This install was another part of Dana's Christmas Installorama. She had been wanting some more shiny black metal on her Jeep and had mentioned some rear corners a while back. When ordering them, we figured we should do it the right way and add the recessed LED tail lights at the same time. Poison Spyder offers some along with their corners but we found some better ones with more LED's and for less expensive from Mesa4x4.
The first thing we did was take off the old tail lights, the gas filler surround and the license plate stuff. We started with the driver side corner first and went about deciding exactly where we wanted it. We put the corner temporarily on with the license plate bracket screws and then went about figuring out where to mark the drill holes and where to cut for the tail lights. Before marking the mounting holes we figured the most important placement issue would be making sure all the lines were straight. The most important, and most visible one, we figured, would be the back vertical edge that met up alongside the tail gate. Because of that, we marked the rear holes first. Then, because we wanted to make sure the corner was straight and flush with the body all the way around, we would drill the rear holes and mount it completely down and then "smooth" the corner down towards the front of the Jeep (like a sticker) and mark the side holes. While more time consuming, this method insured a perfect fit and proved very vital getting our passenger side corner cinched down just right.
For the tail lights, since we had learned our lesson with the dremmel bit but yet still couldn't see breaking down for a one-time use hole saw, we went with a nice metal cutting blade for the jig saw. It worked pretty well even with the constant curve because it was a larger diameter hole. We made sure to smooth the cut down with a grinding stone and then touched up the bare metal with some light painting.
When we finally got all the holes marked for one side, Jonathan gave the top inside of the corner a line of caulk to keep some of the dirt and water from collecting and sanding off the paint underneath. Then we placed it back on, tightening the bolts staring with the back and leading up to the front. Only one of the holes on this corner had to be opened up a little to coax the bolt in. PS included nylock nuts in the hardware so we tightened them down good without too much fear of them rattling loose. For the lower side holes, the inner fender flaring has to be yanked down a little to access the mount holes, but other than that, they were all pretty accessible. We held off on adding one of the rear bolt/nuts because we were going to use it as a spot to ground the new LED's.
When we began installing the passenger corner guard, our anal perfectionism paid off. Even though the corner didn't exactly sit flush with the body at the bend, because we started from the back, we were able to get it seat it against it with a couple of C-clamps. We got it flush, then marked and drilled the holes where they needed to be to keep it that way.
While Jonathan was working on the other side's corner, I clipped the original brake light wiring and went about splicing in the new ones. We knew we'd be forfeiting reverse lights with the LED set up, but new ones should come in around Dana's birthday that we will mount directly on her bumper. LiteDot makes some pretty cool LED tails that integrates back-ups, but they run $200 and we got ours with 61 LED's for $50 shipped. Anyway, the wiring is simple enough:
|Red (drive side)||Green/Red|
|Red (pass side)||Brown/Red|
The white ground wire was already tipped with a bolt loop and I added and secured it to the nearest corner mount bolt.
Now that we had the wiring all set, Dana got her tail lights in. The PS LED's have screw's that hold them down. The ones we got had a large rubber grommet that seats itself into the cut hole and then the light fits into. The trick in the instructions is "Regardless of how it may appear to defy all reasoning...the LED lights fit into the installed grommets from the back." That step comes off awfully wordy, but it's really quite simple. You just get the grommet seated first, and then push the light in from the back or inside of the body.
Dana really impressed me at this point when without me saying anything, she said "We don't have to use the ugly old plastic license plate bracket do we?" She had figured out by herself the last part of the install and started bending her license plate to mold around the corner's smooth curve. We drilled a couple more holes and just reused the license plate bolt screws by threading them in.
So now the last bolt had been tightened, the wiring was done, and the plate and the gas cap assemb was back on, we were all done! It was plenty dark out, so we backed the Jeep into the driveway alongside Chris's for a little side-by-side comparison action. I think you can figure out from pic which one Jeep is running the LED's. I tried to shoot the pic straight down the impartial middle. Well, that and the fact that a pic focused dead on one of Dana's new lights comes out almost all red.
The only thing to do now is to fix the rapid flasher and get Dana some cheap bright back-up lights and maybe those trick lighted license plate bolts to stay legal.