Big Rig Basics
LED lights may cost more initially, but their advantages over incandescents pay for themselves fast
Brad Van Riper, senior vice president and chief technology officer for Truck-Lite, says the number one advantage of LEDs is that “they are far more resistant to vibration than incandescents.” Substituting a solid material for a wire that’s soft because it’s white hot adds so much to the life of a lamp that Van Riper adds, “In all the years of testing LEDs in truck cabs, we’re never had one fail.”
Van Riper says LEDs are also monochromatic, which means they produce only one color. This means they can produce a pure red or yellow light and use a clear lens. Incandescents produce white light, which is then converted to the needed color via a lens. Most of the light energy, thus, is thrown away as heat. That’s just one reason they use a lot less power. LED stop lamps also reach peak brightness more quickly when you brake, giving the driver behind more time to react.
It’s easy to make the switch. Truck-Lite provided complete information to show how their LEDs can be substituted for existing incandescents. Many other brands of lamps can be converted similarly. Contact your parts distributor or the manufacturer for details.
1. You’ll need to purchase the new lamp and Truck-Lite Fit N’ Forget It adapter pigtail and some anti-corrosion compound like Truck-Lite’s NYK. You should also purchase a new grommet to mount the lamp in the bumper unless you know the one surrounding the lamp you’re replacing is in practically new condition.
6. The grommet sits inside a large hole machined into the rear bumper. It is retained by a groove in its outer diameter. The grommet retains the lamp through friction, and also serves to cushion it from shock. Inspect the grommet carefully for any signs of weathering or heat cracking or other damage. Van Riper says, “Grommets tend to deteriorate over time and the fit, appearance and performance of the new lamp will be enhanced with a new grommet.”
Unless the grommet looks to be in new condition, replace it by carefully prying it out of the bumper. Gently work the new grommet through the hole until the metal of the bumper fits into the groove all around. You may want to wet the outside diameter of the grommet first to make it easier to work into the bumper hole.
7. Apply some anti-corrosion compound into the connection of the new lamp. “Apply only a small amount of NYK,” Van Riper says. The plug and lamp seal tightly, and too much compound trapped inside will keep the plug from going on all the way and locking properly.
8. Grab the adapter pigtail and plug it into the female connector on the back of the lamp. Note that the clip that locks it in place goes downward and that you need to push the plug into the lamp until the clip locks over the tab on the lamp.
10. Use a brush to clean the plug terminals on the wiring harness. Truck-Lite makes a special brush kit for this purpose. This will help ensure good electrical contact and prevent damage to the seals from grit.
For further information:
Super Bright LEDs, Inc.