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LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps

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LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps

 
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Old 03-05-2008, 01:51 AM
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Default LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps


Introduction

I put this article together after spending approximately $250 for 10 sets of LED bulbs, using trial-n-error trying to find the brightest bulb, as well as a bulb that filled out the reflector and lit up the brake light, tail lamp, and the turn signals. The biggest appeal for me for adding these LEDs is the instant full intensity upon being charged, unlike the old filaments, which slowly light, then dim. Compared to the older bulbs, LEDs are "instant" on, instant off. For a turn signal, the 'instant on' doesn't have any intrinsic value, it just looks "modern", however, on the brake light, a quicker bulb at full intensity gives drivers behind you more time to react, and as people on the internet have stated, at 70mph, that equates to a distance of 14 feet, or something pretty close to that.

On my 2003 XK8, the center brake light above the trunk IS LED based, so adding the LEDs to the tail/brake bulbs matched the quickness of the center, and also helped show how slow the old bulbs really were.

See these video below. The left bulb is an LED, right bulb is OEM filament.

LED PASS only - YouTube

Disclaimer The project was performed on a 2003 XK8. The tail lights and turn signals may be of different design in depth, reflector characteristics, lens color, etc. My opinions made here are what I feel are the best for my particular application. But, take away at least the advantages/disadvantages that I have recognized in each of these bulbs and how they are constructed, but most importantly, how they perform in its intended use. If your turn signal, or brake/tail lamp housings are similar to mine, then I have done all the leg work and experimentation for you, and you now know which bulbs work the best (and are the most affordable).

LED vs Filament Bulbs
There is a common misconception that every LED bulb is brighter than an original filament one. This is very difficult to prove, because a bulb "intensity" is measured from one point near the bulb. One a filament bulb, this is easy, because it doesn't change from one angle to the next, however, and as you can see on the different LED bulb designs, depending on where the concentration of bulbs or diodes are located, the test of the light output can be very different. What I have found in my experimentation, it is not necessarily the 'brightest' bulb, say at the end of the bulb, will not be the best suited for filling out the reflector and therefore, makes it more difficult for other drivers to see you. THAT aspect is the most important, as I discovered the hard way. The more LEDs/diodes on a bulb, the brighter overall the bulb is though, that much is true.

-- 1156 (single pole)/1157 (double pole) are not a DIRECT replacement for the P21W and PY21W. Two problems:
(1) The side pins on the PY21W (Amber turn) are not the same as the 1156. The electronics are identical, but notice the difference in the base in these pics. (OEM on left, 1156 on right)


The bulb sockets for the front turn signals are VERY sensitive to non-PY21 based bulbs. Just for reference, if you install an 1156 into the front socket, be prepared to keep it in there Til Death do You Part, because removal of that 1156 requires destroying it. I promise you. I've lost two (2) trial bulbs that way. The metal guides that are in the front sockets surround the pins, once you're in, you're in.



The rear sockets are much easier to 'force' in an 1156 bulb, as you slide the offending pin along plastic, and then resting in the"groove" where the contact is. You can back out the bulb in the same manner w/o damaging the bulb, if you so desire.



(2) The electrical resistance of an 1156 or 1157 bulb is different than the original filaments. As such, if you use one of these bulbs from your local auto parts store, more than likely, the computer will think the bulb is still "burned out" and give you a message indicator light. The only solution is to put a load resistor on the bulb line to simulate the increased resistance that the P21 bulbs produce. I didn't do any test measurements, but it must be enough of a difference to cause a MIL. To be honest, pay $10-$15 for a new pair of P21 bulbs if you don't go LED as a replacement, the resistor gets hot, you're not saving that much, and it just isn't worth the money you save.

LED Size
Every LED bulb is different. Bulbs on the end, bulbs around the sides, One bulb here, a thousand there - short ones, long ones, running in a circle, running up the side, cluster at the end, some sticking out the sides, clearly, with a clear-as-mud understanding of the performance of these new LEDs on the market, a lot of consumers will buy without knowing exactly what they need, and base their decisions on advertising instead, followed by a incredible disappointment after installing them.

Here is what the original filament bulb measures compared to a couple of LED contenders.



A reflector is designed based upon the location of that single point burning filament. In order for a good LED bulb to replace this filament bulb, it must generate light pretty much along the entire length of the bulb in order to provide light at the same angle as the original bulb did, but from different locations. Notice the 'angles' in the reflector of the Jag Brake lamp reflector? Anything outside of this reflector can be seen somewhat from the side, but does zilch for the drivers directly behind you.



Therefore, the short bulbs with clusters of bulbs at the very end do not illuminate the reflector at all. In addition, the length of the bulb has an effect as well. I have tested bulbs that have diodes on the sides, but are not long enough to really use that reflector inside the lamps effectively. Then there have been a few that have really excelled in this department.

Resistors
I mentioned the need to install a load resistor above, and when you replace your old filament bulb with an LED, well all of a sudden, the more efficient LED doesn't draw as much voltage as the previous bulb did, and the computer thinks the filament bulb is broken, resulting in the pass thru of voltage. To combat this, a load resistor takes the place of a filament bulb, and to be honest, I don't know which size works best, but I know I have both 6 ohm and 10 ohm resistors, and both work equally well.



To install them, you simply put one end of the resistor on the bulb's "hot" wire, and the other goes to the common ground. Which end of the resistor doesn't matter, so you can't screw that up.


Only bad thing about the resistors is they heat up significantly, and they heat up fast! I can only guesstimate on the temps these things get up to, and I want to say over 150 degrees Fahrenheit or more, which means burn-baby-burn. I got a small blister from trying to move one while it was being charged, and then it also is at a temperature which will melt the plastic, so be careful where you install them. In my case, I used double sided tape, which actually hasn't 'melted' on me, and secured them to metal housings adjacent to the cover plate. See this pic below.



So far, over 4 weeks of use has resulted in no signs of plastic deformation of the cover plate. For the actual resistor diagram that I used for my rear tail lamp housing w/ turn signal, see this thread here that I completed quite a while ago.

Here is a pic of the original filament bulbs next to the LED (Bulb F). Camera exposure was the same, you can see the difference.



Here is a pic with the marker lights on - no brake applied. Right LED, Left filament bulb.



Since I had a lot of the 1156 bulbs left over, I used the really bright SMT (Bulb B below) in the rear fog location. This bulb is not monitored by the car, therefore, no resistor is needed to use this bulb replacement.



Here is the car with the brake applied and both left and right LEDs (Bulb F) installed.




Types/Styles of LED Bulbs Tested

So, you want to know which styles are out there, just type in LED 1156 or 1157 on ebay, and you'll come up with pages of LEDs for your automotive needs. It has been written in many locations, that the color of LED you should install, should match the color of the lens. That means if you want a brake bulb in the red lens, you should get RED Led output bulbs. The turn signals, should obviously be AMBER, even though the lenses are clear. So you want to know which ones worked the best for my car? Well, let's look at what I tested out, shall we? In this table, I will summarize the advantages and disadvantages, and then give either an EX, Good, Poor rating for both uses as a Turn Signal or Brake Light Replacement.
__________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

Bulb A - Luxeon

Click for Larger Pic

These were by far the most expensive bulbs that I tested, and one of the first ones that I purchased and installed. Light output on these were among the highest, but unfortunately, it consisted of one single LED bulb, and that bulb overheated within 15 seconds at full intensity, resulting in auto-dimming to protect itself. It also did absolutely nothing in the reflector in either the turn signal location or brake lamps.

Turn Signal: Poor Brake: Poor

__________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

Bulb B - SMT Sides & 3 Front

Click for Larger Pic

By far, this bulb is one the most useful design. It has a lot of side lighting, I would say about 25% more than the 3 SMTs on the end. Fills out the reflector very well, but needs more LEDs on the end, and a little longer to make it a perfect all around performer.

Turn Signal: Excellent Brake: Good
__________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

Bulb C - 3 SMTs Front

Click for Large Pic
This bulb doesn't really have a place anywhere, as all of the light output is at the end, and nothing gets to the reflector. Similar in performance as Bulb A, but at least this one didn't overheat when in use.

Turn Signal: Poor Brake: Poor
__________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

Bulb D - SMT Sides, 5 LEDs Front

Click for Larger Pic
This was the best design that I saw, lots of SMTs on the sides, fairly long enough, and the 5 LEDs in front made it eyecatching to drivers. Only problem was that it did not work in my tail/brake lamp socket?? Both sides did this, and strangely, it did work in another socket (the dedicated indicator tail lamp) which I didn't really need. As such, I gave it good grades for both application, but be warned, it may not work.

Turn Signal: Excellent Brake: Good
__________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

Bulb E - Small SMT Sides and Front


Click for Larger Pic

These bulbs were the priciest, due to the newest technology in LEDs I presume, at $40 + S&H when I bought them a couple months ago. They are equal in performance as Bulb B, but waaaay more expensive.

Turn Signal: Excellent Brake: Good
__________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

Bulb F - 18 LED

Click for Larger Pic

I liked the design of these bulbs. The flat diodes on the sides really lit up the reflectors, and were much longer than all of the other bulbs. As such, the entire reflector was illuminated, and with the 3 LEDs on the front, it looked almost equal in output all round. This bulb worked well in all applications.

Turn Signal: Excellent Brake: Excellent
__________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

Bulb G - 20 LED w/ Bumps

Click for Larger Pic

What looks a lot like Bulb F above, it is clearly not. At first glance, the bulb just adds two additional LEDs on the front, and it just as long as Bulb F, so why the poor ratings? This bulb doesn't have flat diodes on the sides; they're bumpy and the 'diameter' of the bulb now exceeds the maximum that will fit in either the turn, brake or tail lamp indicator bulbs. Booo on this manufacturer for duping me!

Turn Signal: Poor Brake: Poor
__________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

Bulb H - 36 LEDs



This bulb design was one of the first ones to be released, put several circular rows of LEDs along the length of the bulb, add some on the end, and cal it good. The light output was pretty good, only problem here was the length of the bulb. It wasn't long enough to illuminate the rear of the reflector, therefore, did not score well with me.

Turn Signal: Untested Brake: Poor
__________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

Bulb I - 24 LEDs

Click for Larger Pic

Similar to the design of Bulb H above, but this time, most of the LEDs are placed on the end, and some radially firing ones were supposed to fill out the reflector. It failed, miserably.

Turn Signal: Poor Brake: Poor
__________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

Bulb J - 45 LEDs

Click for Larger Pic

This one is similar to Bulb H, but looks to have an additional row of radially installed LEDs, which should help with the reflector performance. It is shown to be 50mm long, which is almost as long as Bulb F. This turned out to be pretty good, and would be my second choice for the turn signals. Brakes were all-right as well.

Turn Signal: Excellent Brake: Good

__________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

Bulb K - Five (5) 5W Cree LEDs w/ a projector-type lens on the end.

Click for Larger Pic

This one is a new LED design, and has performed VERY well in brake and turn signal applications. It doesn't look as 'circuit-boardish' through the clear tail lamp lens, so that's a plus. It is one of the most, if not the most expensive bulb, however. $47 for a pair of bulbs containing built-in resistors. I've updated my rear bulbs in the XK8 with these for brake and turns, and they are installed in both my front and rear turns in the XJ8.

Turn Signal: Excellent Brake: Excellent

__________________________________________________ ___________________________________________


Here is a video of both LEDs installed. Now, it matches the 3rd brake light exactly!

LEDs both sides - YouTube

ALTERNATIVES

I even tried a bulb manufactured by Philips that claimed that it would illuminate 50% faster than the regular filament bulb.



Unless I am mistaken, this video shows the same delay that the original bulb had. It failed my test.

PhillipsUltraPASS - YouTube




 
Attached Thumbnails LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p915080188-3.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p737612419-3.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p869036638-3.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p612721950-3.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p1006495715-4.jpg  

LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p854376476-3.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-resistor-diagram.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p654511702-3.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p537083440-2.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p796509170-2.jpg  

LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p708057052-4.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p915080188-3.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p624315238-2.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p904512224-2.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p737612419-3.jpg  

LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p797307585-4.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p869036638-3.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p612721950-3.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p1006495715-4.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p854376476-3.jpg  

LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-resistor-diagram.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p926162932-3.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p654511702-3.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p537083440-2.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p997313515-4.jpg  

LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p796509170-2.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p708057052-4.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p760775056-4.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p624315238-2.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p904512224-2.jpg  

LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p797307585-4.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p926162932-3.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p997313515-4.jpg   LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps-p760775056-4.jpg  
Attached Images                         

Last edited by H20boy; 02-26-2013 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 03-05-2008, 11:06 AM
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Default RE: LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps

Thanks for the article, looks like you really spent a lot of time on it! I personally dont want to touch any wiring though, so plug n play to me is the most important, very nice though!
 
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Old 03-05-2008, 11:10 AM
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Default RE: LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps

Great writing .It's worth FAQ .
 
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Old 03-05-2008, 01:10 PM
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Default RE: LED Project - Turn Signals and Tail Lamps

This image was lost.



ORIGINAL: bmw745ion19s

Thanks for the article, looks like you really spent a lot of time on it!
If you ever get the urge, it really isn't that diffiucult, and i'll be glad to offer assistance. Just need to know which wire is which, and the electrical diagrams on the JTIS CD shows all of that.

I stayed up waaaaay too late last night...just couldn't stop writing. Little tired today at work.
 

Last edited by H20boy; 06-06-2009 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 03-18-2008, 12:59 AM
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Default RE: LED Project - side repeater lights

I tried a few LEDs in the amber side repeater location too, with absouletly no luck in 4 different types of 194 LEDs.

Two didn't even fit in the reflector housing, see below.


and this one...


The other two fit, but did not put out as much light as the original filament, so I left it in place.

The other two I tried were


and this one (inverted) ... very poor light output


 
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:43 PM
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Default RE: LED Project - side repeater lights

Wow Nice Article their H20

I am thinking of changing my lights for sometime now, but been too lazy to start anything yet [8D]
 
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Old 03-19-2008, 02:02 PM
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Default RE: LED Project - side repeater lights

Thanks 'naut! The styles and design of the LEDs are constantly changing, and if you have have any questions about your project before buying, just PM me.
 
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Old 05-29-2008, 12:45 AM
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Default RE: LED Project - side repeater lights

Holy crap, my article got shortened!! I lost like 75% of the information, pics and video that I originally posted.

Mods, any chance I can get back the info? I know I didn't delete it on 3/7/08. All that work...gone. x1000

No way I am going to rewrite it
 
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Old 05-29-2008, 12:48 AM
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Default RE: LED Project - side repeater lights

If anyone printed it, or saved a copy of it, would you please forward it to me, I may create it again if I had the original template. sadness
 
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Old 06-01-2008, 05:17 PM
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Default RE: LED Project - side repeater lights

Dang sorry to hear somehow it got deleted...I just came across this thread...amazing how much quicker the leds are at lighting up. After seeing how they look in the taillight I've gotta do those lights in the mountaineer...
 
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Old 06-01-2008, 06:21 PM
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Default RE: LED Project - side repeater lights

If someone has questions about LEDs in general, just ask. I have created a few LED projects for my truck (new puddle lights in the doors using both a 24 and 18 LED array in each door and also a 780 (390 per) taillight mod). So, I understand the difference between the filament bulb ratings and LED ratings. I can also tell you roughly how many LEDs of a given MCD are needed to match up to a given wattage bulb.

As for the load balancing resistors that are required for LED bulbs, those resistors are going to pull about 20 watts of power (power = V2/resistance, or (14.4) squared / 10 ohms). So, yes, the resistor will be hot very fast. You can probably get away with say a 20 or 25 ohm resistor, which will dramatically drop the amount of power being turned to heat.
 
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Old 06-03-2008, 11:32 PM
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Default RE: LED Project - side repeater lights

Think I repaired it... it's close to the original, but maybe a bit different. My head hurts.
 
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Old 06-04-2008, 11:26 AM
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Default RE: LED Project - side repeater lights

Wow your post was missing quite a few things! That sucks...wonder what happened???

So it seems as though type f are the best of all of them eh? What were the prices on those? I've got a few bulbs on the mounty I'd like to replace. Can't remember did you get all yours from ebay or from vled?

Nice write-up btw!
 
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:14 PM
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Default RE: LED Project - Turn Signals and Brake Lamps

Yah, it took me about 2 hours to replace all the pics and vids. i had saved the text previously though, so it wasn't all from memory.

Type F did work best in all applications, and wasn't expensive either. I think I paid $15 shipped for each pair from ebay. Sometimes, it is difficult to find either the amber or red ones...for some reason.

There is another one, similar to Type F, but instead of 3 leds on the end, it has 5. This will give a more symmetrical look to it, instead of a triangle/upside down triangle appearance. I recommend them highly. Here is a link for a set.

PS thanks for the comp on the writeup. I hope it helps someone someday.
 
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:15 PM
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Default RE: LED Project - Turn Signals and Brake Lamps

Hey thermo, I have read that you need the larger resistors for the turn signals. Is there really any truth to that, or will the smaller ones work in all applications? I ask, becuase they are easier to find mounting points for.
 
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Old 06-04-2008, 02:08 PM
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Default RE: LED Project - Turn Signals and Brake Lamps

Need to faq it so it'd there for people to look up...
 
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:48 PM
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Default RE: LED Project - Turn Signals and Brake Lamps

h2oboy, the size of the resistor is kinda trivial really. There are 2 specs that you need to be interested in. First spec is the resistance of the resistor. For our cars, at a maximum you want a 20 ohm resistor. This will be enough combined with the loading of the LED bulb complex to not trigger the fast flash. The other spec is the wattage rating of the resistor. This is what normally determines the size of the resistor. The resistor is going to pass some amount of current through it. You can calculate the power requirements of the resistor simply by squaring the voltage of your car system (typically 14.4 VDC) and then dividing it by the resistance of the resistor. So, ultimately, you are going to need a resistor with a power rating of 14.4 x 14.4 / 20 ohms, or 10.36 watts (a 10 watt resistor will be just fine). If you use a 10 ohm reisistor, then you simply subsitute in the 10 ohm in place of the 20 and you will need a 20.72 watt resistor. The higher wattage resistor is going to be bigger so it can dissapate all that heat. You can get away with say a 10 ohm 10 watt resistor for a short period of time as the bulb is not energized 100% of the time (actually only about 50% of the time), but the cycling of the heat can lead to premature failure. So, get the larger wattage resistor and save yourself a lot of heartache later on.
 
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Old 06-04-2008, 04:18 PM
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Default RE: LED Project - Turn Signals and Brake Lamps

^ good advice...don't skimp on the resistor! got it. Perfect thread to put this down. I am even going to link it from my prior post dealing with the resistors themselves. As for my project, I think I put the 10ohm resistor on the lead for the brake lamp. The rest, including turn and parking circuits got the big ones.
 
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Old 07-29-2008, 08:43 PM
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Default RE: LED Project - Turn Signals and Brake Lamps

hey H20, I've got a quick question. I wanted to change my front parking light (small bulb next to main beam) to LED, do I need to add resistor as well or just plug n play? sorry didn't mean to jack your threat. Thx.
 
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:15 PM
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Default RE: LED Project - Turn Signals and Brake Lamps

I am pretty sure that that front parking bulb won't cause any errors if you swap it out w/ a LED bulb. Just the major ones that blink. LOL

Do it and get us some pictures of before and after...this thread is good if you want.
 
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