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Old 03-08-2020, 10:35 AM   #1
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Default Converting Your D21 to LED Bulbs

After a few months of research and a fair amount of work, I will share my experience in converting most of my 1997 truck from energy-hogging incandescent bulbs over to their LED counterparts.

Three Reasons Why You Should Consider Conversion to LED:

1) They are brighter than incandescent bulbs.

2) Installed correctly, you probably won't have to change a single one of them for years, since they last much longer than incandescents.

3) They use MUCH less electricity, and will lower the electrical load on your battery and alternator.

Three Things You Should Watch Out For When Selecting LED Bulbs:

1) Don't buy any that look like regular light bulbs, and have exposed wires down near the bottom. They are cheap and don't work long. Buy ones with solid circuit boards and chips instead.

2) For your EXTERIOR lights, such as side markers, fog lights, brake and taillights, turn signals, and backup lights...match the LED color to the color of the PLASTIC IT SHINES THROUGH. For most vehicles, this will be yellow LED for the turn signals, red for brake, tail, and anti-collision lights, and white for your backup lights. If if you have fog lights and the lens is clear, buy WHITE LEDS.

3) On LED bulbs that are screw-in types, like your tail and turn signals, just twist them in normally. On the smaller ones, like your instrument panel lights that just PUSH into place in a socket, the LEDS will only work going in one way. If the light doesn't come on, just flip the LED over and it will work for you. So if you replace all of your instrument panel lights, don't just stick them in there without checking them all and then put your panel back on. Some might not work and you will have to remove the panel and turn the non-working ones around the other way. In other words, check them all before remounting your instrument panel.

A General List of Your Bulbs for the D21:

(When ordering bulbs, just search out according to bulb number and put LED in the search box, along with the bulb number. For example: '74 bulb LED'. (The 74 fits your smaller lights in your instrument panel, glove box light, and your heater control light by the way.)

Instrument panel bulbs, the larger ones: 194 bulb.

Instrument panel bulbs, the smaller ones: 74 bulb.

Side marker lights: 194 bulb. (front markers, white OR amber LED okay here. RECOMMENDED: WHITE. For the rear side markers use RED only.)

Fog lights: This can vary, but probably an H-3 bulb.

Turn signals: 1156 bulb. (amber LED only)

Combination brake and taillight: 1157 bulb. (red LED only)

License plate lights: 194 bulb in white.

Backup lights: 1156 bulb. (white LED only)

Anti-collision: (3rd brake light, rear of cab or canopy) 194 bulb. (red LED only)

Dome and Map Lights: Both are the same. The LED is DE-3175 at Superbrightled, in Cool White. Turns your interior into daytime.

Flasher: You will need this in LED version if you do your turn signals. Far better than using resistors. This is a bit tricky because different LED companies give them different numbers. Best to search them out using year and model of your particular truck.

HEADLIGHTS: The reviews and the claims, the sheer number of LED headlight bulbs available out there are too many to list. On this one, it is a personal choice. However, if you have sealed beam headlights, you will have to switch those out for housings that accept plug-in-bulbs. I do recommend you do this first, and then make any decision on whether to switch from halogens to LED on your headlights after doing your own research. EDIT: I now have a recommendation for LED headlights. I went with the Torchbeam brand at Amazon. Just search them out there. I put them into a 97 King Cab and a 2009 Xterra with great results. Pictures below.





Admin Midnight Tech Says: 86.5-88 or so run 1157 amber in the front signals. (Thank you, Midnight)

Yes, you CAN use bulb grease on the LED bulbs, but be careful doing that on any bulbs other the twist-in ones that go into your turn signals and brake/tail lights. Probably not good to get grease on the smaller ones. For the smaller push in bulbs, it's safer to just put a tiny bit into the slot where the bulb goes, rather than smearing it on the LED itself.

My experience with the changeover has been excellent. I figure I cut the load to the battery and alternator at least 250 watts, (enough to run a refrigerator) and this leaves more juice for the ignition system. Plus it is doubtful I will ever be pulled over by a cop for a taillight out again.

Recommended LED bulb sources:

Superbrightled.com (Very high quality, US company based in Missouri. On the larger bulbs there are none better.)

Sirius LED at Amazon. (good quality on the smaller bulbs (74 and 194 bulbs) and they're cheaper)

Below is a video I did the other day on some of these lighting conversions. I hope it isn't TOO sloppy. I was kind of tired.

https://youtu.be/00qmgBAkdzU
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Last edited by XoXSciFiGuy; 09-29-2021 at 05:41 AM.
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Old 03-08-2020, 11:07 AM   #2
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Man, that guy sure has a face for radio. It's all love Robert.
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Old 03-08-2020, 11:22 AM   #3
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There is so much junk out there on LED conversions, I just had to share what I found out about them. Hope it saves people some trouble. The post itself has better information than the video. I had just finished wiring up the fog/running lights and was pretty tired. Threw in some plugs for IN. This site has helped me more times than I can count.
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Old 03-08-2020, 11:38 AM   #4
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Good job X, your posts are always informative and part of what makes IN what it is. Looking at your engine compartment makes me wonder if you go at it with a toothbrush and scrubbing bubbles? Or is it so clean because you drive so much in the rain? When I went for an alignment Friday the tech ran the steering past the stops until the PS fluid leaked all over. I reset the stops (just installed drop spindles, so the set screws needed adjusting) now that they are set, fluid doesn't leak.
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Old 03-08-2020, 05:56 PM   #5
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Excellent writup sir!

I have an addendum for you, X. 86.5-88 or so run 1157 amber in the front signals.
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Old 03-09-2020, 12:26 AM   #6
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Swapping to LEDs seems to be all the rage right now with the trucks. I think it's just a waste of money, personally. The actual LED bulbs might last longer, but the little circuit boards that power them go out quite frequently.

Call me old school, but I'm sticking with the incandescent bulbs. They are already in there and they work. I'm not concerned about the load on my alternator.
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Old 03-09-2020, 04:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jp2code View Post
Swapping to LEDs seems to be all the rage right now with the trucks. I think it's just a waste of money, personally. The actual LED bulbs might last longer, but the little circuit boards that power them go out quite frequently.

Call me old school, but I'm sticking with the incandescent bulbs. They are already in there and they work. I'm not concerned about the load on my alternator.
Well, like buying aftermarket parts, it depends on the quality of the LED bulbs you buy. The cheap ones look like white light bulbs and have bare wires near the bottom. They don't work very long. On the other hand, the LED's you get from Superbrightled are exchange-eligible for THREE YEARS from date of purchase. That means if they quit on you in the first three years, they will send you brand new bulbs. That's a pretty confident guarantee.

Where they sometimes have problems is with the headlight bulbs. That's why I won't go there right now. The fans can be noisy. Or if they have no fans, they can sometimes overheat after a while. Most have problems actually putting the light where you expect it to be. On those, the jury is still out. You hear a lot of claims, see a lot of designs, and reviews all over the map. A year or two might improve the designs, but right now I don't trust them. Some designs are *partially* working around these problems, but I think more research needs to be done.
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Old 03-09-2020, 02:56 PM   #8
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I agree with jp2code. Seems to be a waste. I just changed all my original cluster bulbs with regular bulbs, and none were burnt out. So much brighter now because I didn't put the blue rubber sleeves back on the new bulbs. It is almost too bright for my liking. I will just have to get used to it.
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Old 03-09-2020, 03:57 PM   #9
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I'm a big fan of LEDs in indicators and brake lamps. I also have almost 300w of forward white light so I gotta save power elsewhere. I rather like the crisp on/off in the blinkers and I'm a fan of brighter. Brighter is usually better in indicator and warning lamps.



LEDs do NOT belong in headlights unless the housing was explicitly designed for them. Same goes for HID. Only use the light source the headlight was designed for.



I do feel this sticky might fit better in the exterior and lighting section where we have stickys for things like what bulb goes where.
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Old 03-09-2020, 10:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XoXSciFiGuy View Post
After a few months of research and a fair amount of work, I will share my experience in converting most of my 1997 truck from energy-hogging incandescent bulbs over to their LED counterparts.

Three Reasons Why You Should Consider Conversion to LED:

1) They are brighter than incandescent bulbs.

2) Installed correctly, you probably won't have to change a single one of them for years, since they last much longer than incandescents.

3) They use MUCH less electricity, and will lower the electrical load on your battery and alternator.

Three Things You Should Watch Out For When Selecting LED Bulbs:

1) Don't buy any that look like regular light bulbs, and have exposed wires down near the bottom. They are cheap and don't work long. Buy ones with solid circuit boards and chips instead.

2) For your EXTERIOR lights, such as side markers, fog lights, brake and taillights, turn signals, and backup lights...match the LED color to the color of the PLASTIC IT SHINES THROUGH. For most vehicles, this will be yellow LED for the turn signals, red for brake, tail, and anti-collision lights, and white for your backup lights. If if you have fog lights and the lens is white, buy WHITE LEDS. With incandescents, clear bulbs are often used in these applications. With LED you match the LED to the color of the lens.

3) On LED bulbs that are screw-in types, like your tail and turn signals, just twist them in normally. On the smaller ones, like your instrument panel lights that just PUSH into place in a socket, the LEDS will only work going in one way. If the light doesn't come on, just flip the LED over and it will work for you. So if you replace all of your instrument panel lights, don't just stick them in there without checking them all and then put your panel back on. Some might not work and you will have to remove the panel and turn the non-working ones around the other way. In other words, check them all before remounting your instrument panel.

A General List of Your Bulbs for the D21:

(When ordering bulbs, just search out according to bulb number and put LED in the search box, along with the bulb number. For example: '74 bulb LED'. (The 74 fits your smaller lights in your instrument panel, glove box light, and your heater control light by the way.)

Instrument panel bulbs, the larger ones: 194 bulb.

Instrument panel bulbs, the smaller ones: 74 bulb.

Side marker lights: 194 bulb. (front markers, white OR amber LED okay here. RECOMMENDED: WHITE. For the rear side markers use RED only.)

Fog lights: This can vary, but probably an H-3 bulb.

Turn signals: 1156 bulb. (amber LED only)

Combination brake and taillight: 1157 bulb. (red LED only)

License plate lights: 194 bulb in white.

Backup lights: 1156 bulb. (white LED only)

Anti-collision: (3rd brake light, rear of cab or canopy) 194 bulb. (red LED only)

Dome and Map Lights: Both are the same. The LED is DE-3175 at Superbrightled, in Cool White. Turns your interior into daytime.

Flasher: You will need this in LED version if you do your turn signals. Far better than using resistors. This is a bit tricky because different LED companies give them different numbers. Best to search them out using year and model of your particular truck.

HEADLIGHTS: NO RECOMMENDATIONS. The reviews and the claims, the sheer number of LED headlight bulbs available out there are too many to list. On this one, it is a personal choice. However, if you have sealed beam headlights, you will have to switch those out for housings that accept plug-in-bulbs. I do recommend you do this first, and then make any decision on whether to switch from halogens to LED on your headlights after doing your own research.

Yes, you CAN use bulb grease on the LED bulbs, but be careful doing that on any bulbs other the twist-in ones that go into your turn signals and brake/tail lights. Probably not good to get grease on the smaller ones. For the smaller push in bulbs, it's safer to just put a tiny bit into the slot where the bulb goes, rather than smearing it on the LED itself.

My experience with the changeover has been excellent. I figure I cut the load to the battery and alternator at least 250 watts, (enough to run a refrigerator) and this leaves more juice for the ignition system. Plus it is doubtful I will ever be pulled over by a cop for a taillight out again.

Recommended LED bulb sources:

Superbrightled.com (Very high quality, US company based in Missouri. On the larger bulbs there are none better.)

Sirius LED at Amazon. (good quality on the smaller bulbs (74 and 194 bulbs) and they're cheaper)

Below is a video I did the other day on some of these lighting conversions. I hope it isn't TOO sloppy. I was kind of tired.

https://youtu.be/00qmgBAkdzU
will these bulb sizes work for my 93 SE king cab
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