LED Backup.lights

I know there are LED bulbs to replace many types of incandescent automotive bulbs, including backup lamps. I wanted to buy LED backup lamps for my 2000 Buick Century but the fine print on the bulb package stated not legal for road use. I can see how the way LED lamps are so fiercely bright may be annoying to the car behind, but LED headlights, which certainly seem to me to be road use legal, are very distracting to oncoming drivers. Are LED backup lights road use illegal because they are more like indicator lights to the driver behind than street illuminating lights for the driver, so are not mainly focused down onto road like headlights are, so LED backup lights therefore would cause more glare to the car behind, than headlamps cause to oncoming drivers?

Not all of them are. The factory-installed LED lights are road-legal. But a lot of people put an LED replacement bulb into a housing designed for a halogen bulb, and it’s pretty rare that the LED lines up exactly like the halogen did. That means the reflector is no longer optimized for the bulb, and undesirable things happen, including blinding other drivers.

Basically, the replacement reverse lights are not road-legal because the company that makes them has not spent the effort (and money) to get them certified by the DOT.

At any rate, I think I’ve replaced one reverse light in the last 30 years, and that was on an old car. They don’t go out very often at all. I see absolutely no reason to switch to LEDs.

1 Like

That would be a question for your local police. I personally would think it would be nice. Our local ambulances have such bright led brake lights above the roofline of most cars it makes it hard to see a car between me and the ambulance when stopped at a light. There are some options for a backup camera that might interest you. The added plus for a backup camera is you can see things in your path that are otherwise hidden from view

Thanks for replies. I wanted to switch to LED backup lamps because they are brighter, not at all because I wanted them to last longer. But I know the best thing would be to install a backup camera system.

1 Like

I wouldn’t count on LED backup lights being brighter. I put some in my overhead console and they are very much dimmer than the incandescents the van came with. And the light is not distributed well.

I had the same disappointment with a 12volt hi-intensity desk lamp

so that brings up a few questions . . .

do you want them brighter, so that others will see that you’re backing up . . . ?

or do you want them brighter, so that they’ll somehow illuminate what’s behind you to a larger degree than your incandescent bulbs do . . . ?

I wanted brighter backup lights so i could see better, not expecting to see the broken glass in the road behind me when i back out of my driveway, but the guy walking behind my car as im backing up. But if i get a backup camera, i have a chance
to see the broken glass if its a big enough pile.

I have put LED versions of bulb in several older vehicles for reverse lights, with great success. Just plug and play, and the increase in visibility is absolutely noticeable with the ones I purchased.
Especially when backing into dark enclosed places- or in one instance- when backing a trailer that does not have back up lights.