Introduction: Add LED Daytime Running Lights on Scion XB

About: I'm a Robotics and Engineering teacher at a vocational high school.

I own a 2010 Scion XB. These cars have plastic coverings over the potential intake areas on the front bumper. The newer model XBs have daytime running lights (DRLs) factory installed in the space for the fake intakes. I wanted to add this to my older XB, while not paying a lot of money for an aftermarket product. After a little searching on the internet I decided to buy some waterproof LEDs and install them myself. It has been about 6 months since the install, and they are still working, having been through rainstorms, and severe Arizona summer heat.

Also, I'm entered in the Car and Motorcycle contest on Instructables so please vote for me!

Step 1: Materials and Tools


ATM Add a Circuit

18 gauge black and red wire several feet of each

Wire cap

Waterproof LED string - roughly 16 inches of LEDs

Small black zip ties - about 14 total

Large zip ties - As you see fit. I used about 6.

Heat shrink wrap


Soldering Iron

Drill with 11/64 bit

Socket Wrench set

Flathead screwdriver

Philips screwdriver

Step 2: Take Off Your Bumper

This process is necessary to get to the plastic intake vent covers. You will need to pop these out of the bumper in order to measure how long and where you want your LEDs to be placed. You will also need to drill some holes in these plastic pieces. Let's get started.

I followed this linked guide to get the bumper off which I found on the internet. I've taken some screenshots of the document and will go over here as well.

First, you'll want to disconnect your battery (FIG 1-1). I did this as a safety precaution because I did not want my airbags going off while taking the bumper of the car off. I'm probably being overly cautious, but better safe than sorry. To disconnect the battery, use a socket wrench to loosen the negative battery cable from its post and pull it off. I then taped the cable down onto the battery housing so it would not fall while I was working.

Once the battery is disconnected, the next step is to remove the 5 clips that hold on the radiator cover (FIG 1-2). These clips require a flathead screwdriver to carefully pry them upwards and then you can pull them out. Be gentle, you don't want to break any of these if you can avoid it. They tend to become brittle over time. You can see from my images, I was not so careful.

Next remove the upper bumper grill. There should also be 5 similar clips here that you need to remove (FIG 1-3).

Now remove the screw and clip just to the inside of each headlight housing (FIG 1-5). Next, remove the screw and clip on the front vertical part of both front wheel wells. Then, remove the 8 screws underneath the front bumper.

Now, the weird part. You will pull the fascia out from both the passenger and driver side. NOTE - you will need to pull harder than you think. It will kind of make a snapping noise when it comes off, which is a bit disconcerting. I thought I broke something. Apparently, this is normal.

If all has gone well, you should have your bumper off and can now store it your living room, which really makes your wife extra happy. Always good to have some friends on hand to show their approval of your work.

Step 3: Add Your LEDs

Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the backside of the plastic vents, but they are a few clips that you need to squeeze and the vents come right off from the inside of the bumper. Now that they are off you can measure your LED wire and begin installing the lights. For my project, I used an LED length of about 8 inches, which has 11 LEDs on it. The LEDs are marked where they can be cut, so I just the closest cut point for the length I wanted.

Once you've cut the LED to length, you'll need to remove some of the waterproofing to expose the leads where you will solder your wires. I used an xacto knife to remove the waterproofing. The LEDs are labeled + and - on the LEDs, so I soldered a red wire to the + and a black to the -. Next I applied heat shrink wrap to cover the exposed wires and soldering point.

I use an 11/64 drill bit to make a hole at the top of the intake vent for the wires to exit. I pushed the wires through as best I could until the shrink wrap section became too large to go through the hole. Then I bent the string downwards onto the vent.

Using the same drill bit, I began to drill holes on either side of the LED strip so that a small ziptie could be inserted to hold the LEDs in place. I used 7 zipties per side, which means you will need to drill 14 holes in each fake vent.

Step 4: Grounding Your LEDs

Now this part assumes you have successfully created and attached your LED strings to the bumper, and you are now ready to reinstall the bumper. Make sure you have plenty of wire coming from your LEDs, especially from the passenger side LEDs, as the positive wire will need to cross over to the other side of the engine compartment.

Before we can install the bumper, however, there are two grounding points on either side of the car that are exposed when the bumper is off. You will need to loosen the screw holding the ground wires in place and add your ground wire from the LEDs. Then tighten the screw back up. Do this on both sides with your ground wires. Unfortunately, my image of my car with the bumper off is pretty dark, so its hard to see the grounding point in the image. Apologies!

Step 5: Add a Circuit

Next, you will need an add a circuit for your car's fuse box. The add a circuit lets you tap into an already existing circuit on your car's fuse box. Since I want these lights to be on anytime the car is on, I tapped into the cars ignition fuse. This means that anytime I turn the key, power will go to the LED lights. You will need to add a wire to the add a circuit using a wire crimp. I used red wire, since it will be connect to the other two red wires via a wire cap.

Step 6: Cap Your 3 Power Wires

You should now have 3 separate red wires, 1 from each LED string, and 1 from the Add a circuit. Twist these wires together and add a wire cap. Be sure to run your red wires so they are not dangling over the engine compartment. I actually ran mine through the waterproofing channel at the back of the engine compartment. I also used additional zipties to secure the wires to the frame of the car.

Step 7: Reconnect Your Battery and Fire It Up!

Attach the negative terminal back to your battery and turn on the ignition. Hopefully, your new DRL vent lights turn on!

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