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TJ LED Conversion

By: J.E. Towle

AzVJC, Chandler, AZ

(Revised 10/29/2001)


Foreword: This write up is offered as a guide line only. There is no such thing as perfect instructions and thus this write up requires you to use some common sense. This write is also offers no implied or un-implied guarantee. If by using this write up your outcome is less than desirable, I or anyone else connected with this write up cannot be held liable. Also, always wear eye protection. Most people that do their own modifications think this is a joke, do not take this lightly. I can tell you stories of what I have seen happen, but this is not necessary we are adults, I hope. In addition, it is your responsibility to check all local and national laws that apply to this modification.


This modification will help so that, you don�t brake the lights off when you are Hi-Lifting your Jeep. I have broken mine already once. It will also give a longer lasting bulb and provides a cool look.



The license plate light is not where I wanted it to be in my modification. For this reason, during the write up I will give suggestions/ideas on how to change it, where to locate it. By the time I realized where it was, it was too late. So for now we will go through step-by-step on how to do it.





Parts List:

2     4� S/T/T LED�s

2   2� LED�s

2   4� Grommets

2   2� Grommets

2   3-pin connectors

2   2-pin connectors

2   Resistors

Heat shrink

2   Driving lights

1   Connector M/F


Black silicone

Mini Zip ties

Touch up Paint (your vehicle color)

Silicone Grease


�� Weather Stripping

Paintable latex chalk



Some Tools Needed:

          Soldering Iron

          Drill Motor

          File or Round bit on Die Grinder

          Hole saws:



                   4-1/4� (4-5/16� would be better)

          Phillips Screw driver

          10mm Socket Extension/Ratchet

          Diagonal cutters

          Misc. Tools


Let's get started:

First you will have to make the harnesses for your 4" LEDs. Taking the 3 pin connectors, strip back �� of insulation from about 2� from the pins on the red wire (Turn/Stop). Lay the resistor (Radio Shack # 271-120, 8ohm-20watt) down next to the wires and strip a �� off the white wire (Ground) making sure the wires will lay flat. These resistors are needed for TJ�s ONLY. For CJ/YJ leave this resistor out and replace your existing flasher with a heavy duty flasher. Cut off a piece of 3/16� shrink about �� long and slide it up the red wire. Wrap one end of the resistor around the stripped red wire and one end around the stripped white wire. Solder in place and shrink.






After soldering and shrinking place some black RTV/silicone on the ends of the resistor to cover the leads of the resistor that were not covered by shrinking. Set this aside and let the silicone dry. It is very important there is no wire/metal showing as this could short and cause problems later down the road.








While those are drying it is a good time to decide where to mount your new reverse lights. I bought some cheap driving lights at Pep Boys, they are 35watt. For my application 35watt will work directly off the existing wiring harness. Checking the owners manual, the fuse that runs these lights is 10amps. This fuse is also connected to the AC compressor, rear window defroster and the ABS. If you have either rear window defroster or ABS I would suggest that you run a separate power wire through a relay controlled by your original harness. The driving lights are 35watts each if you divide this by 12volts you get 2.92amps times two equals 5.83amps. This is why I say, with either rear window defroster or ABS run a separate power source.


These lights are low enough that the tail gate will go over the top of them without a problem. In addition, there are some holes already in my rear bumper that will allow the wires to pass through. For these reason I decided to mount the lights as shown. I drilled to mounting holes for each light and bolted the lights to the bumper using the bolts included with the lights and making sure to loc-tite the nuts. The wires will go through the holes in the bumper just covering the connectors on the lights, to protect them. The wires for the lights will go down the inside of the bumper and come up and connect to the wiring harness. Make sure that you use silicone grease on ALL connectors. This will help insure the lack of corrosion in these connections. We will get back to this subject on the final fit up of the wiring.




Back to the wiring, I will only use covered connectors as shown. These connectors take quite a bit of abuse with out shorting your wires. You will only need one female and one male for this install, as the reverse lights already have connectors attached to them. For this reason these connector are not listed on the parts needed. The set of connectors will be placed on the license plate light in case it ever has to be replaced. On the license light I bought there was already a connector for a GM product. Clip this connector off and replace it with the new male connector.


On the left side harness you need to run a short piece of black wire, with one end being soldered and heat shrunk to the black (running lights) of the 3 pin connector and the other having a new female connector to mate to the license plate light connector. Next, on both harnesses solder and heat shrink the 2 pin connectors to their respective wires on the 3 pin connectors, making sure to leave enough length for the wires to span the distance between the rear light and the running light. I use mini zip ties for stress relief. This should be done on each side of a solder joint, to prevent the joint from breaking. The harnesses are done for now. We will get back to them after disassembling the factory lights.





Remove the lenses from your existing tail lights, 4 Phillips screws per light. Remove the 3 bolts per light that hold them to the tub. Pull the wiring through the hole in the tub so that you can reach and disconnect the original harness. The right side is different from the left side so keep them separate and know which one goes where. Clip the wires of the existing tail light close to the light. You will also have to strip back the protecting cover on this wire harness. The purple wire will need to be soldered and shrunk to the positive wire for your reverse lights. The wire length will vary depending on where you located your reverse lights. The black wire on this harness will be soldered and shrunk to the black wire of the LED harness. Use hook joints for these connections. Form each end in the form of a �J� then pull them together such that they interconnect and pinch them together. Then solder and you will have a nice/strong connection. Next I added some length to the ground wire on the LED

 harness, this is the white wire on this harness. I added about 6� of black 14 gauge wire and then used a �� eye connector, I crimped this wire and the ground from the reverse lights together to give me one ground connection I had to make. Again the length of your ground wire will vary depending on where your reverse lights are mounted. Now, the only thing left is soldering and shrinking the turn signal wires. The original wire harness that was cut from the factory lights will have a brown wire for the right hand light and a green wire for the left hand light. You need to solder and shrink these wires to their respective red wires on the LED harnesses.















Use masking tape for marking the spots where the holes need to be drilled, this will aid later when painting the freshly cut holes. For the 4� S/T/T mark up (this is for both sides of the tub) 11-3/8� and over from the corner of the tailgate 6-1/8�. This position will allow you to remove the stock mounting holes, it also allows there to be some sheet metal for centering the hole saw. The biggest hole saw my hardware store had was a 4-1/4�, the hole needs to be 4-5/16� for a 4� LED. This means you will have to cut the hole and then file or grind to 4-5/16�, the alternative method of using a jig saw can be used also. The license plate hole is 10� up and 2-3/4� over. Remember I said, this was not where I wanted it? If you go 3/8� over to the right and �� down you will be fine. This will put the center hole at 9-1/4� up and 2-3/8� over, you need to drill a 1-7/8� hole here. There are two mounting screws for this license light that need to be drill also, mark them after the large hole is drilled use the light for a template then use an 3/32� drill bit. Put the light in place hold the light horizontal for marking.



Now to the marker light, using tape again, mark 8� up and 2-1/8� over from the seem of the tub. Use a 2-5/16� hole saw to cut this hole (disregard the picture saying 2-3/8�) do this to both sides of the tub. The holes cut need to have paint on them, I also used some silicone between the grommets and the tub  (do not silicone the lights to the grommets) right before inserting them into the holes, I hate rust. Once this is done it is time to start the install for the harnesses. The hardest part about this hole job is finding a spot to connect the ground. With the holes drill for the large LED�s drilled you can get a drill motor inside the corner compartment through the hole and make a hole for a grounding screw on the ledge inside. It is a tight fit but, can be done. If you have some other place to connect the ground or can think of something better, go for it.


Plug the harness into the existing wiring harness apply silicone grease. The left side you will have to plug in the license plate light also and install the two screws that hold this light in place. Run the reverse light down through the bottom of the tub and through the bumper and plug them in. USE SILICONE GREASE, I cannot emphasize this enough. The picture shows a packet of this grease it is about a dollar for this packet you will not even use one, it is well worth it. Put the marker light grommet in place and hook up the harness to the marker light then push the light into the grommet. Next put the large grommet in and pull the wires through it and plug the large light in. This would be a good time to make sure all is going well with the install. Turn on the running lights and the emergency flashers. If you want to you can set the emergency brake, put the vehicle in reverse and check the reverse lights.





The license plate needs to be reinstalled, this is an eyeball thing. Hold the license up and get a mark where the it needs to go. You can eyeball or measure where the holes from the lower part of the stock mount are going to land, from there move these marks about 1/8� to the right of the plate. At this time it would be good to take some paint able latex chalk and fill the upper license plate mounting holes, use a minimal amount. After this dries, use your touch up paint and a small brush and touch up the chalk. Back to the license plate, I used a 2� piece of tubing and worked the license plate so the curve matched the curve of the tub. Turn the license plate over clean it with some brake cleaner or something like that. Then apply some strips of weather striping, rubber with a sticky back. If you put three strips vertically and two strip horizontally it should work good. Then use two of the bolts from the stock plate holder to mount it back to the tub.


We are there, as long as you installed both wiring harnesses. You should be done.
















For costs, the break down and links go like this:


Cost (US $)

Part Number





4� � 44 LED

Parts System



2� � 9 LED

Parts System



4� Grommet

Parts System



2� Grommet

Parts System



3-pin Connector

Parts System



2-pin Connector

Parts System




Radio Shack



Shrink tubing

Radio Shack



Driving Lights

Pep Boys



License light

Pep Boys



Weather stripping

Home Depot










The rest of the parts needed I had so there was no need to buy them.


A final thought; the 4� LED�s I purchased have a white back ground, I have heard some people say you can get them with a black back ground. If you can order them that way (it wouldn�t be the part number I gave you), I would suggest that you do so. The white back ground tend to wash out the lights in bright sun light.


Happy trails to you, until we meet again.







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