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Thread: Interested in modifying my LED taillights

  1. #1

    Default Interested in modifying my LED taillights

    Sorry this was posted in the wrong forum. I felt i would get a better response in this forum. Mods feel free to move if need be.

    I noticed my LED taillights have ~9 individual LEDs that are out on the right side. Instead of replacing it, the idea of modifying the LEDs to brighter ones popped into mind. Also, the reverse light is a regular incandecent. I am interested in getting this changed to LED. Not a tower LED replacement bulb found on eBay, but a board with soldered LED.

    Thoughts on this idea?

    Anyone willing to tackle the project and provide a price quote?



    Last edited by anonymoususer; 05-07-2012 at 09:48 PM.
    Over sized sig image removed What are the sig dimension requirements???? Read Rule 3 Thanks brah

  2. #2

    Default Re: Interested in modifying my LED taillights

    From the pictures you provided it appears the reverse light is comprised of an array of LED's not an incandescent bulb.

    I'm surprised the LED's didn't last longer. LED's usually last forever unless there is a design flaw. What is the make/model/year of the vehicle? I'm not an automotive expert but I think it's safe to assumes there is a driver to control the LED's not just a relay but I could be wrong. The first question I would have is if the LED's are functional? Did/can you apply a DC voltage to the LEd's to see if they are functional?

    By brighter do you have any specific lumen value in mind? Do you know how many lumens the stock LED's provide?

  3. #3
    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interested in modifying my LED taillights

    I'm interested in knowing what caused the failure. The pattern looks like it could be a cracked trace in the pcb or a bad current limiting resistor. This might be repairable with a couple of dabs of solder.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Interested in modifying my LED taillights

    PhotonWrangler is probably right. Can you remove the unit from the trunk? Take it out and examine all solder joints on the circuit board. You could also get one from a junkyard and just replace it. Not brighter, but easier. You might also inspect the connectors near the board. Try plugging/unplugging any/all connectors in that area. Maybe spray some electronic contact cleaner on the connectors. Check the connectors for voltage on the other (working) side and compare it to the voltage on the partially working side.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Interested in modifying my LED taillights

    Pretty sure what you are wanting to do is illegal unless you are replacing it with an OEM part. The LEDs are set to a certain brightness level for a reason, however if you feel that they are not performing well enough go to your dealer and have them tested or replaced with OEM parts. As for the ones that have failed, check the PCB for broken traces, etc. but don't actually replace the LED as it will modify the taillight and thus make it illegal.

    As for the reverse light...I'm pretty sure that is illegal also. You won't get the same image from an LED in a housing that was designed for an Incandescent light source. Your best bet is to just bring it to your dealership and have them look at it as in all likelihood the LED should be covered under some kind of warranty...

  6. #6

    Default Re: Interested in modifying my LED taillights

    Quote Originally Posted by Optical Inferno View Post
    Pretty sure what you are wanting to do is illegal unless you are replacing it with an OEM part. The LEDs are set to a certain brightness level for a reason
    That is correct. Homemade/home-modified vehicle lights are not legal or safe.

    As for the reverse light...I'm pretty sure that is illegal also. You won't get the same image from an LED in a housing that was designed for an Incandescent light source.
    That is also correct.

    anonymoususer, please bear in mind that Rule 11 of this board prohibits advocating illegal activity.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Interested in modifying my LED taillights

    I have seen loads of LED brake and turn signals going out, especially on big trucks. Not the entire assembly mind you, but half or 3/4 of the assembly out. Not sure if the big trucks face a more rough life than in cars, but it sure seems like they aren't as robust IMO...but they should be more robust than incandescent shouldn't they?

  8. #8
    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interested in modifying my LED taillights

    One would think the pcbs would be shock mounted. I see a lot of third brake light failures on cars where a portion of the string will go out. The number of failures that I've seen are fairly surprising. Has to be poor solder joints and/or poor shock mounting resulting in cracked traces.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Interested in modifying my LED taillights

    Quote Originally Posted by LeanBurn View Post
    I have seen loads of LED brake and turn signals going out, especially on big trucks. Not the entire assembly mind you, but half or 3/4 of the assembly out. Not sure if the big trucks face a more rough life than in cars, but it sure seems like they aren't as robust IMO...but they should be more robust than incandescent shouldn't they?
    Truck service is a great deal more intensive and harsh than car service, and there is no product that someone, somewhere, can't and won't make (and people won't buy) cheaper and nastier. Most of the name-brand truck and bus LED lamps hold up very well in service over a respectably and reasonably long lifespan; most of the off-brand cheapies don't.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* bshanahan14rulz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interested in modifying my LED taillights

    The motto about getting what you pay for stands true for LED taillamps too. The lamps in the OP looked fairly old, though I still don't think they should have gone out. I'm thinking one of the metal parts they use to make the connections got loosed.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Interested in modifying my LED taillights

    FYI the car is an E46 BMW 3-series (~2000-2006). There is no need to upgrade the LED brake lights on these, they are plenty bright enough. The white bit above the brake light is the indicator (turn signal), the reverse light is to the side of the brake light (on the trunk lid panel) partially out of shot.

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* bshanahan14rulz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interested in modifying my LED taillights

    Yeah, it's not like they're using 5mm epoxy LEDs, they're good high flux LEDs... snapLEDs, IIRC

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