Tail Light LED's Gone Out? - TCCoA Forums

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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 01:27 AM Thread Starter
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Tail Light LED's Gone Out?

I noticed that my left tail light recently changed.

Did one of the LED strips go out?

Last edited by 1996 Spencer 4.6l; 05-28-2015 at 01:34 AM.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 06:07 AM
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2016, 04:21 AM
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I´ll revisit this thread.

I have the exact same issue with my led tail light atm.

I googled and it seems that you can cut open the panel, but is it worth the time and effort?

What needs to be done, when you get it cut open?

Easier to buy from breakers yard?

Thanks
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2016, 06:28 AM
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People have done it. Someone did it with an LED strip I believe. Do a search here and see what you come up with.

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2016, 06:52 AM
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Here's a good thread on the procedure-->>Hewlett Packard 20 LED Strip for Taillights








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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2016, 09:24 PM
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Been wanting to fix this for a while now on my tbird. They just recently got worse, one of my tail lights has almost no lights in it, the other is missing a few. Getting worried I might get pulled over at night because it looks like I have a bad tailight at this point (Kind of do I guess?).

I ordered these LED strips - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CP1KVBO

The measurements on the strips are about 1 1/2" longer than the OEM reflector, but I expect that to not be an issue. All the other LED strips were 30cm which must be the common size and that is too small; or you have to solder and such to custom make them . That's fine but im going for the easiest and least time consuming fix I can.

Going to attempt to pull apart the lenses this next week and fix them.

I will update with how it went. If you see me posting in wanted for new lenses, it didn't go well... HA

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-16-2016, 05:16 PM
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Got the LED strips I bought on Amazon installed! Worked out great, was kind of a PITA but worth it!

I bought a Rotary tool at Horrible Freight and a hot glue gun to put them back together with. I hot glued the LED strip over the factory LED reflectors for ease of install and make they they lit up just like factory.

Doing it a second time would be pretty easy since I know where to cut now. Hardest part was making a clean cut to remove the LED assembly. If you cut too big you will see the cut on the outside of the lens, too small and the thing wont come out easily. I taped it back up with aluminum tape after hot gluing it back together to make sure they are sealed well. I was going to paint them after the surgery but didn't bother.

Very happy with the results, this had been bothering me for a long time.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg taillights.jpg (52.5 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg 20161116_161148.jpg (1.45 MB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg 20161116_135541.jpg (1.29 MB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg 20161116_145212.jpg (1.37 MB, 13 views)
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-16-2016, 05:59 PM
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This is a good thread, btw:

http://www.tccoa.com/forums/15-exter...or-panels.html

There's a link to the leds for the tbirds; pretty cheap.

I should order another pair before they're gone, lol.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 09:53 AM
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Mine looks just like the OP. I need to finally get a round tuit.

I'm wondering about the sequential mod. Since the panel appears a little brighter at the bottom where the LED strip is, would sequencing them really look that good? It seems to me that it might advertise the fact that panel diffusion (scattering, distribution, whatever you want to call it) isn't perfect.

Of course, this mod is obviously only for turn signals (and maybe hazards), since there can't be any delay in brake light activation, for safety and legal reasons.
Now, if you want to pulse the entire panel upon breaking, that's doable, too, but I think this would be more appropriate for the 3rd brake light.

As far as turn signals, how many steps should there be? Should all 20 chase independently, or use banks of 4 or 5 what?

The chaser components are dirt cheap, so I guess it's worth playing around with.

My first thought is to use a 4017 decade counter (or two) with a 555 and pot for adjustable speed. That's if you want a linear step effect. It could be ramped (non-linear) easily enough.

An alternative for a ramp (i.e., speed increases towards the outboard brake light), an LM3914 could be driven with a simple sawtooth generator. Since it's a dot/bar driver, the user could select between stepped or solid bar (i.e., all previous LED's remain lit).

For a more fluid effect, a simple analog circuit using different value caps could be used, with separate driver branch for each LED.

If it's desirable to illuminate the outside brake light last during a turn signal operation (i.e., after the LED panel does its thing), that's trickier if the brake is to be kept OEM incandescent, since we're talking about mixing relatively low current and higher current circuits. A simple xistor switch should do. If need be, a solid state relay could be triggered to switch on the bulb. I forget the wattage rating of the OEM brake bulb. Is it a 3157?

For a super fancy panel that gives different, user-configurable effects for brake, turn, hazard, and maybe even reverse, a cheap PIC could be programmed to do everything above and more.

There are many ways to achieve various chaser effects.

Last edited by Torque; 01-15-2017 at 10:00 AM.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torque View Post
Mine looks just like the OP. I need to finally get a round tuit.

I'm wondering about the sequential mod. Since the panel appears a little brighter at the bottom where the LED strip is, would sequencing them really look that good? It seems to me that it might advertise the fact that panel diffusion (scattering, distribution, whatever you want to call it) isn't perfect.
I think this would be the ultimate solution for that, could be made for the taillight housing as well

Who's good at making smd circuit boards?
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-Matt
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 02:20 PM
No, Mr. Lemmywinks, No!!!

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Originally Posted by XR7-4.6 View Post
I think this would be the ultimate solution for that, could be made for the taillight housing as well

Who's good at making smd circuit boards?
I could do 10 of these for about $250 each; you wouldn't believe how expensive it is outside China.

Flex is really bad.

I'd buy one of those and modify it.

Do you have a link?

Red '96 Cougar XR-7 240k mi. '02 4R70W, PST DS : '03 PI engine, 04 maf, 24lb injectors, 2.5" exhaust, '02 4r70w + Jmod, DirtyD0g TC + cooler + 3/8" lines, 255 walbro fp. Alpine system.
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Grog6 View Post
I could do 10 of these for about $250 each; you wouldn't believe how expensive it is outside China.

Flex is really bad.

I'd buy one of those and modify it.

Do you have a link?
A quick Giggle:

Easy Performance Product | 1974-78 Firebird Sequential LED Tail Lights (PN# CST10-FIR74-78)

Firebird Parts | Lighting | Tail Lamps | Tail Lamp Assembly - Aftermarket | Classic Industries

RwP

Fuelly
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 06:17 PM
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From that, If I can build them for $150, it might pay off. Hmmm.

Red '96 Cougar XR-7 240k mi. '02 4R70W, PST DS : '03 PI engine, 04 maf, 24lb injectors, 2.5" exhaust, '02 4r70w + Jmod, DirtyD0g TC + cooler + 3/8" lines, 255 walbro fp. Alpine system.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 06:25 PM
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Good information here. I'm going to stick this thread.

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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-08-2017, 10:19 AM
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My panel fixed itself! I happened to walk to the rear of my Bird the other night and both sides were fully illuminated.
I guess if water was the culprit, then it must have dried out enough for the cure. If it's a broken PCB trace or cold solder joint(s), then I must have just caught it on a good night.
It could be going on and off sporadically while I'm driving down the road! I should get someone to follow me to find out.

Unfortunately, water got in, so I know the panel isn't going to be clean inside. That thought, and the prospect of more seeping in, is going to bother me for as long as I have the car, so I should perform a repair, even though the panel is [for now] functional again.

My question is: why is it such a bad idea to cut the entire back off of the assembly, instead of cutting just around the LED strip?
This would eliminate the issue of maintaining proper reflection from the replacement strip. I know most people use aluminum tape to try to compensate for this loss.
It would also provide full access to the entire interior of the assembly for cleaning and working with the strip (and doing other mods).
The proper adhesive would adequately weld the housing together.
Thin flow (windshield) silicone caulk around the cut should render it waterproof.
Silicone caulk could be used instead of solvent, if it grabs the plastic well enough, and it should hold up well against vibration and shock.
Industrial adhesive tape (black, I would think) could be applied around the cut to help ensure the two parts stay together.
If the assembly leaked, it needs to be sealed somehow anyway.

Has anyone tried heating the OEM weld and simultaneously applying tension to try to pop it apart? I'm thinking a flat blade screwdriver or similar wedge tool. Another thought: how about using vibration (e.g., massager) with or w/o heat at the point where the tension tool is being applied? There must be a way to break the OEM bond w/o destroying the assembly, especially considering it's weakened enough with age that it separated enough to allow water in.

Once dirty water has gotten in, the only way I can see to clean the assembly interior after cutting only around the LED strip would be with an alcohol wash, which may leave residue borders (perhaps even with the costly 99.9% alcohol). If the residue never reveals itself, then obviously it won't matter.
Is an alcohol wash how y'all clean your assemblies that have been compromised?
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Last edited by Torque; 03-08-2017 at 10:31 AM.
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post #16 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-08-2017, 10:06 PM
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Had this thread never been started, I would never have realized there is an LED strip in the tail light assembly. I don't see it mentioned in the owner's manual or the factory service manual.

So, I decided to do a check on my car and I see my pass. side light resembles the one in the OP's pic. Still, it is bright enough, but for how much longer, who knows. Just one more item for my things to do list. I like the idea of trying to separate the entire assembly instead of cutting, and risking damage. I look forward to the success of others.

Is the replacement strip a plug and play affair, or is the OEM hard wired?

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post #17 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-08-2017, 10:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torque View Post
My panel fixed itself! I happened to walk to the rear of my Bird the other night and both sides were fully illuminated.
I guess if water was the culprit, then it must have dried out enough for the cure. If it's a broken PCB trace or cold solder joint(s), then I must have just caught it on a good night.
It could be going on and off sporadically while I'm driving down the road! I should get someone to follow me to find out.

Unfortunately, water got in, so I know the panel isn't going to be clean inside. That thought, and the prospect of more seeping in, is going to bother me for as long as I have the car, so I should perform a repair, even though the panel is [for now] functional again.

My question is: why is it such a bad idea to cut the entire back off of the assembly, instead of cutting just around the LED strip?
This would eliminate the issue of maintaining proper reflection from the replacement strip. I know most people use aluminum tape to try to compensate for this loss.
It would also provide full access to the entire interior of the assembly for cleaning and working with the strip (and doing other mods).
The proper adhesive would adequately weld the housing together.
Thin flow (windshield) silicone caulk around the cut should render it waterproof.
Silicone caulk could be used instead of solvent, if it grabs the plastic well enough, and it should hold up well against vibration and shock.
Industrial adhesive tape (black, I would think) could be applied around the cut to help ensure the two parts stay together.
If the assembly leaked, it needs to be sealed somehow anyway.

Has anyone tried heating the OEM weld and simultaneously applying tension to try to pop it apart? I'm thinking a flat blade screwdriver or similar wedge tool. Another thought: how about using vibration (e.g., massager) with or w/o heat at the point where the tension tool is being applied? There must be a way to break the OEM bond w/o destroying the assembly, especially considering it's weakened enough with age that it separated enough to allow water in.

Once dirty water has gotten in, the only way I can see to clean the assembly interior after cutting only around the LED strip would be with an alcohol wash, which may leave residue borders (perhaps even with the costly 99.9% alcohol). If the residue never reveals itself, then obviously it won't matter.
Is an alcohol wash how y'all clean your assemblies that have been compromised?
I attempted disassembly in this manner, I destroyed them. It's just easier to cut the slot, and then you have the security of the tough as nails factory weld to continue keeping it together. Bear in mind the assembly is NOT sealed, nor are any of the light housings, they all have breathers somewhere to balance the air(they're on the bottom corner on the back of the housings, and if clogged will make moisture inside stay inside, which probably is what helps kill these in the first place. Cleaning them out is easy. After you cut out the slot fill them with soap, spray the inside with a garden hose, fill them up, drain them, repeat until they're clean, and use a hair drier to dry them as much as you can and then place them in the sun over the course of a warm day.

-Matt
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post #18 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 07:26 AM
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Yeah, I've destroyed my OEM one, It's not easy to cut the entire back assembly off... It's not glued, it's melted together.

The slot at the bottom is the best way and when I get my replacements I'll put up a How-To on it.
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post #19 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 11:08 AM
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I attempted disassembly in this manner, I destroyed them. It's just easier to cut the slot, and then you have the security of the tough as nails factory weld to continue keeping it together.
If water leaked in at the top or sides, then the factory weld is already compromised, at least in spot(s). I was just thinking that, since my car is suffering from plastic embrittlement (engine bay and some exterior), perhaps the OEM lens weld could be safely defeated. This weld is ultrasonic, correct? I know it doesn't really matter in terms of being able to safely separate it, but I'm just verifying.

As a consumer electronics tech, I've done a lot of plastics work with those products over the decades, but I've never tried to pop one of these lens assemblies apart. If it looks like I can't w/o ruining it, I'll give up and go the safe route.
Unfortunately, these units cost so much used that I'm not going to buy one just to test various separation methods, unless I find one with a cracked lens or some such being sold dirt cheap (or better yet, donated to the cause).

Quote:
After you cut out the slot fill them with soap, spray the inside with a garden hose, fill them up, drain them, repeat until they're clean, and use a hair drier to dry them as much as you can and then place them in the sun over the course of a warm day.
I may try something like this instead of garden-variety soap or detergent.
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post #20 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 11:33 AM
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The problem is the weld isn't fully accessible, the lens "folds" over the actual section welded to the base on the sides(where they meet the main lights and the license plate area), so there's no straight shot for a heat gun or a prying tool in those spots and those are what break, in a very noticeable way at that. Only possible way I can see disassembly/assembly working is if you get a doner pair of lights, physically cut apart the black section to the lens area from one and the red lens from the other and join them together.


I used that exact product as it happens, since I wash my car with it. So when I say soap I mean that Good thing with this method is you'll see if and where your lens is leaking.

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post #21 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natesriv View Post
Yeah, I've destroyed my OEM one, It's not easy to cut the entire back assembly off... It's not glued, it's melted together.

The slot at the bottom is the best way and when I get my replacements I'll put up a How-To on it.
Thank you for undertaking this effort. Many TB's need this panel fix. I've been thinking about doing this for years. I just bought the LED strips and will wait until you finish your write-up before proceeding.

Glenn

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post #22 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 03:28 PM
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Wouldn't it make life a lot easier to instead of replacing the LED strip, replace OEM bulbs with LED bulbs?
https://www.carid.com/1995-ford-thun...-25660946.html

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post #23 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 03:34 PM
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No because the outer lights are irrelevant to the topic. The trunklid tails don't use 3157 bulbs, those would be the outermost lights. But since you brought it up, the aftermarket LEDs generally have almost indistinguishable brake light output from the regular taillights. The only ones I've seen that seem to have decent output are the ones sold by west coast classic Cougar, but they're 1157 only.

-Matt
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post #24 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 05:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XR7-4.6 View Post
No because the outer lights are irrelevant to the topic. The trunklid tails don't use 3157 bulbs, those would be the outermost lights. But since you brought it up, the aftermarket LEDs generally have almost indistinguishable brake light output from the regular taillights. The only ones I've seen that seem to have decent output are the ones sold by west coast classic Cougar, but they're 1157 only.
There is absolutely nowhere in my Tbird owner's guide, bulb spec. chart for trunk lid tails; which gave cause for my confusion. So, what's inside the housing other than the LED strip? My lamp looks just like the one in the OP pic. What is illuminating the housing, just a bad LED strip?

Do you realize you were just passed by a NASCAR? I didn't think so.
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post #25 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-10-2017, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
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So, what's inside the housing other than the LED strip? My lamp looks just like the one in the OP pic. What is illuminating the housing, just a bad LED strip?
Only LED's are used for the tail/trunk decoration. Since there are so many LED's, illumination is high enough and adequately dispersed by the LED reflector and the diffusion lens.
Typical failure modes are shorts or PCB damage due to water incursion via bad plastic weld, broken PCB traces, and cold solder joints.

LED's of the 90's weren't available in high enough lumen levels to [affordably] use a small number of them in the relatively narrow interior high-mount stop lamp assembly, so we have the craptastic incandescent design, which typically results in FUBAR'd red lens, lamp housing, and often the bulb sockets themselves due to the extreme heat.

My exterior stop lamp lenses are melted inside from the incandescent heat. A bulb blew years ago on my passenger's side, and I had to reach in with really long nose pliers and tweezers to extract bulb fragments which had welded themselves into the lens! Fortunately, the exterior stop lamp lenses still look ok after such melting, unlike the interior high-mount stop lens.
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post #26 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-10-2017, 11:17 PM
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Got my new Alltronics LED rear panel light strips today. Very well made and right length - with the same electrical connector as the original. Looking forward to the pending instructions to install these light strips.

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