Fully Smoked LED Tail Lights for R170 (SLK 230 or 320) Installation - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 07-31-2012
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Post Fully Smoked LED Tail Lights for R170 (SLK 230 or 320) Installation

Ok, folks, I finally found and got my Fully Smoke LED Tail Lights! I like them a lot! Can't wait to see them on my car.
Here are the first pics:

Front:



Front with resistor:


Resistor:


Resistor with the connector. Please note that the Red side is a 3M tape.


Resistor and back of the connector:


The back side of the LEDs:


Back side with bulbs out:


Bulb sockets:


A picture of the all the connections:


Bulb Bayonet Connectors. I took a picture to show that it complies with the OEM standard bayonet connector of the turn signal lamp in your Mercedes (which really irritates me since I want to install LEDs). I highlighted the pattern so you can clearly see it! When one of my bulbs went out I wanted to buy a new one but couldn't find it except dealer or internet. These laid off bayonet pins really drive me nuts! =)
I might play with it a little bit and may be use an original MB socket. Probably drill holes and solder wires or smth else =) But it's just me because I want LEDs all around!



These LEDs are wayyyy more bright than the stock bulbs! Me and my wife hooked them last night just to test. The connections fit perfectly! The "Fog light" function also works for Left (Driver's) side only as designed in OEM. When this function is turned on the LEDs just light up much much brighter! There's a plenty of wire so there should be no problem installing these!
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#2 Old 07-31-2012
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Refering to the bayonet pins on the bulbs , when I've had that problem I've filed down one pin about 80%-90% ( trial an error depending on socket , go bit by bit till it enters and fits tightly ) they then fit in snuggly and work perfectly !

P.s. Very nice looking lights !
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#3 Old 07-31-2012
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Looks very nice. Thanks for the detailed pictures. The "5-o'clock" bajonet pins are the PY21W bulbs. You can replace the socket with a Mercedes one although those bulbs are easy to get online.

If you want to replace these sockets with LEDs you have to be careful to get error-free LEDs or else you'll have to add additional resistors.

It sounds like these lights do not suffer from the ailments of the ones that the same manufacturer makes for the R171 (bulb-out errors on the dash, very faint tail light), which are due to the differences between the Europe-spec and the USA-spec versions of the car (and the lights really made for the European market).

The electronics on this light is very simple compared to the R171 light, which has a "PWM ST"-Splitter control box, and multiple resistor blocks.

Looking forward to installation pix! Oh and can you unscrew some of the LED "bulbs" as well? Do they just look like a fake bulb with wires coming out?
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#4 Old 07-31-2012
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Thumbs up

Finally I got that socket apart. Gently pull it with pliers and it comes off.


Quote:
Originally Posted by curro101 View Post
Referring to the bayonet pins on the bulbs , when I've had that problem I've filed down one pin about 80%-90%... they then fit in snuggly and work perfectly !
Do you have any picture? First, I was thinking drilling a hole and then just snap LED bulb in but then if it burns out I might have to take everything apart (not really convenient). I might file down as well. What kind of file did you use? I don't have these. May be my friend does. Is the metal hard to file? It seemed pretty soft when I pulled it since I bent it a little bit. :-D
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#5 Old 07-31-2012
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You file one pin on the bulbs , they are quite soft !
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#6 Old 07-31-2012
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Thanks for the compliment! Yes, as I mentioned before these "5-o'clock" bayonet pins drive me nuts! I have LEDs in the front. "White" when running lights are on and "Amber" for turn signal light function. I did have to use the load resistors to avoid "fast blinking". Worked fine. These are the load resistors I used:


I compared them to a size of my index finger so people can visualize what size these are. I, personally, don't like these. Reasons: toooo big and get FREAKING hot! May be you can suggest any others?! Mini sized ones?! I'm not into electric too much but hey, as one member said: "everything can be fixed with a little patience"! I did searched Internet but don't know which ones I need. :-(

Probably the R171 lights are different. Didn't see a pic. Can't compare. =(

And LOL! Durkatlon, you're absolutely right! They DO look like a fake bulb with wires coming out
You can see wires which are connected to the outside electronic board.
Here are some pics:

NOTE: They have a fake looking original bulb socket and it unplugs. Probably this will make the installation process easier!
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#7 Old 07-31-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curro101 View Post
You file one pin on the bulbs , they are quite soft !
Alright, will try later =) Thanks!
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#8 Old 07-31-2012
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Here's a couple of pics , I overdid it a bit with the filing on this one as it was the first ( still held in , but not quite as tight ! ) the others are on the car !



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#9 Old 07-31-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curro101 View Post
Here's a couple of pics , I overdid it a bit with the filing on this one as it was the first ( still held in , but not quite as tight ! ) the others are on the car !
Oh, now I see! You filed the pin on the bulb itself! Makes sense! I was about to file the whole socket =)) I want to fit regular S25 "Amber" or even "Red" LED bulbs in that 5-o'clock socket. Smth like this:


Wait, I just got an idea! What if I file one pin on the LED bulb I purchase and then apply some solder in the 5-o'clock position so it fits and sits tight?! I think that will work perfectly!
Great thanks for the idea!!!! You Rock man!!!!
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#10 Old 07-31-2012
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Cool, cool. Yeah, this all looks very familiar from my investigation of the R171 LED tail, including the black goop that holds the pins in place in the connector, and the funky way they wired up the LEDs into normal looking sockets.

By the way, you'll need big resistors and they need to get hot, because they have to soak up the current that would normally be used by the light bulb (which also gets hot!). If you didn't do this, the car would think that a bulb was out.

The bulbs that the LEDs are replacing, are generally P21W or PY21W, where the 21W means 21 Watts of power. That requires big honking resistors to dissipate. Anything smaller will turn into a charred, smoking, stinky (and non-working) mess.
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#11 Old 07-31-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Durkatlon View Post
By the way, you'll need big resistors and they need to get hot, because they have to soak up the current that would normally be used by the light bulb (which also gets hot!). If you didn't do this, the car would think that a bulb was out.
The bulbs that the LEDs are replacing, are generally P21W or PY21W, where the 21W means 21 Watts of power. That requires big honking resistors to dissipate. Anything smaller will turn into a charred, smoking, stinky (and non-working) mess.
So the resistors getting hot because of "soaking up" all the unnecessary current. I read somewhere that LEDs don't generate that much current and use less power. Indeed, 5W LED vs. 21W incandescent makes a huge difference in light output! Does it mean that the current is just lost? But still the LED bulb uses less power, right?!
Will look for the bulb with built-in resistors. Planning on getting the Red turn signal light bulbs to make it look all dark and red!
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#12 Old 07-31-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JaysonM View Post
So the resistors getting hot because of "soaking up" all the unnecessary current. I read somewhere that LEDs don't generate that much current and use less power. Indeed, 5W LED vs. 21W incandescent makes a huge difference in light output! Does it mean that the current is just lost? But still the LED bulb uses less power, right?!
Will look for the bulb with built-in resistors. Planning on getting the Red turn signal light bulbs to make it look all dark and red!
This all depends on how the car responds. The R171 has more sophisticated electronics compared to the R170 since it's a newer design. This can be a bit of a drawback in cases like this. If the rear SAM in the R171 measures too little current draw it will assume a bulb is out, and throw a bulb-out warning. So if you simply replace the incandescent bulb with an LED, the current draw will be too small. A parallel resistor is therefore needed to soak up the remaining required current to prevent the error message. In such a scenario you're not saving any power (I'm not sure that it would be that important to conserve power, but oh well ).

In a simpler system, it may just work. Most LEDs have a different kind of resistor built in which is there for other reasons. There can be a resistor in series with one of the LED's pins if it is a single LED, in order to dissipate unneeded voltage. This is a completely different scenario. There can also be resistors in the logic surrounding the LED that drives it for yet more reasons (for instance constant brightness or correct color). You can get quite fancy with these kinds of setups.

I have a long thread on the R171 which is still going to get a little bit longer tonight on all the work I did on that piece of kit. It's a pretty entertaining read if you got 30 minutes to burn .
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#13 Old 07-31-2012
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Ok, finally I managed to finish my small project! So here we go with the rest!
Back to back comparison of the tail lights: Front:

Back


Now the process of installation itself.
First, remove plastic covers from both sides which cover the access to the tail light bulbs. I didn't picture this process since I removed mine couple days ago. Might post later so people can have an idea if they never changed their bulbs and accessed this area.

Then, remove 3 screws holding the tail light.
A Big Note here! Loosen them with your wrench enough to unscrew it with your hand. Put the wrench in the trunk somewhere and continue unscrewing it with your hands and DO NOT let this nut fall down!!! It will be a big pain to get it from there! Believe me! I once dropped a light bulb socket with the bulb in it and couldn't get to this thing. Luckily my hands are skinny and I didn't have to remove the plastic coverings and reached it with my hand. Just trust me - Do not let this nut fall down! SLK is a small car but it seems as if it has a secret Bermuda hole in it ! Keep your hands dry from sweat and it will help you!

Unplug the harness and take the tail light out. Nothing is holding it anymore.





Unplug the harness from the LED Light so it gives you more flexibility to install it. Note: before removing the harness I used a sharpie and marked sockets where they belong in order not to get confused. I used T-top, MR-middle right, etc. But you can choose whatever you like


Then put the wiring through the correct holes so you don't crumble the wires and reconnect it.




Next plug the tail light all the way in. Make sure none of the wires are crumbled! And screw 3 nuts back in. Again - make sure not to drop it
Reconnect the main harness and connect the resistor.

Now, it's time to find the "sweet spot" for our resistor. Although I didn't do it for now (for testing purposes of the resistor: whether it gets hot or not, and also I don't like the idea that the fender gets hot from the sun...but we'll test it ) that's what one member suggested. The credits for this part go to manicdemise from benzworld.com - AUTO PARTS Resources and Information.. Here's his thread:
I found FULLY SMOKED LED tail lights. Group buy. - Page 21 - Benzworld.org - Mercedes-Benz Discussion Forum
I'll just quote his words:

Quote:
Originally Posted by manicdemise
"Although, the last delay was finding a spot for the load resistor; five minutes of blindly feeling around the inside of the rear fender and I finally found a real good spot for it. The best spot for this thing is where the corner of the tail light meets the rear fender and upper bumper. There is a sloped flat spot where the fender screws into the chassis. I stuck it directly on the inside rear fender wall and had the bottom of it resting of that shelf while the corner was snugged up against the screw."
Here's the picture of this "sweet spot" on the inside:
Hint: use a flashlight so you can better see it. Note here: Do not forget to clean the area from dust before mounting the resistor!


That's what I ended up doing: Just mounted it on the plastic on a double-sided tape and used some zip ties.
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#14 Old 07-31-2012
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Now the passenger side.
First, remove the plate designed to hold the CD Changer unit. This will give you some more space to work with! It is held by 3 bolts (marked white in picture).
P.S. I removed my CD Changer long time ago since I didn't need it (but I still have it, as well as a stock MB Radio)




The procedure of disassembling is similar to the driver's side (described in the previous post).
If you use flash light as I've described in the previous post you'll find the "sweet spot" for the resistor on the passenger's side too ;-)


Here's a picture of disassembled passenger's side:


Here's where I mounted my resistor on the passenger's side for right now. Do not forget to clean the area from dust before mounting the resistor!


That's it! I think I did it neat! The comparison pictures are coming up in the next post!
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#15 Old 07-31-2012
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Comparison and Final pictures time!
Sorry folks, it was a daytime so it didn't come out really good. The sun was at its high and way too bright! I'll take some later in the evening and at night! Believe me - they look REALLY GOOD!!!!
Also sorry for the dirty car... With all the head lights, tail lights, light bulbs, resistors, etc. installation didn't bother to wash my sweety. Will do later!
One side installed:






Now, both sides installed:


And with the running lights on You can see these are bright!!!!



Some pictures during night time:








is appreciated!
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Last edited by JaysonM; 08-23-2012 at 02:26 PM.
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#16 Old 07-31-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Durkatlon View Post
I have a long thread on the R171 which is still going to get a little bit longer tonight on all the work I did on that piece of kit. It's a pretty entertaining read if you got 30 minutes to burn .
Maybe "post-lifted" SLKs differ from "pre-lifted" ones?! A little more similar to R171's? Since mine is all about "burnt-out bulbs" hehe =)
Thank you for all you help and explanation Durkatlon! I definitely will read through your post.
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Nice post. Very clear pictures of the install. The problem with the risky screw removal and the Bermuda Triangle directly below has not been resolved in the 171 . Very nice lights. I'm glad they work so well.
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#18 Old 08-01-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Durkatlon View Post
Nice post. Very clear pictures of the install. The problem with the risky screw removal and the Bermuda Triangle directly below has not been resolved in the 171 . Very nice lights. I'm glad they work so well.
Durkatlon! LOL! At least someone understands me when I tell people - You won't believe it but there's a whole bunch of free space somewhere in the MB trunk !
Thanks for the compliments again!
And please accept my Thank you words to you for all the work You've done to your car! It was really interesting to read your thread! Too bad the connections on R171 are wayyyy to bulky... They could have done one big resistor as on R170 and that would have made things much easier!
But your connections... no words! Awesome job!!!! Glad I met some good people on this forum!
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#19 Old 08-01-2012
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Originally Posted by JaysonM View Post
Durkatlon! LOL! At least someone understands me when I tell people - You won't believe it but there's a whole bunch of free space somewhere in the MB trunk !
Thanks for the compliments again!
And please accept my Thank you words to you for all the work You've done to your car! It was really interesting to read your thread! Too bad the connections on R171 are wayyyy to bulky... They could have done one big resistor as on R170 and that would have made things much easier!
But your connections... no words! Awesome job!!!! Glad I met some good people on this forum!
Yeah, one big resistor won't work, for technical reasons. On the R171, on the stock lights at least, the running lights and the brake lights are the same physical lights at two different brightnesses. They use Pulse Width Modulation to make this happen. On the LED tails, these two functions are performed by 2 separate banks of LEDs. Therefore the aftermarket light needs circuitry to split the single signal into 2 separate signals. This actually requires digital logic to determine what kind of light function is used (a step counter), a state machine to transition between the various states of the light (both off, running only, brake only, brake+running), a Pulse Width regenerator. Additionally there are actually two separate resistors, for a total of 3 boxes with wiring everywhere coming off that light. It is indeed a bit of a mess when you look at it .
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#20 Old 09-04-2012
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Jayson, does your running lights stretch out out? Or were those your running lights and fog lights? If not does your rear fog light switch become useless? I went over to the bench grinder and grounded off a stud on a red 1157 light bulb i took off of a sabb with studs off centered, worked slick!
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