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LED turn signal how-to (front & rear)

Harley#356

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So it bugged me how the taillights are LED brake lights, LED parking lights, and halogen reverse light, and halogen turn signal.

I already converted the full interior, puddle lamps, and tag lights to LED. And did the reverse lights as LED (http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=386235), so here's the info for the turn signals front & rear.

Here's the parts I used. Since the ebay links won't last forever, but they're good for now, I'll post both the part specs for future searching, and the direct links for anyone upgrading now....

Front Turn Signals: I forget exactly what the manual calls for, the Sylvania site isn't working for me right now to double check, but the ones I got cross reference to all of the following with a T25 base: 3157, 3156, 3457, 4157, 3456, 3057.
The LED is 27 5050 SMD LEDs. You want 5050's! Don't be pursuaded by one having 50 LEDs of the smaller 3528 type, it won't be as bright as 5050s even with 1/2 the number!
http://www.ebay.com/itm/11096705203...X:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649#ht_1449wt_1255

Front Marker Lamps: These are 194 T10 bulbs. You always want the same color LED as what's behind the reflector. Amber reflector = amber LED. So I got amber 194 T10 LED bulbs with 5 5050 SMD LEDs
http://www.ebay.com/itm/35076891920...X:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649#ht_3025wt_1255

Rear Turn Signals: The manual calls for a W21W. Same thing with the 5050 SMD LEDs, the most 5050's I was able to find in this bulb size was 13 of them. This size also cross references to 7443 and 7444. Get amber if you want the rear turn signals to be amber like stock, or get red if you want to change the rear turn signals to red (both are DOT legal)
http://www.ebay.com/itm/171032580623?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649

Rear Load Resistors: The front turn signals shouldn't require load resistors. It may vary depending on which bulbs you get, but in my 2012 Raptor, and our 2013 Sport, neither required load resistors up front, both required load resistors out back. I got these ones, they're 6.8 ohms and 25 watts, and nice and compact.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/31067006923...X:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649#ht_2389wt_1255


Rear factory turn signal bulb vs. the repalcement LED...

LEDs-23.jpg



Here's how I hooked up the load resistor. There's only 2 wires to the turn signal bulb, so splice the resistor into them in parallel with the bulb. THe resistor has 2 leads so you could wire it on 2 circuits if a tailight had 2 bulbs. Ours only have one, so I just used both leads in the same connector. I used blue wire taps rather than the provided red ones, but either will work.

I left the turn signals on for about 5 minutes to feel how hot the resistor got. Current only passes thru here when the blinker is on. You can have the car lights on all day, no current goes through this circuit unless the turn signal is on. After about 5 minutes the resistor got pretty hot, hot enough you didn't want to hold it, but not hot enough to melt plastic or even tape. I had some 1/8" thick by 1" wide aluminum stock. I cut a 3" piece and put double sided tape on the back, and stuck it to the taillight, then used gel superglue and glued the resistor to the aluminum, and the height is perfect to squeeze the assembly under that plastic tab sticking out of the taliight. Everything is clamped in place, and after running it for another 5 minutes with the flashers on, with the added heat sync of the 3" piece of aluminum, it allowed enough heat dissipation that you could then touch the resistor without feeling that hot.

LEDs-24.jpg




Further back pic of the taillight with where I mounted the resistor...

LEDs-25.jpg




STOCK....ugly orange egg yolk in the clear light...

LEDs-26.jpg




LED.....nice crystal clear lense with the LED installed...

LEDs-27.jpg




LED turned on....still nice bright amber light. Or if you choose a red one, it'll be a nice red to match the factory brake lights. I think I may swap mine from amber to red just to have 1 less color on the rear, and to look different from every other explorer out there.

LEDs-28.jpg





Now the fronts, the LED's dont really gain you as much, since it's behind an amber reflector. But to me, the crisp on/off action of the LED just looks more high end than the fading on, fading off, of a halogen bulb.

LEDs-29.jpg




Pic was really hard to take to show anything in the daylight with a camera phone, they light up just as bright as the stock ones. Install I had to unbolt the hood bump stop brackets (two 8mm bolts) and undo the top headlight bolt (1 10mm bolt), and the top headlight clip, to pull the top of the headlight out a hair to be able to get the bulb out since there's a metal brace right behind the bulb housing that it just barely hits.

LEDs-30.jpg



 



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R1chard

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Can we get a small video clip of said changes in action?
Thanks!
 






Harley#356

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yeah I can try to do that either one night this week or this weekend. It'll only be an after video though, not popping any stock bulbs in for a before lol but you can watch it from your phone standing in front of your own explorer to see the difference I suppose haha
 






awmenard

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Very nice write up.

I have to agree with you red turn signal in the back would look nice.
 






Harley#356

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Yeah I'm probably going to order them next, once I get a refund from the ebay sellers on the two sets of LED foglights I tried and neither worked out. One didn't work and the other pair were too fat to fit through the H11 opening.
 






R1chard

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yeah I can try to do that either one night this week or this weekend. It'll only be an after video though, not popping any stock bulbs in for a before lol but you can watch it from your phone standing in front of your own explorer to see the difference I suppose haha

I meant a video of the active finished product, just want to gauge the end product.
 






IYAAYAS

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http://www.ebay.com/itm/PAIR-OF-T25...Parts_Accessories&hash=item232b8f0623&vxp=mtr
Yeah I'm probably going to order them next, once I get a refund from the ebay sellers on the two sets of LED foglights I tried and neither worked out. One didn't work and the other pair were too fat to fit through the H11 opening.

Do you think this will work for the red LED's in the taillight? Or do you have a a better recommendation? http://www.ebay.com/itm/PAIR-OF-T25...Parts_Accessories&hash=item232b8f0623&vxp=mtr
 






BigRondo

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Nicely done! Thanks for sharing :D:thumbsup:
 






Harley#356

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Hmmm they may work. I'm not sure if the W21W is a T20 or a T25 base though. It says it cross references to a W21W in the description, but it say's it's T25. THe ones I got said T20.

I'd be intersted to see how these work, but they're pricey...same style as my reverse lights.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2x-Super-Br...Parts_Accessories&hash=item43b4222732&vxp=mtr



I may order a set of these. Not in the US, but since I'm not in a big rush, I may throw an offer out and try them.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2x-T20-W21W...Parts_Accessories&hash=item5af17d21b0&vxp=mtr
 






dmlns1092

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Sorry, meant to post here:

Harley can you help out? For the life of me I can not get the front turn signal out of the light assembly. Did you remove the light assembly ?
 






Harley#356

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I removed the 10mm bolt and unclipped the rearward part from the fender, then I could pull the light about 1/8"-1/4" forward just enough to get the bulb out. It was very tight, had to be just right. Also had to take out the two 8mm bolts and the hood bump stop on each side.
 






dmlns1092

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Thanks a bunch. I was able to get the bulb out. You were right real tight fit. I ordered the the led turn signals you recommended.
Question, why is a load resistor needed in the rear lights but not in front? I'm a little nervous about doing that mod.
 






Harley#356

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Thanks a bunch. I was able to get the bulb out. You were right real tight fit. I ordered the the led turn signals you recommended.
Question, why is a load resistor needed in the rear lights but not in front? I'm a little nervous about doing that mod.

Not sure. The front LEDs are larger than the rears, so it may just be above the threshold of load on the circuit that it doesn't sense it as a blown bulb. Or the fronts may be wired slightly differently where it's not triggering that threshold for the rapid-blink blown bulb indicator.

It's easy to do the mod on the rears though. Especially since it's just a 2 wire connector, there's not even any figuring out necessary for which wires to tap. And with how snug and secure the load resistors fit with that piece of 1/8" aluminum as the aux heat sync, it works out perfect like it came that way.
 






dmlns1092

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Got the LEDs you suggested and installed today. They look great and they're much brighter. I like the crisp on/off function. Waiting for LEDs for the rear turn signals. I went with red since I don't like the amber in back. I'll be able to pull the red transparent vinyl off and just have the red led show through the clear lens. Thanks for posting your finds Harley.
 






Harley#356

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red transparent vinyl???


I do want to switch to red in the back as well. been noticing so many vehicles lately with amber rear turn signals, I gotta be different lol.
 






dmlns1092

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Harley,

I followed your instructions on the rear turn signals but I'm still getting a large amount of heat from the resistor. Have you had the same issue?
After 3-5 mins I can't even touch and I'm worried about melting the plastic. Any suggestions?
 






Harley#356

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with the aux heat sync added on it's not that bad. and it's only if the turn signals are on continuously that it gets hot. The only time you'd have them running for an extended period of time is if you have your flashers on. If you have your turn signal on for 3-5 minutes, somebody behind you is probably flipping you the bird LOL!

I actually just swapped mine to red today. I drove behind the wife last week to work one day and the amber was getting washed out with the brake lights on. I thought for a minute that the turn signals weren't working. But with the BRIGHT LED brake lights on, the dimmer LED turn signal lights get overpowered. The stock bulbs actually are brighter than the LEDs in this case, and that may be why Ford changed the turn signal bulb between 2011 and 2013 to a brighter one. The red doesn't seem to wash out as bad as the amber. I'll post up a vid sometime this week.
 






lraia

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I just swapped out the front and rear turn signal bulbs and front marker bulbs with LED bulbs, I used a amber 194 5 LED for the marker bulb, an amber 3156 Cree Q5 + 12 5050 LEDs for the front turn signal and a red 7440 Cree Q5 + 12 5050 LEDs for the rear. Did not get any hyperflashing after install. I've noticed the LEDs get washed out in direct sunlight, but at night the greatest improvement is definitely the red rear turn signals, they are brighter than the factory ambers.
 






Harley#356

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any photos of the rear ones? Or a video better yet? I saw the Cree ones for the rear, I wasn't sure how well they'd perform as a corner light, I've only used that style for reverse lights and cargo lights designed to illuminate out on a large area, moreso than be an illuminated signal itself.
 



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ern3

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I just swapped out the front and rear turn signal bulbs and front marker bulbs with LED bulbs, I used a amber 194 5 LED for the marker bulb, an amber 3156 Cree Q5 + 12 5050 LEDs for the front turn signal and a red 7440 Cree Q5 + 12 5050 LEDs for the rear. Did not get any hyperflashing after install. I've noticed the LEDs get washed out in direct sunlight, but at night the greatest improvement is definitely the red rear turn signals, they are brighter than the factory ambers.

So did you install the resistors or no??

-ern
 






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