LED License Plate Lights

By Bill "BillaVista" Ansell
Photography: Bill Ansell
Copyright 2018 - Bill Ansell
(click any pic to enlarge)


This mod is the fourth in a series where I intend to convert all of my spider's lights to LEDs.

Brighter, cooler, longer-lasting, and consuming far less current...LEDs are clearly superior to regular incandescent bulbs. Frankly, in 2018 I'm surprised that manufacturers still use incandescent bulbs. Still, it is quite possible and fairly easy to convert them yourself.

The 124 Spider's license plate lights are fairly easy - here's how:

The license plate lights are located under the trunk lid, either side of the back-up camera and trunk-release button.

I found the procedure in the Owner's Manual for replacing the license plate bulbs a little confusing.

As you can see here, it clearly looks like they are suggesting the lenses are removed by "sliding" (their word) them to the right. That's not how it worked - for me, in any case.

First, my lenses had to be moved initially to the LEFT to be removed, and...

"Sliding" is a bit of a misnomer...mine had to be forcefully pryed...first to the left a little to disengage the tab, and then down/away and out...like this.

Using two fingers on the right side of the lens, I forcefully pulled to the left a little (they don't move very far, and they certainly don't "slide")...
...until I could get my fingertips behind the lens a bit and then...
...pry/pull the lens free.
Here they are both removed.
The bulb socket is a 1/4-turn locking type. Twist it counter-clockwise a quarter turn to disengage it from the lens cover.
Lens cover removed.

Stock bulb in socket.


At this point you could just go ahead and pull out the bulb and replace it - which was what I did at first. But I ran into a snag, which I shall explain in a moment.

It's a wedge-type socket assembly so the bulb simply pulls out.

Removing bulb from socket.

So that I could trouble-shoot my snag and shoot some pictures to illustrate the issue, I disconnected the bulb socket from the wiring harness.

To remove the socket, press down on the tab...


...and disengage the socket from the white wiring terminal.
This comparison of the new LED next to the stock socket and bulb assembly gives a hint as to what my snag was.
Here's the new LED installed in the socket.
Socket re-connected to the wiring harness.


The first replacement LED I tried was too long.

The end of it hits the inside of the lens cover before the socket seats in the lens.

Here you can see the end of the LED butting up against the inside of the lens cover.
I should have done this measuring before ordering LED's!
This LED is much too long!
The stock bulb is only about 24mm in length.
Whereas the one I initially ordered is 1.26 inches, or 32 mm long.

I had already ordered some other LEDs for some other projects.

I got these from AliExpress at a cost of $2.26 US for 10!!

The link is HERE.

Description is:

10 x T10 CANBUS 5SMD 5050 SMD Error Free Car Bulb W5W 194 LED Lamp



1. Voltage: 12V DC

2. Socket: T10

3. LED: 5050 SMD

4. Spec: CANBUS error free

5. Wattage: 1W

6. Lumen: 60LM

7. Color: White

8. Life Time: about 50,000 hours

Replacement: T10 194 W5W 147 152 158 159 161 168 184 192 193 259 280 285 447 464 555 558 585 655 656 657 1250 1251 1252


While still a little longer than the stock bulb, it looked like it might fit.


If I had to do it all over again, I would order something like this, as it is guaranteed to fit.



iJDM car styling T10 LED Xenon White 168 194 2825 W5W LED Replacement Bulbs For Car License Plate Lights,Parking Lights 12V


Anyhow, I went ahead and installed the other, shorter LED I had.
Extreme close-up!
The end of this one JUST fits...
...although it looks as if it is awfully close to the inside of the lens cover

...and maybe even just touching it.

Nevertheless, it does fit and the socket locks in place in the lens.

Next time I order from AliExpress, I'm going to get the correct LEDs as shown above.

In the meantime, I'm going to do a little testing to make sure there aren't any heat issues with these installed close to the plastic lens cover.


Finally, while this is not a truly accurate representation of the difference, as it was shot with the first LED that was much too long, the comparison here is nonetheless representative of the difference between LED and incandescent bulbs.

Stock bulb is on the left, obviously.


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