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Quad Brake Light Mod: Brake/Tail Lights In Trunk Lid


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Quite a while ago on the LED lights thread I mentioned in passing that I was considering converting the lights in the trunk lid to brake and tail lights rather than just the tail lights from the factory. Looking closer at the size of the housing, which is considerably smaller than the main housing, I began to wonder if perhaps the reason they were only tail lights was due to heat build-up considerations when the brake portion of the bulb would be lit. For that reason I decided that IF I did the conversion I would be sure to use an LED bulb in the housing to ensure I didn't melt the housing.

 

I had the trunk lid trim panel off to replace the license plate bulbs with LEDs and took a look at the tail light situation. The conversion to brake/tail lights is fairly simple and if you have all the equipment lined up should take you no more than an hour at most.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: As I pointed out, the 7443 bulb with just the marker portion lit up can get hot enough to burn your fingers, so the brake portion probably puts out considerable heat. I would not recommend performing this modification with 'normal' incandescent bulbs as you may melt the light housing.

 

I use these LED 7443 bulbs from V-LEDs:

V-LEDS Part ID: 7443_20_R

http://www.v-leds.com

 

Supplies Needed:

7443 LED bulbs

Approximately 3 feet of 18-20 gauge wire

2 splice connectors

zip ties

Female GM 150 metri-pack terminals (Stock #85335 @ PepBoys)

wire cutters/strippers

peaked-nose pliers

#1 flat screwdriver (to remove trim panel plugs)

 

Instructions:

Open trunk lid fully and remove trim panel.

Remove bulb assembly from housing.

Remove the OEM incandescent bulb.

Separate the bulb holder from the wire connector.

Crimp one of the terminals onto your wire.

Trim the flanges from the terminal that stick out 90 degrees (email me and I can take some before/after pics if you aren't sure what I mean) so that the terminal slides into empty hole on the wire connector.

Note the orientation of the terminals currently in the wire connector and slide your new connector into the empty hole until it locks into place.

Connect the wire connector back to the bulb holder, insert your LED bulb and install back into the housing.

Zip tie your wire along the current wire harness until you reach the third brake light wiring for the trunk spoiler.

Use a splice connector to tap into the 'hot' (blue) wire for the spoiler brake light.

Repeat this process for the other side.

Leave your trunk lid open and reach your foot into the cabin and depress the brake pedal.

With the trunk lid open, you will be able to see the lights.

If your brake lights do not light up, pull the bulb and reverse it. Most LED bulbs are polarity sensitive (they only work when inserted one way, unlike incandescent bulbs which will work no matter which way they are inserted).

 

Don't worry about 'frying' the LED bulb, as they are manufactured to prevent shorting if inserted 'backwards'.

 

Once you have everything buttoned up (trim panel), close the trunk lid and turn on your marker lights.

Now walk to the back of the car and compare the outer incandescent bulbs with the LED bulbs in the trunk lid. If you are using the V-LED units, you will notice that the light is brighter and more 'red'. Now have a buddy press the brake pedal and see how much brighter the LED brake lights are!

 

Now buy a second pair of LED 7443 lights for you main tail/brake light housing. :-)

I only had the one pair when I performed the 'conversion' so I made sure to install the LEDs in the trunk lid. The second pair is on order at this time, just waiting for them to show up.

Edited by todd3.6
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this thread is worthless without pictures

 

:lol:

There isn't much to take pictures of...

Gather the tools/equipment and dig in.

It's all pretty obvious once you have the trim panel removed.

 

I have tried taking pics of the LED tail/brake lights and they overwhelm the camera (I even tried three different digital cameras).

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yeah don't get it. You replaced your brake lights in the trunk, or interior lighting? The third brake light is LED I believe, so you looking to increase output of L & R primaries?

 

Turn on your marker lights and walk to the back of your car. You will notice that there are the main tail lights and an additional set of tail lights in the trunk lid. Now have someone step on the brakes. The set of lights in the trunk will not light up as brake lights. They are only tail lights from the factory.

 

I added the additional wire to the socket to activate the brake light filament of the 7443 bulb (and socket) that is already present in the light housing.

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is that led replacement bulb rated to the right power draw or did you put in resistors to balance out?

 

No need for resistors...

The V-LED bulbs are true 7443 replacement bulbs. They have separate circuits for the tail and stop function.

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Did you get the "7 watt" ones? did you also change the main brake lights? I'm considering getting the "7 watt" pnp LED to replace my brake lights. I have a 3 watt with SMT surrounding from autolumination for my turn signals and it looks great at night but during the day you can only see the 3 watt.
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Did you get the "7 watt" ones? did you also change the main brake lights? I'm considering getting the "7 watt" pnp LED to replace my brake lights. I have a 3 watt with SMT surrounding from autolumination for my turn signals and it looks great at night but during the day you can only see the 3 watt.

 

Correct. I used the '7 watt' bulbs.

If you search their site for the part number I listed above, you get two results. You want the 'normal' bulbs, not the 'ck' type.

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i agree

 

Well...

I write technical documentation as a part of my job and I constantly get compliments on my instructions even though I never include pictures.

 

Even though taking the trunk lid trim panel off is a fairly painless process, I really don't feel like doing it again so the best I can do is to provide a pic of the LED bulbs I bought from V-LEDs and included in the pic are two 'versions' of the terminals I used.

 

The terminal on the right is the normal version. The terminal on the left is the 'cut' version. If you compare them, you will see where the metal has been trimmed. I simply used a small pair of side cutters to do the trimming.

 

If you aren't comfortable working with the electrical wiring on your car without detailed/pictured instructions, then this modification probably is not for you. I'm not trying to be crass or condescending, I just believe in knowing your limitations and sticking to them. When my Audi needed a new timing belt, I paid a shop to do it because I didn't have the tools/experience to ensure the job was done right.

 

I've been working on cars for over 30 years including transplanting a Chevy V8 into a Vega when I was in high school and wiring up a new stereo into that same car. I also build my own computer towers from parts I buy online (NewEgg.com) and wire everything up myself, although that is usually pretty easy since there are standard plugs on all the components.

P9170001.thumb.jpg.24dce17c978856b65b0190b6c5bf7316.jpg

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Additional note about the LED bulb pictured above.

Trim the little plastic 'pegs' on the bottom of the bulb off.

Otherwise the bulb will not seat fully into the Subaru socket.

I also had to trim flashing off the edges of the plastic section on one of the new ones.

 

Yes I just received the 2nd pair of LED bulbs in today.

I have attached pics of markers and brakes with the car sitting in my garage on a cloudy day. As you can see, they are plenty bright.

The marker lights in the trunk appear brighter on the picture, probably because the housing is smaller and it can reflect/concentrate the light from the bulbs more.

led-marker.thumb.jpg.41509b44cb48bcd24c43ea7eb16270df.jpg

led-brakes.thumb.jpg.bd51765d87567d4197f160b9e1aa9d37.jpg

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Additional note about the LED bulb pictured above.

Trim the little plastic 'pegs' on the bottom of the bulb off.

Otherwise the bulb will not seat fully into the Subaru socket.

I also had to trim flashing off the edges of the plastic section on one of the new ones.

 

Yes I just received the 2nd pair of LED bulbs in today.

I have attached pics of markers and brakes with the car sitting in my garage on a cloudy day. As you can see, they are plenty bright.

The marker lights in the trunk appear brighter on the picture, probably because the housing is smaller and it can reflect/concentrate the light from the bulbs more.

 

How's the markers in direct sunlight? does it fill the housing?

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Nice job Todd! I had to think about your thread for a second because I thought you were first talking about the SPOILER light, not the second set of lights actually ON the trunk. (sorry, long day here)

 

Neat mod. You and I HAVE to get together, if Subaru ever decides to build a car for me.

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How's the markers in direct sunlight? does it fill the housing?

 

I feel that the LED lights are just as bright as a normal incandescent in the sunlight. The brakes are very bright. There is a band across the tail light that isn't clear so unless you are right on top of the car you can't really see the individual LEDs in the bulb.

 

Side note...

If you don't trim the little tabs off the bottom and accidentally drop a bulb into the housing, it's not too difficult to pull off the tail light. There are four 8mm nuts that hold the tail light onto the body. Remove the nuts and pull the housing straight back. There are two 'clips' that hold the side of the housing to the body, but there are tabs in the housing that slide into the clips, so just pull straight back and the tabs will slide out of the clips. Sorry I didn't take pics while I had the tail light off. Probably would have been a benefit to someone on the forums to see how easy they come off.

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  • 2 months later...
my 7 watts just got delivered, these things are insane bright. I replaced the "eagle eye" 3 watt front facing and SMT radial bulb from autolumination with the v-led one and the difference is night and day. The turn signal is as bright as an incandescent. Brake spreads out nicely because of the reflector in front of it. I might grab another set for the trunk lights and for the front turn signals.
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  • 3 months later...

http://www.v-leds.com/Exterior-LED/Brake-Light-LED/Red-LED/V-LEDS-PLATINUM-RED-7-p9448921.html

 

Did this mod with those bad boys... its so bright that the light output is still brighter than stock even with my taillights tinted.

 

PS. It looks so much better with all the brake lights working.

 

The bulbs listed above also work without any further modification, its just plug and play.

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http://www.v-leds.com/Exterior-LED/Brake-Light-LED/Red-LED/V-LEDS-PLATINUM-RED-7-p9448921.html

 

Did this mod with those bad boys... its so bright that the light output is still brighter than stock even with my taillights tinted.

 

PS. It looks so much better with all the brake lights working.

 

The bulbs listed above also work without any further modification, its just plug and play.

 

wow, it's $40 more for the 2011 model and you can't buy the old ones too...darn, knew I should have bought it a few months ago. My brake lights with the old model are nice and bright during the day because of the reflector strip that runs in front of the bulb. My turn signals look great at night but can be washed out during the day. I've tinted the clear part of the turn signal/reverse and it has helped a little to filter out some of the sunlight reflection during the day so the turn signals are more visible. I wonder if the 2011 version would make a difference. But $80/pair...ouch.

Edited by Nacron
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I was lucky to get it at introductory pricing... and I signed up for their newsletter so I got an additional 15% off.

 

Although my friend says their facebook page shows when they give out monthly coupons for up to 40% off? Never verified it though but my friend isnt one to spew bullshit out.. lol

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I was lucky to get it at introductory pricing... and I signed up for their newsletter so I got an additional 15% off.

 

Although my friend says their facebook page shows when they give out monthly coupons for up to 40% off? Never verified it though but my friend isnt one to spew bullshit out.. lol

 

I'll have to inquire with our local subaru club member/vled distributor about his pricing

 

Sent from my SGH-T959 using Tapatalk

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^ Why would you need 2 new sockets???

 

All you're doing is replacing the bulb if you get the new ones from V-leds.

 

the current socket doesnt have the wire for the brake lights

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