Challenger LED Taillight and Resistor Installation - Dodge Challenger Forum: Challenger & SRT8 Forums

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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 06-26-2013, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
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Challenger LED Taillight and Resistor Installation

Installation of LED bulbs into the rear challenger tail light assembly is pretty straight forward. The main issues are where and how to mount ballast resistors and the actual selection of a bulb.

Time to complete: About 2 hours, although I did a lot of measurements and checking.
Difficulty level: Probably 3-4 depending on your comfort with wiring etc.
Tools: Crimping pliers, assorted pliers and a screwdriver.

For this project the following parts and supplies were used:

Bulbs/resistors (superbrightleds.com)
Front side markers 2 WLED-x5-CBT 5 SMD LED wedge base Amber
Rear side markers 2 WLED-x5-CBT 5 SMD LED wedge base Red
Tail lights 8 3157-x45-T Dual intensity 45 SMD LED tower Red
Load Resistors 4 PL-650 Tail light load resistor kit

Wiring supplies (local auto parts shop)
3M trip adhesive tape
Male/female bullet connectors

A note about LED bulb selection:

The LX/LC Chrysler/Dodge vehicles utilize a CAN bus for vehicle control however it is not the advanced CAN bus as used on BMW, Mercedes and others. Some web sites will list our vehicles as possibly needing the CAN bus compatible bulbs. However, this is not the case, the standard LED bulbs are required for the tail lights (3057/3157), the CAN bus compatible bulbs will not work properly. The side marker bulbs purchased are the CAN bus compatible type, since they do not flash etc they are ok.

Side marker bulb installation:

Installing the side marker bulbs is pretty simple. Use an interior panel removal tool and insert on the inboard side (closest to the door) until you find the metal tab. Push the tab in and the unit will rotate out. Simply turn the socket in the fixture to slide it out, remove the existing bulb and insert the LED bulb. To reinstall, attach the outboard side (closest to the bumper) and then the inboard side. The metal clip will engage and hold the fixture in place.

Tail light bulb and resistor installation:

Ballast resistors are required for LED bulbs that will flash as part of the turn signal. They must be wired in parallel with the "bright" side and mounted on metal (not plastic) as they will generate some heat during normal operation. Normally one ballast resistor per bulb is required.

This car has had the Webelectric sequential light kit installed since it was new which make all four bulbs on each side part of the turn signal operation. Since the Challenger electronics are accustomed to only flashing two bulbs per side for turn signals, two ballast resistors are required per side. Also, since the bulbs inside the center section are on the longest during sequential operation, that’s where the resistors need to be installed.

First remove the center section from the trunk lid. Webelectric has a good description of how this is done. For my purposes I removed the wiring from the light housing in order to do some voltage checks and set the housing aside for now.





The ballast resistor instructions say to mount the leads across the two outside leads of the 3057/3157 sockets, just to make sure I spliced into each of the three wires and took some voltage measurements, and with the Webelectric kit the wiring is the same so use the two outside wires on the socket to connect to the resistors.

Next I wanted to check for heat during brake light operation but lacking thermocouples decided to go with the old fashioned method (enlisted the 10 year old neighbor to hold the brake pedal while I held on to the resistor itself).



Decided that the heat generated while the brakes were engaged was not really any more extreme than an incandescent bulb itself (although the resistor did get pretty warm) so it could be mounted in the housing. The alternate plan was to run the wiring along the trunk lid and mount the resistors up under the fender on the passenger side.

The next step was to determine the best location, the idea was to make sure there was sufficient clearance and they were not too close to each other or the plastic light housing.





Once the location was determined, it was time to mount connectors and 3M tape. Used the bullet style connectors to use less space and be able to physically mount the resistors and be able to remove the housing at a later time if need be. Also, did a quick resistance check to verify the crimp connections.







Next, splice a piece of wire with the male bullet connector onto the two outside wires of each of the four sockets using the connectors provided with the kit. Reconnected the wiring harness and did a quick voltage check to verify the splice and crimp connections.

Next insert the LED bulbs into the sockets and reinstall the wiring on the rear housing, I like to use electrical tape to hold the wiring in place.





Now reinstall the center section into the trunk lid connecting the existing wiring and new ballast resistor wiring and button it up. Make sure there is no interference with the new wiring, the original wiring, the resistors and the assembly mounting.





The final step is to install the LED bulbs into the outside sections on the left and right. The bulbs in those assemblies can be accessed by removing the plastic nuts in the trunk and the small trim piece on the fender and slide the housing out until you can reach the bulbs.

I plan to open up the rear assembly in a month or two and check for evidence of overheating or damage.

Before and after videos….






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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 08-03-2013, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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I opened up the rear center taillight assembly after over a month of driving in heavy Seattle traffic. The brakes got used a lot sitting in traffic at times. I was looking for any evidence of heat damage such as a burnt wire in contact with the resistor, discoloration/loosening of the 3M tape, or anything out of place. I am pleased to report that there wasn't anything of the sort and it appears that mounting the ballast resistors in the enclosed space behind the assembly doesn't appear to be a problem.

Drivers side


Passenger side
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