Light up the Tracks
Brought to you by Drivetech 4x4, this article was published by Australian 4WD Action Magazine (Issue 256 - 2016). Words by Steve Collins. Photography by Oliver Ford and Brad Hall. To download the full article, CLICK HERE.
There’s more to setting up and correctly aiming your driving lights than you realise
Technology has come a long way over the years, and although we head bush to escape it, there are a few things that make heading off-road that much more
enjoyable. Like a quality set of LED driving lights, for instance.
Driving lights are one of those mods that you won’t fully appreciate until you invest in a good set. Not only do they make driving at night less fatiguing, but they also make it easier to see low-range obstacles like rocks and ruts, and wandering livestock before they pose a real threat to you and your passengers.
New and improved LED versions like Drivetech 4x4’s 9in round driving lights are proving popular thanks to their light-weight design, superstrong casing and lens, lower current draw and brighter CREE LEDs.
For best performance, minimal wiring and ease of installation, your best bet is to mount your driving lights in the centre of the bullbar just in front of the grille. It’s also the only legal spot on many 4WDs as most authorities impose maximum height limitations (which rules out mounting them on your roof rack) as
well as specify that they’re mounted symmetrical to the centre line of the vehicle and don’t block the driver’s field of view.
Here’s a quick tip - make sure your chosen lights will fit within the centre hoop before handing over your hard earned, as some bullbar hoops can be smaller than others.
SELECTING THE RIGHT MOUNTING BRACKET
Quality lights like Drivetech 4x4’s 9in round driving lights will often come with a choice of mounting brackets. Both are stainless steel which means they won’t rust, and each provides at least two mounting provisions for the space available. In our case we’ve got either a base mount that bolts to the bottom of the light housing which is ideal if space is limited, or on the sides which enables easier adjustment and further reduces vibration.
WARDING OFF POTENTIAL THIEVES
A set of security nuts are worth their weight in gold if it means preventing thieves from making off with your new lights. Drivetech 4x4 make quality security nuts to fit just about any driving lights and light bars, they’re simple to fit and they’ll ensure what’s yours, stays yours.
WATERPROOFING YOUR LIGHTS & WIRING
Before you buy your next set of driving lights, check to make sure they’re actually waterproof. As basic as it seems, a surprising number of them aren’t, which means the first water crossing you hit or any decent downpour has the potential to wreck your new lights. We went with the Drivetech 4x4 9in driving lights because the housings are IP67 rated and the wiring is fitted with quality waterproof Deutsch plugs.
CORRUGATIONS ARE KILLERS
Another difference between a quality set of lights and a cheap set is how they behave off-road, particularly over corrugated roads. Drivetech 4x4’s 9in round driving lights use a unique adjustable dual locking mounting system so once the lights are aimed and tightened down, even the roughest of roads won’t shake them out of alignment.
SPOT VS SPREAD BEAM
Traditionally, you’d have to choose between spot or spread when buying your lights. But what we like about Drivetech 4x4’s LED Driving Lights is that their unique combo beam polycarbonate lenses are not only super strong and crack resistant, but they provide a highly directional beam that lights up both the centre of the track and off to the side of the road.
AIMING YOUR NEW LIGHTS
Once you’ve got the lights powered up, you’re ready to aim them. To start with, nose your 4WD up to the garage door and turn your high beam lights on. Flick on your driving lights and centre them at the same height as your high beam lights.
To ensure you’ve got them spot on, you’ll have to recheck them next time you’re out in the bush. Find a long straight stretch of road and carefully pull up smack bang in the middle of the road. Use common sense here, and only do so if no one else is around and it isn’t going to cause an accident.
Turn the driving lights on and make final adjustments so that the centre beam illuminates the track just ahead of the reach of your headlights. For horizontal adjustment, aim the left light slightly to the left of the centre line of the road and the right light to the right side of the centre line.
These fine adjustments will give you the best of both worlds; a long throw of light with a decent spread off either side of the road ahead.
For many, the hardest part about installing driving lights actually has nothing to do with the lights themselves - it’s to do with running the wiring. Drivetech 4x4 has made this child’s play with a DIY wiring kit and step-by-step installation instructions.
For those who are wiring it up without one of these cracking wiring kits, here’s what you need to do:
- Simply run a fused power wire from the positive battery terminal to pin 30 on your relay.
- Pick up power from your headlight’s high beam circuit, run it through a switch mounted on the dash then back out to pin 85 on the relay so the loom is only live when the high beams are on.
- To earth the relay, run a ground wire from pin 86 to a clean earth on the firewall.
- To get power to the driving lights, run a positive wire from pin 87 on the relay to the positive wire on both driving lights, and then run the negative wires from the driving lights to a clean earth on the bullbar or chassis.
- Last but not least, wrap the whole lot in split conduit and secure it away from any sharp objects or heat sources.
UNDERSTANDING IP RATINGS
The IP rating of a light is a clear snapshot of how weatherproof that light is. The term ‘IP’ stands for Ingress Protection, and the following table explains what each number means.
Drivetech 4x4’s new 9in round LED driving lights retail for $435 each. A DIY wiring harness is also available which includes a H4 adapter and step-by-step installation instructions.
Drivetech 4x4 are a leading developer and distributor of quality 4WD replacement parts and accessories across Australia and New Zealand, with a huge range of parts for most popular 4WDs. To find out more or find the details of your nearest stockist visit www.drivetech4x4.com.au.
To find out more or find the details of your nearest stockist visit www.drivetech4x4.com.au/store
To find out more about the Drivetech 4x4 LED Driving Lights ...CLICK HERE.
To see if we have a kit to suit your vehicle...CLICK HERE.