Jeep XJ Cherokee Upgrades Headlights With Holley RetroBright

The old square sealed-beam headlamps on Jeep XJ Cherokees are just that…old. When driving at night, it’s obvious how much lower the light intensity is compared to late-model vehicles with LED lights. So when it comes time to replace a headlight that has blown out, it’s great to know that there are options to purchase LED versions of the old glass sealed-beam design.

Holley’s RetroBright is one of the many LED options available for vintage Jeeps like the popular XJ Cherokee. Fortunately, most of these square DOT lights are the same size for many make and model vehicles, measuring 5×7 inches. The difference is that LED versions like the Holley RetroBright are compatible not only in size but also feature a harness/pigtail that easily plugs into the factory harness of the sealed-beam units. These are standard H4-3 pins that were used on most vehicles using square sealed-beam headlights.

In addition to providing more than twice the light output in both low and high-beam modes, Holley’s RetroBright headlights feature a UV treated Polycarbonate lens that won’t shatter and, according to Holley, are 10-times stronger than glass sealed-beam or standard plastic headlamps. Furthermore, when the LEDs finally wear out over time,  you can replace the LED bulb rather than the entire headlight assembly.  Holley says the rated lifespan of the bulbs is more than 20,000 hours.

How Much Light Is Up To You

One of the great features of LED lighting technology is that the total light output can vary depending on the LEDs used. Holley’s RetroBright headlamps come in two versions, a classic white, #LFRB130 that puts out 3000K of light, and a modern white #LFRB150 that puts out 5700K of light. These measurements are in Kelvin which is a degree to light temperature in which a higher Kelvin rating gives off more white while a lower Kelvin gives off a warmer light.

Manufacturers of LED lights have tested what the various light temperatures do for the driver, and most agree that warmer light temperatures are easier on the eyes and produce less strain than higher light temperatures do over time. These factors often play into decisions for off-road racing and long-mile off-roading adventures, but for the average Jeep owner who sees mostly daily driving and weekend off-roading, the consensus is that it’s better to spread out more light over longer distances in both situations, and enthusiasts often choose the 5700K version.

If however, you want to stick to a classic appearance, but one that still puts out more visible light for daily driving and off-roading, the 300K versions are also great. Holley RetroBright also makes a version of the 5700K model in amber. Amber or yellow lights offer an advantage for long night off-roading where dust and other particles don’t reflect back as much as they do with white light. If you’re worried about power, LED lamps use less wattage than the factory units, and Holley’s RetroBright is rated at 25W in low beam, and 35W in high.

Holley RetroBright Makes For Easy Installation

Swapping out the factory sealed-beam headlights for Holley’s RetroBright 5×7 square LEDs is incredibly simple. On older Jeep vehicles like our 1995 XJ Cherokee, the front plastic bezels are removed to expose the headlight retainer. On most vehicles, the retainer is a stainless piece that fits over the edges of the headlamp like a picture frame and has retaining screws used to secure the headlight onto the body structure.

The four retaining screws are removed allowing the factory sealed-beam headlight to come out from the headlight housing. Then it’s simply unplugged from the wiring harness. The Holley RetroBright headlights feature a pigtail that plugs into the factory harness. The headlight retainer fits around the light and is secured into the headlight pocket without any modifications.

On Jeep XJ’s remove the side marker lights, front grille, and then the headlight bezel to reach the headlight retainer. Four screws hold the headlight in place.


Unplug the old glass sealed-beam headlight from the factory harness. These may not come out easily but be careful and slowly pry them away.


The Holley RetroBright units have a pigtail from the rear of the replaceable LED bulb that features the same three-prong factory plug.


The pigtail from the Holley RetroBright unit simply plugs into the factory harness. You will need to carefully tuck the remainder of the harness behind the headlight pocket to properly seat the new LED headlight flush to reinstall the retainer.


The replacement LED should fit exactly as the factory headlight. Once both the right and left sides are inserted, reinstall the light bezels, grille, and side marker lights to finish the job. Overall it took us less than hour to complete the installation.

Jeep XJ Cherokee Upgrades Headlights With Holley RetroBright

Once both headlight bezels are reinstalled, the Holley RetroBright headlamps are noticeably much brighter than the factory originals. We chose the White 5700K models that let us see farther both on the highway and off-road, and it gives our old Jeep a more modern appearance when the lights are on. These LED upgrades average under $200 each, you’ll need two. Other popular LED replacement headlight brands can run $300 – $400 each and require replacing the entire light when the bulbs wear out.

Holley RetroBright LED Upgrade

Overall, the Holley RetroBright LED headlights allowed us to see farther into the highway and didn’t require any beam adjustment. In off-road situations, they really complement our XJ’s 40-inch light bar which sees farther out ahead, allowing the headlights to illuminate a wider area closer to the vehicle to provide a greater overall view of the trail in front.

Article Sources

About the author

Dan Sanchez

Dan Sanchez is an off-road and automotive high-performance enthusiast with a 35-year history in the automotive industry as a journalist, editor, author, and is a SCORE International 4x Journalist Of The Year.
Read My Articles