LED tail light problem (revisited..... not fixed after all)

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LED tail light problem (revisited..... not fixed after all)

Postby WarPony » Sat Nov 12, 2005 5:42 pm

I bought some oval stop/turn/tail lights from Superbite LED's. The turn/brake lights are slow to come on. When I have the headlight switch on, you can't even tell the blinkers are working. Very little distintion between the bright and dim phases. Do you think the ground connection through the trailer hitch is sufficient or do I need a "hard ground" from the trailer to the car body. I know some of you have got LED lights on your projects (Asianflava), what am I missing?

1) Could it be a vehicle issue?
2) Or a vehicle wiring problem?

I'm running a '78 El Camino, not exactly a state-of-the-art vehicle but I would tend to think that a low amperage light would be more forgiving on a less than average chassis.
Last edited by WarPony on Tue Jan 17, 2006 11:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby madjack » Sat Nov 12, 2005 6:50 pm

...WP a ground thru the hitch is totally inadeuqate, you need a hard ground all the way to the lights...even a hard ground to the trailer frame can cause problems with ruts and corrosion build up. I run a seperate hard ground to everthing, 'cause grounding problems are one of those electrical bugaboos that can really haunt you
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Postby s4son » Sun Nov 13, 2005 12:31 am

At the risk of sounding dumb, does a four wire plug include a ground or all they all used for positive?

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Postby Nitetimes » Sun Nov 13, 2005 12:57 am

Nothing dumb about it, lot's of people don't know that.

Four wire plug should be:
green- right turn and brakes
yellow- left turn and brakes
brown- marker/tail lites
white- ground

WP- do you have a 552 or a 224 flasher in it? You need the 552 to get good flash with the extra lites. And definitely ground thru the plug, all the way back if possible.
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Postby WarPony » Sun Nov 13, 2005 9:37 am

Scott and Nitetimes, I do have the 4-prong, flat plug. The thing that is bugging me is that I had regular "Jeep style" lights before and had no problems with them. I went and pulled the flasher out....... it's a 575. I would think that if the lights worked before, LED's should be a piece of cake.
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Postby Nitetimes » Sun Nov 13, 2005 10:30 am

I have noticed several problems with the LED's. On a newer vehicle they tend to make the signals flash rapidly, supposedly due to some kind of memory in the signal circuit (sounded like non-sense to me too) but that's what the co. said. I used them on back of my tear and had no problem but I put another standard marker lite on my fender wired to the brake/turn wire on each side and had no problem. I have read of them doing what you descibe and needing some kind of resister type setup, which I think is what the extra lite on mine did somehow. That is something you could try if you can't get anything else to work. Keep in mind that the LED's don't pull as much juice but there is a circuit board in there they are attached to which I believe is where the problems come from.
These are just my experiences, yours may be different.

BTW - I'm not sure about the 575 flasher. How many lites is that supposed to be for? If that's a newer style try a 552 and see what happens.
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Postby vairman » Sun Nov 13, 2005 11:08 am

WarPony wrote:Scott and Nitetimes, I do have the 4-prong, flat plug. The thing that is bugging me is that I had regular "Jeep style" lights before and had no problems with them. I went and pulled the flasher out....... it's a 575. I would think that if the lights worked before, LED's should be a piece of cake.


The Led lights use a resistor to drop the voltage for taillight mode making the LED's not as bright as in Brake mode, there for if you dont have a good ground the ground will work like a resistor and your lights wont work well.. A regular Bulb has 2 filiments one for tail and one for breaks, so they will work with a less than perfect ground..

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Postby purplepickup » Sun Nov 13, 2005 12:09 pm

vairman wrote:The Led lights use a resistor to drop the voltage for taillight mode making the LED's not as bright as in Brake mode,...l.. A regular Bulb has 2 filiments one for tail and one for breaks, so they will work with a less than perfect ground..

Greg :thumbsup:

Most of the LED's are the type you described...both tail light and brake light on the same circuit, using different voltage to change brightness but there are LED's with separate curcuits for the brakes and tail light. I bought a couple at a swap meet and am running them in my pickup.

The problem I have with the type with the single circuit is that my cruise control won't work when the lights are on because of the line voltage feeding back to the sensor wired into my brake switch. It thinks the brakes are on and turns off the cruise control.
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Postby WarPony » Sun Nov 13, 2005 9:03 pm

George, the lights I've got have 3 wires.......stop/turn, tail light and ground. I thought these lights would be a slam dunk to make work!
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Postby doug hodder » Sun Nov 13, 2005 9:55 pm

Jeff....had a similar problem with the Rambler....I installed a dedicated ground between the tear and the car. I did that and it took care of the problem....also a heavy duty flasher...you won't get a usable ground through the ball only....just what I did...took a while, but I did get it going...also if you used Scotchloks on your connections, especially on the vehicle...check them also, they don't always "Lok" and I'm a Scotsman...we tend to be cheap!!....just my experience.....Doug
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Postby WarPony » Mon Nov 14, 2005 5:42 pm

UPDATE: Today, I did some wire tracing and found the ground wire on the vehicle harness not attached to the body so I hooked it up...... still not working right. I called Superbright LED's and made sure I had the light harnesses properly hooked up and I did. On a last ditch effort I went to NAPA and bought the 552 flasher that Nitetimes mentioned earlier. Bango! It worked!! The LED's blink quickly and brightly like I imagined they would!! This problem is solved. Thanks to all that chimed in with suggestions. Maybe this will help somebody in the future.
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Postby WarPony » Tue Jan 17, 2006 11:18 pm

PROBLEM NOT SOLVED!! Well, I'm back in the same boat I was in before. I even went a bought a $20 flasher that was supposed to be for LED's but it didn't work any better. I thought I had it fixed with that 552 flasher. Nitetimes, I saw that you had luck using a "bulb" light to get your LED's to work right. Now, does the bulb put a load in the circuit making the LED to work? This is REALLY starting to steam my beans!!
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Postby Chris C » Tue Jan 17, 2006 11:20 pm

I'm confused WarPony. :? If it worked back in November, why doesn't it work now?
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Postby Nitetimes » Tue Jan 17, 2006 11:55 pm

WP - I was just recently reading some new info on that very problem, but Firefox just today took it upon itself to eliminate all my bookmarks and there were hundreds of them. I'm gonna stick my old hard drive in and see if I can get them back from it tomorrow. In the meantime I'll see if I can recall were it was at. There are several ways to fix the problem, not all are good and not all of them work but I'm sure there is one that will.
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Postby bdosborn » Wed Jan 18, 2006 12:51 am

WP,

Check the ground again. LEDs are voltage sensitive so if there is any kind of resistance in the circuit, they won't light up right. Also, I had a tail light wire inside an electrical box chaff through its insulation. It caused a short that made my LEDS do what you're describing, but my vehicle lights wouldn't work right either. It was easy to find because the box was warm from the short.
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