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Street Race Truck More... The Toolbox

Light Emitting Diodes (LED's)


It’s dark out. You’re on your way home from the car show, and let’s face it; your lights just aren’t cutting it as well as they could be. Park lights, tail lights, even your dash lights are all just a bit, well, weak. This is an all too common occurrence, and one that is easily corrected.

By converting to an LED (Light Emitting Diode) system, not only will you increase your vehicle’s visibility in low light situations, you also will reduce the power usage overall, as LED’s draw about 2 volts compared to the 12 volts of most standard filament bulbs. LED’s also last exponentially longer than standard bulbs, sometimes up to 100,000 hours. One single LED is not bright, however when you add several on a base such as this 1157 style socket setup, you will see a marked improvement in illumination and visibility.

Some things to keep in mind:

First and most important, since LEDS only operate on about a tenth of the power of the previous bulb, a resistor is required. Hagan Dummy Load Resistors fit the bill quite nicely for that. Skip this step, and your LED’s won’t last long at all, not to mention possibly causing additional issues in the electrical system. Next, the LED’s are not rated in watts like the standard filament bulbs. The difference in light projection would make the rating so low it would be nearly non-existent. In your standard filament bulb, the light is emitted from all around the filament, and an LED the light is emitted only from the end, not the sides.

To make sure the most light is transferred through the tail light lens, use an LED that is the same color as said lens. While on the subject of lenses, another benefit to the LED is the lack of heat generation. Traditional filament style bulbs create heat, and if they are too close to the plastic lens prevalent on most classics, some discoloration or even melting can occur.

Lastly for this article, when you retrofit the LED’s in your turn signal/hazards, they may not work. If this happens, you will need to add an LED-specific flasher, available from Speedway Motors in either a 2-Prong configuration, or a 3-Prong.

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