properly. I’ll also throw some recommendations and advice on what headlights to get now that LEDs are not as rare or expensive as they used to be.

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Since it’s the easier subject let’s start with adjustment. Any time you replace a headlight on your Jeep Wrangler and especially when you get new ones or when you install a lift kit/get bigger tires (this is one that a lot of people miss) you need to properly adjust them. Find a flat surface to shine your lights at. Most people can do it on their garage door or side of the house.

You’ll also need to make sure the driveway/parking lot you’re on is flat from the wall all the way back 25 feet. The important thing is to note that when you back up that 25 feet, the Jeep is still on flat, even ground in comparison to the wall. Also, I would recommend doing this project at dusk or even in the dark to see the pattern you need, to able to see not only the beam of light, but also the small adjustment screws on the headlight ring itself.

Adjusting Jeep Headlights

Jeep headlights have two adjustment screws, one at the top to adjust the vertical direction and one on the side to adjust the horizontal direction.

Pull your Jeep as close as possible to the flat surface/garage door and turn your headlights on. Straight across from your headlights, put some painters tape in the shape of a cross (or plus sign or lowercase T) on the wall right in the center of where the beam of light hits the brightest (here is where some of you “frugal” LED headlight owners may have some issues but do your best). They should be the same distance apart from each other as the headlights in your grill are. Now carefully back up those 25 feet we talked about. Be mindful of anything behind you, kids, kid’s bikes, exotic dancers getting off of work, etc.

Now look and see where the center of your beam of light hits in relation to that cross you taped up for each headlight. On low beam, you should be right below that cross. On high beam, dead on that cross: not above it at all. Do your best adjusting those little set screws up or down, left to right and get them in that range.

I am not going to go into detail on how to do it specifically, just letting you know where they should be. Side note, on incandescent headlights the low beam would be just off to one side of the cross, usually the right side. LEDs do not have that filament issue yo be adjusted for.

That's how you adjust them. But let’s talk about headlight themselves. As I drone on about my opinions over and over I’ll point out again that I have had Jeeps for 38 years (not 37 anymore, just had a birthday) and have had all kinds of different lift and tire combinations and I would always adjust my headlights accordingly. Also having had LEDs the last 8 to 10 years I know a thing or two about them as well. (Also see: The 2018 Wrangler Turbo is Jeep's First Hybrid)

Your Jeep's Stock Bulbs

Let’s assume you are not impressed any longer (or ever) with the stock bulbs and you want to upgrade to be able to see better at night. I have upgraded H4 bulbs in the past, my son ran some high end ones for a couple years and they were a great improvement over the stock bulbs. But with the cost and performance of LEDs, I’ll probably always run them from now on. Your old stock headlights always had a “hot-spot” to them. That’s that place that you aligned with the cross from earlier. These new, expensive LEDs ( I have run Truck Lite and Quadratec Stealth LEDs) have somewhat of a hot-spot but more importantly (and beneficial) is the pattern of spread light under that cross that lights up the road and shoulder so the increased brightness is a huge benefit.

Now the other benefit these two suppliers of LEDs have is that they both have a definitive cut-off of light above that cross we talked about. It’s almost dark above the cross when adjusted properly. Sure, the high beams will throw light well above the cross, but your low beam have a VERY distinct cut off of light, making them very easy to adjust and thus, not blind people. (Don't Miss: The 2020 Jeep Wrangler Will Offer All-Electric Driving)

Chinese-made LED Lights

However, recently coming out of China there has been a vast assortment of cheap, multi-projection LED lights, some with halos and some with driving lights built in. I’ll spare you the “Buy in the US” rhetoric but it’s something to keep in mind. The problem with these (and I own a set, they’re currently in my wife’s JK and adjusted WAY down) is they’re in effect “flood” lights. They have a hot-spot but it’s huge, when you aim it at the cross you end up with tons of light above the cross, even on low beam. I could get into the projector part of the lights, why it’s so high, but you can look at the pics I’m uploading with this (rant? diatribe? lecture?) discussion and see exactly what I mean, without the lights being turned on.

The main point could be summed up simply with this; “you get what you pay for” whether it’s headlights, lift kits, hookers or seat covers. In fact I have heard that that same parable is applicable to things other than Jeep parts, but who knows.

Quadratec LEDs

My recommendation; I really like the Quadratec LEDs, have them in two rigs right now. The Truck Lites are also a great headlight but here’s the important part; get a decent brand that has a light delineation on them, not the lights that look like they were designed to light the stage for a Justin B concert. They’re lighting the road for you, showing you where it’s safe to drive and what to avoid while driving. They’re not there to hinder other’s ability to do the same. At a minimum, go check yours tonight and see where they’re at even if they’re not replaced yet.

Truck Lite Options

Side note, Truck Lite and some others have come out with a heated option for their LEDs. I remember when they first came on the market (I had a set…. THOSE were expensive… unless my wife is reading this, then they sent me an evaluation set for free) they talked about how the LED lights did not get hot like incandescent lights so they didn’t melt snow and nothing stuck to them. Now, they have heated lights to eliminate snow build-up? (Also See: 2 Types of Jeep Owners: Those Who Are Jeepers and The Unsung Jeepers)

Driving in The Snow

Think about driving in the snow. Does snow stick to your hood while you drive? No, it’s not warm enough, ut what about the windshield? Yeah, it melts because you have the defrost on so you have to keep wiping it off with the wipers. I’ve never had build up on LEDs in the snow unless you’re talking slush which your going to get an any headlight. Just don’t see the need for heated headlights. To me, it’s fixing a problem that doesn’t exist. Like stamping “DO NOT EAT” on a urinal cake at the adult book store.

Let us know if you have adjusted any headlights on your Jeep or another car. Tell us your tips and opinion in the comments section below. If you liked this article and think it may help your friends, consider sharing or tweeting it to your followers.

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Armin Sachse (not verified)    November 2, 2018 - 6:27PM

we have real issue with lights when it rains and we can no longer see the lines on road. seems like the lights are shining past the area I want to see. the wrangler came with the 18 inch rims. do they set lights for 15 inch when it comes off line?

Jimmie (not verified)    October 7, 2019 - 7:05AM

In reply to by Armin Sachse (not verified)

Stock 17 jku with factory LED lights. Big snow storm from Lansing Michigan headed north. Kept getting harder to see. Could only travel about 25mph on high way. Stopped about 20 miles north for gas. Head lights and fog lights were obscured by 4 inches of snow. Whipped them off and oh my! The light did shine. 15 minutes later in my driveway, the same thing. When they go bad I'm picking up JW Speaker heated LEDs

Jdoc (not verified)    December 17, 2019 - 12:48PM

I disagree with your analysis on driving in the snow with LEDs. I had LED headlights for one winter and every time it was snowing at a good rate (1/2" per hour or more), I would get a very thick layer of snow and ice caked over the entire front of my car, including the headlights. I drive very frequently when it is snowing hard. I switched back to halogens for the next winter, and the headlights would be 100% clear of all snow and ice, while the rest of the front of the car would still be caked. Do not even think about unheated LED lights if you ever plan to drive in snow.

Jason (not verified)    December 27, 2019 - 1:34PM

Two things:
1. I'd recommend adding the model of Wrangler you own to this post. JK/JKUs do NOT have two adjustment screws. Only one for height - there is NO side to side adjustment (the screw off to the side, there is no screw on top). That being said - there is rarely a need to adjust side to side in the JK/JKUs.

2. LEDs definitely freeze over in Colorado snow storms, and our snow is very, very dry. Xenon/HID lights are the way to go in snowy states, especially if you're doing offroading in 2+ feet of fresh POW. Also - most JK's only have one adjustment screw.

Ken (not verified)    July 7, 2021 - 1:32AM

In reply to by Jason (not verified)

Totally agree Jason. I purposely bought halogen fog lights because of snow here in Colorado. I frequent the mountains a lot in the winter time. The only thing that keeps me from having to stop and clear my LED headlights during a good snow storm is the 2 sets of Halogen fog lights that i have. I will admit RainX does help a bit but not like a halogen bulb.

Johnny Wheeler (not verified)    May 9, 2022 - 1:20AM

In reply to by Jason (not verified)

Hello Jason, I thought I would help you out if I could. This video shows the hidden location for the horizontal adjust screw (left-right) which is the second headlight adjustment screw on a JK or JKU. There are 2 screws. Hope this makes your day!