How to: Explorer LED Interior swap + Puddle Lamps DIY | Page 8 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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How to: Explorer LED Interior swap + Puddle Lamps DIY

Did the puddle LED upgrade this weekend. I bought some cheap-o 4 panel LED's off amazon. No sure how bright they are compared to the 2 panels, but the 4 panels are plenty bright and match the internal and license plate LED perfectly. Thanks Mams-Ex for the pics to show me just how easy it would be. :)

Now I'm off to Rat Shack to buy some 1k-ohm resistors to try and get rid of the third row issue.

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It makes sense that replacing the regular bulbs with LED's should require some kind of load change since the LED's are diodes who's resistance changes with the voltage therefore I was going to try Canbus LED's with load-resistors, however I found a link where a guy had added resistors to his LED's and fixed his issue. I tried it and now my 3rd row dome light works normally! He had the same AGT LED's that I was using so it worked out wonderfully.

Here's the link:

Quick questions, did you put resistors on all the LED's, or just the maps lights, or the second row?

Quick questions, did you put resistors on all the LED's, or just the maps lights, or the second row?

I believe that I only had to add the resistor to the LED in the cargo light. It's been working perfectly since. I know I didn't add it to the second row LED's, but don't remember if I added them to the front map lights as well. I would start with the cargo light and if that doesn't fix the issue, try the front maps as well.

So I got the resistors at Radio Shack. My soldering experiment went horribly wrong. My fingers are too big and my soldering skills are terrible. I ruined one bulb and gave up.

But it looks like I found a work around. I trimmed the ends of the resistor a bit and dropped it right across the hole in the holder where the bulb goes. I then pushed the led bulb in place and now the resistor has a good connection to both sides and is held in place by the bulb. I did this for the bulbs on each side of the second row.

So far so good. The light in the back has been going off when it is supposed to turn off for two straight days now. Will keep you posted....

I have had a similar experience as dutchman71, well not the soldering part, but that I put resistors on the second row LED bulbs and I'm going on three weeks that the third row bulb is turning off and on as it should.

If I have a weekend with no other projects, I may do the third row LED swap-out. The OEM cargo area LED with a yellowish tint looks mighty strange when all the other bulbs on the Explorer are the cool blue/white color.

Thought I would give an update. After several months of the resistors only installed on the second row LEDS, the third row LED is still turning on and off as it should.

So since my issue is with my second row (XLT with one second row light) and not the cargo light, where should I try using the resistors 1st? It seems like the people that were having the 3rd row issues have used the resistors on either the 3rd row, or the second row and each way seemed to fix the problem. Maybe it doesn't matter which light you do it on?

My thought was trying it on the cargo light 1st since there is only one bulb to worry about (XLT second row has 2 bulbs in the same housing).


Since the resistors are cheap and I found them easy to attach to the LED bulbs, I would throw resistors on 4-5 bulbs, then first swap out the map lights in the first row. Who knows, that swap may solve your second row problems. But if you are replacing all your bulbs with LED, as I mentioned before, put resistors on all the bulbs and then install them in all locations.

Just curious how the dome light is removed from the headliner? It's not apparent.

So glad to see a solution for both, puddle and cargo lights is finally available!!

Great to see a solution to the 3rd row. I tried to follow the instructions to change the cargo lite but only scraping just enough of the white part by the tabs without destroying the original so I could test it without committing, but could not get the wedge led to light up. is there a particular voltage or wattage? I tried to measure the voltage across the led on the board and it registers about 3V (not an electrician) but the AGT 194 led i got from amazon seems to need more. i tested with a 9v battery and it lites up. So a few questions to those who's got it working
-should i expect any 194 wedge led work?
-do i need to remove the entire white layer or is it enough to expose just the tabs

I gotta say major props to the guy in the previous page who had the cajones to scrape that LED off the factory circuit board and discover this fix lol. I was hugly disappointed when I swapped everything to LED, went to do that light last, took it all apart, and discovered they used a friggin yellow LED! WTF ford?! That fancy circuit board and everything, all for a yellow LED?!!? I put it back together and left it disgruntled it didnt match lol. Then I found this thread and saw the circuit board mod. I'm an electrical engineer, and always wiring and modding my vehicles, but I wouldn't have attempted trashing the circuit board without knowing it would have worked beforehand lol.

So yesterday I tackled the mod and it worked perfect. To the above poster, any 194 should work, and you probably do need to take the full thing off to get a solid contact to measure the full voltage. Mine was measuring around 10 volts with it powered up with my meter on the bare contacts of the pad.

I used a small file to file away the white LED casing. Seemed to work the easiest without risking slipping with a razor knife and hitting something else on the board. I got the top filed down to the bare pad, then the utility knife to pop out the extra white plastic that was recessed slightly. Slid the 194 LED wires under the tab edges, then used needle nose to push the tabs down to lock the LED wires in. Then I used a couple dabs of gel-superglue to glue the wires and LED to the board to keep any vibrations from working it lose over time. Ditched the reflector, and reassmbled the housing. Works like a charm, nice perfect lighting to match!

I'll try to post pics later. I put some up on my facebook.

1st Row Dome Light LEDs - Check
1st Row Visor Light LEDs - Check
1st Row Pass Glove Box LED - Check
2nd Row Dome Light LEDs - Check
3rd Row Cargo Light LED - Check
Rear Tag Light LEDs - Check
Mirror Puddle Lamp LEDs - Check

On order:
-Front Turn Signal LEDs
-Front Marker Lamp LEDs
-Rear TUrn Signal LEDs
-Reverse Light LEDs
-Fog Light LEDs

I'm an electrical engineer, and always wiring and modding my vehicles, but I wouldn't have attempted trashing the circuit board without knowing it would have worked beforehand lol.

Hey Harley, if you have some spare time can you check out the thread I started here?

I swapped out my puddle lights on my 2013 Explorer with LEDs and had no problems. My 2013 Fusion has the exact same puddle lights however when I swapped them out with LEDs they would pulse. I just bought a Multimeter and planned to take some readings. Please read my thread and let me know if you have an thoughts. Thanks in advance.

I can't get that page to load on this computer, it usually sucks for browsing some sites. anything you can copy paste or give cliff notes on the symptoms?

I'd say first thing would be swap the LED puddle lamps from the expy over to it and see if they still pulse, just curious if one set of LEDs for one are different than the set in the other and maybe more sensitive to voltage difference. And definitely measure the voltage you're seeing on the connectors. If it's 12 volts they shouldn't be pulsing. The only thing i could think of is if that car senses a blown bulb, so it's cutting power to that lamp sensing the lower resistance? If that's the case a resistor in parallel across the terminals of the puddle lamp should fix it.

I'd take 3 measurements......voltage across the terminals with nothing plugged in. Voltage across them with the factory light plugged in. Voltage across the terminals with the LED plugged in. And hold the meter there for a few seconds and see if the voltage is pulsing on any of them. If the LED is pulsing the voltage should be varying.

Pics of my install....

Here's pics of my install.....

Passenger side LEDs....drivers side stock...



Did everything, dome lights, map lights, visor lights, gotta do 'em all!


Even the glove box light!


1,000x's better!


These stock bulbs are a PITA to remove, but well worth the swap!


2nd row...


Difference in the tag lights...



Puddle Lamps...



And 3rd row lamp....kudos to that guy in the previous post that tackled this idea. I never would have started hacking away at a brand new car's circuit board knowing FOrd this is probably a $100 part lol. But the mod worked like a charm!






Since I started this thread I wanted to post an update to my DIY. There is actually an easier and better way to do the dome lights! There is no need to take out the aluminium foil inside the housing and risk bending it and then not being able to fit it exactly as it was before (as happened to me). See steps below:

1. Pop out entire dome light assembly

2. Disconnect both plugs by gently depressing the tabs:


3. Remove the clear plastic cover to expose the bulbs

4. Use a nail or in this case the nozzle of a football pump or anything you can find to pop out the original bulbs by inserting your "tool" into the small hole located right above the bulbs.


5. Pop in your LEDs from below

6. Plug in the wiring harness' to make sure your lights work, sometimes you have to turn them around IOT make contact and light up.

7. Reassemble

I also got around to the puddle lights at last. I went with the Daytime Bright Lites and I am very pleased with the quality of their product and the service as well. My License plate LEDs had burnt out twice before but I got new ones with my Puddle Lights, so now my transformation is finally complete. Thanks to everyone that has provided feedback and worked on solutions to some issues that really never should have existed in the first place if a bit more thought had gone into some design features lol.




Looks good. Wish they had a little access hole to pop the visor bulbs out, those suckers are a PITA! lol

Hi guys, would like to find out if anyone who has an XLT has done the LED swap for the 2nd row dome light successfully? Coz unlike the 3rd row dome light, the 2nd row XLT dome has 2 led chips. Wanted to find out if I need to change both chips with the 194 bulb and if yes, would it still operate properly? (lights up when the dorrs open and can still be controlled from the in dash switch)


Just wanted to share another option on the front dome lights.
I first tried AGT's and a 9-segment LED. The 9 segment barely fit and you could easily see it.

So I found these projector LED's and they seem to work great!
JDM Super White Projector Lens Bulb

9 segment on right, projector on left:

9 segment on left, projector on right:

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So with the LED projector lamps in the front console, the cabin is lit up like daytime. Following pic is with no flash, taken at night.