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2010-2012 LED Taillight modification

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The earlier thread on this subject was getting a bit long. Now that I'm actually making some progress, I thought I'd start a new thread as sort of a "How To" on the subject.


The first step is to acquire the LED kit from exLEDShop.


I ordered a second complete set of tail lights from a popular auction site so that I didn't need to decommission my SHO while figuring out how to make these work.


These tail lights appear to be resistance welded together rather than glued, baking them will not allow you to separate the lens from the housing. I found that an oscillating multi-tool with a cutter bit worked very well. I cut around the outer perimeter of the black foam weather stripping.




You may need to use a couple of flat blade screw drivers to separate the lens from the housing. Don't force the lens, it will crack. If a bit of prying doesn't work, then you need to do more cutting. Be careful not to cut so deep though that you hit the lens. You will not need to cut out the are that fit's behind the chrome trip for the trunk lid lights, that will pop apart when the rest of the lens is loose.


Now you'll want to start laying out the pieces to make sure you know what goes where. Also, lay out the white diffuser on the inside of the lens. This may require some trimming to make it fit nicely.



For the trunk lid lights, there are two assemblies that fit in the recessed portions of the housing and two "J" strips that get sandwiched between the lens and the housing. The lower recessed portion, that does not normally have a bulb, does have a little vent hole covered by a sticker. Remove the sticker and route the wires for this LED board through that hole. I used Automotive GOOP to attach the board to the reflector.


For the upper recessed portion, I positioned the board such that it was aimed to the rear of the assembly, not necessarily square with the recessed area's walls. This left enough space behind the board to mount the relay. The relay is what switches between amber (for turn signals) and white, so if you have the car in reverse and you have a turn signal or hazard lights on, the white and amber LEDs will alternate. For this approach, there was WAY too much wire between the board and the relay, so I shortened the wires to only a few inches.



With the relay attached to the side of reflector with Automotive GOOP, I positioned LED board and attached it with GOOP.



-----End of Part 1-----

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Part 2 - Installing the "J" strips


In the video by the manufacturer, the J strips appear to be located centrally in the upper and lower portions of the lens assemblies. The LED strips I received fit much better to the very outside of the reflector housing. I decided to mount the strips there since they would be better supported and easier to get symmetric. There is a bit of a step to the straight side of the reflector. I dished this area out with my Dremel and a fine sanding drum so the LED strip would sit flush. Don't Dremel too deep or you could go through the reflector housing.



On the boards I received, the wires for these "J" strips exited the back side of the board. The prevented the assemblies from sitting completely flush with the reflectors as well, so I removed the wires and installed them from the top (LED) surface. I also found there was some excess solder on a few of the blank pads on the rear of the board, so I wicked that away as well. Next, I used some fiberglass insulating tape on the back side of the strips since the reflective coating on the housing is in fact conductive.



I again used Automotive GOOP to hold these boards down and routed the wires through a small gap beside the upper recessed board to exit through the existing bulb hole.



------End of Part 2-------

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Part 3 - Finished product


Rather than getting out the plastic welder, I opted to sacrifice an old 40-watt pencil soldering iron to melt the assembly back together. I used some shavings left over from the disassembly process as filler to fill in gaps.




With everything back together, I tried out the light. The amber looks great in person, but via my camera it comes off as being a bit white. I looks much better in person.







I anticipate that the rest of the assemblies will go quite similarly. This was all the more garage time my wife would let me spend today.



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Just have one question..well a couple...I really like the idea of getting a 2nd set of taillights to do this, were they Ford taillights or aftermarket? If they were aftermarket, what did you think of the quality of the taillights? Do you think they will hold up in weather as well as the Ford lights? And lastly, when you install these in the car, will you have to add resistors to make them work correctly or are they plug and play? Thanks, sorry to bug you will these questions. Good luck with the remaining part of this project.

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I ordered factory lights from various salvage yards. While I did try to find ones with the trim in good shape, that's pretty difficult. There's a chance that I will be painting the trim black before everything's done.


These will not be plug and play. They will require load resistors for the turn signal panels to keep the flash rate correct. I have a few different values to try out, but generally 5 ohms is the common value. Also, there are no connectors on these, just bare wires, so it will require wiring up to the factory vehicle wiring. I plan to splice in to the factory wiring rather than cutting the ends off, that way I can revert back to factory lights if I sell the car in the future, having any issues with longevity of these, or someone is too mesmerized by the LED mod and doesn't realize I'm slowing down. I doubt there will be sets of these sitting on shelves somewhere in the near future as repair parts.



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I had considered that, and have found a site that sells bulb bases. The issue then becomes properly strain relieving the wires going in to the bulb base. Remember that the nearest factory connector is the connection that ends in a bulb. And since the trunk lid light will now have turn signal functionality rather than just reverse lights, I'll still end up splicing in to the harness to make that feature work. I am not sure where the nearest harness connector would be for the taillight harness, but if I opted to connect there, I'd probably need to build a t-harness since there will be other circuits at that point and it would probably require running a considerable length of wire to get to the connector.


I haven't pulled the taillights yet to see if there's a harness that the light assembly plugs in to. If that ends up being the case, I may be searching the net for a factory harness too.


I did have a set back this weekend. I squirted some clear brushable silicone sealant in to the square that will be covered by the center chrome trim piece that spans the rear of the trunk. There was a hole to the inside I could see and I wanted to seal it from the elements. Unfortunately, I did this before heading in to the house for the evening. When I came out in the morning, the brushable nature allowed it to run down inside the lens and pool up on the opposite side, between the white diffuser and the lens. :( Now I need to cut open the assembly again and see if it will be repairable or if I need to find a way to get another diffuser.


So another note to future modifiers, don't use brushable silicone to seal gaps, use something thick like RTV.



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  • 8 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Not done, per se. I have all the lights modified and plastic welded back together, and I have connectors installed for each of the assemblies. That's as far as I've gotten though. Work has been keeping me crazy busy and when I'm not working, it seems I'm doing stuff with the family.


Before I install these lights I want to paint the chrome with black (haven't decided on Plasti-Dip or black and clear automotive paint) since the chrome is flaking in a few places. I now wish I had just bought standard assemblies rather than holding out and paying extra for flaking chrome ones on the popular auction site.



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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 months later...

I am working on a set of tails at this point trying to come up to a solution to the peeling chrom...not sure what direction I am going...also has anyone else done a conversion to LED's on the 10-12. I would love to know if there are any kits available and how to install. I will also do some checking in the near future.

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I will be contacting them again before ordering...seems that another member had bulbs from them and there was a few problems...one is that the bulb they list for the back up replacement does not fit and is not a direct replacement for the 7440 and that there was an issue with brightness when brakes were applied...seems the bulbs were not very bright in brake on condition...I will address these issues with them.

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