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Thread: LED Error Free on the cheap DIY

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb LED Error Free on the cheap DIY

    If you go and buy Error free LED lights, it seems that half of them don't Work, and there all like $10 plus shipping, and not very bright. Here is a way to get Error free Bulbs for $5 total Part's (shipped) and 15 Minutes of your time:

    First your going to need a Set of 39mm LED lights. There are many, many to choose from. I prefer getting the Super white models,(They will still look a bit blue) and getting full Size bulbs with multiple led's. I first had 2 bulbs with 9 Mini super bright LED's, and you could barely see the plate at night, then I stumbled on these.

    they fit perfect, and are bright enough to use for your interior Lighting (although for my Main Dome light, and Trunk along with under the hood.... I got a 24 LED plate) They come in a set of 2, and After buying Probably 12 Different types of LED lights, these ones are Simply the best you can get,Hands Down.
    (Unless you have room for the 24 LED (3 wide, 8 long) and instead of plugging in Directly, it has 2 contact points, and a spring in the middle allowing it to work for 20mm to 60mm sockets, and 2 wires leading to the LED plate, But those won't fit in the License plate cup)



    Now of course Ebay will be the Cheapest, and how cheap Depends on how long you want to wait. You can get these for $2 shipped from china, But it will be 3 weeks before you get them! Once I had my Ebay search down to a listing of suitable LED lights, I used the distance button, and set it to 1000 miles, so I would get some from California or a Neighboring state. (you can also just check the North America, or US Box)
    I found these for 3.50 shipped for a pair, which was good enough for me, and I ordered 3 more sets from China.

    Next order of Business is some Resistors. Your going to want 2 5 Watt 75 Ohm (or as close to that as you can find, but Still at least 5 Watt) Resistors. EDIT:use 10 watt 47-80 Ohm Resistors! Same price and size as the others(47 works great) I paid 1.69 for a pair from My local electronic part's shop, but if you don't have one, Digikey has them, as well as Ebay.. (There Ceramic Resistors)....but either way try to get the rectangle ones for mounting purposes. (youl'l see why later on)



    Now onto Business. Have some cleaning solution that wont kill your paint, and a standard and Philips Screwdriver (Smallish Medium), as well as a Rag and a pair of needle nose Pliers, (small but not tiny) some small to medium wire snippers and a small cup / tin / whatever on hand before you start.

    Then pop your trunk to make things Easier, (that way the lights are at eye level, and having things not straight up and down helps too) and remove all 4 Screws Pictured here, and put the Screws into your small cup so you won't be losing them.



    Once you have done that, Remove the piece carefully, and take the time to grab your cleaning agent and rag, and clean the ring of dirt that has built up over the last 12-19 years on both the trunk, and the piece you have removed.



    Once that's done, Remove the cups the lights are held in, one at a time. Start with the one on the left, as it has much more wire to work with, So it's the better choice for getting the hang of things. Use a plastic pry tool if you have one, a standard screwdriver if you Don't (Just dont chip the paint, so if you an put a small piece of wood or whatever to use as a fulcrum do that) either way, start on the right side of the black plastic cup, and gently work your tool under it a bit, and pry it up just a bit (carefully as not to break it), and do the rest by hand, pulling it out right side first.




    Take the original bulb out, and take the resistor out and bend the ends into a 2 hooks, Like shown here, only bend on side more into a hook then the other (Because the first one is easy to get in) Be careful not to bend the resistor wires where they go into the resistor itself (or it will break on you)



    once the wires are looped through, (you may need to grab the second one with your needle nose pliers and pull it through) Twist the wire around itself tightly about 5 times so it is always making contact (Even when you hit a bump! using your needle nose pliers. (unlike I did in this photo) leave about 1/2 inch of wire on each side of the resistor, so the resistor is hanging down, and out of your way, cut off the excess wire, if there is any.



    No when I had first put the bulbs in without the resistors, these particular bulbs did not want to face down through the clearish plastic, so it shines on the light.....But the resistor itself will solve this problem for you, and is also why you left it 1/2" on each side hanging down!

    Put the bulb in, Making sure its facing down, now push the resistor down between the back of the light, and the cup.(Note that the Resistor is firmly against the back of the cup, BUT only a corner of it is Pressing the LED Down Firm, this way there is minimal heat transfer from the resistor to the LED! Probably wouldnt be a problem either way, but better safe then sorry)



    This will hold everything in place, and ensure the LED stays pointed in the right Direction.( Again, Twist the Resistor wires tightly around the contacts, Not how It is in this photo! ) now cut 2 2" pieces of black tape, and avoiding the clear area wrap each piece halfway around the cup (side by side) holding the bulb and resistor in place.(Purely Precautionary there not gonna move anyways) it Once your done with the left side, push it back in it's home (no need for glue, it snaps in, Plus the cover piece holds it in) and do the the right side. This one is a little harder because you have way less wire to work with, and it wont allow the cup to hang down like the left side, but since you now know what your doing, it should be a piece of cake.! (I advise against unplugging the cup from the wiring harness, because if it falls back in the hole, youll spend an hour fishing it out again!)



    Finished Product, Error Free on the Cheap ($5.19) Much Brighter, Better looking.

    NOTE: Little to No power saving's over real bulbs, but it's not like its a big drain anyways.
    Oh and for those worried about Making your plate easier to see by speed cam's....The speed cams can see your plate in Pitch black anyways, so Unless your going to pull a Heist (in which case cut me in and Ill make a DIY on revolving License Plates!) your not making your car an easier target!!!
    Last edited by wbarfels; 01-17-2011 at 03:04 AM. Reason: Spelling, Fine tuning






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    Want error free LED License plate lights for less? Go here:
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  2. #2
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    Nice write up. How long does it take to replace the license plate lights?

  3. #3
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    About 15 Minutes,Give or take if your careful and don't rush. you could probably do it in 5 if you have good Dexterity and small hands.






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    Want error free LED License plate lights for less? Go here:
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  4. #4
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    Looks great.....erfect timing, one of mine just went out and was just about to pay $53 for a pair from ECStuning...thanks for the diy, you just saved me some money lol

  5. #5
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    Great write up, but I've never had to pry up my lights. I just pushed them to the left till they popped free and then pulled them out.

    1998 328is 5sp Cosmos Schwarz Metallic Sparco strut brace factory X-brace M rear diffuser Apexcone ellipsoid w/55w 5000K HIDs thinline angel eyes/smoked Lamin-X blacked out tails corners side markers and fogs LEDs where ever they fit, ASC-T & CDV delete DDM pedals 35% tint all around Eibach Pro Kit springs and HD lip. Poly LCABs and RTABs. 2003 325XI, StahlGrau metallic money pit, auto, 17" style 73's and just black grills.

  6. #6
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    yeah it's not really a pry, just some spirited lifting the first time around you usually have to pry a bit, you can see on the pic's that at one time there was some kind of adhesive on there holding it on, if you look around the holes you can see what's left of it.

    So what do you guys think, worthy of posting in the DIY section?






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    Want error free LED License plate lights for less? Go here:
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  7. #7
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    So what do you guys think, worthy of posting in the DIY section?


    I think it should go there, but not everyone likes LEDs like I do. LOL
    Last edited by jmo69; 01-01-2011 at 10:30 PM.

    1998 328is 5sp Cosmos Schwarz Metallic Sparco strut brace factory X-brace M rear diffuser Apexcone ellipsoid w/55w 5000K HIDs thinline angel eyes/smoked Lamin-X blacked out tails corners side markers and fogs LEDs where ever they fit, ASC-T & CDV delete DDM pedals 35% tint all around Eibach Pro Kit springs and HD lip. Poly LCABs and RTABs. 2003 325XI, StahlGrau metallic money pit, auto, 17" style 73's and just black grills.

  8. #8
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    nice write up .. might give this a try in the near future
    diggin the license plate too haha

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  10. #10
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    I changed my LP lights out about 5 minutes before new years lol. Mine will probably show an error though, I don't have any resistors in place yet.

    Great DIY though, I'll keep this in mind when I'm ready to order the resistors.

  11. #11
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    With the tape, and the way the resistor is wedged in there I dont think it will be moving at all.

    And as far as the heat, like you said the cup should be fine, and if youll look closely, youll see that just the corner of the resistor touches the LED, so that shouldn't be a problem either.
    Last edited by wbarfels; 01-02-2011 at 12:03 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost






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  12. #12
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    I picked up 2-9 led super bright 39mm for $5.91 on ebay from ushd.com and was unable to locate two 5 watt 75 ohm so I had to use 10 watt 47 ohm to get the computer to not pop up num plate light out error on the computer.. The led light looks so much better and it is a subtle upgrade that looks sweet.. Thanks wbarfels

  13. #13
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    No problem, Im just glad I could help! And if 47 Ohm will work, you should go with that, it wont generate as much heat, or use as much Juice!






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    Want error free LED License plate lights for less? Go here:
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  14. #14
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    Nice diy, quick question though, i tried this because one of my licence lights was out, turned out it wasnt the bulb, there was no power going to the left light...any idea what i could check?wiring somewhere?

  15. #15
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    check at the plug and also the wires that go into the trunk lid on the left side.. the wires that go through there rub together and are a known problem area. good luck.

  16. #16
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    Make sure your not getting power..the LED bulbs only work if you put them in one way, so measure it with a meter, Then to what he said.






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  17. #17
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    EDIT: Ive Refined the DIY, and I don't see how Anything could make it more Accurate now! Please find a MOD and get this posted to the DIY Section, too many of us are paying $50-60 for the same damn thing, only in a nice little package!






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    FYI. If you want to keep the resistor further away from the elements (climate) you can also trace the color of the wires down into the trunk harness and into the actual trunk. In there you can splice the resistor in safer.

    In either case, whether you put it next to the light or in the trunk, both the light and the resistors will get significantly hot/warm. Be careful where and how you mount the resistor.
    Last edited by LockDots; 01-21-2011 at 03:46 PM.

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  20. #20
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    I wouldn't use that as reference as resistance can change while it warms up. Best resistance to use is one that an incandescent bulb gives you. Particularly the one that goes there. To know for sure, get a pair of bulbs and test the resistance on them alone (outside of the housing) and that's the resistance you want to aim for.

  21. #21
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    They only show like 4 ohm when there off, anything between 47 and 75 will work fine..I suggest the 10 watt 47's that I am now running, they fit perfect, and are at the low end of the resistance scale for this Application, which means less heat and power.

    Quote Originally Posted by LockDots84 View Post
    FYI. If you want to keep the resistor further away from the elements (climate) you can also trace the color of the wires down into the trunk harness and into the actual trunk. In there you can splice the resistor in safer.

    In either case, whether you put it next to the light or in the trunk, both the light and the resistors will get significantly hot/warm. Be careful where and how you mount the resistor.
    There Pretty well protected where they are in this post, plus they help keep the LED's in place....But Wiring them in at the loom is a good Idea as well! Good thinking.
    Last edited by wbarfels; 02-10-2011 at 08:09 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost






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  22. #22
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    nice, now the poleece (police) will be able to see that tag from a 2 miles away! Nice write up
    "Help uh Brutha out!"

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  23. #23
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    How do the leds not save power? My understanding was that leds used like 1/100th the amount of power a normal bulb uses and also never gets warm (because I read that as well above, or is that pure because of the resistor?

    I would like to fit some led lights in some places someday, but if it doesn't save any power (what my whole point was) then it's no longer needed.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by MParallel View Post
    How do the leds not save power? My understanding was that leds used like 1/100th the amount of power a normal bulb uses and also never gets warm (because I read that as well above, or is that pure because of the resistor?

    I would like to fit some led lights in some places someday, but if it doesn't save any power (what my whole point was) then it's no longer needed.
    It's because of the resistor. If there were no resistors then yes it would save power. But as OP mentioned, the added or "non-used" portion of electricity is stored int he resistor and converted to heat.

    Also, anywhere you're looking to switch out LEDs wouldn't save you a significant amount of power honestly. Is it there? Sure. Will you notice it? I doubt it.

    What were you looking to save power for from small incandescent bulbs anyway?

  25. #25
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    Congrats!!!!! You finally found a use for LED's on the exterior of an e36 that doesn't look like crap.

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