Upgrading your restored classic’s tail lights to LEDs is pretty sweet. First introduced on the 2000 Cadillac Deville, LED taillights have been growing in popularity ever since. They are brighter, look better and last longer. They also provide a boost to your safety because they have a faster rise time than traditional incandescent bulbs. LED lights reach full illumination 0.2 seconds faster than traditional bulbs. At 60 miles per hour, this means it gives the driver behind you an additional 21 feet of stopping distance.
Project C10 Tech Tip – Installing LED Taillights
Project C10’s Rick Drewry and the crew decide to upgrade our Chevy C10 restomod with LED taillights, which include park lights and turn signals. LEDs use only a fraction of the energy that normal bulbs do. LEDs do not burn hot like traditional bulbs and the lack of heat buildup helps keep plastic cover assemblies from degrading. Add this to the fact that LEDs typically last up to 60,000 hours, compared to the 2,000-hour life span of traditional incandescent lights, and the cost savings become very apparent.
You Can’t Just Plug Them In
“We ended up going with LED park lights and taillights,” Rick says. “They look a lot better, they last a long time, they’re bright … but you can’t just plug them in.” When installing taillights, you have to have a dedicated ground. Traditional lights use the chassis as the ground and a lot of times you don’t have a very good connection. “We decided to get plugs that have a three-wire setup for the running light, turn signal and the ground, so then we would be able to plug them in.”
Specialty Flashers Needed
LEDs are designed not to draw a big amount of juice. You need to run LED-designed flashers in order to get the turn signals to work properly. Rick explains, “If you don’t, it won’t create enough current to get the flasher to kick on and off, so your turn signals won’t work.” So, make sure you remember to change the flashers out as well.
Dielectric Grease Is Your Friend
When you have brand new sockets, bulbs and everything else, it’s good to get some dielectric grease on the connection points. Dielectric grease keeps parts from corroding, helps keep out moisture and provides better contact. The lights will still work without the grease but you will have more problems over time. As Rick says, “Start off with some nice grease in there, and it’ll last you a very long time.”
Join the Project C10 Truck Community
Project C10, powered by American Modern, an original video series from Classic Auto Insurance that chronicles the restoration of a 1965 Chevy C10 truck to a beautiful restomod worthy of car show display. Stay up-to-date with Project C10 by subscribing to Classic Auto’s YouTube Channel, following us on Instagram and visiting our C10 Restoration page on ClassicIns.com, where you’ll enjoy step-by-step episodes, project-specific Tech Tips and behind-the-scenes articles that give you an inside look into what it takes to restore a classic collectible like a Chevy C10 truck.