Archive for the ‘Trouble Shooting’ Category

If your are looking to upgrade your vehicles 3157 or 7443 parking light, turn signal, or brake light bulbs with V-LEDS you NEED to identify what TYPE of SOCKET your car has. There are 2 socket types, Standard and CK. There is only one way to know for sure which socket your car has, TEST IT. We put together a short video that will guide you through the steps involved with testing your sockets.

What is the difference between the Standard and CK style sockets? The position of the ground contacts in the socket is the only difference. They LOOK identical. What will happen if I use the wrong type of LED, i.e. A standard LED in a CK socket?  The LEDs will not work properly or worse, they will blow your fuses that protect that specific lighting circuit. How do I know which socket type I have? Watch the video below and follow the instructions.

There is no rhyme or reason as to what car will use a CK socket configuration. Again the only way to know is by following our testing procedure shown in the above video.

Please note: Single element sockets i.e. 3156 and 7440 can be CK style as well. Please test and identify your sockets BEFORE you purchase your new V-LEDS. There is a 15% restocking fee for returned products.

My last post was on how to make a quick and easy test light. This is a little trick you can use to test your LEDs. Use this to verify which contact on your LED is the positive and the negative. If you think you have a defective LED you can use this to confirm if it’s the LED that’s not working or if your cars socket is the problem. Items needed to make this tester include a fresh 9 Volt Battery, a couple of lengths of wire and some electrical tape. This is easy to do, lets cover the steps.

Look at the picture below. Start out with your wire, tape and battery. Strip some sheathing off of both ends of the wire. Fold back the wire on one end. Note the positive and negative terminal of the battery and place the wire on top of each terminal. Fold the tape over and use it to hold the wire onto the terminals of the battery. And you’re done!  To use this new tool just touch the bare wires from picture #4 to the contacts of the LED, note which wire is positive and negative. If the LED  lights up you have the polarity correct. If the LED does not light up, reverse the wires and try again. If it still doesn’t light up than either the battery is dead or the LED is not working.

This little battery tester has helped me in may different ways. If you do not have a 9 volt battery, any battery will do. I have done this with power tool batteries too, just don’t use any batteries larger than 12 volts. You can use this for more than just testing LED lights. I first used this setup to test for speakers in cars when the radio harness was cut off. After I located all of the power wires I would use this to test the remaining wires to match up the pairs of speaker wires. And you can see the speaker move in or out too, which tells you what speaker wires are positive and negative.

I have had people ask me if you can get shocked by touching both wires at the same time, the answer is no. It is very rare that you would get shocked by 12 volts DC power; it is possible, but you would have to be trying really hard.

Thanks for reading. If you have another use for this type of tester of if you have another invention that you use on a regular basis please share. You can email me direct at: tech@v-leds.com or leave a comment below.

James, the tech@v-leds.com.

Have you ever needed to troubleshoot a problem with your electrical system and there is not a test light around? Do you have a little MacGyver in you? If so than this quick little invention can be a lifesaver if you’re stuck in the woods or the local auto parts store is closed and you need to get some work done. If you are working on your car you most likely have the necessary items laying in front of you. If you’re like me you usually have random tools and supplies hiding under the seat from the last time you worked on your car. Regardless, the only things you need to build this test light are a couple short lengths of wire, a dome light bulb  and  some electrical tape. (If you are in a bind you can use any bulb from your car and any tape will work)

The steps are easy. 1) Locate all the necessary items. 2) Strip 2 Inches of the sheathing off of the wires. 3) Wrap the bare wires around each end of the bulb. 4) Tape the wires in place and strip about 1/2″ of sheathing from the other end of the wire.

This thing is pretty simple to use. If you need to find +12 volts just hold one of the wires to ground and touch the other wire to the circuit that needs testing. If the light turns on you have power.

If you need to find a ground you can hold one wire to +12 volts and touch the other wire to ground. If the light turns on you have power.

Hopefully you remember this when you need it most. Or you could just buy a test light and keep it in your car just in case.

Thanks for reading. Be sure to share this with your friends, you never know who might be in need of a test light.

James the tech@v-leds.com

Before we get started  I need to preface this article with a disclaimer. This is not a modification that should be attempted by everyone. This is only a guideline for those who fully understand how what they are trying to accomplish. V-LEDS cannot be held responsible for any damage that occurs to your vehicle while performing this modification. With that out of way lets get started.

This modification is relatively simple. I have done this before in the past, but never really thought much about it because we offer electronic flashers and load resistors that fix hyper-flashing issues. But what about the cars that we don’t have an electronic flasher for? Or for that customer who does not want to splice load resistors into his wiring harness. You can also look at this from an efficiency viewpoint. LEDs are very energy efficient and load resistors burn power to create an electrical load to trick the flasher unit, this defeats using the LEDs for this purpose.

Lets cover why you would even do this in the first place. We do not offer electronic flasher units for every car or truck out there.  If you happen to own a newer Honda/Acura you know that already. It is pretty spendy for the GM vehicles that use the LM487 flasher and Lexus vehicles lose the confirmation light flash of the security system when you replace the flasher unit with and LED compatible version. What if you could just modify the flasher unit that came in your car? How would you go about doing it? Before you modify anything you should probably understand how it works. Lets start with understanding how the flasher unit knows when your bulbs burn out.

As with any electronics, flasher units function within a set of rules. These rules are pretty simple when it comes to a  flasher units hyper-flashing circuitry. The rule here is wattage and the flasher unit is looking for a specific value of wattage. The flasher unit monitors the wattage of both blinker circuits (any car that uses these style of flasher units will  have 2 blinker circuits, a left and right) and compares the value of these circuits to a resistor that is located on the circuit board of the flasher unit. The resistor is a metal “HOOP”. This hoop is designed to be within a specific wattage range, anywhere from 42-54 watts depending on the wattage of your cars original blinker bulbs.  See the diagrams below to see what the hoop looks like. Depending on your vehicle, it  may look different from these examples.

Toyota/Lexus Flasher Unit

Typical Ford Flasher

So now that you understand how this part of the blinker circuit functions we can start to understand what needs to be modified in order for it to work with V-LEDS. We already know that LEDs have an much lower wattage draw than the filament bulbs. Another factor to consider is that an LED actually stops voltage. LED is the acronym for Light Emitting Diode, and diodes do not carry any electrical resistance (OHMS) across the positive and negative contacts. This changes the value of the blinker circuit and the flasher unit recognizes this as a burnt out bulbs and starts to hyper-flash.

This simple modification will allow you to change the value of the flasher units resistor hoop to match the value of your V-LEDS. After you have removed your flasher unit from your car and removed its cover take a look to see if yours has the resistor hoop. If you find that yours has the hoop you can go ahead and start, the process is pretty easy. All that needs to be done is to remove some material thickness from the hoop. This will change the value of the hoop, and by doing so changes the value to match that of your V-LEDS. You can use  a dremel tool with a sanding drum or something similar to do this, either way you do it be sure to take your time. Be sure you do not overheat the hoop, you can melt the solder joint on the circuit board. Grind small amounts of material off of the hoop. I ground down the face of it first and then ground down the top of it. Reinstall the flasher unit and test the blinkers periodically to ensure that you get it just right. While tested I found at one point the blinkers were flashing normally for about 5 seconds then would go back to hyper-flashing for a few seconds and  would continue to go back and forth. I ground off just a little more and it worked flawlessly. If you get this just right the flasher unit will function the same as it does with the filament bulbs. This means that if one of your V-LEDs stops working for some reason the blinker circuit will hyper-flash to let you know. That is what I consider a bonus!

The process is really quick and painless.  After I removed the flasher unit it only took about 15-20 minutes to grind it down while testing it. After about the 5th time I got it perfect. It is a pretty straight forward job once you understand what needs to be done. The picture on the right shows how the hoop should look when it is complete. All that’s left to do is to place the cover back on the flasher unit and install it in the car.

Go ahead and test it out for yourself and see how it works. Let me know if it works for you too.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question, or you can contact me directly via email: tech@v-leds.com

James, the tech@v-leds.com

I have been fielding this question more and more lately. I experienced this problem first hand before I worked here at V-LEDS. I diagnosed the cause of the problem and then I was able to come up with a solution to fix it. Lets find out the cause first.

My experience was stumbled upon after the car I worked on left the shop. The customer called back a short time later and stated that he noticed something weird when he was parking in his garage. When he stepped on the brakes he noticed that the white LEDs that were installed up front were lighting up at the same time. I did not know how to explain this, this was my first time using any products from V-LEDS. I then contacted V-LEDs and asked if anyone had seen or heard of this happening before. At the time they had not. (this was about 3 years ago) So I asked the customer to bring his car back to the shop and leave it with me so I could try to fix the problem. I figured that the source of this problem was the brake lights, because it happened when the brakes were pressed. This particular car, a 2007 Shelby GT 500 uses 3 pair of lights for the tail-lights/brake lights. I used the best of best from V-LEDS, and had installed 3 pair of the 3157_92_R LEDs. Up front I had installed the 3157_60_SMT_WA1_6K. What I noticed was this:  when the parking lights are in the off position the white LEDs on the switchbacks would come on at about half power when the brake lights were on. I removed the taillights and grabbed my DMM (digital multi meter) electrical tester and got to work. The condensed edition of what I found is this: With the Parking Lights off and the Brakes lights on about 5 volts would show up on the parking light circuit. I reinstalled the original filament bulbs and the problem went away. So I concluded that the LEDs were causing the issues. I didn’t think much more at the time other than that it needed to get fixed so the customer could have his car back. I had plenty of electrical components in my shop and went straight for the diodes. I figured i could use a 2 amp diode to keep the +voltage from back feeding into the cars parking light circuit. I installed 6 diodes, 1 for each brake/parking light and it fixed the problem.

This all happened a few years back. Now that it is my full time job to help customers of V-LEDS find solutions for problems that can occur from replacing filament bulbs with LEDs I have seen other variations of this same problem. These include, when the brake lights are on: the dash lights dim, the navigation or radio display dims, and the fog lights come on. Some of you just want to know how to fix it, but others are interested in WHY it is happening in the first place. So I would like to take the time to explain why. Here goes…

There is an electrical component on a circuit board inside the LED bulbs. This component is responsible for the output brightness of the LEDs on the bulb. This means that the LEDs are being run at half power when the parking lights are on, and full power when the brake lights are on. This is how our LEDs differ from a filament bulb. In filament bulb there are 2 separate filaments, a low filament and a high filament. They are not connected internally and they both operate at full 12 volts. Each of the 2 filaments are of different wattage. This is how a dual intensity filament bulb works.

In the pictures below there is a diagram showing how to install the diode inline on the parking light circuit and an illustration that explains how a filament bulb works compared to an LED bulb.It also shows how the voltage back-feed happens.

This diagram shows how to install the diode inline to fix the problem

This illustration shows how a filament bulb works VS an LED replacement bulb.

If you have any more questions about this or if you are experiencing similar problems feel free to contact me via email here:  tech@v-leds.com, and I can give you a hand.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this article, I hope it helped you out.

James, the tech@v-leds.com

Not too many ask this question but I seem to remind a lot of people that they should re-aim their headlights after they install an HID kit. Aiming your lights may seem like a difficult task, but is relatively simple once you understand how to do it. There are a few different resources that I have found useful online and they all follow the same procedure. We will cover this procedure shortly, but first I want to help you understand why this should be taken into consideration.

The first reason that I suggest re-aiming your lights is for safety. Properly adjusted headlights keep you from blinding oncoming traffic. The halogen bulbs you just replaced are about 1/3 as bright as the HID kit you just installed. Your lights may have been out of alignment before, but they were dimmer and it may have not been that noticeable. (if you had to remove your headlight housings during installation you will definitely need to adjust the height and direction of your headlights) But now that you have HIDs installed you are going to notice a difference, and so is everyone else on the road. Whether they were aimed down too low or up too high, properly aligning your headlights will maximize your investment and keep you safe.

Lets move on to the how. A Google search of “headlight adjustment” will bring up a ton of information. I have read through a lot of articles and they all point to the same measurements and distances for properly aligning your headlights. I have assembled what I think is a simple guide to do this. Important things to consider before starting this are: Is your gas tank full? Is your trunk (if it’s a car) or bed (if it’s a truck) full of heavy stuff?(groceries, golf clubs, bricks, wood, sand bags, water bottles etc) Are your tires aired up to the correct pressure? It sounds small but remember that if your car or truck is squatting in the front or rear while you align the lights, your lights will be pointing a different direction when you unload this stuff!

The Following guide is for reference only. I am not citing any DOT laws or claiming that this guide abides by any laws that pertain to your local State or Province. I am simply helping you help me, as I find myself continually blinded by headlights that are aimed incorrectly.

This first illustration shows 2 different distances that you can work with. Choose one of these distances for your car to be from a flat vertical surface (a wall). The diagram on the left is the optimal distance for this procedure. If you do not have that much space to work with you can use the diagram on the right.  Keep in mind that your car needs to be square to this surface and on a level area. You can use the side of a building or your garage door as long your car is on a level surface.

Lets start with measuring out the wall. You will need to use some masking tape to mark these measurements out on the wall. You will need to measure the distance from the ground to the center of the headlight assembly. This is your H Line. Use the masking tape to mark these measurements on the wall. Now locate and mark the center of your car on the wall. This is your V Line. Next measure the distance between the center of your car and the headlights. These are your V RH and V LH lines. Every car is different and these measurements must come from your specific car. When you are done with the measuring and taping your wall should end up with a pattern that looks like this illustration. The dark lines represent the masking tape. The V stands for Vertical, the H stands for Horizontal and the RH and LH represent Left Hand Side and Right Hand Side.

Before we get to aiming your lights you will need to locate the adjustment screw. From my personal experience each cars  headlight has a different style of adjuster screw. If you are having a tough time locating your cars adjustment screw consult your vehicle manual. There should be 2 adjustments per headlight. One is for vertical (up and down) adjustments and the other is for horizontal (side to side) adjustments.

Now its time to turn on your lights. Aim your lights one at a time so there is no interference from the other headlight. (you can disconnect the 12 volt power supply to the HID ballast that is not being aimed to turn it off) This illustration is split into the same 2 distances from before. This illustration has measurements listed as guidelines only. Every car is different and these measurement should be used as a reference point only. Not every car has a distinct cut off line like this illustration shows, but you should see something similar. Above the line should be dark, and it should be very bright underneath. Use the adjustment screws to align your lights as close to this as possible. Perform this for both sides of the car and you’re done. Now its time for the test. When it gets dark go for a drive. How are your lights? Are they too low, or too high now? Can you see better? Are people still flashing their lights at you? From here you can make minor tweaks to the adjustments to dial it in perfectly. This illustration shows measurements for high beams as well. Depending on your car you may be able to adjust them separately from the low beams. If your car has separate adjustments than you can adjust your high beams too. All you have to do is add additional V LH and V RH lines for them and adjust them according to the diagram as well.

The main point to focus on while aiming your lights is to keep them pointed no higher then the headlight assemblies. If your car is lowered your lights won’t reach as far. Remember if you aim them up just a little bit it may be fine at 100 ft. but at 1000 ft. they may be pointing at the tops of trees.  If you you have a lifted truck you may need to aim them down a bit to keep from blinding people too. Just keep that in mind and everyone driving towards you will be happy.

On another note, remember what each set of your lights are for. Your low beams are you main source of light. They are designed to illuminate the ground in front of your car and shouldn’t cast light out too far. Your high beam lights allow you to see beyond the reach of your low beams. And fog lights are designed to illuminate the sides of the road and just in front of your car. Think of them as tools to help you see. You wouldn’t use a hammer to drive in a screw would you? Or a screw driver to drive in a nail? So don’t use your fog lights as low beams, or your low beams as high beams, or your high beams as search lights. Use the correct tool for the job!

Thanks for reading. I appreciate any feedback. Feel free to leave a comment or email me directly if you have any concerns or questions regarding this guide. My email is: tech@v-leds.com

James, the tech@v-leds.com

I’m sure you already know that LEDs are polarity sensitive. If you didn’t know this basically means that they will not light up if the power and ground are connected backwards. So if you plug in you new V-LEDS and they do not light up, try flipping them around and plugging them back in and they should work. I want to go over some other polarity issues where flipping the connection over will not work.

Here is the classic example. Your car, truck, or motorcycle uses an 1156 style bulb and you have replaced your blinker or brake light and it won’t light up. The filament bulb that was installed before worked just fine, why is the LED not working? Simple answer is polarity. The problem here is that you can’t just flip this bulb around to make it work. The metal base is the main contact and there is a center pin in the bottom of the socket that is the other contact. The problem here is associated with the wiring on your car. The wires going to the socket are backwards. The industry standard is the metal base is the ground connection and the center pin is the power connection. Some car makers do it differently and use the metal base as the power connection and center pin as the ground connection. Why? Not too sure but it is easily fixable if you have some tools. You will simply need to cut the 2 wires routed to the plug and reconnect them backwards. Solder and heat-shrink the connections if you have the a soldering iron, otherwise a simple, crimpable, butt connector will do the trick. I have found on some cars this is not possible, usually European cars with one piece buss bar socket setups like the picture shown. You cannot modify the wiring for these sockets as all the bulbs share a common ground wire or common power supply. If you find that your car has this type of tail light assembly I highly recommend testing it with a test light to see if it is wired backwards before you purchase any LEDs.

Another polarity issue that can be a problem is on some blinker circuits. Known vehicles are the newer Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wrangler and some GM trucks and SUVs. These vehicles have a 194 sidemarker bulb that also acts like a blinker. When the parking lights are in the OFF position this bulb is off. Once you turn on your turn signals this bulb flashes on alternately of the front blinker. When the parking lights are in the ON position this bulb is on. Once you turn on your turn signals this bulb flashes off alternately of the front blinker. This is a series circuit that is fed power from 2 sides. It requires that voltage and ground be able to flow both directions through the filament of the 194 bulb. Once you replace this bulb with an LED the power cannot flow through and will cause the blinker to stop working. We have some 194 LEDs with special circuitry that will work for this application, but they are Flank style LEDs and usually do not work for this light housing application (light is shining the wrong direction).

So if you find that you are experiencing one of these problems grab a test light and test your sockets. Or put the filament bulb back in and see if everything is working.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or ask questions. You can leave them here or email them to me directly here: tech@v-leds.com

James the tech@v-leds.com