Before moving to the topic, let’s discuss your safety. DRLs are those little lights that turn on automatically whenever your car’s engine is running, and though they are nice to have sometimes, there is no legal reason to use them in the US. However, if you plan to visit other states, for instance, Canada by car, daytime running lights are a must for you.
Standard DRLs are pretty dim and provide little illumination when it’s starting to get dark. They have been installed by manufacturers to ensure your car is visible to other drivers and pedestrians in poor lighting. It might seem like a benefit, however, there is also a major safety drawback. Some people rely on DRL lights even at night, because they still provide some light, but only ahead of you. So the car looks completely shrouded in darkness from the rear.
So keep that in mind if you want to upgrade your DRLs to LED bulbs to get a better view at dusk. Always check what lights are on when it’s dark and drive safely!
What is the point of LED daytime running headlights?
If making your car more noticeable on the road is not something you are after, there are other reasons to upgrade DRLs. So if you are looking for an easy way to add a little extra style to your car, consider going for LEDs. They can provide you with some extra flair, and they come in different colors like white, amber, and warm yellow.
Most importantly, though, LEDs offer better illumination than regular bulbs. They are brighter and at the same time consume less power, so they won’t put as much strain on your car’s electrical system. And if you are worried about LED daytime running headlights being too bright, don’t be – you can install bulbs with adjustable brightness.
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How to install LED daytime running lights
Now it’s finally time to learn how to upgrade your daytime running lights to LEDs. The process is pretty straightforward and can be done in your garage. You will need a few tools, but nothing too fancy (a pair of latex gloves, a wrench or ratchet, and a socket). Most importantly, make sure you have the right bulbs for your car. It is important to pick the exact shape and size meant for your make and model, otherwise, you risk burning them too fast or just end up with DRLs that don’t light up at all.
Before you start, you should know that car light bulbs are not meant to be touched with bare hands. Oil and sweat on your fingers stick to the surface and accumulate heat more than the rest of the bulb. This causes damage as you could have already guessed. So wear your gloves when you take the bulb out of its box.
The first step is to open your hood and locate the daytime running light bulb. Usually, it will be located in the headlight housing. Remove the retaining clip or twist the socket to release it after you’ve got it. After that, you can simply pull the old bulb out and insert a new one in its place. Make sure it’s snug and then screw the retaining clip back on. Close the hood and turn on your car to test if the new bulb is working. If everything is fine, you are done!
Known DRL issues associated with conversion to LEDs
Whenever you plan a conversion, the first thing you must research is compatibility. Not every vehicle is created equal, and some cars are manufactured to work well with LEDs while the others are incompatible. In the second case, such conversion can cause all sorts of problems, but the most common one is flickering daytime running lights.
The main reason why your LED daytime running lights begin to flicker after being installed is the difference in power consumption between them and the OEM bulbs or aftermarket bulbs of a different type. Halogen or HID bulbs use more power than LEDs, and that’s why your car’s electrical system might start to freak out at the change. To your electronics, this sudden energy consumption drop would look like some kind of a malfunction. So aside from annoying flickering, you will most likely get a warning on a dashboard about faulty daytime running headlines.
How to stop daytime running lights from flickering
If your daytime running lights are flickering after being converted to LEDs, there are a few things you can try to fix the problem. The simplest option is to purchase a LED conversion kit with a built-in resistor. This component is meant to mimic the power consumption of a different bulb, so it tricks your car into thinking that nothing has changed while you can still enjoy all the benefits of the LEDs.
In some cases, a simple resistor might not be enough, and you will need something called an LED CANbus decoder. It is a more sophisticated version of a resistor as it not only changes the power consumption but also alters the signal. This way, your daytime running lights will stay on without any flickering, and you won’t get any warning messages on the dashboard.
So even if your car was not meant to have LEDs, there is still a way around this limitation.
Customize your daytime running headlights with LED strips
Another popular way to upgrade your daytime running lights is to install LED strips. This solution is not as straightforward as just switching the bulbs, but it’s still fairly simple. Plus, it offers a lot of customization options as you can pick the shape, size, and color of the LED light strip. The only downside is that you need to do some modifications to your car’s headlights as the strips are usually not a perfect fit and were not meant to be there.
But if you don’t mind doing a bit more work, LED strip kits can give your daytime running lights a whole new futuristic look. Plus, they are relatively cheap, so it’s a great way to upgrade your car on a budget.