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Old 04-16-2005, 06:21 PM   #1
Jonnyfilmboy
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1988 Fiero GT - black

Default LED bulb replacement

I've replaced all of my taillight bulbs and front turn signals with LED bulbs. Here are the pics:









The high mount brake light. I made this from two single strips of LED that I mounted together using 3M tape:


Reverse lights are perfectly white, rated at 8000K I believe:




You can see from this pic how the turn signals turn on and off very regularly and instantly:

Looks like a road divider.



Brake lights work perfectly. I've modified my brake lights so that only the center portion is on at night. Then when I brake, the inside and outside brake lights come on fully. This is how it is wired on the WRC car. I think it looks better than the USDM wiring.

I bought everything from superlumination.com except for the third brake light led's. Those I got from Pep Boys or Track Auto or something about two years. They were sitting in the garage forever not being used. Look great in person.

I had to use a "load equalizer" (http://superlumination.com/equalizers.htm) to get the turn signals to blink at the correct rate. It was a very easy install and there are instructions on the website about how to do this.

I was worried that these lights would not be bright enough in the day time, but they are just as bright as the stock light from drivers position. All of the bulbs I used are the "Matrix" style of light that has six separate LED's pointing at the reflector and the rest of the LED's point straight back toward the other drivers.



The bulbs: I used red instead of white for the brake lights because they are covered by the red lens and because they are cheaper than the whites. The outside brake light is actually a 7440 bulb, but 7443 works and is the same price.

Here are the bulbs that I used (good for 2004 and probably 2005 WRX sedan):
REAR:
Turn signal: 7440 (12 volt – 21 watt) – Amber
Reverse light: 7440 (12 volt – 21 watt) - White
Outside brake light: 7440 (12 volt – 21 watt) - Red
Middle brake light: 7443 (12 volt – 21 watt / 5 watt) - Red
Inner brake light: 7443 (12 volt – 21 watt / 5 watt)
- Red

FRONT:
Turn signal: 7440 (12 volt – 21 watt) - Amber

(Previous years and non-sedans, please use your best judgement. Go to Pep Boys or similar and use their computers to find exact bulb replacement info)

--------------------------------
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
--------------------------------

I get about three PM's a month asking for more info on how to do this. So here are some steps to follow that will hopefully help the process go along smoothly:

1) Don't worry. Bulb replacement like this is low-impact and reversable.

2) Take a look at what you have in there. Pull out your tail turn signal and brake bulbs. Look at them. Look for numbers and letters on them. Those are usually the part numbers of the bulbs. Or, go to an auto parts store and ask them for the bulb part numbers for your year make and model car. Careful, they aren't all the same on the tail of your car. Sometimes these bulbs are just on/off, sometimes they are on/on brighter/off. Some take two wires, some take three. Many look identical.

3) Go to Superlumination.com. Figure out which bulbs replace the ones you have. So if the stock bulb for your car is 3987, get the 3987 LED replacement.

4) If you want to replace all of your turn signal bulbs (which is what I did), front and rear, you will need to put in a "load equalizer" also known as a "resistor". Brake bulb replacement does NOT require one of these load equalizers. The load equalizers are only required to fix that super fast turn signal action that some people like and some people despise. Personally, I don't like it.

5) The load equalizer you should get if you are replacing all of your turn signal bulbs is the 3 ohm one for $8.99. You will need two. One for the left side of the car, one for the right. You can install the equalizers into the wiring at the rear turn signals or the front turn signals. Front is easier as there are only two wires there. Rear has more room to work and to mount the load equalizer. I installed the them in the rear so that is what these instructions will demonstrate.

6) Purchase a voltage light/tester. I have a super cheap one from AutoZone. One side is like a long black metal needle. The other is a wire with an allegator clip. There's a light on the end of the long needle that lights up when voltage is running through the tester. Clip the allegator clip to some large piece of metal on your frame near the inside of the trunk. Take the long pin part of the tester and touch one of the bare wires on your turn signal bulb. You can also shove the long pin part into the back of the bulb socket where the wires go in.

7) Turn on the ignition to RUN and turn on the turn signal to the side that you are testing. Again, make sure the allegator clip wire is touching a metal part of the car that is a good ground. Something solid, something touching the frame or the engine. Touch the other end of the voltage tester to the wire you are testing. If the voltage tester lights up, and blinks, then that is your turn signal "+" positive wire. Check another wire. No light? Hit the brakes. Still no light? Re-check your grounded allegator clip. Still no light? Then that is the "-" wire or negative wire. Check the last wire. If it lights up when your head lights are on, then that's the running light positive "+" wire. There are two "+" positive wires and one "-" negative wire.

8) The only wire you should care about is the + turn signal wire and the - negative ground wire. Cut both in half leaving enough wire on each side to work with. You can splice in some extra wire if you need to. Connect one end of the load equalizer to the cut + wire. Alternatively, you can use a "wire tap" available at any auto wiring department but they are unreliable in my experience. Splice the other end of the load equalizer into the other "-" negative ground cut wire. I use "wire nuts". They are plastic cups with metal spring in the end that grabs ahold of the cut ends of the wires. You put all of the wires together that you want to splice, and screw the wire nuts onto them. Then you can seal them with some electrical tape. They come in different sizes. Get ones that will work with the size and number of wires you are splicing.

9) The load equalizer is about the size of a pack of gum. Doublemint. You can screw it into the metal part of your tail light housing (the frame of the car) using sheet metal screws. But then you should also cover that screwed area with lithium grease or some paint to prevent rust. Or you can do what I did and use 3M double stick tape. Has worked fine for over a year. The same tape that is used for mounting trim. It's available in car parts stores.

10) Test. The turn signal should now blink at the correct rate. If they don't, recheck your wire connections. If still no good, recheck the wires and make sure you didn't splice anything together incorrectly. If they still don't wrk at all, check the fuse box. You might have blown a fuse. If they work, do the same thing for the right side of the car.

Hope this helps to clarify.



**********************UPDATE FOR 2011 WRX*******************************
2011 WRX INSTALL

Did this conversion tonight on my 2011 WRX. A few problems. Mostly worked though. I bought my supplies from superbrightLEDs.com.

Here's what I got:
  • Flasher CF18 (electronic flasher) - DOES NOT WORK - USE A 3 OHM RESISTOR ON EACH TAIL LIGHT INSTEAD
  • 7443-R45-T (brake lights)
  • 7440-A18-T (rear turn signals)
  • 1157-A45-T (front marker/turn signals)
  • 921-NW12 (reverse lights) - DIDN'T FIT
  • WLED-NW5 (license plate) - PITA TO GET THOSE FOUR SCREWS OUT (AND IN)

So the biggest problem was with the electronic flasher. It doesn't work. When I click the keyfob, the electronic flasher can't keep up or something. Or it's mismatched to the programming of the alarm. Worst part is when you click LOCK three times to activate the horn and flashers, the horn goes off but the flashers don't flash at all. When locking the car, the turn signals just strobe very quickly twice and not in a cool way. When unlocking, they don't flash at all. So I opted to buy two 3-ohm 50 watt resistors from superlumination.com. They come with vampire clips. Just wire each end of the resistors to the + and - wires leading to your turn signal. One for the left, one for the right. Then I used 3M double sided tape (the stuff with the red backing tape) and secured the resistors to the metal frame of the car which surrounds the tail lights. They fit perfectly there.

Last time I converted to all LEDs, I used two in-line load resistors and didn't have any problems. EDIT: I just installed them tonight and everything works perfectly now. Throwing away the electronic flasher.

As for the reverse lights, the stock lights look pretty white to me. Also, they are really bright. The LED versions I found only faced outward in one direction (no LEDs facing/hitting the reflector), so they aren't super bright since they aren't using the reflector. I know reverse lights aren't supposed to be that bright and they are more to warn drivers behind you that you are attempting to back up. But for now, I'm going to stick with the incandescent stock bulbs as they are brighter than LEDs, white enough for me and fit the sockets. I remember on my 2004 WRX, during the day, when I threw the car in reverse and the driver behind me didn't notice my reverse lights come on because it was bright sunlight. This was on the highway when everyone was stopping and going around a car accident. So for safety reasons, I'm sticking with the stock Subaru reverse bulbs.

Thanks to superbrightleds.com for sending my bulbs to me the next day. Fast service. Maybe that was UPS. Who knows. But it was nice not having to wait a few days.

EDIT: Forgot to mention... when installing the brake lights, I tested as I installed the first one (passenger side) to make sure I had the polarity correct. The bulb lit up, but the 3rd brake light didn't work. So I tried reversing polarity and the 3rd brake light lit up, but then the pass side tail didn't. So I installed the drivers side tail light and I had similar weird problem. Then I pulled my key out, turned all the lights off, retested and everything worked. It's as if the car needed to reset itself after installing the bulbs or something. So if you run into the same problem, don't freak out like I did.

EDIT2: INSTALLING THE FRONT TURN SIGNALS - Get ready for a royal pain in the ass. Here's the best way to do it:

DRIVERS SIDE FRONT TURN SIGNAL/MARKER BULB:
  1. Remove the extractor vent from the bumper (that vent on the side of the bumper in front of the wheel).
  2. Reach up toward the headlight and you will JUUUUUSSSSSTTTT be able to unscrew the socket from headlight. There's PLENTY of wire, so just thread the socket down toward the hole your arm was just in and replace the bulb with the LED bulb.
  3. Now for the really hard part. Loosen the nuts holding down the battery and remove the front silver rod that's right in front of the battery. (you don't have to remove the battery unless you really want to - it would make things easier, but then you have to remove the battery)
  4. Turn on your parking lights so as to illuminate the area with the LED bulb
  5. Using massive contorsions and possibly causing permanent damage to your fingers, thread the bulb/socket back up toward the headlight. There's tons of stuff in the way, but if you put your right hand through the bumper hole and your left hand between the loosened battery and the frame of the car, you can JUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSTTTTT get that damn bulb back into the headlight.
  6. Tighten up the battery
  7. Replace the bumper vent
  8. Turn steering wheel all the way to the right
  9. Unscrew and remove the three fasteners holding on the lower front wheel well liner
  10. Shove your hand in there and make sure those fasteners on the bumper vent are secure
  11. Replace the three liner fasteners

PASSENGER SIDE FRONT TURN SIGNAL/MARKER BULB:
  1. Consult your owners manual for some ideas as they list how to do this
  2. Remove the two fasteners holding the cold air intake on
  3. Unscrew the single horizontal screw holding the front of the air filter box (careful not to drop it!)
  4. Detach the wire from the air box top
  5. Unfasten the two tabs holding the air filter box together
  6. Loosen the air filter box (you don't have to disassemble it, just loosen it so you can get your hand in between the air filter box and the headlight
  7. Shove your hand in there and use contorsions and lots of swearing to unlock the bulb socket and remove the socket from the headlight
  8. Thank the Japanese for giving you plenty of wire slack to thread the socket/bulb to a convenient place to remove the bulb and install the LED bulb - THANK YOU JAPAN!
  9. Use oragami finger contorsions to replace that g.d.m.f. socket into the g.d.m.f. headlight. It will take a little while. I suggest swearing.
  10. TEST
  11. Replace the screw from the air box
  12. Secure the two tabs on the air box
  13. Reattach the wire to the air box
  14. Test again and do a little dance
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Last edited by Jonnyfilmboy; 05-19-2011 at 11:11 PM.
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Old 04-16-2005, 06:27 PM   #2
Handsdown
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonnyfilmboy
I've modified my brake lights so that only the center portion is on at night. Then when I brake, the inside and outside brake lights come on fully. This is how it is wired on the WRC car. I think it looks better than the USDM wiring.
i'm very interested in this... more info on how you did it?
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Old 04-16-2005, 06:45 PM   #3
Jonnyfilmboy
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Pretty simple mod.

Bulb is dual filament. First filament is 5 watt. Second is 21 watt. There are three wires leading to the bulb. One is ground, one is the 5 watt wire and one is the 21 watt wire.

You can cut the 5 watt wire to prevent the light from coming on when the parking lights are activated. (Use a voltage tester to determine which one is which.)

But, what I did was I cut the 5 watt wire, and then I wired the 21 watt wire to activate both the 5 watt filament and the 21 watt filament. So when I braked, both filaments were activated and I got a 26 watt brake light. 40 more watts total spread across the 4 bulbs. After about 10,000 miles the original bulbs were a bit smoked, but overall were still very clean and new looking. No distortion to the plastic around the bulb nor to the socket. So this seems like a pretty safe mod to me.

Alternatively, you can try to install a 7440 bulb in place of the 7443. The 7440 bulb is still dual filament, but it doesn't have the leads to the 5 watt filament active. So it is just a 2 stage bulb (on and off). Looks like it has the same socket, but I have not tested this to be sure.

Hope this helps!

Last edited by Jonnyfilmboy; 04-17-2005 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 04-16-2005, 08:05 PM   #4
vwown3d
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do u have a pic of your lights on at night like this? thanks and sounds like a good idea, the description above!
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Old 04-16-2005, 08:13 PM   #5
Jonnyfilmboy
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This is the background pic that convinced me to do the mod:

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Old 04-16-2005, 08:19 PM   #6
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Cool pics. I put leds in up front this morning, but neglected to realize I'd end up with some blinkblinkblink action

The leds in the back look good too, and that brake light idea is nice stuff, I'd never seen the rally car like that.
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Old 04-16-2005, 08:23 PM   #7
Jonnyfilmboy
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Another difference with the WRC car is that when the brights are on, only the high beams are on, the low beams are off. Makes the car look bad. I want to do this one too. Also, when the WRC car's lights are all off, and the driver brakes, only the inner-most brake lights come on (the round ones). Matches the front high beams. Cool!

So I am thinking of changing my DRL module so that when my parking lights are off, only the high beams come on. I'm sure there is a way to do this. I just have to figure it out. Anyone have a wiring diagram for the DRL module?
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Old 04-16-2005, 10:00 PM   #8
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i might just replace the outer brake lights with 7440, as i don't want to risk any over-watting to the bulbs or housing.

also, the 2002 WRC car had only the outer lights light up during braking when lights were off... i can't think of any safe way of accomplishing this, as clipping the inner light's brake wires would reduce brake light output wattage by half.

anyone have ideas?

Last edited by Handsdown; 04-16-2005 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 04-16-2005, 10:19 PM   #9
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Nice, I shall have to do this soon!
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Old 04-16-2005, 10:47 PM   #10
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okay----


first of all, i have a 2003, so this information isn't necessarily applicable to anything but 2003 tails... but....

IMPORTANT POINT #1:
a 7440 does NOT work in a 7443 housing... pushed it in and i'm almost sure the contacts were touching, but neither the 5v nor the 23v wires lit up the single filiment.
there's a possiblity i just didn't push it in far enough, but i wasn't going to break my brake bulbs over it.

IMPORTANT POINT #2:
if you do the WRC parking light mod- meaning only the center portion lights up with your lights on- the light is NOT NEARLY as visible from the side.

this is bad because cars need to see you from the side(think merging/changing lanes) and with only the center section, you cannot see the bulb lighting up from the side. the outer bulbs are angled and the reflectors positioned so that you can see them from the side of the car... the center bulbs are not.
it appears that the 2004 tails have a 194 bulb(smaller type positioned to the side) that would function as a rear side marker that is mounted in the taillight to illuminate it from the side... be aware that 2003 tails do not have this and the outer 7443 functions as a rear sidemarker.

you can see that in this picture-
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Old 04-16-2005, 10:50 PM   #11
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Awesome job on this and great pics. I was playing around with this idea but I didn't have the balls to do it because I was afraid that they wouldn't be bright enough. Thanks for taking the plunge.

Do you have any daytime pics that aren't close-ups so we can see how bright they are when it's not dark outside?
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Old 04-17-2005, 12:44 AM   #12
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are the bulb requirments the same for an 04, that they are in a 03? Great mod, looks awesome!
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Old 04-17-2005, 01:41 AM   #13
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Jonny, any cruise control problems?
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Old 04-17-2005, 10:10 AM   #14
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great write up
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Old 04-17-2005, 03:22 PM   #15
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Handsdown: Thanks man! You're right. I didn't test the fitment of the 7440 bulb so I really can't comment on whether or not it will work. The socket and bulbs look identical to me other than the addition of an additional wire on the 7443. But maybe this wire is enough to cause it to not fit. Maybe cutting the wire off of the bulb would be the way to go, but I haven't tested this. (I changed my original posts to warn people about this).

Your "important point#2" is a good point. The usual disclaimers apply to this mod. Do it only at your own risk. I would suggest that if you are worried about side impacts at night especially if you have a dark car, don't do this mod if you are worried about losing that part of the tail light. Or apply some reflective tape to the side of your car in a spot that is hard to see. There are many companies that sell this and it is often transparent. Maybe apply some to the top rim of your wheel wells or make up for the missing light by adding a EURO fender marker light.

imprezive one: I like your name. I changed out my turn signals before doing the brake lights just to make sure that they would be bright enough. In direct sunlight, the stock bulbs aren't that bright, and you only really see the single filament. With the LED's you can at least see more surface area lighting up. On 04's, it's a clear lens between the bulb and the tail light surface with no diffusing being done by the tail light itself. So neither works awesomely in direct sunlight. If you have a white lens over your bulb acting as a diffuser, then the LED will work better, just as the stock bulb does. Sorry, my pics don't show this very well.

npreston: I looked in my manual and used my best judgement to fill in the blanks. I can't tell you if the bulbs are the same from 03's to 04's. But the bulbs in my first post definitely fit in 04's. My guess would be that they are the same from year to year. But that's just a guess.

G-REX: No, why do you ask? I don't see the connection. Please explain.
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Old 04-17-2005, 03:28 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Handsdown
i might just replace the outer brake lights with 7440, as i don't want to risk any over-watting to the bulbs or housing.

also, the 2002 WRC car had only the outer lights light up during braking when lights were off... i can't think of any safe way of accomplishing this, as clipping the inner light's brake wires would reduce brake light output wattage by half.

anyone have ideas?
I don't understand what you are writing here. The lights in the WRC pic I posted are on when the parking lights are on. Those aren't the brake lights. Those are just marker lights.

Again, any tail light mod you make should take into consideration changes in brake light output. I was following a Bentley during a traffic jam and his dang brake lights were so bright that I was closing my eyes half the time from the glare. Of course, we've all been behind the crappy vans with one functioning tail light out of three. I wouldn't rear-end either. People are going to hit you more than likely because they weren't paying attention. The difference between visible tail lights and not-as-visible tail lights depends on a bunch of factors. I have a neon third brake light on my 88 Fiero GT. I have it hooked up to a blinker that flashes three times ever few seconds. And when shifting into reverse, it flashes repeatedly. Instantly on, and instantly off. And it's pretty neon. It gets people's attention. But I still had someone on a scooter rear-end me. So whatever.
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Old 04-17-2005, 05:44 PM   #17
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oh, i mean that the 2002 bugeye SWRT impreza has brake lights on the outside, not the circles on the inside. if you look at the car in BEST MOTORing videos, it's appearent. an easy way to accomplish this in a 2003 usdm impreza would be to render the inner bulb useless, but that's just not practical since you have half as many bulbs lighting up when you brake- it's not as bright and therefore not as safe.


i hear you though, people that rear-end other cars usually aren't paying attention, so it won't matter too much- you can make a car as visible as possible from behind and there will still be drivers out there that just don't pay enough attention to see you.
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Old 04-17-2005, 09:32 PM   #18
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Sorry about that. Well from what I understand the cruise control system monitors the brake lights to disengage when the brake pedal is pressed. But something with LED tail lights causes the cruise control to not engage at all, unless the cruise control was designed to work with LED lighting.

I don't know if that's still the case but it was on the 02-03 models. To me it would seem the best place to monitor brake activation would be at the pedal itself, not the lights. Don't know if they got wise to that for MY04+.
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Old 04-17-2005, 10:09 PM   #19
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In the earlier subies, I believe they monitored it off of a little switch on the pedal. The same switch was used for the shift lockout on 4EATs.
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Old 04-18-2005, 08:54 PM   #20
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Interesting. I didn't know that. Well, so far, I haven't had any problems with cruise control. But I will post here if I do. Thanks for the info!

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Old 04-18-2005, 09:03 PM   #21
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OK, what bulbs do I need to do a 2003 WRX in all LED, what type and how many load equalizers do I need and where do they need to go?

Vostok 7
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Old 04-19-2005, 12:26 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonnyfilmboy
This is the background pic that convinced me to do the mod:

thats so gangsta
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Old 04-19-2005, 12:45 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vostok 7
OK, what bulbs do I need to do a 2003 WRX in all LED, what type and how many load equalizers do I need and where do they need to go?

Vostok 7
I'm in that same boat.
Is there anything 2002-2003 WRX owners should do differently?

BTW, great writeup. Because of you, our cars will look nicer at night.
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Old 04-19-2005, 04:52 PM   #24
imprezive one
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Chapter/Region: MWSOC
Location: Cleveland to Columbus
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2k3 wrx wagon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samwY
I'm in that same boat.
Is there anything 2002-2003 WRX owners should do differently?

BTW, great writeup. Because of you, our cars will look nicer at night.

Yes, some of the bulb sizes are changed for the '04 model year. I know this because of my 2004 taillight swap on my 2002 wrx. I can't remember what the exact bulb size differences are though because I just ordered the 2004 taillight harness with the 2004 bulbs instead of trying to decipher everything and reuse the old bulbs. I know the turn signal is definitely a different sized bulb. I believe all the bottom row brake light bulbs are the same, and I'm pretty sure the reverse light bulb is the same too.
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Old 04-19-2005, 06:10 PM   #25
ranger5oh
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: St Louis
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5Sti 2005 Sti
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Looks good man, I was worried none were facing the reflectors, and it looks ghetto, but yours look great!
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