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With my Toys by Troy corner guards installed, it was time to think about putting some flush mount tail lights on the back end of the TJ. Dirk Sanders, of DPG Off-Road, hooked me up with some new 4" LED tail lights, made by American Superlite, Inc. Model SL4000 is a red stop, turn, and tail light assembly. The unit has 15 LEDs, an operating range of 12 ~ 38 volts, and meets FMVSS 108 requirements (a DOT standard that specifies requirements for original and replacement lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment). I opted to mount the lights using the Model 40400 black grommet.
Before I get into the install details, I have to tell you about
a phone conversation I had with an employee from American Superlite. I
sent them e-mail last week after reviewing their on-line catalog (hoping to find
the mounting hole specs for the rubber grommet mount). Failing to receive
an answer to my e-mail, I called the company. To make a long story short,
the employee I spoke with didn't have a clue as to the hole size I needed.
I find it funny that they publish the dimensions of the LED assembly itself, but
no guidance for installing it. Oh well, I used the trial and error method
on a piece of cardboard and got a working pattern to try on the TJ.
Here is a picture of the lights and grommets. The small 2"
light was obtained for use as a side marker. At first, I decided not to install it
as it did not quite give me the flush mounting style I wanted on the side
of the corner guard. However, I eventually did install them. The 4" light on the right is shown with the mounting
grommet next to it. The other light has the grommet on the light assembly.
A few measurements were made and a circle was drawn on some cardboard. It looked as though a 4.5" hole was going to work. The grommet seemed to fit this hole nicely and the LED light fit tightly in the grommet. I trimmed the cardboard down to a manageable size to make a template.
If you have an '03 or newer TJ, you should know that an evap canister (part of the pollution control equipment) is located in the passenger rear corner of the body. It is located behind the tail light and will make for a tight fit depending on what kind of light assembly you decide to install. Tim, a Jeeper who used some of the info from this site while doing his LED conversion, sent me a link to his install where he re-located the evap canister. Tim thought it might help out some other folks should they decide to do it and I agree. Don't ask me anything about it as I don't have one on my '98 TJ.
I noticed that the above link from Tim no longer has the photos available for
it. <sigh> So it is when you rely on someone else's site. However, I
was fortunate to have just received some information from JacobH who recently
did a LED conversion on his '05 Rubicon. He came up with a different
method by which to accommodate the close fit in regards to the evap canister.
He sent his comments and some great photos and gave me permission to add them to
the site. So here is JacobH's solution
for making things fit with the evap canister.
I removed the stock tail light assembly. With a white marking pencil, I traced the circle onto the corner guard. (note: I have a set of 1st production run TBT guards which did not have the holes for the LEDs cut in them. The guards are now available with the LED cutouts.) I centered the template over the factory mounting area. If I had to do it all over again, I would locate the hole about a 1/4" further towards the tail gate edge of the corner guard. There is adequate room and by moving it slightly to the right (for this light), the rubber grommet would not be sitting right at the edge of the corner guard bend radius. It still seals OK, but I would have preferred it be over just a bit more to the right.
Armed with a fresh supply of metal cutting blades, I fired up my trusty old jig saw and got down to the job or removing a 4.5" piece of corner guard and the tub behind it. Make sure you are CLEAR OF ALL WIRING prior to cutting. I would really stink to slice your wiring harness in half as you make the hole. I took a bungee cord and hooked it around the cable to make sure it would not get in the way.
A blade or two later, I had the hole cut that was pretty much round (did I mention I have a problem staying within the lines?) Hey, the wiring survived too! I was on a roll now, for sure.
Note: If you your TJ is an '03 model or newer, be aware that your Evap Canister is located in the void here behind your stock tail light on the passenger side. Most folks have found that the normal LED assembly will not quite fit flush due to clearance problems with the canister. Here is a write-up on moving the canister a small amount to provide adequate clearance.
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