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JAL Headlight Upgrade

Updated: Jan 2

You may have noticed posts this year are a little thin on the ground, unfortunately, 2021 is proving to be a tough year for my family and I, so Seven life has taken a back seat. But rest assured the site isn't going to remain dormant and posts will resume. I'm also still trying to finalize the launch of a sister site detailing my Caterham Seven 620R. More on that to follow in future posts.

Recently Caterham Cars Ltd invited the public to their annual open day at their 'Gatwick' showroom. Living on the Isle of Man it's not an event I've been able to attend so far, maybe something for the future though! At this years event, Caterham Cars launched a new rear LED light cluster. Seeing the release I was reminded that I still hadn't managed to post a blog article on my JAL headlight upgrade which I'd successfully installed during the previous winter break. Equally, Caterham's new design gave me an idea for a comparative review, a comparison between the JAL rear LED upgrade as fitted to my 420R and the new Caterham Cars light unit. Time to order a set for my 620R, hopefully, there are some left!

In the meantime let's look at the JAL headlight upgrade. Before we get into this topic, I would say that JAL provides an excellent installation video that I followed to the letter. In doing so my installation experience was quick and easy. Although I actually dislike using the word 'quick' as I like to take my time and enjoy such installations, I'm sure you get the idea. Given the JAL video, you'll likely find any instructions here superfluous to the process, but I hope you enjoy the content nevertheless.

Before we recap the installation let's just cover the outcome and performance of the lights. To describe the improvement from the upgrade as 'like night and day' is only a marginal exaggeration. If you've driven a Seven at night with standard bulbs you'll have firsthand knowledge of how limited the light beam can be. Driving at night can be challenging for sure, and doesn't inspire confidence. This is certainly the case on the Isle of Man, we don't use cats-eyes and most roads have limited street lighting. Fitting the JAL light upgrade to the Seven 420R has literally revolutionized the situation, turning night driving on a clear dry night into a true pleasure. The Isle of Man is well known for its 'dark skies' offering amazing views which can be enjoyed from anywhere on the island. Reaching remote locations on a suitable night can now be achieved with a little added spice via a short blat.

Let's get back to the install.

As always, first thing, isolate the battery we don't want a disaster. Next, unscrew the headlight bowl outer lens rim. Mine has a single retaining screw but I do believe others vary. For example, mine differs from that shown in the JAL video.

Caterham Seven front headlight bowl and ring.
Caterham Seven front headlight bowl and ring.

Once the screw is removed, gently pull the outer rim, revealing the lens unit. Disconnect the electrical plug from the rear of the lens and cut through the sidelight connector, as shown in the following image.

Disconnect the plug, and cut the connector as shown.
Disconnect the plug, and cut the connector as shown.

You should now be able to remove the light unit and outer rim from the car as shown below.

Headlight unit removed, and disconnected
Headlight unit removed, and disconnected

Next, you'll need a good pair of long nose pillars to remove the retaining clips which hold the headlight into the outer rim. These can be a bit fiddly, firm confident pressure seems to do the trick. Hold each side of a clip and lower the clip from the lip around the ring. Once all three are removed the headlight unit can be removed from the outer rim.

Remove the inner headlight assembly from the outer ring
Remove the inner headlight assembly from the outer ring

Replace the headlight with the JAL LED unit. I noticed the JAL unit was slightly smaller than the original unit and so had a slight amount of play when unsecured, however, this wasn't an issue after the retaining clips were reapplied.

When securing the light into place make sure you set the light unit so that the light bar within the headlight is level, referenced to your securing screw and headlight, you don't want a wonky install! The headlight is marked 'Top' on the lens, for correct orientation, however, my rim securing screw is located at the bottom, so differs from the instructions in the JAL video.

Once the clips are holding the headlight unit in place, connect the plug on the rear of the JAL headlight unit to the original plug in the headlight bowl. Then carefully wire the remaining wire from the headlight unit to the sidelight wiring cut from the original headlight.

Simple wiring to reconnect the JAL headlight to the original connectors
Simple wiring to reconnect the JAL headlight to the original connectors

The kit comes with appropriate spade connectors which are easily crimped into place. I also like to heat shrink the wires to ensure a watertight and tidy install.

You can now carefully reinsert the headlight into the bowl and secure it in place with the outer rim retaining screw. Hopefully, everything should look level.

Finally reconnect the battery and test, repeat on the other headlight.

The end result.

JAL LED Headlight. Just Add Lightness
JAL LED Headlight

Hope you enjoyed the blog, I appreciate most of the info is available in the Just Add Lightness JAL video.

I've now managed to secure a set of Caterham Cars rear LED lights, so please check back later for a follow-up post.

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