Guide: How to Replace Dome Lighting with LED’s
I got tired of the yellow lighting in the car and made the call to upgrade to LED for all interior lights. All of the festoon lights were easy replacements. License plate, footwell, glove compartment and vanity - all were like for like replacements. The dome lighting proved a bit more tricky. I opted to employ a method where some basic soldering is involved. This allowed me to bypass any 5W5 fit challenges.
Soldering iron, solder
Small flat head screwdriver
36mm LED festoons:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/171853203850?_t ... EBIDX%3AIT
42mm LED festoons:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/391314508277?_t ... EBIDX%3AIT
http://www.ebay.com/itm/291774795094?_t ... EBIDX%3AIT
Note that the above lights seem to have done the trick but they are extremely inexpensive! I will update this post over the next few months if it turns out that I have any issues.
Replacing the dome lighting:
The rear seating dome lighting assembly must be removed completely from the vehicle to get at the two lights. This is done by pulling directly downwards. Be cautious, the rear seating dome has two wire harnesses connected to it with very limited slack. Pulling too hard may damage the connectors.
Once pulled out, the two connectors need to be unplugged to be able to take the assy out of the vehicle. The green connector is a bit tricky as you need to insert a small screwdriver below it in order to lift the tab before pulling back. The blue one is more straight forward with the tab located on top.
Next remove the plastic translucent bulb cover to get direct access to the underside of the lamp. Simply wedge a flat blade screwdriver in each end first to lift the ends out and then pry out the centre.
The next step involves prepping the surface for soldering the LED’s on. Take the two existing bulbs out by twisting and then pulling out the blue light bases. The base as well as the bulb should come out together.
Next, prep the soldering gun and heat up each brass plate one at a time while adding solder to the surface of the brass. It may take a few tries as the brass seems to have a protective film on it. Be cautious not to melt any nearby plastic. The result of the soldering is shown below. Note that the LED’s are already installed in the pic – do not solder them to the brass until you have successfully applied solder to the brass only first!
Take two 5W5 LED’s and bend back the connector wires so that you can pull the plastic base right off the LED. This step is necessary because the bases are not compatible with each other. Once the LED has been released from its base, insert the LED into each hole from below. Once through, bend back the two connector wires sideways so that each makes contact with the brass plate while supporting the LED in place. Take a look underneath to make sure that the LED is well positioned. Be sure to connect the + side of the LED to the correct side of the board (see pic above for details). Each LED should also show the + and - terminals if you look very closely at it. If not, just use a 9V battery to figure out which side is which.
Solder the LED’s on as per pic above and cut off the extra wiring with the wire-cutters after the soldering is done. Test the lights by plugging the blue connector back in and turning each switch on.
Re-install the rear dome assembly by pressing firmly upwards, making sure that the two clips are aligned with the housing in the ceiling.
Replacing the front dome lights require more or less the same steps. I did set off the SRS dash indicator when I pulling off my front dome assembly. Edit: I figured out that I only set off the SRS light because I pulled the dome assembly while the car was running. As long as it is off you should be fine.
To remove the front dome assembly you must pull the whole assembly directly downwards. There is no connector for the assembly, it plugs back in when it gets pushed back into place. Use your fingers to carefully pry the back slightly away and then slide your fingers to the sides and front to pull the dome lighting assembly completely away from the ceiling. It will rip violently away, don’t worry you won’t have broken anything. Twist and pull all four lights out. Prepare the LED’s by straightening the two wires and then pulling the LED out of each base. The underside will look like this:
Use a soldering gun and solder to place two small solder points on each of the four light locations (8 solder points). Be very quick about this as the heat can easily go straight through the coated film to the plastic underneath!
Insert each LED in from below and solder taking careful note of the orientation of each LED. Both rear lights should have the + side of the LED placed outwards. While I have yet to do the front two, I’m going to go with the assumption that they require the same orientation. The rear lights can be tested by placing a 9V battery across the terminals of one of the two lights. When the battery is connected BOTH rear LED’s should light up. Obviously, be sure to connect the + of the battery with the + of the LED.
Re-install the front dome light assembly but aligning the clips with their housing and pushing firmly upwards.
I had read previously that some resistors might be required to address the LED's staying on very dimly when driving. This doesn't seem to be happening but I will update the post tomorrow if night driving reveals otherwise....
Looks like I spoke too soon. The lights do remain on very faintly when car is running. Based on a suggestion from a posting I can no longer find (is that a good enough disclaimer) I've added 3 x 1W / 100ohm resistor to the front dome assembly (only one is required for the two LED's that come on at same time) and 2 x 1W / 100ohm resistors for the rear dome assembly. Here is a pic of a resistor installed (in parallel to LED) on the rear of the front dome assembly.
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