Fitting an LED headlight in tight spaces

Fit issues can be a bit of a drag, and may discourage you to attempt to install another LED headlight to your vehicle.  One of the most common reasons as to why a fit issue occurs are due not having enough clearance. This may either be due to the dust cover or caps that you find on many vehicle makes and models or simply how the vehicle is manufactured.

Dust covers may sometimes pose fit issues with your new lights and prevent you from installing your preferred LED headlights.

So how do you get around the dust cap without compromising the housings waterproof seal, if any, while still being able to use an aftermarket LED headlight that will easily fit?

In this article, we cover the top 3 tips on how to get around fit issues or situations where you have extremely limited clearance and cannot easily fit an aftermarket LED headlight bulb due to the headlamp dust cover or cap getting in the way or simply not having enough clearance.  By clearance, we are referring to both depth and off towards the side of where the factory bulb mounts. 

Some housings do not have the bulb mounted in the dead center of the dust cap opening or insertion point of the assembly so certain LED headlight designs that are very wide will prevent you from even twisting the LED headlight bulb into place to secure and install

” Some housings do not have the bulb mounted in the dead center of the dust cap opening “

#1 Consider a physically smaller headlight bulb.

The latest addition to our headlight lineup products…The 1:1 Micro LED Headlights.

As car lighting experts and industry leaders in LED car lighting, we have come across just about every issue anybody has seen or had to deal with in terms of fitting a replacement LED headlight bulb.  In situations where the LED headlights cooling mechanism protrudes too far out, consider using a fan style LED headlight. Fan style headlights come in various different phyiscal size options.

The first steps to always consider are to understand how much clearance is actually available.  The best way to do this is to compare the physical dimensions of your factory bulbs to that of the LED headlight.  This allows you to determine what areas of the LED may pose a fit risk.  You can also simply do a small visual inspection, however, this will only work when the labor involved to access the bulb is not intensive.

Fan style headlights tend to be substantially smaller in physical size as they offer a faster cooling rate over a passive heat sink style headlight that slowly dissipates heat.  This allows us to play more with the physical design of the LED headlight and thus allow it be substantially smaller without comprising rate of cooling or thermal radiation.  Since a mechanical fan is a faster cooling method for an LED bulb, we can eliminate parts of the design in order to reduce its phyiscal size without compromising the bulbs performance. A perfect example would be our latest 1:1 Micro LED headlights.

1:1 Micro Headlights have proven to fit in the most confined housing areas.

The 1:1 Micro Headlights retain similar dimensions to that of a factory halogen bulb and fits almost anywhere!

Another perfect example would be our T2 model headlights or even the newest K1 Series Headlights. 

Lastly, newer heat sink style lamps such as our 6S headlights are also an excellent choice. These run passive heat sinks that are different from a traditional bulky unit like what you see on our NX Series and 8th Gen Headlights.  The 6S use thin strips of aluminum that we refer to as ‘cooling fins’.  These are intended to be spread out, bent and molded to your liking or to the clearance available in the area.  In other words, the fins must be fanned out and you can bend them over and around if spacing is very limited on either side of the headlight bulbs mounting area. 

6S Headlights are suitable for most domestic, and foreign vehicle lamp housings.

The 6S design will also even fit in headlamp housings that have squared or rectangular-shaped dust covers/caps.  These are much more compact from the typical heat sinks you find on various other model headlights we carry.

#2 Replace the factory dust cover with an aftermarket cover.

Dust covers tend to leave about only 1’-1.5’ gap between the cover and the factory bulb.  Trying to fit an LED headlight with this much space may come off as a challenge, but not anymore.  In the past, you either had to drill a hole large enough to fit the fan or keep the cover off all together.  Keeping the covers off or modifying will ONLY work in cases where there are no metal parts prone to oxidizing nor any electronic circuit boards in the area such as any unique headlamp housings with a mechanical shutter, or adaptive headlamps.

Aftermarket headlamp covers can provide more depth to fit your LEDs fans or heat sinks easily without modifying the housing.

Most headlight housings have a exhaust drain in case moisture makes its way into the outer shell of the lamp housing assembly but for those vehicles with housings that are completely sealed up against moisture then keeping the cover off may not be the best idea as it may lead to a larger problem.

For those cases, consider an aftermarket dust cover.  There are many variations available online through eCommerce stores and you can even find options that are sizeable to replace practically any diameter cover or least the most common ones.  There also options that allow the cooling mechanism of the headlight to protrude out in order to maintain an optimal temperature for the headlight all while still providing a defense against moisture and the elements that kick up while driving.  Of course, you may use some automotive silicon to seal up any small areas that the aftermarket covers will not seal up properly being that they are aftermarket or not genuine OEM parts. This way, you do not comprising the protection of the seal and maintain protection against moisture.

#3 Keeping the dust covers off or modifying the existing covers.

Keeping covers off should always be last resort, however, in some cases, it’s the only option if you want to convert to an aftermarket LED headlight. This would mainly only affect those working on a heavily modified car build, cars being used for trade shows, or vehicles that do not have a unique lamp housings that require the dust cover to remain on.  Be advised that keeping the covers off may lead to collection of dust and debris over time which rarely poses a long term problem, however, some housings do require the cover as it is what provides a seal against moisture. 

You DO NOT want to keep the housings exposed if the cover is the main source to provide a seal against moisture to reflectors of the lamp housing. Doing so will introduce moisture to the lamp reflectors but if the cover is intended for only dust/debris then you should be fine. Most aftermarket LED headlights are designed to handle water and will typically carry an IP65 water-proof rating.

A Chevrolet headlamp assembly with our NX series headlight installed without any covers.

Regardless, protecting the vehicle should ALWAYS be a priority as this is what helps pay the bills(right?).  As mentioned previously, keeping covers off is only safe with lamp housings that do not require that seal or do not expose any electronic circuit boards nor metal parts that may rust due to moisture exposure.  

Our company’s 2016 Chevrolet Colorado utilizes factory dust covers on the headlamp applications and luckily, Chevrolet’s lamp housings are simple. We were able to keep the covers off without a concern so that options like our 8th Generation Headlights will easily fit. Its been over 2 years since we installed them before taking the Colorado to SEMA Show 2018 and no concerns of moisture. Even after pressure washing the Colorado, the LEDs remain functioning all while still maintaining a clean and moisture-free reflectors in the headlamp housings.

By keeping the covers off, not only does it allow the LED headlight to easily fit in the area, but allows a better rate of cooling for the bulb.  This means you will get more out of your LED headlights!

Keeping the covers off or modifying will ONLY work in cases where there are no metal parts prone to oxidizing nor any electronic circuit boards in the area”

If you are ever not sure about the purpose of the vehicles headlamp dust covers, contacting your vehicles local dealer will always help.  They will advise of what the cover is intended for as well as what may happen if they are left off.  If you are concerned, contacting your local dealer is recommended before you attempt to keep the covers off. Be sure to speak to an experienced individual that has hands-on experience with working with vehicles car lighting systems.

DIY modification made to a cover to allow the 6S cooling fins to fit through for optimal cooling.

Those that are comfortable with a little bit of minor DIY, you can also modify the existing dust cover as a workaround. 

If you determine that modifying the dust cover is your best and ONLY route then you should consider getting a spare set of covers so you can keep the original ones intact and modify the spare covers. 

This way, if you modify something incorrectly, you can still use your original ones.  Modifications to the dust covers are only suggested if the mods required are minimal.  For any small areas that are left exposed, apply a dab of automotive silicon to seal up the area and maintain a waterproof seal. 

We got YOU and your ride covered!

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If you are ever not sure about how to go about fitting an aftermarket LED headlight or simply need some guidance, we can help! 

We are trusted by our local Toyota and Honda dealer partners including hundreds of thousands of JDM Astar supporters and enthusiasts world-wide. 

Not only do we offer the latest and greatest of automotive LED lighting but know the automotive lighting better than anybody else. 

“JDM ASTAR…lighting up your world, one car at a time!”

-JDM ASTAR Team

LED Headlights 101 for the first time buyer

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Aftermarket LEDs can upgrade the headlamps and fog lamps of your vehicle.

Have you recently tried checking what your options are on a replacement LED headlight?  Did you notice the options that are available?  They are endless aren’t they?  We agree that this can pose a problem and may confuse most that are new to car lighting.

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Upgrading your headlights has never been easier with JDM ASTAR Automotive LED Lighting.

How do you know what to look for and what should you use for your car?  Well, we address the key factors too look for on a reliable replacement LED headlight bulb that performs correctly and does not distort visibility, create glare problems to oncoming traffic, is safe to use on the road, and does not crap out on you while you are driving.

In this article, we cover the key factors on what makes a quality replacement headlight.  From the light sources, to the cooling mechanism and the circuitry involved.  There are the obvious features that an LED replacement bulb should always have and then there are the 3 key factors we believe you should look for when shopping for a replacement LED headlight or any replacement LED bulb.

Welcome to LED headlights 101….

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Custom yellow or blue LED fog lights from our latest PX Series LED bulbs.

The LIGHT SOURCE Is Key!

This is where your light comes from and should never be overlooked.  The diodes used on your headlight should be extremely small.  So small, it should not be any larger than the original filament of the factory bulb you are replacing.  The filament is the small piece of metal inside the bulb which is also the light source that glows when power is running to the bulbs.  This pertains to headlamp lighting and any other lamp that utilizes a traditional halogen or incandescent bulb.  Smaller exterior types of lamps (turns, brakes, backup, interior map lights, etc) rarely have a negative impact on results when changing the light source position or adding more light sources.  Most smaller exterior lamp housings only need a bulb that shines in a 360° orientation to provide a bright running lamp.  Also, these type of reflector housings are not meant to project a beam but rather just show the light and concentrate it in a small reflector housing in order to improve noticeability at longer distances.  (The ability to see the light at a distance is referred to as ‘candela’ and you can find more details about this unit of measure on our blog article linked here https://jdmastarblog.com/2019/01/11/understanding-lumen-lux-and-candela)

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Light source replication and position is essential for an optimal beam pattern with aftermarket LED headlights.

Changing the physical size of the light source will always affect the beam pattern.  Within the first 10ft in front of the vehicle, the changes to the pattern are minimal but once you pull out of the driveway and spread your pattern 200ft in front of the car, the changes will become extremely obvious and you will notice loss of focus, and light concentration.

The positioning of the light is also just as important as the physical size of the light source.  The positioning will affect the beam angle or height.  The deeper the light source is in the housing, the higher or ‘straighter’ the beam will project and will focus it to a smaller area making it look brighter to the human eye.  The closer the light is to the lens, the more spread and wider lighting you will have and also reduces concentration thus making it appear dimmer than what it actually is.  (This is also how those handheld LED flashlights work.  The light source moves away or closer to the lens in order to change the focus of the beam when adjusting the lamp for more or less spread/focus)

If you noticed that your beam angle has changed completely, or the light pattern is choppy you are probably running a LED headlight that moved the light source (LED chips) to a different position and/or phyiscal size.

Light sources or LED chips that are branded by reputable sources such Samsung CSP chips, Lumileds (Phillips) ZES chips, or CREE XHP series chips are also more reliable compared to a generic type.  These branded manufacturers provide some of the best LED chips that offer high thermal resistance, high light efficacy, and the highest efficiency automotive LED technology has ever seen.

You should also( and always) consider an adjustable LED headlight over one that does not provide an adjustable collar as this is what works directly with the LED headlights light source and positioning.  Reasoning to this is because most aftermarket LED headlights are universal bulbs that work on any car that takes the same bulb size.  They are not specific to any particular vehicle make or model so having an adjustable headlight allows for peace of mind at achieving optimal results with your LED headlights beam pattern and angle regardless of the housing its being installed into.

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” LED headlight should only use two sides where a light source is mounted and they should both light up at the same time “

Lastly, the direction that the LED chips are facing is another important factor.  This only affects aftermarket LED headlight replacement bulbs.  Most LED headlights will offer more than 1 side where a light source is mounted.  For optimal results, the LED headlight should only use two sides where a light source is mounted and they should both light up at the same time.  The diodes should face from left to right as most reflectors work similarly in how light is distributed when comparing the right and left hand sides. The top and bottom portions of MOST lamp housing are always completely different.

Positioning the diodes to where they are facing left to right (or at 3 & 9 o’clock), provides symmetrical light disbursement which results in a wide beam pattern that is focused and similar to what your factory lamps project.  The intensity results, however, will blow you away!

LED technology has always had a heat threshold

Like most computer components, LED has always had a heat threshold.  Older technologies are built like tanks!  This is why your factory halogen or incandescent bulbs can run over 325° just after 1 hour of use and still work fine.  They are made of glass!  LEDs, however, tend to use a form of silicon such as the chemical element germanium which is the same material you see on a variety of types of LEDs. This material offers thermal properties similarly to the plastic wedge connectors on a traditional 3057K amber incandescent bulb which we all know runs extremely hot after only a few minutes.  The diodes (part that emits the light within the LED chip), however, cannot handle the same high operating temperatures.  This is why you will always find a metal body, a large heat sink, or a high velocity mechanical fan which are all designed for the same purpose.

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Ever noticed an LED city light that is flickering or an LED chip that is out? Most common reason this is occurs will usually source from extreme temperatures and the type of light source used on the lamp.

The purpose of these parts are to provide a form of cooling down the diodes or transferring thermal energy away from the diodes.  As the diodes are running, thermal energy that is emitted transfers to the metal surface of the LED headlight bulb and radiates through the shaft/collar and exits via the cooling mechanism.  If it’s a fan, the fan will extract more thermal energy and cool the bulb faster.  If it is a heat sink, a process referred to as ‘heat dissipation’ occurs and provides cooling but at a slower rate. Heat radiates through the body of the bulb and exits through the surface area provided on the heat sink.  When the heat sink is penetrated by air flow, it will provide even faster cooling for the diodes.

An advantage on our heat sink type headlights are that they use branded or ‘high-end’ light sources that perform very well in extreme temperatures. Best part is that there is no mechanical parts for cooling thus allowing you to take them on dirt roads without a concern of a fan failure.

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Thermal heat sinks require more surface area to radiate energy and tend to be fairly large in physical appearance.

An advantage for a fan style headlight is that fans are also available in various sizes and types.  Most fans use ball bearings to reduce friction and minimize heat generated by a rotating fan.  They cool down the bulbs at a much faster rate over any other cooling mechanism. Heat sinks do not utilize the same system and tend to be bulky, or large in physical size compared to the fan style options available so its definitely something to consider if you have your mind set on a fan less LED headlight.

Both a fan and a passive thermal heat sink are equally as advantageous and we do not consider one is superior over the other as this depends on the driver, and the car you are working with.

If you plan to expose your LED headlights to typical road conditions, and weather conditions are normal (maybe rain at the most) then a heat sink lamp will perform very well, or even a fan!  Of course, a heat sink will outlast the life of any mechanical fan so that would be the preferred investment to make.

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Bendable cooling fins allows an easier installation due to the heat sink being smaller and not as bulky.

If you plan to take your headlights off road, or reside in an area with a lot of dirt roads, a fan may not be the best idea.  Debris can cause any miniature fan to cease!  You have to understand that the fan will get wet and begin to collect dust.  This can then affect the RPM rate of the fan, may lead to friction on the fan bearings which results in even more heat or reduced cooling so a heat sink would be better in this situation.

Commercial semi-truck drivers that take long road trips tend to use their headlights for hours and hours at a time should consider a fast cooling mechanism.  A heat sink style lamp would most certainly be a good investment but being that the heat sink is limited on how much and how fast thermal energy will be removed, it may be better to have a faster cooling process so that the diodes remain low in operating temperatures and handle your longer than normal hours of usage in your night drives.

Costs are also lower with fan style headlights and heat sink style lamps tend to be higher in cost but with reasoning.  Being that a fan is one of the first methods discovered, to cool down an LED headlight, the costs are usually competitive whereas a heat sink style lamp is something new to the industry.  Heat sink type headlights are typically engineered with higher end or premium light sources (to handle higher operating temps) and this will certainly reflect on the total cost of the replacement headlight kit.

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“As the diodes are running, thermal energy that is emitted transfers to the metal surface of the LED headlight bulb and radiates through the shaft/collar and exits via the cooling mechanism “

Again, a fan or heat sink both have their pros and cons and what dictates which option is the best one for you is both YOU, the driver, and the car you’re building (or just upgrading).

The Brains of your LED Headlights

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Back when LED first hit the auto industry, the electronic circuitry involved in automotive LEDs was very minimal and/or limited.  You have to understand that 10-20 years ago, the technology was nowhere near its peak and due to this type of product being something new to the industry, your options were never there.  The knowledge we have about automotive LED chips today has allowed us to evolve this technology and make it to what it is today.

In the past, LED headlights had too much wiring going on and connections were not protected through a weather proof seal. You had to use your own automotive silicone grease and heat shrink to seal up exposed connections yourself.  All the tedious wires involved had to be tucked or cable tied somehow.  The drivers were not very efficient and would send too much power. This lead to a life expectancy that is nothing compared to what you find today.

The drivers are the brains of your LED lamps and are just as important as the light source and cooling mechanism.  The driver is what dictates how long you can use the LED chips before a problem arises.  A problem being a prematurely failure, overheating, flicker (like a fail safe feature from the driver to prevent a burn out to a diode) and sudden power spikes that lead to temperature increases.

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Our 8th Generation Headlights run a unique driver with temperature control features.

A drivers purposes is to well…..drive power and maintain it steady. A driver helps control power to the diodes.  They are the crowd controllers to a Disneyland ride line!

Without the driver, the diodes will simply receive whatever current is supplied by the car which we all know spikes up when you accelerate due to the alternator.  Voltages run at 12V when the engine is off, and idles up to 14V when the engine is turned over. Temperatures will be all over the place for the diodes which can lead to a problem for the whole LED bulb.

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“Without the driver, the diodes will simply receive whatever current is supplied by the car which we all know spikes up when you accelerate…”

Most commonly used LED chips, not limited to the automotive industry, cannot even handle more than 5V so can you imagine what the LED chips in your digital cameras, iPhone camera flashes or LED home lighting fixtures would be like today if drivers did not exist.  (Say good-bye to your iPhone X flashlight!)

If you are using any high powered LED replacement bulb, always ensure that there is a driver included with the LED bulb or at least has a driver built-in it.

Drivers that are away from the body of the bulb or not built-in work best as the heat generated by the diodes will not impact the efficiency of the driver and thus allow your LEDs a substantially longer operating times and an even longer life expectancy.

Another factor to consider are resistors.  And no, we do not mean the same resistors you run in a car to bypass a hyper-flashing turn signal as those are bit too hot to use in ANY LED circuit.  We are referring to an even smaller resistor.  Resistors that are present in various home appliances, computing machines in commercial warehouses, every electrical circuit in your car, and just about any complex computing circuit you’ve ever heard of.

The main purpose of a resistor is to limit the current in an electrical circuit.  In the automotive lighting industry, a resistor built-in to an LED lamp helps simulate a larger load (draw more power or wattage), or can also help limit current in order to reduce voltage.  With less voltage means less heat stress to a driver.

Less heat stress means longer operating times and of course a happy LED!

Small types of resistors should be used in ALL LED replacement bulbs whether it’s a headlight or a smaller type bulb for your interior lamps.  The resistors will limit the current to the driver which benefits the efficiency of the driver and allows it to maintain optimal performance.  With current being reduced to the driver, heat generated by the diodes is also minimized thus improving efficiency even more.

Our CAN bus festoon LEDs utilize a heat sink to maintain efficiency due to the higher draw of power.

Larger valued resistors are also used on ‘Error Free’ type LED bulbs.  Error free bulbs are replacement LED bulbs that offer the capability of remedying a lamp out code without needing to introduce extra parts to the car.  The same bulbs you see most advertise as ‘CAN bus’ type LED bulbs use those larger valued resistors.  These resistors range between 1W-8W in value which allow an LED replacement bulb to achieve a load that is up to 10W.  This is substantially higher compared to a standard ‘non-CAN bus LED bulb’ and offers a chance at bypassing a lamp out indicator without the need to install a decoder or wire an even larger resistor in an attempt to ‘trick-the-circuit’.

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“Small types of resistors should be used in ALL LED replacement bulbs whether it’s a headlight or a smaller type bulb for your interior lamps…”

What makes them a ‘CAN bus LED bulb’ is the fact that they draw more power which is achieved through the use of a built-in resistor.

Nothing more is added to a “CAN bus LED” and does not make it any different aside from having a large draw of power.

Other benefits can be tied to the driver as well such as a temperature control feature.   As the driver or diodes reach a high temperature, the driver will begin to limit the current to the diodes which results in a flicker and minor light intensity reduction.

You are probably wondering, “Wait, are you saying my lights are going to dim and flicker?!”

Well, if you have the night vision eyes of a carnivorous animal, then you will see how the driver affects the light but due to how the human eye works, it’s virtually impossible to see this.  Only way for the human eye to capture this is through the use of light measuring tools or a video camera with specific settings.

When you get a chance, try to hold up a smartphone video camera to the light emitted from any dim LED (that has a driver built-in), you will notice the flicker behavior on the video camera which is essentially the driver doing its job. Now hold up the camera to your incandescent map lights and see how the light has no flickering behavior.

Again, the impact to the light from the driver is impossible to see with the human eye.

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A video camera or light measuring tools will capture a flicker on an LED lamp and the human eye will never be able to see this due to how our eyes capture light.

EMC-jamming or RFI(Radio Frequency Interference) protection is another benefit that your LEDs should always have as it protects the vehicle circuit from any annoying static or feedback on your FM radio which is commonly generated by a driver or a motorized fan.  It’s normal for these components to generate some form of radio frequency as that is just how the technology works, but not common for the frequency to affect your FM radio when using an LED replacement bulb on your vehicle whether its a smaller exterior bulb or a headlight type. Always look for an LED product that is “FCC Certified” or offers some form of RFI protection.  Most of our core products will offer these benefits. More budget friendly options tend to lack these essential features.

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Most of our LED products use aluminum printed circuit boards for instant thermal radiation.

We Can Help You

Aftermarket LED headlight can come off as a bit of challenge with the various sources, and options available.  Do not struggle to try and research every option available. (Believe us, we have tried it!) and let us guide you and we will find you the best lighting solutions for your vehicle.

Whether it would to be finalize that build project car you are working on, needing better lighting for a work vehicle, or just want a slick mod on your car to restore and modernize the lighting for the added convenience of seeing better at night and having a safer driving experience at night…JDM ASTAR will always have YOU covered!

We have solutions for both YOU, THE DRIVER, and THE CAR!

So remember…

“LED JDM Astar light your way down the road!”

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“JDM Astar lighting up your world….one car at a time!”

The Things We Wish We Knew🤦‍♂️…

Car lighting can come off as a bit of challenge for some especially when you have little to no knowledge on the vehicles electrical system.  Even for those experienced individuals, there are still some things that you will never learn until you get hands-on and do the work yourself.

We have created a list of the top 10 things we wish knew before we got into modding our own vehicles lighting.  These tips can help the experienced professional and just about any person new to the modifying there vehicles or just about any person wanting better lighting for their cars.  These 10 tips have proven to help you save money, a lot of time, hassle, and minimize the labor involved.

#1 Play it safe and wear protection!

Safety is always a priority!  When installing any parts to your car, you should always be play it safe. Safety should never be overlooked! When working with car lighting, use industrial grade nitrile gloves and any other safety tools such as safety glasses.  Nitrile gloves are heat resistant which means you can handle things that are as hot as an LED headlights heat sink or fan.  When replacing your factory bulbs or upgrading your existing LED headlights to JDM Astar LEDs then you should always wear gloves to help protect your hands, and the LED lamps.  It’s rare for the oils on our hands to cause a diode to over but this is not a reason to not

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Safety should always be a priority when performing any type of work on your vehicle.

Using industrial automotive gloves that offer a nitrile linear are perfect for handling extremely hot parts such as resistors and/or a high intensity discharge bulb (HID for short).

Next time you catch yourself playing Hot Potato with you factory bulbs, make sure you have your automotive gloves handy!

#2 Magnet pickup tools are lifesavers!

If you are working on an older car and have damaged or brittle sockets, you may have run into this pickle already.  We see this very often on classic cars or sockets that have excessive wear.  Sockets that do not secure a bulb correctly has known to allow the factory bulb or an LED to just slip off the socket and end up in the housing.

This can be extremely tedious and quite annoying to fish out especially if the bulb is lodged deep inside the lamp housing.

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“This can help save loads of time and minimize the frustration involved from trying to just bounce that bulb around until you can finally grab it and remove it from the housing.”

Try using a magnet pickup tool.  Most good quality aftermarket LED bulbs have metal bodies for heat dissipation.  By simply removing the lamp assembly, you can easily remove the LED bulb out by using the extender on the magnet pick up tool.  Some magnet pickup tools offer a bendable rod for even better reach should the LED be stuck in a corner of the housing where you cannot easily reach it.  This can help save loads of time and minimize the frustration involved from trying to just bounce that bulb around until you can finally grab it and remove it from the housing.

#3 No room to mount resistors?  No problem!

Hyper flash is a very common feature in most automotive vehicles today.  If you plan to upgrade to LED turn signals, you will almost always experience a hyper flash problem with your signals.  As you may know, the purpose of a resistor is to burn more power.  The resistor must then get rid of that power and so it just burns it which translates most of the energy consumption to thermal energy or heat.  Because of this factor, resistors must always be mounted to a metal surface for heat dissipation to help keep temperatures down and secure the resistor to prevent direct contact to non-metal surfaces.  This, however, can pose a problem if your car has nothing but plastic in the area, not enough wire length to reach a metal surface, or no secure metal surface to mount the resistor to.

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“As long as you have 1 resistor unit to compensate for the load of each turn signal LED bulb, on that same side, then it will still remedy the hyper flash problem for that entire side.”

Did you know that you can actually mount all the resistors to either the front or rear turn signal sockets?  Your car controls driver and passenger side turn signals separately.  To the car, it does not matter where you have the resistors wired up just as long as each side has the necessary load simulation that is equivalent to the turn signal bulb you replaced and is usually one per LED turn signal bulb.  The advantage of this is that you can install all 4 of your resistors to the front or rear.

As long as you have 1 resistor unit to compensate for the load of each turn signal LED bulb, on that same side, then it will still remedy the hyper flash problem for that entire side.  This means that if your car only uses 2 turn signal bulbs per side (driver or passenger sides) then you can wire up your 2 resistors to the front or rear while still keeping the factory turn signal flasher relay happy.

#4 Check your factory bulbs and car before you attempt the labor!

Most aftermarket automotive bulb type products are not vehicle specific but rather SIZE specific.  This means that it may be difficult to locate 1 LED or HID headlight that is specifically designed for your model vehicle.  However, if you can identify the headlight bulb size your vehicle is currently using, you will most certainly find hundreds of options to choose from.

Before you decide to pick up your own set of aftermarket LED headlights, you should ALWAYS check your factory bulb sizes before attempting to access the bulb especially when it is labor intensive.  This can save you time, and the frustration experienced when you find out that you wasted over 2 hours, to access the headlight bulb, only to learn that you do not have the appropriate sized LED headlight bulb.  Knowing what factory bulbs are in there now and how much labor is required will prevent those sudden surprises, not to mention the time lost and hassle of having to ship your parts back, and ensures the installation is seamless.

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The owners manual and factory bulb are the most reliable sources to find the bulb size needed.

Any of the following vehicle makes may experience additional or intensive labor that may require removal of additional parts to access your factory headlights such as front bumper, housing assembly, grille, a large quantity of plastic fasteners or wheel wells:

European vehicles– Alfa Romeo, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Fiat, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Porsche, Volkswagen.

Domestic vehicles– Some Chrysler models, some Dodge trucks (2000+) and sedans, some Buick models, newer model Fords, GMC, Jeep, Land Rover, Lincoln, and Ram trucks (2000+).

Asian vehicles– Some newer Acura sedans, some Kia sedans, Mazda sedans, Subaru SUV’s, Scion,

If your vehicle maker is listed here, check your owner’s manual to understand the steps required to gain access to the bulb you are planning on replacing.  There are good sources on the internet that will provide useful information as well.

If you own a very popular model vehicle, you will almost always find a source on sites like Youtube that provide the ‘How-To’ steps in replacing a bulb for your car.  Sources like Carcarekiosk.com are also very good for tutorial videos on accessing various light bulbs in your vehicle.  Research your car with these sources and make your new LED upgrades a breeze to install.

#5 Stay on top of your states periodic vehicle inspection laws!

The use of automotive aftermarket LED headlights is legal in most states and no state defines an aftermarket LED headlight replacement bulb illegal for road use.  States, however, do have periodic vehicle inspections such as emissions inspection, and automotive safety inspection.  For states that have safety inspections, make preparations before attempting to get your vehicle inspected while your LED bulbs are installed.  You should always check inspection requirements before attempting to install any aftermarket LED type bulb to your vehicle as to ensure you are complying with your states vehicle safety inspection laws.

Always check your states inspections laws instead of just reinstalling your stock bulbs and putting back your LEDs once you pass state inspection as we have heard and seen in many cases. Below, we referenced a chart that shows states that require yearly inspections.  If you reside in a state that require safety inspections, check your local laws and regulations from sources such as the Department of Transportation or the DMV websites.

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States that have yearly safety inspections will usually require DOT complaint lamps.  (Image credit Wikipedia.org)

DARK BLUE- Periodic safety inspection

LIGHT BLUE- Safety inspection upon sale or transfer

LIGHT GREEN- Safety inspection required to register

YELLOW- Emissions testing required in some areas

BROWN- Emissions testing required in all areas

GREY- No inspection required

#6 Replace your headlight bulbs ONLY with LEDs that use a fan or heat sink.

If you are planning to replace a headlight low beam or high beam bulb, you will require a HEADLIGHT type LED replacement bulb. There are many options online that go as low as $15 a pair and fit your low beams since they use the same size and physically appear like the factory bulb.  Those particular bulbs, however, lack a fan or heat sink and are usually a sign that the LED replacement bulb will not support a headlight type application such as a low or high beam.  Installing this type of bulb into a headlight assembly is not recommended as it is not safe to utilize as a headlight replacement and will almost always have poor results.  There is reasoning behind this though.

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“…a headlight type LED replacement bulb WILL ALWAYS use a high velocity fan, a passive thermal heat sink, or a combination of both.”

LEDs need a lot more power to support a headlight application.  Not nearly as much as factory halogen bulb but much more compared to a 2W-5W LED such as what is featured on the image above.  Higher power consumption translates to even more thermal engery that is generated by the diodes.  Since LEDs have a heat threshold, a headlight type LED replacement bulb WILL ALWAYS use a high velocity fan, a passive thermal heat sink, or a combination of both.  These parts usually protrude about 1in-2in after installing the LED headlight and are obvious visible parts.

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Thermal heat sinks do have any heat from friction caused by a fan, do not cease when worn out or exposed to driving conditions, and come equipped with premium type diodes such as (Phillips) Luxeon ZES chips.

The purpose of these components are to provide a faster method of cooling for the diodes and results in a balance between light intensity,  and efficiency to ensure a long life expectancy.  This is what helps prevent a burn out of ANY light emitting diode (LED).  A faster cooling mechanism allows the LEDs internal driver to maintain efficiency at its highest and therefore provide an even longer operating and lifespan.  If the bulb does not have this type of cooling mechanism then it is more than likely designed for other applications and lamp housings except a headlight type.

The last thing you want to do is buy one a wrong LED bulb and get stuck with results that are way too dim!  Way dimmer than your original bulb too!  This can be discouraging to some since you now have to go through the labor a second time to remove the bulbs.  And since the results you initially found were not the greatest, it can be discouraging to you from wanting to try that same brand again or not use LEDs on your car all together.

Save yourself the time and trouble and ALWAYS check if the type of LED replacement is appropriate to replace the existing factory bulb.  If you are ever not sure, or just need some assurance, give the guys at JDM a call and we will gladly guide you to find you the bulb you need to determine the best LED lighting solution for you and your car.

#7 Aftermarket headlight housings can create a nightmare!

Not entirely true as there are several aftermarket brands that have brought the industry some of the best headlamp assemblies that we have seen and even vehicle manufacturers are unable to replicate yet alone offer something that is just as innovative.

What we mean by this is that your aftermarket housings can change your factory bulbs to something different.  We came across this on our first cars we attempted to modify and most aftermarket headlight housings are known for using an H1 halogen bulb.  This is because an H1 halogen bulb is more cost effective since this particular bulb lacks any seals/orings, needs a dust cover to seal against moisture, and exposes electrical connections.  Some aftermarket brands do not use a headlamp assembly with a dedicated bulb( such as an H11 or 9006) or retain the factory bulb as it tends to cost the manufacturer or supplier even more to make and feature into the housing assembly.  This means that the consumer must also fork out a larger cost for the added convenience of retaining your original factory bulbs.

In the car lighting industry, we have seen many cases where a consumer or installer has taken every correct step to ensure the appropriate LED replacement bulb was ordered only to find that the size changed due to the aftermarket housing assembly.  Upon learning about this, it can also pose other problems such as limiting you to what LED replacement options you can use on your aftermarket housings, since H1 sizes are not very common, and the physical limitations your LED headlight now has because of the type of housing and bulb that is being used.  An H1 halogen bulb tends to require a dust cap or cover that seals the housing posing yet another fit problem since most LED headlights use a fan or heat sink.  The cover must now be modified or replaced.  There is also very limited clearance in the area which means you cannot use anything that is physically too large.

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“…your aftermarket housings can change your factory bulbs to something different.”

If you are thinking about putting both aftermarket housing assemblies and aftermarket LED headlights to your car, make sure you know what bulbs are being used with your new housing assemblies!  If you plan on building up your project car then you should always consider using a higher end housing assembly to help you retain your factory bulbs but if you opt to take a short cut and save some cash, make sure you know what you are putting into your car to avoid these types of problems.

Always check the housing the vehicle is using and you will save yourself money, time, labor, and the world’s most painful headache!

#8 Do not overpay for labor if your vehicle only takes a few minutes and no tools to replace your bulb!

We see this on a daily basis!  It is mainly from those that lack experience or do not have knowledge about their cars and almost always have to outsource a 3rd party to make an install for them.

If you are not sure, lack experience, or do not have the confidence to install to your car then you should always seek a professional for both safety and assurance that the installation is done correctly.

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Sources like Youtube & Car Care Kiosk both offer tutorial videos on replacing specific lamps on your vehicle.

For those that are okay with getting their hands a little dirty, or have some experience, check to see if your car is easy to work on first.  We’ve seen many cases where a shop charges a client an excessive amount of money and the labor involved only takes about 10mins.  A better example is a tire patch!  Many tire shops give free tire patches for the most minor holes.  Other places can charge as low as $10 which covers the labor involved.  There are some places, however, that will charge you $20 or more. For a tire patch?!  Same concept when replacing a light on your car.

Always familiarize yourself with the steps involved in replacing a bulb on your vehicle.  A good source is your owner’s manual! You can save yourself money, hassle of scheduling a shop visit and taking time off of work, and the satisfying and rewarding feeling of knowing you did the work yourself, and did not cost you a dime!

# 9 Have your resistors or decoders ready before you attempt to install.

This a very common thing that we come across often.  There are several vehicle makers that use a unique circuit or system on various lighting applications such as vehicle headlamp lighting.  These systems are infamous for creating various problems for an aftermarket LED replacement headlight or smaller sized LED replacement bulbs.

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Two of the more common issues are turn signals that hyper flash or flickering and/or auto shut off from a vehicles low beam headlamp circuit.  Research your vehicles make and model to see if there are any common issues that may arise when replacing any of your factory bulbs to an aftermarket replacement bulb.  When you plan ahead, it can help save time of going through the labor of installing your LEDs only to learn that a problem came up and now you have to go out of your way to buy resistors, and install them.

Automotive forums are one of the best sources for details like this or just call the guys at JDM Astar for any guidance.  We keep track of the various systems that are present in many cars today such as Pulse Width Modulation signals, Totally Integrated Power Modules, CAN bus, Pulse Voltage signals, or a voltage change (Ex. Daytime Running Lights).  These types of systems/circuits can be finicky with ANY aftermarket LED bulb and tends to make them behave abnormally.  Our research and testing has allowed us to determine what cars will require such parts so we can help you avoid getting surprised by a problem and ensure your LEDs operate as they are intended to.

#10 Always seek some guidance!

This applies to any person looking to replace a bulb in their vehicles.  Whether you are professional that works on cars daily or are new to working on your own vehicle, never hesitate to seek guidance.  If you are not sure of something, trying to figure things out on your own can create more issues than it does resolve not to mention the amount of time that can be lost.  Seek guidance from JDM ASTAR, contact a local dealer, get hands on and check your car but most important, never hesitate to ask for help!

JDM Astar is available Monday-Friday 9:30AM-5:30PM PST.  If your matter is not urgent, you can also reach out to us via email.  We guarantee responses within 24 hours or by the next business day.  We can also set up a time and date to reach out to you to help guide with upgrading your vehicles lighting or technical guidance to resolve any issues the vehicle has in adapting to an LED replacement headlight.

We are here to help and will remedy most car lighting issue, or get you that slick lighting mod to finally complete your car build!

Whatever the case may be….JDM Astar has YOU and YOUR RIDE covered!

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Get ready to be part of the world’s premier choice in automotive LED lighting!

“Lighting up your world…one car at a time!”

The best, the brightest, and most budget-friendly LED Headlights!

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Our company Jeep, in its early build-stages, features our LED light bars and auxiliary LED fog lamps.  Visit our IG page @jdm_astar to see its current state.

With so many options online and many local sources, it can be a bit of a challenge for you to determine what the best headlight option for your car is.  Whether you are working on a domestic vehicle, Asian or any European type, we devised this article to help you gain a bit of knowledge on our top performance LED replacement headlights for your car based off your preference in either highest intensity replacement, optimal lighting and performance results, and an option that offers the greatest value offered.

Best Headlight for Intensity

So you are in the market for some new lighting on your headlamps as the factory ones are old and worn out, not bright enough for you, or you just prefer a modern slick look on your car.  For those seeking brilliance, our NX series LED headlights are rated the highest and are also the way to go!

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Pick up your set of NX LED Headlights on JDMASTAR.COM and use code JDM ASTAR to save on your purchase.

The NX series headlights come from our heat sink lineup and are equipped with Samsung 2nd generation CSP chips.  Single beam lamps use 8 CSP chips whereas dual beam lamps provide a total of 16 chips or 2 sets of 8 diodes to provide a function for the high beam application.

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Quality guaranteed with Samsung 2nd Gen. CSP chips on our NX Series Headlights.

Whether your NX headlights are dual or single beam lamps, the intensity provided is rated at 5,000 lumens per bulb.  Increase the intensity by 3’x the rated lumens of a brand new premium halogen bulb.  If your halogen bulbs have already experienced some wear and depreciated, the intensity difference will be night and day with NX Series!

 

 

They also offer an all-in-one design for a simple installation without any concern of having to mount or secure a driver harness.  Since they use heat sinks, no concern for any mechanical fan noise.

 

Best Performance & Results All Around

You need to upgrade your headlights to something better but do not want to settle for anything but the best.  You want the best performance but also need maximum efficiency.  You want the highest quality but also need durability.  If you agree to any of these, the best choice for you are our 8th Generation Headlights.  These are our flagship model headlights and currently have a pending US Patent.

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JDM Astar’s flagship model headlights are…the 8th Gen Headlights!

The 8th Generation headlights are equipped with 8 Luxeon ZES chips from Lumileds.  This manufacture is a subdivision brand by Phillips that develop, produce, and design light emitting diodes.  They supply a percentage of the worlds demand for lighting and light sources not just in the automotive industry.  This is a brand you can trust and is also a brand we utilize on our products as we are confident the quality offered by Lumileds will ensure our clients satisfaction and loyalty.

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“The 8th Generation headlights are equipped with 8 Luxeon ZES chips from Lumileds.”

 

The 8th Generation headlights are not our brightest option but definitely one of the brightest and much more powerful over the factory lamps.  They are rated at 4,000 lm per bulb whether the headlight is a single beam or dual beam headlamp.  They offer adjust-ability to achieve results you need in any vehicle housing whether domestic, Asian, or European.  With an external driver harness, you can expect highest efficiency known to LED tech to be maintained for over 30,000 hours of operating life span.  That equates to over 5 years depending on often you drive at night!  The heat sink can also be reversed for even more customization.

If any investment is to be made on your vehicles lighting, the 8th Generation Headlights are most certainly the best choice.  Like any investment made, your profit or return will be your satisfaction, confidence in using our 8th Gen LED headlights in your car, long life expectancy, lighting results you want and need, and security for you and your passengers safety while operating your vehicle at night.

Best Bang for the Buck!

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T1 Headlights are exclusively available on Amazon.com. Search ASIN # B07FDS39X5.

Working on a budget when you have a car build or just need to upgrade your headlights is now possible with our T Series Headlights.  We understand having a budget can delay the time before you obtain your car parts, or can prevent you from getting your preferred choice that does what you want.

With our T series headlights, you have options!  Our T1 headlights are one of the most powerful headlights that combats the NX series.  With the same 5,000 lumen intensity rating as the NX headlights, the T1’s will save you money so that you can invest on other lamps on the car such as your interior or even your high beams.  The high velocity fan provides maximum cooling for the entire bulb including the custom diodes we use on this lamp.

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T2 headlights are available for Amazon buyers and Amazon Prime members. Look up Amazon ASIN B07MKZFBZY.

For an additional $20 USD, you can also kick it up a notch to our T2 headlights.  These are an upgrade to the T1’s and will push intensity even further with a rating of 6,000lm per bulb.  The light sources are designed and manufactured by Edison and are there DF-4BS series diodes which means maximum thermal resistance, high lumen-to-wattage ratio, and maximum output!

They also feature an external driver to prevent the added heat from the higher intensity from affecting the driver circuit.  This combined with the density of the 6063 aluminum body makes this one of our most reliable fan style LED headlight replacement option.

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T2 series headlights provide the most compact fan allowing it to fit in the most limited housing areas.

 

Solutions for Your Car…and the Driver!

When you are in the need of a replacement headlamp, and do not want to settle for less, be limited to 1 design option, prefer to steer away from mechanical fans, or want the best of the best for your car, JDM Astar not only has your ride covered, but we take care of the driver too!

With options that cater to both the car and driver, it is no question as to why JDM Astar is the world’s leading lighting solution for your automotive vehicles lighting.

cropped-jdm-star-logo.pngJDM Astar…lighting up your world one car at a time!

 

 

 

Using LED headlights with complex headlamp systems

Automotive vehicles have come a long way from how they were first manufactured. Safety belts were not a requirement.  Fuel injection systems did not exist, and many cars had a lot of weight to run all the electrical systems on the cars such as the car lighting.

 

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With how much technology has evolved, it has most certainly improved cars and how they are manufactured today.

In this article, we are covering some of the most common systems that did not exist in earlier model vehicles, but are present in almost every car today.  These systems tend to be finicky with any change or problem the vehicle does not understand and so we devised this guide to help you remedy any problems you run into with vehicles that are sourcing from the systems mentioned here.

 

Pulse Width Modulation Signals

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Example of Pulse Width Modulation with high and low average voltage.

 

Pulse Width Modulation or PWM for short is a system intended to help extend of the operating life expectancy of traditional filament bulb.    PWM pulses the electrical signal to the circuit on and off at certain voltage ranges and time.  This system is used with automotive vehicles as it helps reduce heat generated by the filament bulb.  PWM can also be utilized to provide a form of dimming for an LED lighting application.  Unfortunately, due to the voltage ranges supplied by an automotive PWM signal, it creates other problems other issues that may have some scratching there heads.  As it is, an LED replacement lamp reduces heat outputted by up to 40% so using a PWM signal with an LED headlight will not have any effect on operating temperatures aside from making the lamp behave abnormally.

 

How PWM affects an aftermarket LED headlight

A PWM signal rapidly turns low or high voltage signals on and off. In the auto industry, it’s very common to see low voltage PWM.  With a filament bulb, this system can also be used to reduce voltage to the circuit and provide a method of dimming down a filament bulb and turn it into what we all call a “Daytime Running Light’.

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Flickering followed by automatic shut-off are signs of a PWM signal on the low beam circuit. (Photo Cred: Youtube Creator “Justin Buice” / Follow IG @justinbuice)

For an aftermarket LED headlight, it typically leads to one more of the following:

1) Flickering behavior that seems to go from a dim to high at a fast rate.

2) OBC (On Board Computer) faults or codes indicating a lamp is out.

3) Automatic shut off of the LED headlight as voltage exhausts from the circuit.

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Lamp out faults can be triggered with an aftermarket LED headlight installed to a vehicle that uses PWM.

To help bypass this signal, there are various modules, or harnesses (that most refer to as “Anti Flicker” or even “Error Cancellers”) on the market today that can be used to bypass. The module must offer internal capacitance in order to ensure the signal is not directly affecting the LED headlight circuit.

 

How to bypass a PWM signal:

 

  • Utilize our decoder module which introduces an inline capacitor. Voltage signals are sent to the capacitor, allowing it to charge, which then supplies a steady and supported voltage of 9V+ DC to the LED lamp circuit resulting in normal and full lighting capacity.

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Decoders do not require any wire-tapping and will easily adapt to any automotive LED headlight and vehicles factory headlamp harness.

 

Totally Integrated Power Modules

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“Some of the most common vehicle makes that use a TIPM are Dodge, Ram, Jeep, and Chrysler.”

These acronyms just seem to be getting longer as automotive technology improves.  A Totally Integrated Power Module (or TIPM for short) is a module that uses various fuses and relay modules that control power going to various applications on the vehicle such as the engine control unit, transmission, drivetrain, electrical systems, audio, fuel delivery system, ignition and just about any main application present on the vehicle that is powered by the vehicles alternator.

 

 

A TIPM is a power distribution control box that takes and sends commands from almost every electrical system on the vehicle in the form of voltage or ground.

 

 

 

For those experienced or ASE certified mechanics, this is probably nothing new, but for those new to automotive LED looking for some knowledge, a TIPM system is similar to a circuit breaker but with a bit more control.  If this trips, whatever circuit is open will cease any function and no power will be sent.  Similar concept with TIPM.  If a relay module fails or does not receive a proper signal, it may affect other circuits tied to the relay module and so this leads us to how LEDs tend to affect these types of systems and what these systems may do to your aftermarket LED headlights.

A TIPM system will indirectly share the same ground to various circuits.  By introducing an LED headlight replacement to the main lighting application, such as the low beams, the resistance value, amperage, and load simulation will also change on the circuit.  This is where you tend to see problems occur as the TIPM is not receiving a proper signal and with the change to the load, and resistance, whatever other circuits that are indirectly connected to your low beams, through the same ground, may also be affected.  This is where the vehicle responds negatively to the LED headlights in order to protect the circuit as well as allow the other functions tied to the low beams to work like normal such as a parking light, or tail light that turn on together along with your main low beam lamps.

 

How TIPM affects an aftermarket LED headlight

For TIPM system, you almost never see any problem when you install your new LEDs to your vehicle.  It is not until the ignition switch is in the ON position, engine is turned over (usually when OBC kicks in) that the TIPM system will engage and the problem will present itself.

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“Decoders provide a 10W load increase….help remedy lamp out faults or codes stating the lamp is out.”

Some signs of a vehicle with TIPM can be:

  • Lamp out indication light stating a lamp is out.
  • Sudden flicker that occurs at random between each LED lamp and typically have a pattern on the behavior.
  • LED headlights do not power on when the low beam switch is engaged to the ‘ON’ position.
  • Cuts power to the headlamp circuit and results in a flicker behavior for about 2 seconds and shuts off automatically.

 

To remedy any of the above issues, you may utilize the same Decoders used to bypass signal changes with circuits that have PWM signals.  The same internal capacitor will increase amperage on start up due to the charge of the internal capacitor and provide a supported DC current to the LED headlights as well as read back to the TIPM that a lamp is working here as it normally should.  The decoders provide a 10W load increase due to the resistors that are built into the module.  This alone will help remedy lamp out faults or codes stating the headlight is out.  Some of the most common vehicle makes that are notorious for using a TIPM system are Dodge, Ram, Jeep, and Chrysler.  It’s rare to see this type of system on foreign vehicles but with how beneficial a TIPM system is on these type of cars, it is no question as to when other vehicle makers will begin utilizing the same or a similar system.

 

Voltage Changes with Daytime Running Light (DRL) Circuits

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Most Japanese model vehicle utilize the same high beam circuit to operate the Daytime Running Light.

 

A daytime running light is an automotive lamp that provides front head lighting for an automotive vehicle and is primarily used to increase a vehicles noticeability making it easier for other drivers to see your vehicle at a distance.  These lamps tend to emit a white, warm white, or amber light.  DRLs can be tied to turn signal or headlamp circuits.

 

For turn signal circuits, the DRL function tends to be the same as the turn signal circuit allowing you to obtain the same light intensity as your turn signals during the day while your main low beam lamps are off.

Various Japanese vehicles have the DRL function tied to the high beams, and others are separate.  For vehicles that have dedicated DRL’s, the current supplied from the vehicle is usually around 12V DC and therefore supported by the LED lamp.

 

How Daytime Running Lights affect your LED bulbs

When you have those vehicles that run a high beam along with a DRL, on the same circuit, there tends to be a negative reaction from the LED headlights you install.  This is mainly due to the amount of voltage supplied while the DRL is engaged.

Some of the most common negative behaviors are mentioned below as well as why it occurs:

  • LED Headlights do not power on. The voltage the DRL circuit supplies is not enough to power on the LED headlight.  Most aftermarket LED headlights require 6.7V+ to show any sign of light and 9V+ to light on at full capacity.
  • Flickering that will not stop while the DRL is on. The voltage tends to be unsupported or too low.  Flickering occurs when voltage is still not high enough and usually between the ranges of 4.5V-6V DC.
  • Odd flicker behavior that appears to go from a low to high intensity light very fast. Light never fully shuts off with this behavior so no flickering, however, it does create a strobe effect.  This is due to a ‘pulse voltage’ signal where the voltage dips slightly but still not high enough to keep the lamp on steady.  The voltage supplied tends to pulse on/off very fast and usually has a range of 10V-12V which is why the LEDs show no signs of loss in light intensity.

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Daytime Running Lights are an added safety measure for driver noticeability during day time driving.

Bypassing DRL issues is very simple and depending on what category your vehicles DRL falls under will determine which of the following will be the best solution for your vehicles DRL with LED installed:

  • DRL circuits that are shared to a headlamp can utilize a Decoder harness to help bypass any flickering behavior. The light intensity, however, tends to have a small reduction and usually a small decrease in light intensity compared to the high beam.
  • Dedicated DRLs typically provide a steady current of 12V, however, they also tend to be tied to other circuits such a parking light. Error codes tend to be triggered or a dashboard light indicating the DRL is out.  Utilizing a pre-wired inline resistor harness or wiretapping universal resistors to the existing ground and lead wires of the socket harness will correct the lamp out indicators.
  • DRL circuits that utilize a pulsing voltage can use a decoder as well. The module will prevent the voltage change from directly affecting the LEDs through the internal IC driver and thus remedy any flicker behavior.  Light intensity tends to reduce slightly and this is due to how voltage is being supplied from the vehicle.

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Pulse voltage signals are common on Toyota and Subaru vehicles equipped with daytime running light applications.  (Cred. SlammedEnuff / IG: @frslow_armani)

 

Other Methods to Resolve Daytime Running Light Problems

Decoders are by far the best option to try and should always be the first to utilize on the vehicle as they are easier to install.

For those vehicles that do not accept an inline decoder module and still show the same problems then there is still hope.

Some of those solutions can be:

  • Flashing your vehicles software. This can be costly as some vehicles are only possible to flash through a local vehicle dealer.  If you are not prepared to cover any costs involved then this may not be the best solution for you.

There are also various 3rd party softwares that can be downloaded to a mobile smartphone device that will communicate to a wireless Bluetooth OBD reader.  The OBD reader connects to the OBD connector which then talks to your smartphone through the same software that is downloaded.   An example would be apps such as ‘Bimmercode’ and ‘Carly’ that allow you to code certain functions on the vehicle and it’s typically not just limited to lighting.  This type of solution is geared towards experienced DIY individuals or professionals as there is coding involved and extra tools are necessary in order to allow you to flash your vehicle.  With this option, you are essentially programming your vehicle that way you want it to be such as how you want your signals to flash, or disable the DRL function on your car.

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Unfortunately, we do not have specialize with programming vehicles but can certainly help you find sources that can better assist you.  Again, it’s not recommended to everybody but certainly an option to consider as it’s not as costly as going to a local dealer.

Other workarounds for DRL problems:

  • Taking it old school with a relay wiring harness. Using a wiring harness is very common to see with HID conversion kits.  Since ballasts do not support all headlamp circuits, the relay wiring harness is used to bypass the connection to the factory headlamp harness and allows the lamps to be wired directly to the 12V battery.  There is also a 40A fuse on these harnesses to protect your battery as well as the lamps from any short circuits so there will be peace of mind on using this type of part.

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“Disabling a DRL function can be as easy as cutting or de-pinning a wire that connects directly to the ECU.”

  • “DRL Delete”. Some vehicle makes allow the main console/head unit to edit there daytime running light settings and these are usually common with vehicles manufactured in countries where Daytime Running Lights are required by law such as Canada.  Certain European cars may also have this function but its best to contact a local dealer on how to go about changing how the DRL function works or yet alone how to make the changes and if its possible on your model vehicle and year.

There are also other more technical methods of disabling the DRL system as well.  We cannot go into detail as every vehicle is a bit different but for vehicles such as Tacoma’s, disabling a DRL function is as easy as cutting or de-pinning a wire that connects directly to the ECU(Not all vehicle makes).  Lastly, you can also contact a local dealer so that they may reprogram the vehicle.  Certain manufacturers program there vehicles to have a DRL function to accommodate for local laws and regulations and do require a DRL on the vehicle at all times.  They can also disable the DRL function all together eliminating any possibility for voltage changes from making the LEDs behave abnormally.

Using LED headlights can be something new for most and if you are ever not certain on whether or not such systems are present, give the guys at JDM a call.  Our friendly technical support team have hands-on experiencing on how to remedy these types of systems.  We can help alleviate the frustration behind a flickering headlight or save you some labor with your new LED headlight installation so if you have any concerns or just need some guidance, contact the car lighting pros!  And remember….

“LED JDM Astar light your way down the road!”

-JDM ASTAR Team

9 Things You Should Avoid When Upgrading to LEDs!

Ever had that situation where you buy an LED headlight online and go to install it only to damage the bulb either because there was not enough room or the connectors did not match?

Have you run into other problems where you wish you knew so that you can avoid this and save the trouble?  It can be related to getting pulled over, bulb size of your LEDs was off, or possibly a bulb that did not do any justice on lighting performance based off information you found online.

We have experienced our own situations when we first started using LEDs and so we want to pass some knowledge to you that we wish we knew before attempting our first LED install.

Here are 9 Things You Should Not Do With Your LEDS.

Do not attempt to install the wrong bulb size.

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On the left is a bayonet 27W incandescent bulb. On the right is our T25 Wedge type 3020 13-SMD White LED bulbs.

We have all been there before!  This can be very tedious experience especially on vehicles that have intensive labor involved just to gain access to the lamps.  Before attempting any installation, always check the connectors of your LEDs and compare to the connectors of the factory bulbs.  You can save yourself a lot of time and labor through this simple practice.

Most cars do not require intensive labor to simply check the headlight socket or bulb connectors.

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Correct bayonet sized LED bulb to replace the 27W incandescent bulb.

Also, check reliable sources that come directly from your vehicles manufacturer.  The owner’s manual and the factory bulbs are two of the most reliable sources that will help identify the size you need for your vehicle.  If you are not sure, the guys at JDM Astar can guide you.

 

Do not use the illegal colored lights on the road.

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Backup lamps are required to be white or warm white in most states.

Ever drive around a law enforcement vehicle with blue fog lights?  Have you come across other cars that have similar colored blue lamps?  Please do not do this!  In some states, certain colors and color temperatures are illegal for automotive road use.  A good example is using some blue lamps that impersonate a law enforcement vehicle, or any lamps that you see often on emergency type vehicles such as flashing/strobe white/red lights.

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Blue lamps are recommended best for show cars or off road vehicles.

Always consult your states local laws and regulations about legal color temperatures to be using for specific lighting applications like turn signals, backup lights, headlights, and fog lights.  If you are not sure what to use, just stick to the original color that the vehicle used from the manufacturer and you will be fine.

 

Do not leave any connections exposed when wiring an LED lamp or other LED components to your vehicle.

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A wire tap that is made to supply power to an auxiliary lamp must be sealed to protect against moisture contact.

Oxidation is a pain.  It can lead to shortages and in some cases lead to damages to the vehicle.  If you are working with light bars, any rock lights, or some unique LED auxiliary lamps, always seal up your connections that are not in a sealed housing.  This can also apply to other aspects such as wiring in a load resistor to bypass hyper flash.

Resistors are typically left outside of the lamp housings to prevent the heat from affecting the LEDs.  This applies to both universal resistors and pre-wired resistor harnesses.  This, unfortunately, exposes the connection to environment and so you want to seal up the connections or taps made.  Leaving them exposed is asking for trouble and may lead to rusted metal parts or possibly cause a short in the vehicles lamp circuit.

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Connections that are left outside of the lamp housing are exposed to moisture and are prone to oxidation if not sealed properly.

If you are converting from a factory HID to an aftermarket LED lamp then you should also seal up any taps made that are left outside of a housing.

 

Do not let your resistors or decoders just hang out!

In the automotive industry, the purpose of a load resistor is to trick a car circuit into detecting the power draw of a normal filament bulb.  In reality, you are actually using a 5W LED bulb combined with a 20W resistor is similar, if not the same, to the original bulb which typically have a wattage range of 20W-25W on turn signal applications.

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Resistors installed to a vehicle must be mounted to prevent direct contact to the resistor unit.

Like your factory bulb, these resistors draw a lot of power but rather then using it for a specific function, they simply burn it.  This translates to a lot of heat and by leaving the resistors dangling, it will melt any plastic components in the area that it has prolonged contact with.  If the resistor units have prolonged contact to a painted metal surface, of the car, the paint will eventually bubble up and damage and even affect the primer.  If the resistors touch non-metal material, you can expect smoke or burning smells in the area or whatever it contacts as resistors can run average temperatures as high as 235° F.

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“The weight may pull down on the LED headlight its connected to which will cause wear on any solder connections”

For decoders (some refer to them as CAN bus decoders, anti-flicker harnesses, Error Cancellers, etc), they do not run as hot, however, they are a lot heavier.  The weight, combined with road vibrations, may pull down on the LED headlight its connected to which causes unnecessary wear on any solder connections by the butt of the bulb.  Through time, and heat outputted by the fan/heat sink, this will eventually lead to a problem within the bulbs circuit.  Always mount them down to keep them from dangling all over the place or from potentially damaging your LED headlight bulbs as well as other parts in the area.

 

Do not use the incorrect type of LED bulb for the vehicles application.

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H11 80W High Power LED bulb designed to replace a 20W-35W fog light. On the right is an H11 55W Halogen bulb which are commonly found on low beam lamps.

Ever install a standard 5W LED fog light LED replacement bulb to replace a 55W halogen fog light and the results are no where near as bright as what you had?  What about installing this style LED bulb into a headlight type application to replace a 55W halogen bulb only to be disappointed by the results?

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Using this type of LED bulb as a headlight will actually reduce lighting results since the bulb is designed for driving or fog lamps which typically use a 20W-35W halogen bulb.

There is reasoning behind this and it’s mainly due to the wattage or type of bulb the vehicle is using and the type of LED bulb you are trying to use in order to replace it.

Here is a cheat sheet that will provide a reference on the suggested type of LED replacement to be using based off the wattage of the factory incandescent/halogen bulb(s).

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Let’s take a Honda Accord as an example.  Accords typically use an H8 12V 55W Halogen bulb.  A halogen bulb with a wattage range of 55W is commonly found on headlight applications for most vehicles on the market and essentially labels this type of bulb as a headlight replacement.  If you install an LED replacement bulb that has a wattage range of 5W (intended for running/fog lamps) to replace the 55W factory bulb( that happens to be a headlight) then results you want may not be what you expect. The factory lamps can be expected to be brighter simply because it uses more power.  Now, if you try a 25W ‘LED HEADLIGHT’ (uses a fan or passive heat sinks) to replace a 55W halogen bulb then the results can be expected to be brighter with your LEDs.

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“A good tip is that any halogen bulb that’s above 50W should be using an LED replacement that runs a fan or passive thermal heat sink.”

Always understand what the wattage range of your factory bulbs are to know what type of LED bulb you should be using on that particular lamp.  This mainly applies to front head lighting such as fogs, lows, highs, or dual beam headlights.  If you are not sure what LED to go for, just look at the wattage of the original bulb and reference the guide above.  A good tip is that any halogen bulb that’s above 50W should be using an LED replacement that runs a cooling fan or a passive thermal heat sink.

And of course, you can always reach out to the guys at JDM for any guidance on the LED replacement that you should be using for that application.

Never run an LED replacement right next to a filament bulb that is not isolated in the lamp housing.

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“When you have two filament bulbs that are setup in the housing this way, you should almost always have to replace both bulbs if you upgrade any to LED.”

A lot of vehicle housings, whether they’re front headlamp lighting or rear tail lighting tend to use 3-5 bulbs per housing and are typically isolated from the others such as turn signals, and headlights.    For those vehicles that run more than 1 bulb in the same housing and area, where the two bulbs are not isolated like a turn and low beam headlight, you never want to replace only 1 of those bulbs to an LED but rather both.

When you have two filament bulbs that are setup in the same housing this way, you should almost always have to replace both bulbs if you upgrade any to LED.  You must understand that LED technology has ALWAYS had a heat threshold as they are computer components/electronics, and like any electronic device, they do not like heat!  When you run an LED bulb right next to a filament bulb, there will be two heat sources in the housing one of the being substantially higher than what the other can handle.  The LED is capable of resisting temperatures generated by the LED bulb itself which means the increased heat of the filament bulb its sitting next to will have a major impact on the LED circuit and driver performance.  The heat outputted by an incandescent or halogen bulb is typically 2-3 times higher compared to its LED counterpart.  This is due to the amount of power driven to the bulb.  The heat outputted by the filament bulb will stress the diodes and IC driver.  Once temperatures begin to climb above the threshold, it may cause the LED bulb to fail prematurely.  The IC driver will first pulse the signal to the LED circuit in order to save the diodes but if temperatures continue to climb or stay excessively high then the driver will eventually cease or the increased temperatures may burn the diodes on the chips which my begin to brown up.

Always replace both bulbs to LED so that the amount of heat outputted by the two bulbs is maintained to a minimal in order to allow the LED to operate at its optimal temperatures.

 

Never leave your headlight housings exposed to the elements such as moisture.

Luckily, this does not affect all halogen bulbs/housings.  Only specific sized halogen bulbs will use an o-ring or some type of gasket to provide a water proof seal for the headlamp housing.  When going over to an LED replacement headlight, the LED replacement typically uses the same seals or gaskets that the original bulbs use thus providing the same peace of mind in protection of the housing against any moisture breach.

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H7 headlight housing using a fan style LED headlight that is physically too large to allow the factory cover to be replaced.

What about for those unique sizes that do not have gaskets such as H1, H3 or H7?  Well, you do not want to leave these exposed!  These housings tend to utilize a poly carbonate dust cap, or rubber boot cover.  The purpose of the cover is to protect and seal the housing against moisture and unknown contaminants such a dust or debris.  When upgrading to an aftermarket LED headlight bulb, the factory covers usually do not have enough clearance to allow the LED headlight bulb to fit under it.  Most will usually leave this off.  Since the original bulb lacks an o-ring gasket, the LED will have the exact same setup so by leaving the cap off, you will be exposing the housings to the elements.

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For H1, H3, and H7 headlight housings, you CANNOT leave them exposes as this will introduce moisture to the housing.

There are a lot of aftermarket covers available online that allows the LED bulb to have more clearance to fit inside, however, the better options are those that allow the LEDs to breathe.  You can certainly use dust covers and seal up any of our LEDs, however, this may affect the operating temperatures.  Being exposed to air flow allows optimal cooling of the bulb and will ensure a long life so always keep that in mind.  The covers we recommend should allow the LED headlight bulbs fan or heat sink to be exposed.  The areas around the LED bulb or dust cover can easily be sealed up by using automotive silicone or some type of silicone adhesive that is weather proof and seals against moisture.  With this setup, you can expect the LEDs to operate at its optimal temperatures while still provide peace of mind of protecting the headlamp housing.  Lastly, an alternative is to modify the existing cover and seal up any exposed openings.  Of course, we always suggest leaving the original parts unmodified but for some, this may be the best and most cost effective solution.

 

If your vehicle is a daily driver or driven frequently, DO NOT SMOKE or TINT THE LENSES!

This is a no brainer and only benefit is that it looks cool.  This, unfortunately, only works for automotive trade shows or show cars.

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Smoked headlight lenses can reduce light penetration by up to 40% depending on the tint.

By jeopardizing the clarity of your headlights or tail lights lenses, it will compromise the intensity of the lamp, and in some cases, render any type of bulb useless and unsafe to use on the vehicle simply because it’s not bright enough to penetrate the tint.  Most will usually use a 60W HID system on a smoked headlight for that overkill output, but at that level of power, the innards of the headlight housings will be affected by the heat and eventually lead to warped housings or damages to the lens or reflective properties of the fixture in the long run.

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Dark tints are recommended for show only as they compromise headlamp brilliance, driver visibility and drive safety.

This is a big safety concern and definitely something we never suggest to do on a vehicle that’s frequently used on the road.  Most states do not have laws and regulations in place for smoking or tinting your lenses but if the lamps are not bright enough, or pose a safety concern to you or other motor vehicles then this is probable cause for law enforcement to pull you over and may write you a citation.

 

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Smoked tail lights make it virtually impossible to see a brake light during daylight resulting in risks of rear end collisions.

If you smoke up your tail lights, it’s the same safety risks but instead of compromising your visibility you are at risk of being rear ended by others behind you.  This one is worse as you have no control over the situation.  If somebody is speeding behind you, a smoked lenses will make it difficult for that driver to see you stopping at a distance.  With a dim tail and brake light, it’s hard for the driver to see you slowing down and well….you know what may happens next.

If law enforcement gets involved then the smoked lenses may also be clear evidence against you so keep those housings red and do not tint the headlights either.

 

Do not compromise your LED headlights cooling mechanism!

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LED headlights will reach a high temperature fairly quick if the LED lamp is used without any cooling such as a passive heat sink.

This applies to aftermarket LED headlights that have mechanical fans or feature a thermal passive heat sink for cooling.  These type of lamp require those cooling mechanisms as a form of removing heat directly from the diodes.  Heat will dissipate directly from the light source, through the metal body of the bulb, and exhaust at the heat sink or fan.  Some LED headlights on the market allow the heat sink to be removed such as our 8th Generation Headlights.  These features tend to provide versatility when trying to install to the vehicles headlamp housing.  For some housings, leaving the heat sink off allows the bulb to fit in the confined area, however, this is how the bulb cools down.  Without a way to dissipate, the diodes will eventually reach temperature that will compromise performance, efficiency, and shortens the life of the bulb.  Heat and LEDs do not mix which is why most will utilize some type of cooling mechanism, whether it’d be a mechanical fan, thermal heat sinks, or something new we have not yet heard of.  NEVER run an LED without any way of cooling it down.

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“Without a way to dissipate (heat), the diodes will eventually reach temperatures that will compromise performance, efficiency, and shortens the life of the diodes.”

Most importantly, do not block the bulbs ability to cool down.  Some housings use dust covers/caps which you can use with LED, however, operating temperatures tend to climb higher so it’s usually suggested to allow the LEDs to vent out all heat.  Avoid trying to cram the LEDs drivers into a confined space where air flow will be extremely limited as heat will affect the performance of the drivers once it reaches a high temperature.  There are many options for a replacement dust cover which will easily fit and work with most aftermarket LED headlights. For those finicky sizes like H1, and H3’s, you can always apply automotive silicon paste to help provide a seal in any areas that are exposed or may potentially leak moisture into the lamp housing area.

For questions or concerns on upgrading to LED lighting, JDM ASTAR is available Monday-Friday 9:30AM-5:30PM PST for all your car lighting needs.

Give the guys at JDM at call and they will gladly assist you to help ensure a seamless installation with any LED you install or any lighting upgrades made to the vehicle, and remember…

“LED JDM Astar light your way down the road!”

-JDM ASTAR Team

 

 

 

Easiest, Best and Most Effective Lighting Upgrades for ANY car!

Car lighting is an essential requirement for driving your motor vehicle at night or for road-driving safety.

With how popular and advanced aftermarket LED has become today, who’s to know what lights you should be upgrading first?  If you have a burnt out incandescent bulb then of course that would be the first to go, but for those seeking brilliance and/or performance lighting, what lighting mods should you do first?

In this article, we discuss the most effective upgrades that will provide night and day difference and improve driving experience, safety, driving noticeability and visibility.  This revolves mainly around cost effective upgrades to the simplest installations that require minimal labor and provide a major difference from what was in there before.  There is no given order as to what should be done first, however, these would be the better ones to try out for first LED install before deciding on converting the entire vehicle over to LED.

 

Maps & Dome Lights

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JDM Astar patented T10 PX 3-SMD (US Patent D814,666) LED bulbs installed to the map and dome lights of a 2016 Honda Accord LX

This is the most cost effective upgrade.  Most vehicles come included with cab lighting and will usually feature 2 lamps that sit on the roof of the vehicles cab and typically by the driver and passenger sides.  Picture yourself holding a map and whatever lamp throws light to that map would be the map. Map lights commonly use a T10 wedge type bulb (ex. 194, 168, W5W, etc) or festoon bulbs (ex. 578, DE3175, etc) and typically run $8-$15 for a pair.  There are also 10pks available that will upgrade both maps and even have spare bulbs for other lamps in the interior that run the same sized bulb.  Most vehicles will use a 5W incandescent that is limited to an average of 50-70 lumens per bulb whereas interior T10 LED bulbs produces an average of 75lm-220lm.

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Side by side comparison between DE3175 5W incandescent versus 31mm 3020 6-SMD CAN bus LEDs on the map lights of a later model Toyota.

Dome lighting is very common on sedans, coupes, sport utility vehicles and trucks as well as other commercial vehicles.  Dome lighting provides light coverage for a majority of the cab or interior of the vehicle and usually have 1 lamp.  Like map lights, dome lights will use an average 5W incandescent bulb.  An aftermarket festoon LED can produce results as high as 200lm making it the only necessary lamp to turn on for your interior as well as the most cost effective upgrade that anybody can do.

 

Replacing an interior map or dome light is simple and anybody can do it.  Most vehicles do not require special tools and you can upgrade your interiors main lamps for as a low as $30!  Interior lamps are the most effective and affordable upgrades that can be made for any vehicle.

 

Backup Lamps

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2016 Honda Accord LX upgraded backup lamps with patented design 921 GX-3020 18-SMD CAN bus LED bulbs (US Patent D815,762)

Backup lights are essential for safety when in reverse and as important as safety, the brilliance and visibility is also important.  Most vehicle manufacturers will use a T20 (ex. 7443), T25, (ex. 3157) or a smaller T15 (ex. 921) wedge type bulb to provide light while reversing your vehicle.  Most backup lamps have an average wattage of 20W-27W giving you a luminosity that ranges from 150lm-400lm and usually have a dull warm white look.

With aftermarket LED, you can play with your brilliance.  On the market, most backup LEDs average from 500lm-1000lm!  Some unique options such as our patent 921 3020 18-SMD LEDs will even change the pattern and light disbursement providing advantages such as wider beam pattern, and/or further reach making reversing your car that much easier!

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Raw image of a side by side comparison between our patented 921 GX-3020 18-SMD LEDs versus the factory 921 15W incandescent lamp.

For safety, it is not question as to why every car should have an upgraded backup light LED installed.

 

Headlights

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When LED first made its way into the auto industry, the options were limited but as new and innovative designs were released, you now have options to play with and are capable of offering better results over other aftermarket options such as High Intensity Discharge bulb.

Most vehicles run either a single beam bulb or a dual beam bulb to provide lighting for low beams or high beams.  Brand new single halogen beam bulbs have an average of 50W-55W providing about 1000lm-1400lm where as a dual beam bulb runs at 55W/65W (Lows/Highs) providing a similar rating for the low beam filament and increasing the intensity as the high beam filament engages.

Keep in mind, older technologies such as halogen or incandescent burn the filament inside the bulb causing wear through time and usage resulting in loss of light.  Your headlights will not appear the same in light intensity after 1 year of driving the vehicle.  For aftermarket LED headlight, however, it’s an entirely different story!

Most of our LED headlights provide an average luminosity of 3000lm-4000lm that practically doubles if not triples the output of the factory lighting.  The best thing about using JDM ASTAR headlights is that there are options not just for the car but options for the driver.  There is a solution for both car and driver regardless of your budget so if you ever have any questions and not too sure what you would like to upgrade first, contact the go to guys of LED lighting.  Hit up JDM ASTAR and they can guide you to answer any questions about car lighting and help you find the best lighting solution for your car.

JDM Astar

Lighting up your world….one car at a time!

-JDM ASTAR Team

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