Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

LED Brake Lights

LED brake light bulbs

Should you retrofit LED brake light bulbs into your tail lights?


Why should shouldn’t spend even a dime on LED brake lights or turn signal lights

LED bulbs are less safe than tungsten halogen bulbs

The entire reason for brake lights is to warn other driver’s you’re applying your brakes. Tungsten halogen bulbs, factory reflectors and factory brake light lenses are designed to produce the right amount of light to create the desired response in other drivers (it’s a brake light and I should slow down).

In other words, drivers expect to see a certain brightness and color when you apply your brakes or activate your turn signals.

Drivers install LED bulbs because they appear brighter and they think that’ll help other drivers notice them. Scientific tests prove otherwise! The brighter

LED brake light

Super bright LED brake lights cast more glare and appear more white than red.

LED brake light bulbs actually create more glare and often project a different color light than a typical brake light, making them less recognizable as brake lights to other drivers!

In addition to not meeting the same brightness as normal tungsten halogen brake light bulbs, they also can’t match the same viewing angles because they contain a matrix of light sources that don’t work properly with the existing reflector and lens. So they’re not perceived as brake lights when viewed from all angles.

LED bulbs aren’t as bright as you think

LED light output drops the longer the light is lit. LED electronic drivers create heat and need an effective heat sink. The vast majority of LED brake light bulbs don’t have good heat sinks. So the LED bulb will be bright the instant you hit the brake pedal but will dim significantly the longer your brakes are applied. In fact, even if it starts out bright when cold, the light intensity can quickly drop below the minimum requirement with extended use of the lamp (such as when sitting with your foot on the brake in traffic).

LED brake light bulbs are illegal

All states follow Federal lighting regulations. LED bulbs don’t carry a D.O.T. certification because they can’t meet Federal lighting specs.

LED bulbs make no sense financially

At close to $20 a set plus resistors and an electronic flasher you’ll easily spend $50 to $100 on these worthless LED bulbs. You could have replaced your tungsten halogen bulbs for the next 40 years for less than that.

LED brake and tail light bulbs don’t last as long as advertised

Don’t believe the long life claims made by the bulb manufacturer. They fail far sooner than advertised.

LED brake light bulbs create all kinds of problems in modern vehicles

Many late model vehicles have a factory option to tell you when a signal light is out. Those systems monitor voltage to the bulb or current to the bulb. The monitoring systems expect to see voltage and current within a set window of normal operating specs. If the voltage or current fall outside those specs, the system will conclude that the bulb has burned out.

Since LEDs run on lower voltage and current, they create false bulb out signals.

LED brake light bulbs don’t work well with flashers in modern vehicles

LED bulbs tend to hyperflash when used in place of a tungsten halogen bulb.

LED tail light bulb retrofit

To make LED bulbs work you’ll probably need to add resistors and an electronic flasher. Even then, they may not work properly

LED brake lights

Resistors to be spliced into your existing brake light pigtail and an electronic flasher. The combo can run up to $80 for some vehicles.

LED brake light bulbs void your factory and extended warranty

If you retrofit your brake and tail lights with LED bulbs and have an electrical problem that’s diagnosed as being caused by your retrofit, the repair costs be covered by your warranty.

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Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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