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Thread: LED Tail Light Conversion

  1. #1
    Hooked CrazyDuck's Avatar
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    Jun 2014
    Pensacola, FL

    LED Tail Light Conversion

    I know everyone has seen a jeep drive by with super bright LED Taillights. First time I saw these were on a guys jeep on the trail. It was hard to miss because of how bright they are. I could pick his jeep out of the group on dusty trails almost a mile out. So not only do they look great on the jeep but the higher visibility is much safer on and offroad.

    The flush mount LED conversion isn't new to the Jeep community. In fact it is quite popular with pre JK owners for the ease and low cost of the Modification.
    My problem was that no one had a complete write up. I searched forums and the interwebs but couldn't find a full write up. So I set out to do this mod and document it as detailed as possible. I wanted anyone to feel comfortable doing this after reading this.

    I know some of y'all may cringe at the thought of cutting holes into your beloved jeep, but with proper tools, planning, and an easy to follow guide, you can do it with ease.

    First thing, make sure you have all your parts and tools on hand.

    Main tools required.
    Jigsaw w/metal blade
    Soldering gun
    Heat gun
    Phillips head screwdriver
    Ratchet and 10mm socket
    Round file
    Wire cutters
    Wire strippers
    Masking tape
    Sharpie or pen
    Various sizes heat shrink tubing

    First I removed the four phillips head screws that attach the factory lenses to the stock housing.

    Then removed the three 10MM head bolts that attach the housings to the body.

    Once the housing is unbolted you can disconnect the wiring connector for the tail lights. (Repeat these steps for the other side)

    Next I covered the entire area with tape to help control paint damage during cutting, and to provide a place to make my marks.

    Gotta have a little fun while your working.

    My LEDs were 4" round flush mounts w/ rubber grommets.

    This required a 4.5" hole to be measured and cut. I measured front bottom of my jeeps Tub and from the tailgate opening to find a center point. I then measured 2.25" front my center point and drew my circle.

    Side note: my placement required me to remove my tag holder and relocate my tag.

    After triple checking your placement and all measurements You have a couple of options when it comes time to cut the hole.
    Use a jigsaw or 4.5" hole saw(which is kinda pricey) I already had a jigsaw with metal blade so I went that route.

    Cutting the holes only took a few minutes. Be sure to take your time and not to go to fast. I used a round file to smooth the cut and remove any sharp edges. Then I test fit the rubber grommet and the light. I had a few areas I had to address with the file again. After that I had just the right fit.

    Note: If you your TJ is an '03 model or newer, be aware that your Evap Canister is located behind your stock tail light on the passenger side. Some LED assemblies will not fit flush due to clearance problems with the canister. You may need to relocate you canister. My Jeep is a 2000 model otherwise I would include this in the write-up.

    Here is the wire designation from the new LED lights. The white wire is the ground & has an ring connector on the end. The red wire is the brake/turn. The black wire is the park/running light.

    Now on the vehicle side of wiring.
    Green with black tracer = brake/turn
    Solid white = park/running light
    White with black tracer =reverse light

    I stripped my wires and twisted them together for a test run. After proper wiring designation was confirmed I soldering each connection and used heat shrink tubing to seal all connections. Your LEDs have a separate ground wire(white wire w/ ring terminal) I used self tapping screws to fasten the grounds to the inside of the tub.

    Once you get everything wired and tested you will see you have what I call Hyper flash. Because your newly installed LEDs only pull 5w compared to the 25w our your stock taillights. Your jeeps signal relay recognizes the drop in voltage and causes the hyper flash.

    There are 3 different ways that I know of to remedy problem.
    1. Modify your existing flash relay.
    2. Wire in a resistor.
    3. Buy an LED Flash Relay and install it.

    After looking at the cost of the LED relay i decided to modify my stock relay.

    Here's the steps I took.

    The relay is located under the steering wheel behind the dash.

    Two Phillips head screws hold the lower dash panel on

    Once you remove that panel you will remove the heat shield. (Shown in the photo Below)

    The relay is located to the right of the steering column.

    Once you get the relay out, carefully pry it open and remove it from its case.

    Using a razor cut the circuit in the relay as show. In the picture. Be sure the it is completely cut.

    Reverse these steps to put everything back together. Your signal lights will no longer hyper flash; however, they will flash slightly faster than stock.

    This mod is only for early TJs. 2003 and newer year models are different.

    Now I know y'all are thinking no reverse lights. I installed 2" reverse lights using the Same measuring and cutting methods previously mentioned. They have many other lights that can be used as reverse lights so I won't go in-depth on this part.

    You will ground it in the same place you did you tail lights. Then connect the power wire from the light to the (White with black tracer) wire on the jeep.

    I hope this helps y'all with your project. Have fun.
    Quak Attack!

  2. #2
    Hooked Irish Pirate's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Key West
    Fantastic write up. I recently did the same thing to my TJ. This is exactly spot on with what everyone needs to know

  3. #3
    Fresh Catch ewis77's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I like it. Added to my list of mods. Thanks.

  4. #4
    Hooked CrazyDuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Pensacola, FL
    Quote Originally Posted by Irish Pirate View Post
    Fantastic write up. I recently did the same thing to my TJ. This is exactly spot on with what everyone needs to know
    Thanks. I wanted to be complete as possible.
    Quak Attack!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Northern California
    Great write-up, and thanks for addressing the "hyper flash" (I will use that term going forward hehe, I did the same approach scratching the stock flasher and works like a charm (plus free doe snot hurt )


  6. #6
    Addict catahoula's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    Nice write up. I like the look. Love to do that on my JK but it would cost a ton I'm afraid.
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  7. #7
    Hooked CrazyDuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Pensacola, FL
    Quote Originally Posted by catahoula View Post
    Nice write up. I like the look. Love to do that on my JK but it would cost a ton I'm afraid.
    I'm actually about to do a JK for a buddy. I'll do a write up for ya.
    Quak Attack!

  8. #8
    Knows a Thing or Two Flat Top's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Cypress, Tx
    Great write-up. I love my JKU but still enjoy looking at nice TJs.
    2013 Commando Green JK Unlimited Rubicon - Auto
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  9. #9
    Been Around the Block LetsGoMuddin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Great job, looks really good.
    1997 O|||||||O TJ
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    33" Duratracs
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  10. #10
    Hooked CrazyDuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Pensacola, FL
    Quote Originally Posted by LetsGoMuddin View Post
    Great job, looks really good.
    Thank you, appreciate it
    Quak Attack!

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