Introduction: How to Upgrade Your Brake Lights to LED

Picture of How to Upgrade Your Brake Lights to LED

Video tutorial on how to upgrade your brake lights to LEDs along with what the benefits. For this I am working with a 1998 Ford Ranger and AuxBeam has provided me with the bulbs required for the replacement. Bulb replacement procedures will vary between vehicles, so tail lights need to be fully removed while others have an access hatch in interior trim pieces. At the end of the tutorial I will also be showing the comparison and discussing the benefits of LED light over incandescent lights. For this particular truck, the parking and brake light combo take a single bulb model number 3157 for each tail light, so there is two bulbs required in total for the replacement.

Tools/Supplies Needed:

  • phillips screwdriver
  • replacement LED bulbs
  • brush

Step 1:

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Bulb replacement procedures will vary between vehicles, so tail lights need to be fully removed while others have an access hatch in interior trim pieces.

To remove this tail light on this particular truck, there will be four phillips screws. Lower the tail gate and there will be two on the inside. Then there will be two on the side of the light. For this particular truck, the parking and brake light combo take a single bulb model number 3157 for each tail light, so there is two bulbs required in total for the replacement.

Once those screws have been removed, pull out the tail light. This removal procedure is quite standard amongst most of the mid 90s and up Ford Rangers with some aesthetic changes.

Step 2:

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Before removing the bulbs, considering this is a truck the rear of the light is exposed to road debris so it’s a good idea to clean the surface so nothing falls inside the lens. For this I just used a soft broom. Once that has been done, the bulb connector can be remove by twisting counter clockwise and pulling straight put.

Remove the old bulb.

Install the new bulb and you will need to ensure it’s orientation is correct so you basically have a 50/50 chance on this. Test the bulb by turning on the parking lights or activating the brake lights, if it doesn’t work, then turn the bulb around.

Step 3:

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Just to give you a comparison between the original and LED lights, both using the parking lights and brake lights.

As you can see the is an increase in brightness on both the parking light and brake light modes, the light emitted from the LED is much cleaner, there is a crisp transition between the parking and brake lights, and the LED illuminates much quicker.

Install the light socket back into the tail light housing.

Step 4:

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Then install the tail light back into the truck.

Tighten up the screws, I found it’s easiest to start the tail gate side screws first.

For the outside screws, you can pull the light back slightly to ensure the screw is being screwed into the plastic retainer.

Tighten all the screws then and you can now move onto the opposite side, using the exact same procedure.

Step 5:

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During the day with the parking lights on at first. With the new LED on the driver’s or left side of the truck, you can see the light is much brighter. The parking and brake reflector portion of the housing is filled with more light. When that brake light is activated, it instantly illuminated brighter and without a gradual increase to the brightest point compared to the stock bulb.

At night for another example, again using the parking lights and then with the brake lights. Even on the ground you can see the illumination has increased quite noticeably.

And one final test, I downloaded a free app for my phone which measures the lux. For this I tested about 12” away from the light, I took 3 samples for each light to determine a high value, low value, which then gave an average value.

So as you can see the comparison, the LED is on the left and has a substantial increase of lux than compared to the incandescent which is on the right for the parking lights.

And again with the brake lights, we are looking at about a double the illumination of the parking and brake lights.

Overall, the benefits of the upgrading your brake lights to LEDs is increased visibility of yourself to fellow motorists, increased reaction time for when those brake lights are activated, LEDs do run cooler compared to the incandescent bulbs, they put less of a draw on your vehicle’s electrical system, where an incandescent bulb lasts 1200 hours, an LED can last 25,000 hour, and LED bulbs also run cooler.

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Comments

gm280 (author)2017-12-03

Interesting. Years ago, before LEDs were popular, I use to take my trailer lights and paint the inside of the housings gloss white. The reflected light from the inside out was amazing in comparison.

4DIYers (author)gm2802017-12-03

That's a cool tip, I'll have to try that out on some old lights if I can get my hands on some. Thank you!

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