• If you currently own, previously owned or want to own an Avalanche, we welcome you to become a member today. Membership is FREE, register now!

LED Turn Signal Conversion (A How To Guide) - Updated Sept 13th 2011

Samsquanch

Full Member
Joined
May 19, 2010
Messages
213
Location
Niverville, MB
Introduction

After months of being jealous of seeing the Escalades fancy LED tail lights I just knew that I had to have them for myself on the Avy.  After doing some research and successfully experimenting on my 97 Grand Am I was ready to take the plunge and do the LED conversion to my truck.  There are a few things you?ll need to know before doing this rather simple mod.  I?ll outline these during the process.  I have also provided a shopping list and eBay links to the best prices you?ll find on superior high power LED lighting to make this a more affordable mod.

Shopping List:

2 Pairs of 3157/3057 SMD Lights.  These particular lights utilize 30 5050 led chips which inside contain 3 emitters for a total of 90 emitters of light per bulb.  Most LED bulbs you see in your local auto shop, superbrightleds, and on eBay are crappy hyperflux LED bulbs which are terrible and provide very poor light output.  Look for the distinct "chip board" towers.  SMD (Surface Mount Diode) bulbs are just as bright if not a touch brighter than the stock incandescent bulbs making them a superior choice.  When buying LED?s, buy the correct color LED bulb for the color you are replacing even if it?s going in an already colored housing.  The color is deeper and more vibrant this way.  Sticking a white LED source in your red housing tends to wash some of the color out.

*Note, these bulbs have been noted to have a poor difference between the high/low elements of operation.  It may be possible to resist some voltage to the low element wire in the housing in order to make the difference between high/low more noticeable.  I'd have to do some experimentation to verify this but in theory it should be possible.

http://cgi.ebay.ca/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=130399833614&ssPageName=ADME:L:OU:CA:1123

UPDATE (September 13th, 2011)

If you are feeling particularly ritzy I will highly recommend the V-Leds platinum 7W bulbs.  They are insanely bright and feature a 6:1 high/low element ratio making them the first LED bulbs on the market to do so.  They are extremely pricey but so far after months of use no emitters have died and they perform as bright if not brighter than an incandescent bulb.

http://www.v-leds.com/Exterior-LED-Bulbs/Turn-Signal-LED/Red-LED/tc122459/

$16.99 a Pair x2 = $33.98

Secondly you are going to require a load resistor for each socket you will be installing an LED in.  These are 50 watt 6 Ohm resistors which conveniently mimic the presence of an incandescent bulb.  This fools your vehicle into thinking that there is a regular bulb in its place.  Since LEDs draw such little power your vehicle is more or less convinced that the bulb must be burnt out and of course initiates the fast blink most people are familiar with who have burnt a turn signal.  These resistors will correct hyperflashing and your LEDs will blink at a normal rate upon installation.  The load resistors include splice taps which allow you to splice directly into your vehicles existing wiring without the need for stripping and soldering the connection making installation a snap.

http://cgi.ebay.ca/2pcs-6-Ohm-50W-Turn-Signal-LED-Bulbs-Load-Resistors-/200556746787?pt=Motors_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories&hash=item2eb21d1823

$7.20 a Pair x2 = $14.40

The Process

On the 2007+ it?s a relatively easy process to remove the headlights.  Open the tailgate and locate the 2 phillips screws on each side of the tail light assembly.  Simply wriggle the housing free by pulling forward.  Sometimes the inserts come with it making it more of a pain in the arse to pull the assemblies out.  But with enough wiggle they will come free rather easily.

Lay your housing down on the tail gate to make it convenient to work on.  Since LEDs are polarity sensitive you will have to turn on your parking lights or headlights to make sure power is going to all your sockets otherwise you?ll never know if you installed the bulb correctly.  Plug in a bulb, if it doesn?t light just turn it around.  Once you?ve installed all 4 bulbs in your housings you may turn your lights off.  

Next up, round up 8 splice taps (2 for each light) and your 4 load resistors.  Have a pair of needle nose pliers and vise grip pliers handy.  Before you install a splice, get a pair of needle nose pliers and pull out the metal splice blade in the centre.  Put it somewhere will you will not lose it.  To install the splice carefully rock it back and forth and wriggle the connector onto the yellow (Major Element) wire.  Get a load resistor and grab any end of it and slide the wire into the other side of the splice tap.  Find your splicing blade and with your fingers or a pair of needle nose pliers insert it back in the slot.  Apply pressure and make sure both wires are relatively centered in their place and clamp down as far as you can go.  Usually this doesn?t provide enough pressure unless you have the hands of god so I recommend getting a pair of vise grip locking pliers and adjusting them so they don?t completely clamp down and crush the splice tap to pieces, but provide just enough pressure equally around to fully drive the blade in until it?s flush with the top of the connector.  In the pictures you can see them only after I squeezed them with regular pliers because they are still sticking up a bit.  By making sure it goes all the way through ensures a solid connection.  All you have to from here is flip the locking tab on the tap and it?s installed!  If you snap off one of the locking tabs don?t worry about it because you?re going to want to tape (very generously I might add) each splice you do to ensure it doesn?t fail or come apart, or have water get into it.  Each time you fully install one resistor, turn on your parking lights or headlights to make sure that you haven?t severed a connection and that the bulb still lights.  Repeat this for the remaining bulbs and keep checking that the light works after each install.  Also make sure to put your vehicles ignition into the on position and actually turn your left/right turn signals on individually after each full install to make sure that the resistors are working and that you installed them correctly.  If you still get hyperflashing after the install something may have went wrong somewhere and you?ll likely have to de-install the tap by cutting it off and having to now repair the severed connection.

Resistor_Diagram-3157.jpg


Another careful thing to mention here is that these load resistors get extremely hot such that if you just leave them dangling around they can potentially melt through your plastic housing because it heats up just like a light bulb when power is going to it.  I made metal shrouds and stand-offs for mine to make sure that they receive air flow and stay elevated and away from any surface.  You can install them by screwing them down to a body panel, but it?s possible that it could potentially damage the paint after extended use.  Mine are just dangling into a space behind my bumper not really near anything made of plastic as the metal shrouds keep them from making direct contact with their surroundings.
I?ve provided pictures below of my process so you can better understand how it was done.  It?s an extremely easy mod to do with very sharp results.  I now have snazzy tail lights and turn signals you can spot a mile away.  Not only does it looks ritzy in the stock housings it also provides an increased safety feature and long service life.  The instant on light can give drivers behind you an extra 200 milliseconds to stop and hopefully prevent a possible collision.  Best of luck, and happy modding!

:B:
- Jonny

Additional Pictures

1440_LED-01.jpg

1440_LED-02.jpg

1440_LED-03.jpg

1440_LED-04.jpg

1440_LED-05.jpg

 

carnut

PM 2018
Full Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2002
Messages
675
Location
Back in Pittsburgh, Pa!!
I haven't done that mod, but in response to the resistor mounting question: Your resistors are rated at 50 watts. That means they are going to get really hot in extended use situations, like driving at night. What they are saying is they could melt plastic or blister paint, so you want to make sure they have room for air flow around them. Good luck with your install.
 

MS03 2500

PM 2017
PM 2015
SM 2014
PM 2013
PM 2012
SM 2011
SM 2010
SM 2009
SM 2008
SM 2007
SM 2006
Full Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2005
Messages
38,638
Location
Lexington KY
Nice write up, have you tried the cruise control yet.
 

Samsquanch

Full Member
Joined
May 19, 2010
Messages
213
Location
Niverville, MB
Thats the one thing I have not tested.  I figured as much since the bulbs aren't hyperflashing that means as far as the computer is concerned everything is 100%.  Next time I'm somewhere in town that allows me to accelerate long enough above 60 km/h then ill definitely give that a try and post my results :B:
 

MS03 2500

PM 2017
PM 2015
SM 2014
PM 2013
PM 2012
SM 2011
SM 2010
SM 2009
SM 2008
SM 2007
SM 2006
Full Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2005
Messages
38,638
Location
Lexington KY
I understand I never use the cruise control either, but you have to try it once so you know it works.
 

thomsen05

SM 2010
SM 2009
Full Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2009
Messages
537
Location
El Cajon, CA.
I have the leds from superbright and they are not very bright  :beating:  thanks for the links and the write up, I'll be trying this once my truck gets out of the dealership.... (y)

And I did notice before my truck was hit my cruise control didn't work, why do LED's cause this problem.. :dunno:
 

sandiegosunshine

New Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2011
Messages
7
I have a 2011 Avalanche and saw the mod for the led tail/stop lights.  Seemed like a good idea.  I ordered these specific parts and did the mod. Everything worked great except the brightness of the leds is MUCH less than the regular 3057 bulb. I don't know whether they have improved the reflective qualities of the enclosure or the bulb but I took the mod back out.  I purchased an under the tailgate light bar from Custom Dynamics and it is extremely bright.  Also added two additional stop lights below the bumper so now i really light up. You can see the mod at: http://youtu.be/Zpf7Yy0Oxic

If anyone wants to purchase the mod components, IE 4 led bulbs and 4 6 ohm 50 watt resistors let me know.
 

Samsquanch

Full Member
Joined
May 19, 2010
Messages
213
Location
Niverville, MB
I actually pulled those bulbs out for just that reason after looking at the difference between the high/low elements.  Instead I ordered V-Leds Platinum bulbs and they are absolutely blinding!  They feature a 6:1 brightness ratio and are the only ones on the market that I've seen that perform as bright if not brighter than an incandescent.  I highly recommend them.  I have V-Led platinum in my front turn signals, DRLs and tails.  They are expensive but look amazing.  The ones I posted originally are junk compared to these.
 

sandiegosunshine

New Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2011
Messages
7
I am willing to try one more time. Where did you buy the V-Platinum Leds? Just curious why didn't you post that the leds were not as bright. Your original post indicated the leds were brighter that the incandescent bulbs.
 

Samsquanch

Full Member
Joined
May 19, 2010
Messages
213
Location
Niverville, MB
Those cheap ones appeared to be as bright as an incandescent on the high element, but after installing v-leds platinum 7 watters the difference is quite dramatic if you see it for yourself.  I just hope this is indeed how the next generation of LED bulbs is going to go.  I first bought a pair for my DRLs and was so impressed with the light output I dropped another $240.00 to outfit the rest of my truck with them.

Link:
http://www.v-leds.com/Exterior-LED-Bulbs/Turn-Signal-LED/Red-LED/tc122459/

:B:
 

sandiegosunshine

New Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2011
Messages
7
Ok Thanks for the link. At $80 a bulb I think I will wait a while b4 I invest $320 for the bulbs. As i recall, i could buy the entire light assys for almost that amount.  The prices should also drop within the next year or so when something new is developed.
 

Samsquanch

Full Member
Joined
May 19, 2010
Messages
213
Location
Niverville, MB
It's $80.00 per pair, but at $40.00 a bulb it is still expensive.  However it was worth it because I love the look of the stock housings with the LED bulbs inside, plus if you get those eBay LED housings over time the little tiny LEDs burn out and you have ugly spotty looking lights.  This way if the bulbs die I can just replace them rather than an entire housing.
 

Shagy

Full Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
332
Location
Buckeye, AZ
whats the warranty on the $80 bulbs?

I'm going to see if I can get them from my MFG's in china.  I'd really like to see these in person. These might be the 1st LED buls that might actually work. for turn/stop lamps.
 

PerfectReign

SM 2013
PM 2012
SM 2011
SM 2010
SM 2009
Full Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2006
Messages
2,064
Location
Los Angeles, CA
I'd love to hear results.

I'm wanting to look at the LED tail  lights. I like the ebay special all-in-one units but am still leery. 

I bought a few amber LED bulbs for the DRL's and am not entirely happy. They really don't show up in the daytime.
 

Shagy

Full Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
332
Location
Buckeye, AZ
you should see my collection of LED bulbs I've been buying over the years 'cause they look like they would be birght enough.
 
Top