LED Traffic lights, car lights etc

Our fair city has been updating with LED Traffic, stop and go lights. Unfortunately snow in the wrong direction occludes them completely. The old bulbs produced enough heat to keep the lens clear.

So many cars have LED turn signals and running lights, how easy and expensive are they to replace when needed?

Why would it be needed? The LED lamps have a design life of 40 years.


Yep. The main reason you’d ever need to replace an LED car light is because you got in a wreck and broke it.

The plastic lenses might need to be replaced at some point due to scratching them while scraping ice/frost off of them too much

I am not so confident in the LED bulbs, have looked at replacing strips in LED monitors, had a few led bulbs go out in the house, I am not convinced the leds will last 40 years.

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In theory they should be great. Because they use less electricity the vehicle can save weight by using thinner wires, smaller alternators and smaller batteries. Because they are designed to last for the life of the vehicle, LED bulbs never have to be replaced and fixtures should be easier to design, manufacture and more stylish.

I have been very disappointed by their actual performance on our trailers and boats. First: boat navigation lights are supposed to be red and green but an LED replacement looks pink and blue. They cost more, sometimes 3 to 5 times as much as a regular fixture and too many supposedly “waterproof” LED fixtures are failing when mounted in areas where they get wet where they are used to illuminate passageways and walkways, and for boat trailer rear lights. I don’t think LEDs are lasting as long as the manufacturers claim because they don’t do well in damp locations and under vibration. What’s worse? Most LED fixtures for vehicles contain permanently mounted LEDs. WHEN they fail the whole fixture is replaced instead of sliding in a cheap new bulb. Fixtures are designed with no thought for removal and replacement must removed, wires cut and spliced and reassembled by techs who get paid $20.00+ an hour. I try to avoid using LEDs unless the vehicle’s wiring and electrical system won’t support the additional current. I’ve had to explain to a small boat trailer owner why a replacing a “burned out” trailer brake light “bulb” will cost $120, including labor. Before I remove and replace a dead $50 LED fixture on a trailer I ask if they would prefer an old style one that costs $15 with a 2 extra bulbs thrown in. They always go for the old style fixture and bulbs.

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It’s the driver circuits that typically fail, not the LED itself.
Cheap LED bulbs often drive the LEDs hard to reduce the number of chips.
With many household bulbs the driver is borderline overheated when operated base-up.

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It depends on whether the fix is to just replace the bulb with a new one, or if the entire fixture needs to be replaced. I replaced the Corolla dome-light that came w/a non-led bulb w/an LED version, less than $25 for the bulb even at full retail price. On the other hand I found a rear taillight fixture from a wrecked car a while ago during a neighborhood walk-about, laying along side the road (the fixture, not me!! … lol), and that one was configured w/ a bevy of LED’s soldered to a flexible printed circuit board. That’s not going to be cheap to replace.

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Yeah. I learned early on not to get anything made by Feit.

Had great luck with bulbs that have Cree internals, though.

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The bulbs sold at Costco over the past 5 or more years have been made by Cree, and I have gotten very good service from them.


They’ve got a triple-panel one right now that screws into a regular light bulb socket. 2 pack. I got 'em and put them in the garage. I don’t even have to turn the shop lights on anymore unless I just want a ridiculous amount of light.

To do that in the old incandescent days would have required running those old 600 watt halogen bar bulbs that burned out if you looked at them funny. Now I’m doing it with less than 80 watts.


LED taillights don’t thread in like a household bulb. Most are serviced as a lamp assembly.

The Lexus RX330 has replaceable circuit boards for the brake lights, $115 each.

The circuit board below has 6 failed diodes.


For failed diodes in a Lexus that price is not bad. But this is exactly what I am talking about. After a certain number of diodes are out, you fail inspection, depending on the inspector’s mood. And instead of a buck or two for a new bulb, you are shelling out $115 for parts, plus installation. Many folks keep their cars 10+ years now, and they are not happy with the cost to get a tail light passed the NYS inspector.

And trailer owners are facing this nut: finding a replacement submersible tail light with a diode pattern that matches the one that didn’t fail. Inspectors are failing trailers when the diode patterns don’t match. It makes some sense, you confuse whoever is following you if the trailer’s right turn signal looks like the brake signal on the left (or the reverse). As I said, most boat trailer owners, when faced with failing tail light “submersible” LEDs, ditch the LEDs. All I have to do is give them the price of new leds vs new conventional units.

LEDs have their place. But I am sure it is not in vehicles subject to moisture, vibration, heat and cold. Not yet.

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Wow, that seems overboard, As long as they both work should be fine in my book.

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Most won’t fail inspection as long it is clear what the signal is. But the diode patterns can very, and the number of diodes can vary a lot. I’ve seen sets with only 4 diodes per light, and some with 6, 8, or 10. And when you pair up a 8 or 10 diode tail light against one with only 4, the 4 diode light is nowhere near as bright. So it looks like it SHOULD fail. And does. Which brings another nightmare: You think you’ve finally found a good supplier of reasonably priced LEDs lights, with 6 or 8 diodes, only to find your next delivery to be half of what you ordered and the rest lower quality lights with 4 diodes that probably don’t meet USDOT standards. LEDs trailer lights are all Chinese made, and that means quality control is not job one. This was an issue before Covid, but Covid ain’t helping things.

Just replace both sides of trailer lights. Then no mismatch.
Generics are pretty cheap.
The unregulated ones are more reliable if you add a resistor to reduce current 30-50%.
Barely noticeable drop in brightness.

It has one of its two series strings failed.
It could be one open diode, or whatever regulating element is in that string.
You could send it to BigClive to do a failure analysis.

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

I wish they would last that long!
Buddy of mine just replaced the non-serviceable brake light assembly on a newer, out of warranty, Chevy SUV for about $500. 40 years is a cool selling pitch, and while they do last a lot longer than incandescent bulbs, there are quite a few that last no where near that long, and can be QUITE pricey to replace.


That’s true, but it’s also much less likely you’ll ever need to replace one. I had my last car for 12 years. I never replaced a single exterior light bulb in it. The headlights were HID, and all the other lights were LED. Along about year 10, I was actually starting to wonder if the thing would ever burn out a bulb, and when it finally did, it was a center console bulb that was an old-tech filament style. I never replaced it because you’d have to take the dash apart to get at it. I sure wished that one was an LED too!

I’m surprised they didn’t put an LED there due to difficulty in replacing the bulb