Review: DDM CANBUS-Specific HID Kit - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum
 
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post #1 of 21 Old 03-06-2015, 10:16 AM Thread Starter
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Review: DDM CANBUS-Specific HID Kit

The purpose of this post is to inform those who are looking for an HID bulb retrofit for their factory JK housings. The purpose is NOT to argue about the following facts:



1. The reflectors inside your JK light housings were designed to project light from a halogen bulb, not an HID bulb. A typical HID-specific reflector will shine with a distinct cut-off where the light does not go above an oncoming vehicle's hood area. Your JK housing will not have this distinct cut-off, although in my experience in my past vehicles, the JK housings are surprisingly better than most in controlling the light output of an HID bulb. A quick search on this forum will yield similar opinions and photos.

2. You will not literally "blind oncoming drivers,;" however, if you do not adjust your JK housings down a little bit, oncoming drivers may think you have your high beams on.

3. HID lighting is available in different Kelvin numbers such as 4000K and 5500K. Most of this is personal preference. For more info, use Google to search Daniel Stern Lighting to read more about lighting than you ever wanted.



Now that we have that out of the way....

I just wanted to give my initial experience with DDM Tuning's CANBUS-specific kit. Apparently this is a newer release and I had yet to find anyone else do a write-up.

After researching this topic, I found no solid answer on whether or not there was an absolute fix/solution for the "flickering" many JK owners experience when retrofitting HID bulbs to factory housings. Seems some have no problems (many of those seem to be 55w kits), while others can't seem to fix the flickering. When I saw this kit on their site, I thought it might work and at a little over $100 bucks, I figured I'd give it a shot.

Specs are 35W, low-beam-only, 4000K or 5500K choices, and I ordered the H13 bulb kit for my 2014 JK. So, there's no option for a 55W kit and because this is a low-beam only, you lose your high beams (more on this later). I was told a hi-low kit is in the works.

According to DDM Tuning, this kit works with MOST CANBUS-equipped vehicles and eliminates the need to purchase additional adapters/ harnesses. A true plug-and-play. This was a bonus for me, as I do not want to cut, splice or alter my factory lighting harnesses.



Installation: (this is what I did, but you're doing everything I list below at your own risk)

First remove your grill. When you open your hood, you'll see 5(I think) black, plastic plugs running along the top edge of the grill. Use a flat head screwdriver to pop up the center of these plugs and the plug can then be pulled out by hand. Next, as you're standing in front of your Jeep, grab your grill by the vertical slats, near the bottom and pull firmly toward you. This will release the 4 or five metal retaining pressure-fit clips that run along the bottom of the grill. You might notice the bottom corners may not release initially, this is because there is one clip behind each of the orange, circular grill lamps. Grab each corner near the lamps and again, pull firmly toward you. They will release.

Next you're ready to assemble the HID kit:

The kit comes pre-wired as two harnesses:

-Harness #1 is your bulb which has two plugs.

-Harness #2 is your ballast which has three plugs.

After you plug the two plugs on Harness #1 into the two plugs on Harness #2, you'll have one plug left over. This is the plug that plugs into the factory harness that once plugged into your factory bulb.

There was one issue I had however. The 1 plug that plugs into the factory harness comes wired incorrectly and it's an easy fix. You'll see the back of the factory JK plug has 3 wires coming out of it, while the DDM ballast plug only has 2 wires coming out the back (black and white). You'll see the ballast plug, although only has two wires, has three holes. In other words, it has room for three wires. In my kit, the black wire was inserted into the far right hole. This black wire needs to be pulled firmly out of the plug and re-inserted into the middle hole. The white wire gets inserted into the right hole previously occupied by the black wire you just removed. Once you switch these two wires, it plugs into your factory harness and you're done.


Impression:


As of March 1, 2015, when ordering this CANBUS kit, you only have two "color" options; 4000K and 5500K. I called DDM and asked for the kit which most closely matches an LED light bar (which they also sell), because I have a 52" light bar and windshield LED pods. Based on their suggestion, I ordered the 5500K kit. I was told THEIR 4000K kit would appear more "yellow" than an LED light. I'm waiting on my switches to arrive to turn on my LED bar so I can't really say how close they match, but my gut feeling is it might be a bit more blue, which I didn't want. Perhaps the 4000K kit would be a better match. I'll update once I have a better comparison of all the lighting on at night.

Because this kit is only available in a low-beam-only setup, you lose high beam functionality. If you pull the light stalk back to turn on your high beams, the lights turn off. When you release the stalk, they immediately turn back on. Not a HUGE deal for me, as I will have a 52" light bar and two windshield pods for extra lighting. I couldn't think of any scenario where I would need "high beams" where I couldn't just use my light bar or light pods instead. That's what I bought them for anyway.... extra bright lighting.

Anyway, I hope this helps someone in their search for alternatives to the horrible factory lighting. I know it's a cheap kit, but I've found many people using DDM's HID kits without issue. If I have any problems, I'll update this thread.
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post #2 of 21 Old 03-06-2015, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by VaderJK View Post
2. You will not literally "blind oncoming drivers,;" however, if you do not adjust your JK housings down a little bit, oncoming drivers may think you have your high beams on.
You will literally blind oncoming drivers because what you are doing is "glaring" the shit out of them with high intensity, higher lumen light artifacts from an improperly matched set of optics and bulb position. Plain and simple.

I have researched the hell out of this topic and I deal with lighting professionally and in my spare time. So I find it comical when people try to justify the use of a product that is clearly substandard because for the cost it works solely for the person using the product, not taking into account other drivers who may have the following:

Night blindness.
Light Sensitivity.
Corrective vision.
Worked long hours and now have eye strain.

Listen, I know the JK lights suck, but adding drop in HID bulbs just makes it worse.

For reference, here is my projector setup next to the Truck-lite LED's which would outperform your drop in bulbs. There is no substitute for proper design in lighting.



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post #3 of 21 Old 03-06-2015, 10:55 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JKCTAZ View Post
You will literally blind oncoming drivers because what you are doing is "glaring" the shit out of them with high intensity, higher lumen light artifacts from an improperly matched set of optics and bulb position. Plain and simple.

I have researched the hell out of this topic and I deal with lighting professionally and in my spare time. So I find it comical when people try to justify the use of a product that is clearly substandard because for the cost it works solely for the person using the product, not taking into account other drivers who may have the following:

Night blindness.
Light Sensitivity.
Corrective vision.
Worked long hours and now have eye strain.

Listen, I know the JK lights suck, but adding drop in HID bulbs just makes it worse.

For reference, here is my projector setup next to the Truck-lite LED's which would outperform your drop in bulbs. There is no substitute for proper design in lighting.
Did you read the intro to my review? I too have personal experience with lighting and what a coincidence... I too have done a ton of research. I will say this: Of all the vehicles I've owned and MODIFIED heavily, this is the first time I've used "drop-in HID's". Reason being that all my other vehicle's light housings, although had better halogen light output, had horrible scattering when I witnessed other vehicle owners use drop in HIDs. I've seen other JK's with similar kits and I'll say that you are correct in the general statement about glare, blindness, etc, etc..... however, in my PERSONAL OPINION, the JK housings are nowhere near as bad as many other vehicles.

With that being said, I did not expect, and no one else should expect to get JW Speaker, Truck-Lite, custom projector-quality light cutoffs. I'm not going to blame it on the low cost because many people seem to like to throw around their weight because they invested HUNDREDS more on their lights, or swaybar, or mounting bracket, or winch, etc just because they spent more money.

The real reason there's a difference is because the housing wasn't designed for it. Plain and simple, end of story, period.

Now for those who don't feel the need to flex their muscle and brag about their experience and want to use THIS review as another piece of their vast internet research combined with their own personal experience.....

... TAKE IT FOR WHAT IT"S WORTH. In the meantime, I'll have these in my light housings. Hope you don't lose too much sleep bud.
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post #4 of 21 Old 03-06-2015, 11:00 AM
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Just so I understand your statement, you resarched, you know all about lighting, and yet you choose to be a douche driving around glaring people all the time? Got it! The difference between knowledge and wisdom is practical application.

Not worth further debate.

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post #5 of 21 Old 03-06-2015, 11:07 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JKCTAZ View Post
Just so I understand your statement, you resarched, you know all about lighting, and yet you choose to be a douche driving around glaring people all the time? Got it! The difference between knowledge and wisdom is practical application.

Not worth further debate.
I'll say this much without resorting to insults: If I find that I am glaring other drivers, I WILL remove them immediately and I WILLpost my results here for others to use for their own decision making. After all, that's what a review is for and that's what these forums are for. Being that tonight will be the first night with these, you can bet on me having a buddy drive toward me while I drive one of my other vehicles to see this for myself.

And at the end of it all, The difference between you and I will be that only one of us will be able to say they have first hand experience owning and testing this setup using knowledge and practical application.

Good day to you Sir.
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post #6 of 21 Old 03-06-2015, 02:20 PM
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I went with truck lites but i'm definitely curious to see what your friend thinks after your drive by. is your jeep lifted?
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post #7 of 21 Old 03-06-2015, 02:30 PM
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I have a DDM 55w kit and have never been flashed and don't get any more or less rear view mirror flips than I did before I had them. I have driven at and in front of my Jeep and they are no worse than any other lifted truck with projectors or HIDs from the factory that I've experienced. Doc's lighting shootout results counter what JKCTAZ is saying.

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post #8 of 21 Old 03-06-2015, 05:53 PM
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I have a DDM 55w kit and have never been flashed and don't get any more or less rear view mirror flips than I did before I had them. I have driven at and in front of my Jeep and they are no worse than any other lifted truck with projectors or HIDs from the factory that I've experienced. Doc's lighting shootout results counter what JKCTAZ is saying.
Doc didn't factor in real world glare, just light levels at different places within the beam spread. Not above or outside that spread. You may have also adjusted your lights down to a level that may be negating any real advantage of higher output, or, you have really tolerant drivers. All I know is every time I end up in front of a JK with HID drop in lights, I want to wear sunglasses. I'm happy that they are working for you guys, but I still think using HID in a reflector assembly is irresponsible and thoughtless when it has been proven that they are not the best solution.

Someone else on here said it best, "You'll spend 38k on a Jeep, 5k on a lift, 3k on wheels and tires, and only spend 50 bucks on shitty headlights."

Spend the three bills for some properly designed LED's and move on.

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post #9 of 21 Old 03-07-2015, 07:40 AM
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As someone with light sensitivity and corrected vision, Shame on this idea. not even my night shades keep me from being blinded by this type of stuff.


Now that thats out of the way, keep in mind that there are laws regarding headlight modification and the little "hazard to on-coming traffic do to high light output"

i know that atleast in my area, you CANNOT drop HID lights in a vehicle that was not made for them.....

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post #10 of 21 Old 03-07-2015, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by LoneJK View Post
As someone with light sensitivity and corrected vision, Shame on this idea. not even my night shades keep me from being blinded by this type of stuff.
Same here. I hate dealing with light setups from drivers like the OP.

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post #11 of 21 Old 03-07-2015, 06:11 PM
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I too ran a set of ddm drop in lights when I first wanted to upgrade. Hid was what was recommended to me and I work alot of night shifts so better lighting was imperative. At first I thought it was great and yes, I could actually see a whole lot better. But after getting flashed a few times and my coworkers commenting on how obnoxious my lights were I decided they had to come out. I now run a set of j.w. speakers and couldn't be happier. Great lighting where I need it with a definitive cutoff. And the best part- nobody is blinded by my lights. Unless your being a jackass, that's what my light bar and back up lights are for.
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post #12 of 21 Old 03-07-2015, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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Well tonight was my second night with these. Night one, I instantly had to adjust the headlamps down a bit. Of course, it makes every area your stockers shined, much brighter. I played with the adjustments on these quite a bit.

If you don't adjust them down, it will be like driving around with your brights on and obviously that's not good for vehicles you're following or oncoming vehicles.

The difficult part is that it is tempting to NOT adjust these down because of how bright you can shine down the road. Not a problem if you never encounter another vehicle. Unfortunately, you'll be "blinding" everyone if you don't exercise self control and I think THIS is the main problem with this setup. Most people probably drop them in and experience how they light everything up and, selfishly, don't adjust them. With an HID specific housing or LED (both generally have an incorporated cutoff), it takes much of the work out of it.

So, to say that if you run this setup you are being a douche or irresponsible, or causing global warming or the death of a million baby seals, it is a little unfair because setup makes the difference. It is possible to turn your headlights down so far that you aren't seeing an advantage at all and oncoming cars won't be any more "blinded" than they were by your stock headlamps. In this case, you'll have a VERY bright white area right in front of your Jeep. I'll go even further to say that in this case, your pupils will be so constricted by the brightness that anything out in front of you will seem darker... a disadvantage over stock bulbs.

The whole idea with this setup is to have an improvement over the stock headlamps. You can have a vast improvement over a stock headlamp by adjusting these down. I can keep them out of oncoming drivers and still have a considerable advantage over stockers. I will say that if you go with a TruckLite, JW, etc, you will have that bright light all the way up to the cutoff, without any dimming and you'll cut out a lot of time with adjustment/setup.
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post #13 of 21 Old 03-07-2015, 09:43 PM
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I digress, you have to keep adjusting them down which negates any real benefit of the setup because now you have a shit ton of foreground lighting, very little real reach, and still have artifacts.

By the way, I have run HID drop in bulbs in reflectors before and they sucked, which is why I dropped the coin for a real setup that performs. Hell, I even ran HID in stock halogen projectors, that was piss poor too.

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post #14 of 21 Old 03-07-2015, 11:01 PM
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Guess I'll add more here. I adjusted mine down as any average shade tree mechanic would in the dark parked in front of my garage. Adjust the ever lovin shit out of em, you're still gonna blind people. And as its been said, if you've adjusted down so far that you're not getting flashed then you've negated any benefit of brighter lighting. I like to see more than 20 ft out ahead of me...
And for anyone wondering, all the lighting in the world will not stop a deer. Just creamed a buck on my way home from work tonight, had my j.w' s, 20 inch light bar and d2' s on the a pillars all lit up and that bastard jumped across the opposing lane right into the side of my jeep before I could even see him. My evo sliders and skins earned their keep tonight, not so much as a dent or scratch anywhere except the sliders. Lots of deer hair and shit everywhere but that all washes off.
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post #15 of 21 Old 03-07-2015, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JKCTAZ View Post
I digress, you have to keep adjusting them down which negates any real benefit of the setup because now you have a shit ton of foreground lighting, very little real reach, and still have artifacts.

By the way, I have run HID drop in bulbs in reflectors before and they sucked, which is why I dropped the coin for a real setup that performs. Hell, I even ran HID in stock halogen projectors, that was piss poor too.
JKCTAZ, good for you.

Truthfully, I'm not a fan of the HID knife-edge cutoff of the higher end stuff. It actually makes no sense for trail driving. Trails undulate in every direction. How is that cutoff when you're approaching a steep incline??? You can't see cr*p above that line. I've owned them and even in paved back roads, they can be problematic. Sure, they're good on flat roads, which is why manufacturers put them in road vehicles. They don't work for offroading, sorry.

I spent less and got an improvement over stock... which is what I was looking for. Could I afford your setup? You betcha. Will I ditch these for something else in the future? Possible. For now, they work. For someone who can't afford $300+, it's an option if you play with the adjustment.

You can preach elsewhere.
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post #16 of 21 Old 03-07-2015, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by family4x4 View Post
Guess I'll add more here. I adjusted mine down as any average shade tree mechanic would in the dark parked in front of my garage. Adjust the ever lovin shit out of em, you're still gonna blind people. And as its been said, if you've adjusted down so far that you're not getting flashed then you've negated any benefit of brighter lighting. I like to see more than 20 ft out ahead of me...
And for anyone wondering, all the lighting in the world will not stop a deer. Just creamed a buck on my way home from work tonight, had my j.w' s, 20 inch light bar and d2' s on the a pillars all lit up and that bastard jumped across the opposing lane right into the side of my jeep before I could even see him. My evo sliders and skins earned their keep tonight, not so much as a dent or scratch anywhere except the sliders. Lots of deer hair and shit everywhere but that all washes off.
Did you have a 55W kit?? As far as it being said, I reiterated if you dip them down too far, you'll negate the benefit, blah blah. I still think there's a happy medium with a 35W kit as I've never owned a 55W kit.

For those who are open to an alternative, I'll say I've adjusted these to feel comfortable and I've experience driving opposed to this setup and I can say I wasn't blinded and it wasn't comparable to someone coming at me with high beam halogens. It IS brighter than stock and I have a 3" lift with 37's so my headlamps are taller than a stock Jeep.

Perhaps a 55W kit would yield different results. I do know many people go with the 55W kits as those did not seem to have the flickering problems. Maybe that's the difference.
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post #17 of 21 Old 03-07-2015, 11:27 PM
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Yes, mine was a 55w. Had it turned down as far as I could without losing decent horizontal output but it was still just too much. Nobody that knew me would drive ahead of me, it was just no bueno. Fortunately some local kid was unloading his set of j.w' s after he traded his jeep in. Gotta love a good craigslist find, $300 and like new, couldn't pass it up.
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post #18 of 21 Old 03-08-2015, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by VaderJK View Post
JKCTAZ, good for you.

Truthfully, I'm not a fan of the HID knife-edge cutoff of the higher end stuff. It actually makes no sense for trail driving. Trails undulate in every direction. How is that cutoff when you're approaching a steep incline??? You can't see cr*p above that line. I've owned them and even in paved back roads, they can be problematic. Sure, they're good on flat roads, which is why manufacturers put them in road vehicles. They don't work for offroading, sorry. Hey champ, they make something called offroad lighting for, wow, offroading!

I spent less and got an improvement over stock... which is what I was looking for. Could I afford your setup? You betcha. So you can afford a properly designed set of lights that were meant to be used on road and you choose a piss poor option under the guise that you're somehow benefiting other people with this cute little write up. Even when you have seen that so far you have garnered little support for such a modification from people who have even done what you have, makes little sense. Will I ditch these for something else in the future? Possible. For now, they work. For someone who can't afford $300+, it's an option if you play the adjustment. Save your write up for the ricer forums, and don't mislead other people looking for a real upgrade with your opinions, rather than fact, while encouraging people to waste money on something that is not legal. I will preach here all i'd like, this is lighting tech and I have provided tech as well as examples.

You can preach elsewhere.
The stupidity with this one is strong. For crying out loud!

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post #19 of 21 Old 03-08-2015, 12:41 AM
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Oh, and by the way, you didn't read Daniel Stern's site very well.

Quote:
Thinking of converting to HID?

So you've read about HID headlamps and have it in mind to convert your car. A few mouse clicks on the web, and you've found a couple of outfits offering to sell you a "conversion" that will fit any car with a given type of halogen bulb. STOP! Put away that credit card. HID headlamps are terrific, and they can offer significant and substantial safety performance advantages over halogen headlamps, but only if they're designed and built as HID headlamps from the start. Installing an "HID kit" in a halogen headlamp isn't an upgrade, it's a large and serious safety downgrade.
http://www.danielsternlighting.com/t...nversions.html

Oh, and read this too.

http://dsl.torque.net/images/techdoc..._Crackdown.jpg

Or this.

http://xtremerevolution.net/are-hid-kits-legal-or-safe/

Quote:
To give you some perspective, older peoples’ eyes take up to 8 times as long to adjust to intense light fluctuations (more on that later). While the increased light output will not bother you, the story is completely different when you’ve multiplied the amount of glare your headlights are producing against oncoming traffic. A typical 55W halogen bulb will produce around 1000 lumens. By comparison, a 6000K 35W HID bulb will produce around 2800 lumens. You’re nearly tripling the amount of glare that your headlights are producing.
Quote:
HID Kits: Are they Legal?

The short answer is: NO. HID Kits are not legal.

The long answer is this: NHTSA (National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration) has ruled that HID conversion kits are not only undoubtedly unsafe, but also illegal. People who I have personally talked to have received fines upward of $250 for their use of an illegal modification. They are not DOT approved, and are specifically sold as “for off-road use only.”

While your local police officers may not pull you over for having illegal HID bulbs in your car, they may be more than happy to tack on a fine if they have reason to pull you over for something else or if you’re unlucky to catch an officer who is having a bad day or needs to meet a quota.

Sources:

http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/rulings/glare.html
Shall I go on?

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Last edited by JKCTAZ; 03-08-2015 at 01:09 AM.
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post #20 of 21 Old 04-07-2015, 08:01 AM Thread Starter
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Well a little over a month has gone by and so far so good... other than a leaky rear pinion seal but that's another topic.

Oh, I haven't lost a second of sleep ever since!
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post #21 of 21 Old 04-25-2015, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by JKCTAZ View Post
Doc didn't factor in real world glare, just light levels at different places within the beam spread. Not above or outside that spread. You may have also adjusted your lights down to a level that may be negating any real advantage of higher output, or, you have really tolerant drivers. All I know is every time I end up in front of a JK with HID drop in lights, I want to wear sunglasses. I'm happy that they are working for you guys, but I still think using HID in a reflector assembly is irresponsible and thoughtless when it has been proven that they are not the best solution.

Someone else on here said it best, "You'll spend 38k on a Jeep, 5k on a lift, 3k on wheels and tires, and only spend 50 bucks on shitty headlights."

Spend the three bills for some properly designed LED's and move on.
You realize just how many vehicles are running around out there with 'drop-in' HID kits?
Here in Southern Kalifornistan, it seems like every third or fourth vehicle coming at you has 'em.
As THE person that's gonna get blinded, I gotta say that it's never happened to me, nor to anybody I know.
I've never even heard anybody complain about it.
I suppose if you stare at 'em, then you might have the 'blue sun' in the middle of your site picture for a few minutes, but other than that, in my experience it's a total non-issue.
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