October 05, 2008

JDM Replica LED Taillights Installed

I remember some guy saying that he was not going to modify his Honda Fit, that it was just a commuter... I wonder where that guy went.

Early on in this blog I had posted various taillamp options available for the Honda Fit/Jazz. Well, a good deal came up that I couldn't pass up. So I ended up with a used set of N1 Concept JDM replica smoked/red LED taillamps.

The fitment wasn't great. The previous owner had already cut off an alignment tab on one taillamp, and I had to cut off the one on the other side also for a better fit on my car. Aside from the fit, the LEDs themselves are not what I'd consider "Better" than stock. The LEDs are actually pretty bright, and do react much faster than incandescent bulb. However, the LEDs on the N1 Concept taillamps have a VERY narrow viewing angle. Meaning if you're viewing these taillamps slightly off-axis, they become very dim very quickly. This can become a safety issue if someone is merging into your lane behind you and do not see your brakes light up due to the viewing angle.

Looks wise though, I rather like them. I think the smoked/red is a nice contrast on the Canadian only Alabaster Silver Metallic colour, and it's definitely less "bug eyed" looking than the OEM ones. Maybe later on I will buy a set of the same smoked/red replica taillamps made by Depo, which are supposedly DOT approved. That should mean the LEDs will have a much wider viewing angle that's closer to the OEM lamps. And maybe I'll get black housing headlamps to match the look up front... Who was it again that said he wasn't going to modify his Fit?

Installation Guide:

I've read posts saying that you don't need to take off the rear bumper to take off and reinstall the taillights on the Honda Fit if you have a long enough screwdriver. But after doing the install myself, I think it's actually a lot easier taking the bumper off than trying to use a long, and preferably magnetized screwdriver, and then having to work the taillights in/out on an angle while not scratching the surrounding paint. So I suggest you simply take your rear bumper off, which only involves 6 fasteners. Taking the bumper off and putting it back on were the fastest parts of the install. Trust me.

1. Take off the rear bumper: As I mentioned, there are six fasteners in total for the rear bumper cover. Two phillips head screws, one in each of the rear wheel well near where the rear bumper cover meets the rear quarter panel. Two plastic quick clips on the buttom on the bumper. Just slide a flat head screwdriver into the center where there's a slot, and pull the center part out to release the clips. then, two more hex head screws on the bottom of either side of the hatch opening. You'll see them easily after opening the hatch. After all six fasteners are removed. Start pulling the bumper cover from the wheel well, away from the car. This will release the clips on the sides. Then, preferably with the help of someone, pull the bumper straight back from the car to release the clips across the top of the bumper cover.

2. Unplug taillamps: Open the rear cover panels behind the taillamps in the hatch and unplug each lamp at their sockets. There are 4 in total.

3. Remove nuts from back of taillamp: There are three nuts per side holding the taillamp to the body. Find them and remove them.

4. Unbolt the L-brackets at the bottom of the taillamps: Go back outside of the car, take a socket and remove the nuts holding the L-brackets to the car. Do this last so there's still something holding the taillamps in place while you remove the inside mounting nuts. Hold the taillamp while you remove the last nut, then pull the taillamp straight back to remove from vehicle.

(This is where you'll see why it's better to take the bumper off. The taillamps are held to the L-bracket by the phillips screw which some will tell you you can get to without removing the bumper. That's true. but where the screw goes into the taillight actually is lower than where the bumper sits. So to remove the taillamps without removing the rear bumper, you'd have to angle the top of the taillamp out first. However, the taillamps are also held in at this point by the alignment posts behind, which goes straight back from the taillamps to the body, preventing you from easily tilting the top out first.)

5. Remount the L-bracket to new taillamps: Another phillips screw on the bracket. Remove it, and reinstall with bracket to new taillamp.

6. Remount turn signal and reverse lamp sockets to new taillamps: Take the turn signal socket from the OEM taillamps and move them to the upper hole of the new taillamps. Take the reverse socket and move it to the new taillamps. The reverse socket will not fit properly. You will need to modify either the socket (cut off tabs) or the hole in the new taillamp (cut slots longer to fit. Preferred method so socket is still fully reusable in OEM taillamps) for the socket to fit. This is normal, and not a defect. North American taillamps use a different reverse socket then others.

7. Mount new taillamps to car: Reverse as before. Slide the taillamps in, fasten to car by lower L-bracket, but don't fully tighten yet, then go back inside and secure the three mounting nuts. Once the three nuts inside are secure, then go back out and tighten the lower L-bracket.

8. Extending wires: Now, you may or may not need to extend some taillamp wires in order for the plugs to reach their new socket locations. Most likely you will need to. I'm not going to tell you how to extend the wires because if you don't know how, then you should get someone else to do it for you.

9. Test the taillamps: Plug the taillamps back into the sockets. You'll have one plug left over. don't worry about it. check functions of tail, brake, turn signal, and reverse lamp to ensure proper functions.

10. Put the bumper back on: Reverse of removal. line up the clips, the push bumper cover straight in towards the car. then push in the side clips, and attach all 6 fasteners removed earlier. And you're done.

See, what did you spend more time on? 6 easily accessible fasteners for the bumper cover? or trying to remove the six nuts behind the taillamps and scratching up your hand in the tiny cutout space? And if you had to extend wires, I'm sure that took longer than either. Sure, a long screwdriver might be able to remove that hidden phillips screw easy enough, but trying to put it back in while aligning the little hole in the tiny space you can hardly see, and balancing the screw on the top of your screwdriver, would be extremely difficult.