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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Dexter, MI
    LJ Year
    Year Purchased

    Daystar Lug-Nut-Lite 3rd Brake Light Install

    I put on the GR8TOPS Exogate (click for link) to hold my 305/75 (35") spare tire and one of the great things about it, with the stock Moab rim, is that it sucked the tire right up against the rear of the Jeep nice and tight.

    What that meant was that I couldn't use the stock 3rd brake light (which wouldn't have been tall enough anyway), so I wanted to come up with an alternate setup. I saw some small LED brake lights on a project Jeep somewhere and went out looking for them. What I found was the Daystar Lugnut Brake Light kit at Quadratec.

    This is what you get in the kit. I'm not going to do step by step on all of it, but this is what I did on my LJ to try and make it clean as possible.

    I had pulled the 3rd brake light when I did the Exogate install. In doing that, I went into the tailgate electrical connector and unplugged the plugs on the back of the pins so I could pull the light's harness out complete, there's just a simple rubber plug on the outside skin of my gate (I have an '05 BTW) that pops out and the harness pulls out.

    You pull the screw and then can pry the cover loose (it's got tabs that hold it onto a metal frame underneath, no pic of that, but it's pretty easy to do by feel once you're into it, I used a small flathead screwdriver as a pry tool).

    You can see the rubber plug on the wiring.

    I played with the LED lights in the spare to see how long their wiring harnesses were to do some rough measurements on the wiring lengths. This is where I hit my first small issue. Each LED light has it's own plug so you can put them through the holes in the spare, then they get connected to a Y connector behind the tire to connect to the tailgate electrical connector. The plugs on the LEDs were just too big to fit through the holes. Out came the trusty Dremel and here's the before and after. There doesn't look like a ton of difference, it's mainly the corners (looking at the end of the plug) that need to be taken off. The overall diameter basically fits, but it's an issue of "square plug/round hole".

    So with that done and after playing with wire lengths, rather than splice things together with crimp connectors, I decided I'd cut off the tailgate connector end of the stock light and cut/solder/heat shrink it onto the end of the kit's Y-connector harness. This let me reuse the rubber plug to seal up the outside of the tailgate and fit nicely inside the wire loom for a clean install while leaving plenty of harness length. Of course it's required to use the stock tailgate electrical connector plugs to attach to the tailgate connector unless you want to run a wire between the tub and gate.

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    Last edited by bigwalton; 09-06-2012 at 12:47 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Dexter, MI
    LJ Year
    Year Purchased

    Re: Daystar Lugnut Brake Light Install

    So I combined this with the kit's Y connector (pic is before cutting, they provide it so that you can use the eye to ground the lights with a screw into something structural, obviously not sufficient here!):

    This is a view of the way they provide the harness, they crimped the Y-splice (seemed fine) but I ended up cutting this harness up above the Y to get the length I wanted in the final harness, so I just cut/stripped/soldered/heat shrank the connections to the stock wire I cut off the 3rd brake light (no pic of the very boring result):

    Once this was done, everything was basically ready to go, and I ran the wire through the tailgate, ensured the rubber plug was seated, attached the stock connectors on the tailgate connector, reinstalled the gate connector cover and added a couple zip ties to hold the harness on the Exogate nicely.

    This is when I hit problem #2. When I went to finally seat the LEDs properly (I just set them loosely in place before to get the ballpark wiring length) and realized that the way that they designed these must be for plain jane steel rims with a very narrow "lip" on the hole. There was just no way that the supplied rubber surround was going to come close to working on the Moab rim with it's deep, recessed hole. Think 1" bolt in a 5/16" hole.

    This took some head scratching and I finally resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to break out the Dremel again on the LEDs themselves. Popping off the rubber surrounds wasn't enough. There's a bunch of red plastic potting around the actual LEDs themselves in the middle of the lights, the one worry was hitting the wires that ran in through the plastic to the potting.

    I have to find my pictures of this part, but the end result was two VERY whittled-down LED lights that would finally fit through the holes, but had no way to hold themselves into the holes once there. I played with a bunch of o-rings with no success and finally settled on a couple of pieces of Teflon packing for a faucet. I literally set the packing strips along the LEDs and jammed them in the holes. The packing compresses and provides a tight fit between the LEDs and rim. The LEDs have stayed put for a couple months, so I'm considering it a done deal. I stuck some extra of the packing in my toolbag that I always carry just in case one pops loose.

    While it wasn't as painless as I'd hoped for something simple like this, I really like the end result and have gotten great comments on them. They're incredibly bright.

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