Lap of Australia - Truck Build - Headlight Upgrade
The 80 series headlights certainly don’t do a fantastic job of lighting the road. In fact, I would classify them as downright awful! As such, when Narva offered us a set of replacement headlights we jumped at the chance faster than you can say “Like a roo during a Supernova”.
This is where I was left once my 3 younger brothers had finished helping install the roof rack and side steps. The old TJM bullbar has been removed, and I’m left with an easy-to-work-on naked front end.
Read on to find out how easy it is to upgrade the factory headlights in your 80 series.
The first step is to get the right products! There are 2 products you can buy depending on whether you want to upgrade the high/low beam, the high beam, or both - here we have both the high/low beam upgrade kit, and the high beam upgrade kit.
Once you’ve got the goodies, remove the factory headlight surrounds and centre grill. This is a very easy job entailing nothing more than removing 8 or 9 phillips head screws from the headlight surrounds and centre grill. The centre grill will pop out, then you pop the corner parking lights out, and the headlight surrounds will come out last of all.
The outer light is the low/high beam unit, and the inner light is the high beam. Remember this image for later on - note the old dirty chrome and the hazy headlight glass. We have an “after” shot further down.
The headlight upgrade kits come with globes included, however Narva were kind enough to also throw in their Plus 120 globes to brighten the road even further.
Unpacking the boxes reveals a well packed, and solid feeling product. I installed the low/high beam unit first, which is the light on the outside of the vehicle.
Once the headlight surrounds have been removed this is what you will see. Now you can remove the 4 small phillips head screws that hold the chrome reflector retaining ring onto the adjustment frame.
It makes things easy to do both sides of the vehicle at the same time. Whatever you do to one side, just do the same on the other side!
After removing the 4 small phillips head screws and the chrome ring (which will probably be more dirt than chrome after 21 years of use) the factory headlight unit will release and it is simply a matter of unplugging the wiring harness from the back of the light.
The factory headlight removed, along with the centre grill, headlight surround, and headlight retaining ring.
This is the box containing the globe that ships with the headlight upgrade kit. You can also see the big rubber seal on the back of the Narva upgraded headlight. If you were so inclined you could use silicon sealant to further improve the sealing ability of this seal, but for now we are installing as-is, and will review the seal down the track.
We’re not upgrading the headlights, we’re UPGRADING the headlights. Plus120 globes have a great mix of illumination and colour temperature.
The globe clips into the back of the Narva reflector assembly. Make sure that you don’t touch the glass on the globe - handle it only by the metal mounting ring.
Now push the riubber seal over the back of the reflector housing and down the shaft of the globe. Make sure you get the centre of the rubber seal pushed all the way down past the pins, as shown below.
Before bolting the upgraded Narva headlight assembly back in, give your vehicle some TLC. Here I am polishing the headlight retaining ring with Autosol to bring back some of the factory chrome shine.
When polishing the headlight retaining ring, be very careful! This is what happens when soft flesh meets sharp metal edges. Not to worry, a clean rag and some race tape had me working for another few hours!
This is the new Narva high/low assembly bolted in on the outside of the vehicle, next to the old factory high beam only assembly on the inside. The difference is subtle in this photograph, but in person the light is massively clearer, and the chrome much brighter.
This is the factory low beam with the lights turned on. I haven’t changed this assembly out for the new Narva unit yet.
Compare the factory headlight above to the newly upgraded Narva low beam unit below. The difference is massive. You can see the slightly cooler colour temperature, but the difference in brightness is huge.
Now that we’ve done the outer high/low beam units, it’s time to upgrade the inside high beam only units. The low beam units above are literally plug-and-play, with nothing more than a phillips head screwdriver required. The high beam units however use a sealed Deutsch plug on the back, and as such do require you to solder the (included) Deutsch harness onto the existing factory wires. Not to worry, this is a dead easy 2 wire job.
The Narva high beam units have a provision for parking globes, and come with the plug for the parking globe pre-installed in the reflector. In our 80 series we don’t have parking lights in the factory high beam assemblies, so we aren’t going to utilise parking globes in the high beam assembly. Note that the factory location of the parking globes in the 80 series are in the outer wings of the front guards. You can see the red and black wiring harness of the Narva parking globe plug below.
Conveniently Narva provide blanking grommets for those of us who don’t want to use parking globes inside the high beam reflector. Good work Narva! Here I have removed the parking globe harness and have pushed the blanking grommet into the back of the reflector.
As we did with the high/low beam unit, we are upgrading the globes in the high beam unit to Plus120 globes. The high beam globes are an H1 type, and they plug straight in to the Narva reflector.
As is the case with all globes, do not handle the globe by the glass. Oil from your fingers (even if you have just washed your hands) can get onto the glass and do all sorts of damage once the globe heats up. This is an H1 globe, and it plugs into the black Deutsch adapter at the bottom of the picture. Push it all the way down and then push the adapter into the back of the reflector and twist to lock it in place.
The factory high beam units come out the same way that the low beam units came out, with 4 tiny phillips head screws. You can see the brown H4 style factory wiring plug here. Go ahead and cut the H4 plug off, as we will solder the new Narva harness on in the next step.
NEVER satisfy yourself that twisting wires together and taping them up will do the job. I’ve got news for you - it won’t! Always solder wires together, especially on a 4WD that is subjected to vigorous offroad vibrations. Here I have soldered the positive and negative factory wires into the Narva Deutsch harness.
Make sure you wrap each solder joint individually. I have wrapped each wire a number of times to ensure there is no possibility that the positive and negative wires will rub through and touch each other. Then I wrapped both wires tightly together to ensure there is no vibration. Lastly I wrapped tape around the factory insulation giving further protection to the new combined harness.
Now it is a simple matter of plugging the harness into the back of the high beam reflector, bolting the high beam reflector assembly in, and putting the centre grill and headlight surrounds back in. You can see how great it all looks with the headlight surrounds polished up as good as new.
Here is a shot of the passenger side. In my opinion not only does this look fantastic, giving a new car feel to a 21 year old truck, but it improves the functionality and safety of the truck to a massive degree.
Once you’ve finished the installation of the Narva upgraded headlights, take the opportunity to check your headlight alignment. Suspension lifts, adding accessories (e.g. winch), sagging suspension etc can all affect the alignment of your headlights. If they are aiming incorrectly, it can not only make the road darker and more dangerous for you, but it can make the road brighter and more dangerous for everyone coming toward you.