Introduction

LED lighting appears to be all the rage these days. There are plenty of different products out there but not all are suited for older cars like the StarQuests in certain applications. The main issue is that LEDs are too directional and therefore do not cast any light back into reflectors. Some will work OK but may need to have load equilising resistors installed for them to work properly. If used as turn indicators, an electronic flasher might have to be used instead of the tradition thermal type. This page will serve to compare which types of LEDs will work for specific applications and will be updated as more lights are evaluated for use on my Starion.


Materials

I went out and bought several styles of LEDs to evaluate for running and turn indicators.

  • 1156 amber- Pilot brand
  • 194 Wedge amber- Pilot brand
  • 194 Superbright amber- 3A Racing
  • 194 Quad LED amber- APC

UPDATED

  • 194 27 SMT amber- VLED
  • 194 27 SMT amber- VLED
  • 1156
  • 1156 60 SMT amber- VLED

 


Evaluation

The following lights were evaluated for the running lights and side markers. Unless otherwise stated, they are being evaluated against normal incandescent bulbs

 

 

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This style of LED is supposed to be used as an "indicator" light and has a conical feature in the lens to help disperse the light. The indicator LEDs proved to be too dim for use in running or maker lights. I have not evaluated for use in the instrument cluster at this time.

 

 

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These are supposed to be "Superbright" and they are, if you look at them head on. I placed these in both the sidemarkers and front running lights. They put a small spot light in the middle but did not reflect much of the light back. The spot was rather annoying and the rest of the lens was dim. Not a very good LED for use as running or sidemarkers.

 

 

Now these little suckers have some kick to them. They have 4 LEDs- 2 on either side of the PCB. I had these in the front running lights already and added a set to the sidemarkers. These were still not as bright in the fixtures as a normal bulb but still put out a good amout of light. I liked the way the looked enough to go ahead and keep them in the sidemarkers and front running lights. Here is a pic of how they compare with the single "Superbright" LED in the front running lights.

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Next I tried the 1156 amber LEDs for the front turn indicators. These claimed to have a wider light dispersion. They looked OK in the front. I did test them in the rear but they put too much of a spot on the lends and did not light the lens sufficiently for my taste. I ended placing the regular bulb back in. Here is a pic of a normal bulb versus the LED. The normal still puts out more light but the LED did light up the lens sufficiently for my taste so I left it in.

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I did try red 1157 LEDs in the rear but like the Pilot brand 1156 amber, they put too much of a spot on the lens. They look OK but I am still wanting to have more light in the rest of the lens. On a side note, just replacing the front running and side markers, and the front turn indicators did take a good load off the system. I had already installed an electronic flasher so I could use the quicker signal-to-pass feature. When the turn indicator is on, the volt meter does not dip as much as before.

 

I ordered the 20 LED 1156 bulbs from VLEDs in amber as well as the 5 LED refractor 194 in red and the 6 LED 194 in green. I Installed the 20 LED LED 1156 bulbs the rear amber turn indicators for my JDM taillight.

 

They do a decent job but still does not compare to a standard incadescent bulb. Our lights are not designed to take full advantage of LED lighting. However, I would recommend these for the front turn signals. The only issue I have with these is the diameter. In order to get these to fit inside our lights, they have to go in a slight angle and even then there is a risk of damaging them squeezing them in. as they are a really tight fit. I did not order any red ones for the taillights as I did not see any real gain. I have already replace all the other bulbs with LED and have signifcantly reduced the current draw on the system. The volt meter barely moves now when the turn indicators are on. Ensure that when going to LED light to use balancing load resistor or upgrade to an electronic flasher for both turn and hazards.

The 5 LED Refractor 194 red LEDs I installed in the dash for instrument lighting and the green 6 LED 194s for the OEM turn indicators.

UPDATE:

I recently ordered some 60 SMT 1156 ambers for front and rear turn indicators. Now these absolutely rock. There are very bright and they are also smaller in diameter and fit easily into our lights. If you can spring for them as they are their most expensive, I would highly recommend them.

 

I also order VLED's 20 SMT 194 in both amber and white. I placed the amber in the sidemarkers and the white were placed in the running lights between the turn indicators and fog lamps. The fit easilyin the running lights and they barely fit in the side markers due to the length. When inserted, they will be right against the lens and will be a tight fit to get them locked in. The diameter is fine.

 

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