Tail Light Modification (Bar Light)

Hey guys, so I just realized that I'm the only one who has thought of doing this or at least posted about it, that I've seen. I actually like the look of the corolla's taillights during this period but it really does bother me that the mid section on the trunk does not light up as a tail light or a brake light. So I'm going to try to do a little modding to get the entire back taillights to light up as a solid bar.

I plan on buying an $7.50, 16' cuttable LED strip off of amazon and two LED dimmers that are $3.50 each (one for the taillight, one for the brake light). I plan to wire these straight into the existing left taillight and brake light wiring. I will use the dimmers to adjust the brightness of each so that they match the brightness of both the taillights.

Due to the low power of the LEDs there shouldn't be a problem with the left taillights dimming because of power loss right?

I plan to run the wiring with the trunk release and then back up to the left taillight and have the dimmer switches placed close to the left taillight. I think two 3' strips will be used for the taillight portion, and either one or two 3' strips for the brake light portion, it all depends on how much light I need. Of course too much light is better in this case because I have the dimmer switch for it.

I've been thinking about doing this and when I realized the materials will only cost me $15.00 I thought, why the hell not? Hopefully I'll be able to keep this thread updated with pictures. I'm also currently repainting my Corolla a primer black which I plan to turtle wax to get a semi-gloss, but this thread is mainly about the taillights. I will post a screen capture from Amazon of what I plan to purchase.


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I had planned to wire in parallel, I mean I want each strip to have 12 volts right? Or would series wiring be fine with 6v going to each? Amperage shouldn't be an issue because I expect the taillight to have more than enough amps to spare. I guess it just depends on how bright I need the lights. If two 6v powered strips will do the trick, then thats the best option, in series. But the dimmers will be limiting the voltage correct? So I should really wire in parallel and use the dimmers to adjust the voltage accordingly. If needed I could split my wires and wire the middle taillight to both of the original taillights and achieve equal brightness that way, that's just a bit more work. The dimmer should be able to handle the two inputs together taking them as one combined input with a voltage of 12v but a higher amperage. And the split it between both strips wire in parallel correct?

Everything is now ordered and the lights should be here Monday although the dimmers might not be until April 11th... I didn't realize it was coming from China. Damn.
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New Member
Tail light mod..

Hi, I totally agree with Uu!!..actually am planning on doing mine to something that`s catchy!!.. I have alwayz hated the boring red & amber that goes all the way from one side to the other. Am planning to give my corolla GT a fresh lease of lyfe by doing a full body spray so hopefully, I will upgrade that too. Please let us know how it goes and photoz would be even better!!

Wire in parallel. Doing it in series is going to make one bulb dimmer than the other.

If you have two strips, do one for one tailight, and the other in the other tailight so the circuit load is even between both lights, and you'll get less of a chance of having electrical gremlins surface.
Problem with wiring to the opposite taillight is the fact that I only have one dimmer for all the taillights, and one dimmer for all the brakelights because I plan to use two strips for each. I think that I'm just going to try to wire them in parallel from left taillight, to dimmer, to LED strip. If that dims the taillights enough to make a noticeable difference, I'll wire to the opposing taillight as well and use two inputs to the dimmer. Of course they are 12v dimmers with an 8 amp max load. Wiring two inputs will not double the voltage correct, only the amperage. I can't imagine the amperage of the taillights is two high, but could it overload the dimmer's circuit board?

I have
ONE 16.4 LED strip (12volt, 24 watt) that I plan to cut into four 3' strip (extra not needed)
TWO dimmers for LEDs (12 volt, 8/10 amps)

so going by volts x amps = watts 12 x 8 =96 watts max handling per dimmer
course I don't even know how that helps me.

If I do have to wire two inputs per dimmer (one for taillight, one for brakelight) the amps would be doubled, so I would have to get out my meter and make sure each electrical line is not outputting more than 4 amps...

There is always the option of buying two more dimmers which would only be $7 but I don't feel like having to wait for them to come from China.
I'm a registered state safety inspector for vehicles and if a vehicle came into my auto center with the lights modified like that, by law we must fail it for state inspection. Alterations to original equipment lighting or lenses are not legal in any state I know of.

Contact your State Police and ask about this before proceeding and getting nailed with an expensive ticket.
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If you wire in parallel the volts won't double, so you'll be fine.

And do what Scott said as well. Some states are less picky (in Nevada, as long as the tail lights are red and a certain brightness, you're okay, same with California).

Usually it is headlights that get you in trouble, but the last thing you want to do is all that work, just to get ticketed by a cop on a bad day.
In the state of PA it is legal to have extra lights on your car, but any lights in front of the rear wheel must either be amber or white, and any lights behind the back wheel of the vehicle must be red. So I should be good, especially since I am not altering the existing taillights and brakelights. I talk to a regional officer about it and he said as far as he knew it was okay.

I could technically have underglow on my car (which I would never do anyways) but the sides and front would have to be amber or white and the back would have to be red.

UPDATE: lights came, still waiting for the dimmers.
Also Scott, if the vehicle has a standing state inspection and it was brought into your shop you wouldn't force the owner to get it reinspected correct? When it comes time for the next inspection on the car you would THEN fail them on the inspection. I also know some inspection places are MUCH looser than others. My mechanic is very good and really does check everything for inspections but I know a mechanic who basically opens the hood, looks the engine over, and passes you. Ridiculous.
So could you technically pass a car through inspection then add a bunch of insane mods under the hood that wouldn't be legal otherwise? I mean I've never heard of an officer asking you to pop the hood! haha
Haha true. I've met a few cops in my area and they're all pretty laid back and aren't nit picky about things, as long as you aren't seriously doing something wrong. But I got pulled over by a cop for an outed brake like and he started yelling at me about how I stopped and started to fast. He said something about giving me a ticket for it if he could. I'm just glad I drove under the speed limit while he had his lights on behind me otherwise I know I'd have a ticket.
Never talk to a police officer. "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law". When they ask you anything, they aren't looking to make conversation, they are looking for anything you say that they can use against you, which could even lead to your car being searched and, "Lookey here, we found some cocaine!". I know of police officers that do this and when I asked them why they said, "So we could get a bust".

You have the right to remain silent. You don't have to talk. You don't have to answer a single question.

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Haha Yes I know, I don't talk to on duty officers! I have a couple of friends who are officers and I've talked to about such things. My friend basically told me unless your car is ungodly loud or is dripping gas out of the tail pipe they really can't have you pop the hood. They also can't take anything of yours except for your license, which they are required to return to you. If they think something is really up with your car they have to get a warrant.
I did have an officer try to pin me in a corner with something I said though, it was really funny and pathetic and I basically made a smart comment and said something about the officer not being able to do simple math. He got so mad, but I didn't do anything wrong so he couldn't ticket me!

Update: Still waiting for dimmers, expecting arrival this week.
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Everything is done, and not as expected.

I really should have foresaw this but I didn't I expected the whole rear reflector to light up when the LEDs came on, but it doesn't you can see the individual led lights as red circles. I didn't drill all the holes in the tail light perfectly straight so the lights are a little askew. Right now they are disconnected because they look so poor. Next weekend I'll probably go back and Redrill so that the lights line up perfectly, hopefully it will look a lot better. I'll post picture when I get home.
Also, I recently put LED running lights on the front of the car with a $5 amazon package that I had to waterproof with hot glue, these look very nice on the front of the car and actually work as low light foglights. I'll post pictures of these as well. They make me want to purchase an HID kit so my headlights match their color!
What is the degree range for the LEDs? They vary from 30 to 360 depending on the type of bulb you got. If you have 30 degree LEDs then it won't be possible for the reflector to light up.