With light-emitting diodes (LEDs) dropping in price virtually every year, automakers have begun employing them, not only on luxury vehicles, but on entry-level models, as well.
And for good reason. LEDs offer a multitude of advantages. They draw less power than incandescent bulbs, last the life of the vehicle, and illuminate more quickly, providing a safety benefit when used as brake lights. They're also favored by automotive designers, who like their design flexibility.
We've collected photos of LEDs in vehicles, showing their use in applications ranging from daytime running lamps and headlights to taillamps and cupholder lights. Following are just a few of the many autos that employ LEDs for lighting, inside and out.
Click on the image below to start the slideshow.
The 2013 Ford Mustang uses three LED “ropes” around its iconic three-bar rear lights. (Source: Ford Motor)
They are mechanics. However, cars today are full of electronics, but the repair paradigm hasn't evolved much. It is hard enough getting a wiring diagram, but getting the software to diagnose a simple problem is tough. I am trying to figure why my airbag light comes on, but there's no non-proprietary way to talk to the box.
although it was the VFD version. Back in the 90's I had an Olds that had a VFD display dash board and it started to work intermittantly. I discovered that it was thermal in nature when the colder weather arrived and it would start working 20 minutes after the heater was activated.
Dealer wanted 1100 for new panel and 500 labor - ouch !!!
After my discovery I knew it was something simple - e.g., a bad connection. I had a friend that knew how to remove dash boards open it up for me so I could shake wires. When that failed I decided that perhaps it was a cold solder joint. So he removed the entire panel and I brought it into my bench where I took a "brute force approach" and just reflowed every joint on the board. It had at least half a dozen HC11's and 68xxx's on it and as many or more VFD's.
After touching every single joint I had him resinstall the panel. VIOLA!!! Worked perfectly and never failed again. Car's value went from 500 back to 2500 and I sold it.
Afterwards, I told the dealership and the service dept just gave me a dumb stare.
I hope that lights that last the life of the vehicle lights is more true that the 7 year mini florescent lights that I replace repeatedly - all w/o reciept from Walmart / Menards . . .One of my pet pieves is vehicles/ lights out up to semis that have absolutely no tail lights / marker lights on the bak of their trailers. I call 911 every time I see one. There are no good excused for running w/o all lights functioning. Unless lazy and careless are acceptable excuses.
I did not see anyone mention this will also help the all electric cars' batttery life by drawing less current in night time applications. Another plus.
I think it's a safety advantage to have redundancy with vehicle lights, such as with multiple LEDs per location. I've seen some LED lights not working on some new cars, but there is still plenty of tail and brake lights functioning, including the center brake light unit.
How many times have we all been behind a car with tail or brake lights burned-out?...and it feels that we're at risk since the car in front of us doesn't have the lights working. I've had people tell me my brake light was out when waiting at a red light, I was embarrassed but grateful they informed me, and promptly replaced the burned-out incandescent lamp. I have a habit of watching my wife and daughters drive away, and watching to make sure their car's tail and brake lights are functioning.
...and when one LED fails due to bad manufacturing, water, or thermal cycling of the PC board, it can cost hundreds of dollars at the dealer to get it fixed. (A touch of a soldering iron would probably repair a cracked solder joint.)
I have been an LED lamp designer for many years, and it is interesting to see the reasons they are adopted. In the heavy-duty trucking industry, they were widely adopted very quickly because of their long life and the reduction in maintenance costs. For cars, the main driver seems to be styling and space savings.
When properly designed, LEDs can certainly last the life of the vehicle, but too many of the automakers let cost drive them to poor designs. Nearly every car has an LED high mount stop lamp nowadays, and I am amazed at how many of them I see driving down the road with LEDs out. This usually isn't LED's failing on their own-- it is typically due to water in the lamp or problems with the circuit board.
Chuck, that is a lot of bulbs to change. Oh, wait, they won't need changing. I expect that these will last the normal lifetime of the vehicle, so no changine. That could mean no brake lights out. That would be nice. When LEDs routinely replace headlights that would be something great.
LEDs are a great idea, especially in locations that are hard to service or receive heavy vibration. I replaced the landing light in my Cessna with an LED, dropping the current from 10A down to 2A. The cowl mounted incandescent landing light frequently fails from all the vibration, and I can't tell you how many aircraft I rented with where the landing light was inoperative, not to mention the breaker popping out if you leave the light on long. An automobile is a similar environment, and LED light engines are a great replacement for the fragile and power-hungry incandescent.
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