Milwaukee M12 LED Underhood Light Review

Cordless LED Lights
  • Build Quality
  • Value
  • Runtime
  • Performance
  • Features

Final Thoughts

This Milwaukee M12 LED Underhood Light IS the Best underhood light we have seen yet.

User Review
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We’ve all been there. Working under a hood or fully underneath the car, while trying to hold a light with one hand and wrench in the other. Alas, the new Milwaukee M12 LED underhood light delivers plenty of light with the convenience of cordless. At 1350 lumens, this may be the brightest LED of its size. In the pitch black of night, with no light intrusion within 100 yards, we test this new M12 LED underhood light. Even on low, at 600 lumens, it floods the engine bay with plenty of light.

LED work lights are no stranger to Milwaukee Tool, as we covered in the Milwaukee Tools High Output LED Lighting, so it’s great to see them share their LED performance with the automotive mechanics.

Built on the M12 platform, this Milwaukee LED underhood light is available as a bare tool or as a kit with one 4.0Ah battery and charger. Time will tell how the M12 underhood LED compares to those ‘others’ sold off the tool trucks. We will see what we can do to put them head to head in the near future.

Milwaukee may have something here with these Trueview HD lights. We have identified other business segments this technology will benefit. More on this shortly.

Rubber Cushion - Spring-loaded Aluminum Frame

Rubber Cushion – Spring-loaded Aluminum Frame


Our Favorite Three Features

  1. BRIGHT – 1350 lumens bright!
  2. Light – as in weight, M12 platform, and aluminum frame
  3. Runtime – 3 hrs 51 min on High, with a 4.0Ah M12 battery
  4. …bonus…Truview Technology – true color reflected

We’ll include more details below.

From Milwaukee Tool: “There are a number of unique challenges for mechanics working on a vehicle. When working under the hood, mechanics rely on underhood lights to flood the engine bay with light. Leveraging our leadership in cordless and LED technology, Milwaukee is delivering the first cordless underhood light to provide high-output, high-quality task lighting capable of a full day’s worth of work without the inconvenience of a cord” – Ben Cabot, Product Manager for Milwaukee Tool.

Runtime Testing On High

Runtime Testing On High

Milwaukee M12 LED Underhood Light Features

Not only does the M12 LED underhood light deliver 1350 lumens, but it does so with what Milwaukee calls TRUEVIEW High Definition light. With two settings, High and Low (1350 and 600 lumens respectively), the M12 4.0Ah battery provides 3 hours 51 minutes runtime in our test. This is within 3.75% of Milwaukee’s claim, so we call this acceptable to their claim. They also claim 8 hours runtime on Low. We didn’t test on low, but we trust it’s very close. On the Low setting, this is a full shift of work on a single charge – “Look, Mom, no cord”.

M12 Underhood LED In The Rain

M12 Underhood LED In The Rain

Non-Marring Steel-ReinforcedIf the user does need to hold the light, a rubber overmold grip provides plenty of grip. A high-impact polycarbonate lens protects the LED light delivery, while an aircraft aluminum frame guards the rest of the internals. These high-impact features not only protect against impacts, as important, they are resistant to common corrosive chemicals found in shops today (motor oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, etc.).

As a true mechanic’s work light, this M12 LED light quickly attaches to an “underhood” mount, capable of extending from 47 to 78 inches. FINISHGUARD hooks allow the Milwaukee M12 LED underhood light to be safely mounted under most any hood. Milwaukee calls them hooks, but this is probably not the best term. The protective moulded ends clamp to the vehicles hood edge with the spring-loaded mounting frame. This safely holds the M12 LED light in position until the technician completes the task. In addition, a stainless steel hook allows the technician to hang the light, independent of the underhood frame.

TRUEVIEW Not Blue – LED Technology

Stainless Hook For Hanging

Stainless Hook For Hanging

Light color matters! Your first work light may have been the old drop-light that we still see in shops today. An incandescent bulb in a metal or plastic housing with a hook on it. Simple and cheap, yes; effective, not so much. Fitted with the typical lamp bulb, it probably casts a very yellow or orange light. On the opposite spectrum is the cheap LED flashlight or handheld that casts a very blue light (like the tuner car headlights that fill the highway nightscape).

The TRUEVIEW technology from Milwaukee claims to deliver a consistent beam, optimized color temperature, and true colors. This is great for the underhood experience looking for fasteners and just providing ample light. This importance is magnified when distinguishing between an orange and red wire, working with the finish (paint), and the interior of vehicles. Time after time, technicians with the best intentions do the best they can to keep interiors and the paint finish clean, even using their best work lights. The car rolls out of the shop for the customer and the truth is revealed by our great Sun. Smudges, dirt, and missed spots reveal themselves in this natural lighting.

Milwaukee M12 LED Underhood Light

With No Light Intrusion – Plenty Of Light From 50ft away.

Now, imagine a similar experience with detailers and painters. Trying to remove swirls from a black car, or trying to match one door to the rest of the vehicle’s color. Light colors can drastically change the appearance. We recently discussed this in our review of the Innovative Tools Color Match LED Lights. Milwaukee may have something here with their TRUEVIEW technology that’s not only great for the mechanic, but also for the detailer and body shops.


What We Think

We like to see technology cross borders into other industries, and LED is no exception. Mechanics need light just as bad as the drywaller in a new home construction. Even better when the technology is tailored specifically for the industry. Such is the case with the Milwaukee M12 LED underhood light. Cordless is no doubt still on the rise, and Milwaukee carries a decent portion of this market. Adding this underhood light to the M12 platform allows mechanics to use their existing batteries, as well as keep the LED light (weight).

The TRUEVIEW aspect is exciting to us, as you can probably tell from above, and rightly so. Anything that will help in both work excellence and efficiency is a winner in our book. Mechanics, painters and detailers should all benefit from better-colored lighting.

M12 Underhood Kit

This IS the Best LED underhood light we have seen yet. What will be telling is the reaction to the price for the new Milwaukee M12 LED underhood light kits. At $250 for the kit, this is quite expensive. In fact, it seems to be one of the higher priced underhood LED lights on the market. However, what price do you expect for, arguably the best LED on the market? Our testing was nothing but positive, short of the price. Milwaukee covers this LED with a limited lifetime warranty, and the whole unit is covered by their 5-Year warranty. The M12 LED hit the market in June 2017, so you can find them on the shelves now.

Click here to pick up your Milwaukee M12 LED Underhood Light.

M12 LED Underhood Light Specifications

  • M12™ LED Underhood Light
  • Model: 2125-21XC (Kit) or 2125-20 (Bare Tool)
  • Release Date: June 2017
  • Output on High: 1350 Lumens
  • Output on Low: 600 Lumens
  • Runtime on High: 4 hours (4.0 Ah M12)
  • Runtime on Low: 8 hours (4.0 Ah M12)
  • Weight: 4.63 lbs (bare tool)
  • Length: 47 – 78 inches
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime on LED, 5-Year on the product
  • MSRP: $249.99 (2125-21XC – kit); $199.99 (2125-20 – bare tool)

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