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Can we justify not upgrading to LED brake light bulbs any more?

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11 January 2021
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Ontario, Canada
Question: Is it reasonable not to upgrade the stock brake bulbs to LED's any more???

Update from this thread 2 years ago since the technology has really become easy, cheap, and mainstream:

I share the love of @DRIFTER for the look of incandescent running and brake lights, but here's a new thread to keep the other thread on its headlights topic and discuss brake light options here. (The warm look of incandescents is the reason I spend a whole day every year replacing bulbs on my Christmas tree.)
Here is the thread on Current LED Headlight Options:

Yes, the LED brake and tail lights don't look as good, but what of the safety aspect of LED brake lights? LED's illuminate ~0.2 seconds quicker than incandescents, & go to full illumination almost instantly vs. the incandescent windup. (See it looking at your LED spoiler vs. the brake lamps.) At 120 kph (75 mph), that's a 5.5 m (18.5') quicker stop for the guy behind you if he's not looking at his phone, which could be the difference between getting hit or not. I personally think incandescent bulbs should not have been used for brakes lights as soon as LED's became available. LED's are now even faster than Neon. Check the graph in this study:

In fairness, the advantage of LED bulbs could be lower considering the stock LED brake light in the spoiler.

I only discovered I didn't have LED bulbs during maintenance so I'll be doing it shortly. The vendor told me that they'd been changed. I'm leaning towards Boslla's since the LED headlights are great (vs. the problems I've had with VLEDS) but keen to hear others' experience good/bad. I assume the lower current draw of the LED's won't trigger bulb-out warnings since modern LED's draw ++more current than the first generation. (Update: WRONG!)
 
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I just don’t like the look of them. At one point I wanted a set of clear corners did a bunch of research and never pulled the trigger. I’m glad I didn’t. As the NSX ages I enjoy the classic look of the NSX. Same reason I still run wheels from the late 90’s that have aged remarkably well IMO

The way I look at it Chances are better the guy behind you today is checking his BookFace status so he’s going to hit you regardless of how bright those taillights are. Best to just keep that insurance agreed-upon value up to date and hope for the best. Knock on wood in 19 years I haven’t needed it.
 
I agree with you on all the logical safety reasons to run LEDs. I did this for a different car (Sylvania LEDs ) and it looked fine, but I haven't owned the NSX long enough to fiddle with it yet. If you get it, please post some photos.
 
I've been using the same LED bulbs in my car for about 6 years from superbrightleds.com. They are brighter than the incandescent bulbs and the instant on/off grabs attention faster like mentioned in the OP. No complaints, I have them everywhere except for the headlights which are the OrganizedGarageStatus Morimoto Mini H1 HID projector retrofit with the clear lenses.

Semi-related: at one point one of my horns shorted out and popped the fuse, which is shared with the brake lights, and I drove around for likely WEEKS before realizing it (I virtually never use the horn) without brake lights and somehow never got hit, and nobody even flashed their lights or honked or anything either. Apparently other drivers are more attentive than I expected.
 
Is there a recommended plug and play LED option for the tail/brake lights? A few years ago when I first looked into them there needed to be some voodoo tweaking of the wiring circuitry for them to work and I didn't want to fool with it.
 
I LOVE the warm 90's look of the incandescent in the rear lights. But, I tend to agree with you guys. I think the LED is probably better for safety and visibility, assuming a quality bulb. It's also why I've deferred to a louder exhaust- they can hear you next to them. Cars now are so huge with such high window lines, that the NSX might as well be invisible.
 
I have them everywhere except for the headlights which are the OrganizedGarageStatus Morimoto Mini H1 HID projector retrofit with the clear lenses.
Don't mean to thread-jack, but I did this mod too back in 2019 - OGS quad HID projectors w/ clear lenses. How's it working for you? I love the look and it fixed the issue of scatter that came with using a HID kit behind the OEM lenses. No more flashing from oncoming drivers.
 
I love the OGS retrofit, its been great since I did it in 2018, I only have the dual projectors but its still a substantial improvement over the drop in HID or LED options. The downside is the price and installation was a pain due to the custom brackets and wiring I fabricated but lighting is one place where splurging is worth it. Upgrading the lights on my older vehicles has saved me thousands of dollars in body work after narrowly avoiding hitting deer a few times. The clear lens and razor sharp cutoff are something you just can't get anywhere else.

What ballasts did you use? I've had bad experiences with Morimoto ballasts so I got Hella gen 3 ballasts from a junk yard and cut the D2S connectors off and spliced on the connectors for the H1 HID bulbs.
 
I really wanted the OGS retrofit but i couldn't justify the cost...mainly because i don't really drive my NSX at night. I wish i could have some clear lenses and do my own retrofit.
 
Will do; I'll post my brake light results, hopefully with video, when done.

On the headlight discussion: HID's may be OK for low beams, but I find their slow wind-up inferior compared to LED's for high beams. Flashing is a totally different experience with LED's, which is why I recommend folks upgrade the high beams as even if they use them infrequently; it adds <$50 to the cost. Probably why LED's have supplanted HID's for new cars. Here's the headlight discussion I branched off. Hopefully we can steer LED headlight comments to that thread:
 
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I've found only upside to migrating to LED's on the exterior. Brighter and faster as 200ms is forever in human reaction time.

And less heat, this is important because I found evidence of heat damage on the taillights internals.

On the interior I had a problem: I migrated just about everything to LED with festoons, mini-whatevers, and T3 wedges, and it was great. However, it would cause a residual voltage to sneak into the interior headlight on circuit when the brake was depressed. This would cause aftermarket radio units to dim their display when braking....making LCD screens unreadable in daylight. I had to reinstall some incandescents for illumination in the ashtray/lighter.

Question on LED color: Is it more efficient to match the color of the plastic translucent cover with the LED?

So for example in the cluster there are all different colors: blue, green, amber, red, etc... Is it best to install a white LED or match the color of the cover?
 
In general you'll have the least "waste" if you match the color of the light to the color of the lens, as colored lenses only let through certain wavelengths of light and block the rest. If you can't get a LED that matches though warm white usually works well since it closely mimics an incandescent bulb like it was originally designed for, I'd probably just get a bunch of warm white bulbs in the case of the cluster. Cool white can make things look a little odd.

I also ran into strange issues with the dimming circuit when converting to all LEDs, and had to go back to incandescent bulbs in the ash tray and 12V socket light.
 
I was planning on white bulbs; Boslla site offers both White and Red options. Previous owner put in JDM (smoke, almost black) rear lights and I've never seen black or smoke coloured LED bulbs. If anyone has any experience that red bulbs work better than white with these smoke lenses, let me know.

Edit: After I got the white bulbs, the tails were OK, but the brakes looked orangy. I switched to red bulbs of the same wattage - nice red brake lights and noticeably brighter.
 
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I converted to LED bulbs on the front headlights and corner lamps, and full board taillight replacements. Sorry but I love the modern look of the LED on both ends of the car. The dim incandescent bulbs in the rear looked so dated. Cost me a small fortune to get those taillights built (and that was at a discount) but would do it over again every time.


IMG_0193.jpg
 
Mmmm. That seems to match well with the spoiler.
Front and back are 2 different questions. I think the switch to front LED bulbs still preserves the classic look of this automobile but the "back end" is more subjective. I always drive with my running lights on for maybe more daytime visibility, so I'll stick with the classic look.
To each their own - we're both running DDF rain guards. :)
 
Mmmm. That seems to match well with the spoiler.
Front and back are 2 different questions. I think the switch to front LED bulbs still preserves the classic look of this automobile but the "back end" is more subjective. I always drive with my running lights on for maybe more daytime visibility, so I'll stick with the classic look.
To each their own - we're both running DDF rain guards. :)

Yes, maybe these taillights only look good with the big wing (since the corners lead up into the wing stands), and wouldn't look as good with the OEM spoiler. I haven't put the OEM back on with these taillights to see how it looks. Maybe when I get bored one weekend, lol.
 
I used sylvania red LED bulbs to replace the oem incandescent and it's a worthy upgrade. My reasoning was safety, as the incandescents could barely be seen on days where it's somewhat bright out but visibility is bad (rain). The LED's aren't worlds better or anything, but they're definitely better. They "fill in" more of the taillight squares too, which looks better.

As far as Red vs Clear, on their marketing materials, Sylvania specifically recommends red bulbs behind a red tail light lens.

Also, i did not do turn signals because i think incandescent turn signals are fine (and didn't want to use a module to fix the hyper flash. For the brake lights, it's a simple T-tap that overrides the brake lamp warning light.

B632B8E6-6E5E-4ED1-AED1-B2246CAF4368.jpeg
 
I love the OGS retrofit, its been great since I did it in 2018, I only have the dual projectors but its still a substantial improvement over the drop in HID or LED options. The downside is the price and installation was a pain due to the custom brackets and wiring I fabricated but lighting is one place where splurging is worth it. Upgrading the lights on my older vehicles has saved me thousands of dollars in body work after narrowly avoiding hitting deer a few times. The clear lens and razor sharp cutoff are something you just can't get anywhere else.

What ballasts did you use? I've had bad experiences with Morimoto ballasts so I got Hella gen 3 ballasts from a junk yard and cut the D2S connectors off and spliced on the connectors for the H1 HID bulbs.
Sorry, just getting back to this, lost track of things for a bit. I don't remember selecting specific ballasts, I just selected quad instead of dual, and 5500K color temp and that was pretty much it. Ben at Daisy Import pulled the whole headlight assemblies and sent them out there, they came back all wired up, and the ballasts & igniters were packaged separately. Ben just had to mount the stuff and plug it in. The ballasts don't have any identification on them, they must be part of an in-house kit for these conversions.

And yeah, the price made me hesitate, compared to other lighting upgrades. But jeez, I had already put $20+K into the car for various rebuilds and upgrades, so this was small potatoes by comparison. At least, that's how I convinced myself to do it.😁
 
Small reminder: This is the thread on LED tail and brake lights. Thread on Headlights is here:
 
As requested @esqu1re , here's video comparing LEDs to stock incandescent bulbs. The LEDs are clearly faster and brighter.
Stock incandescent on the left, Boslla LED bulbs on the right:
At Night, running lights on:

I think it's cheap insurance, even if we have the wing LED as well.
 
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Solving the bulb out indicator:
As @MotorMouth93 and @Chris_Lum noted, changing to LED's tripped the brake lamp failure indicator on the dash since the current is so low in the LED's. My 1995 wiring doesn't look like @Chris_Lum's pic. There seem to be many threads on how to disable this, with some definitely giving incorrect information. The pdf here is good:
Good Pics & wiring diagrams here: https://www.nsxprime.com/threads/brake-lamp-warning-bypass-what-am-i-doing-wrong.214802/

The challenge seems to be that the bulb out indicator circuit wire changes color at this tail light connector near the inside right tail light from orange/white in the loom harness to white/green going to the bulbs, which can be confused with the green/white or white/green coming in from the harness. There is also white/green, green/white, and a few other greens on the bulb side. (see picture below)
To disable the dash lamp warning indicator, ground the orange/white on the harness or the corresponding white/green on the bulb side, not the green/white on the harness side. An easy way to ground without taps is with a small piece of 14 Ga wire (from 14-2 home wiring.) Cut the edges as far off purpendicular as you can to make them like small vertical wedges and slide it into the connector as shown in the picture, with the cut edges sliding into the groove in the connector pin crimp. Ground Orange/white by connecting to Black. I made it bright yellow and taped on a label for future folks working on it.
PXL_20230810_190441225.jpg
Oddly, there's an orange/black in the harness, next to the black, which has nothing connected to it on the bulb side of the connector. I wonder what that is. European fog lights?
 
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