My 1993 Loyale Sedan did not come with a trunk light. Lack of a trunk light wasn't a big deal at the time I bought it new in 1994. I never really thought about it until recently when I was in the auto section of Walmart and came across a section with LED light add-on accessories. I got to thinking that an LED trunk light might be a nice thing to have. Even better was the idea of a couple of LED light strips that would light up the trunk better than any factory bulb.
This mod story shows how I hooked up LED lights to my 1993 Subaru Loyale sedan trunk. No warranties, promises or guarantees of any kind are offered nor are they implied. The information provided below is for light hearted reading purposes only and not meant to imply anything at all. If you mess up your car, your boat, your house or your marriage it is on you and you alone. You should always seek out the services of a qualified professional to perform any maintenance or alteration of your vehicle in proper consultation with the appropriate manufacturer's representative.
I picked up the Pilot Automotive 12" white flexible LED Strips at my local Walmart. They are available elswhere too. They come in other colors as well, like blue for those that prefer the inside of the trunk to resemble a bordello. If you look for this product on the Walmart web site, it doesn't show the bubble pack that it comes in at the store. This is important because not only do you get the flexible LED light strips, you also get it prewired with a battery source that includes ten 1.5v tablet batteries in a nice pack prewired to a switch so that while on the store shelf, consumers can hit the "try me" button and see the strips light up. The strips are flexible with LED lights embedded and can be cut to be smaller. Yes, you can cut them smaller and it won't ruin them. The important point is that you only cut at the designated spots as mentioned in the instructions - those little bits of paper you typically crumple up and throw out when you rip open a new toy. Since they are wired in parallel out of the box, cutting out some won't affect the others.
The strips come with double sided sticky tape and they are flexible so they can be mounted just about anywhere you wish. And for 18 bucks, if it is a flop I haven't lost a whole lot. I still got a good switch and 10 of those little tablet batteries in a nice case.
Here is a good picture showing what comes in the pack (note, there are two strips but this only shows one strip):
I also took a pic of the bubble pack as it comes from the Walmart store. See the attached image.
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There are two options on how to power the 12v LED strips, either use the included battery pack as is, or wire it up to the car's 12v system. There are advantages and drawbacks to each approach. Initially I connected them up using the included battery pack (option one below) but then I changed it to wire it to the 12v Loyale electrical system (option two). Choosing which option to use is a matter of budget and experience level working with electrical systems in cars. If you are a cheap bastard like me, or a man of lesser means, then the batteries included option is probably the best way to go. But then again if your lazy rump roast side (again me) doesn't like changing little tablet batteries, you can opt to wire it to the car electrical system. Both options are explained below.
Option One: Using the included battery pack
If you decide to use everything as is out of the bubble pack, you basically only need to unpeel the sticky tape on the strips, mount the included switch so the light comes on when the trunk opens. Throw in a few dabs of hot glue here and there and voila. The advantage with this approach is the simplicity. There is no wiring to the Loyale needed so no chance of frying your Loyale's electrical system (important point if you are a novice at electrical circuitry), it won't run down your car battery and if you are stranded with a dead car battery, at least you have a lighting source by opening your trunk. Since these are LED lights and a trunk light is typically used only momentarily, it is a feasible solution to just use everything as it comes out of the package. The disadvantages are that the batteries will need replacing eventually and the included switch is a normally open type which means you press down to make contact to complete the circuit. This can complicate how to mount the switch. However if you are a novice and the thought of touching the car wiring bothers you, this is probably your safest, easiest and cheapest choice.
Option Two: Using the car's 12v Electrical System
By wiring these strips into the Loyale electrical system, the need to change those ten little tablet batteries periodically is avoided. Since they are LED lights, they use way less power than the typical single incandescent bulb typically found in trunk lights. The strips tend to light the trunk brighter too. The disadvantage of this option is that it is necessary to bring the 12v power back to the trunk which means running wires and connecting into the wiring system. You can potentially cause a short in your car's electrical system that could be very expensive if you are a complete novice at electrical systems and wiring. You will also need to buy a few more parts: wires, electrical tape, connectors, fuses (please for the love of god, don't connect without a fuse) and other bits which increases the final project cost. If you prefer a more stock than schlock look, understand car electrical systems and have the tools and patience for the job then this is the option for you.
Mounting the Strips
This is the easiest part of all. Just peel off the protective paper and stick them wherever you want light. I prefer a recessed illumination where the harsh glare of the bulbs doesn't blind my old fart eyballs. My choices were up under the fender wells or under the back lip of the trunk by the seat back. I chose the latter because the distance between each fender well meant possibly splicing wires and I didn't want any electrical potentially spark prone devices right over the top of the fuel filler neck that intrudes into the passenger side of the trunk. Yeah, I know that is a sealed LED and the chances of explosion are very small. Still, I don't want to be THAT guy that wins the Darwin award along with the topic of late night comedian jokes.
Mounting The Switch
Even though the Loyale Sedan did not come with a trunk light, it did come with a built-in bracket to mount a switch (at least mine did). Under the right hinge (passenger side: see attached images) is a bracket that can hold a switch so that when the trunk is closed, the switch is pressed. When the trunk is open, the switch is released. Using this bracket means that the included switch cannot be used. What is needed is a switch that when pressed turns off the lights and that is the exact opposite of the switch that came with the LED strips. In electrical speak, the included switch is a normally open momentary contact switch whereas what is needed to use this bracket is a normally closed momentary contact switch. It is similar to the switch used in a refrigerator to turn on the light when the door is opened.
I broke my cheap bastard rule and decided to buy a normally closed momentary contact switch at Radio Shack so I could take advantage of this bracket. It is a mini SPST (single pole single throw) momentary pushbutton switch catalog number 275-1548 and set me back about four bucks for a four pack. I cut a square plastic adapter plate with a hole since these tiny switches won't fit the Loyale bracket exactly. The attached images show the switch and the final mounting.
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switch and plate.JPG 10.53K 16 downloads
switch mounted.JPG 28.97K 14 downloads
Do you have to buy a new switch? No you don't. You could mount the switch that came with the LED strips. You would need to mount it in such a way that when the trunk opened, it pressed the switch. When the trunk reaches the top of its travel and is open all the way, the hinges have stops. The included switch could be mounted there so that when the trunk is open all the way, the switch is pressed and the light comes on. This means however that the light doesn't come on until the trunk is open all the way. I prefer the light to come on the second the trunk is popped so I chose to use the existing bracket.
Powering the LED Strips
If you use the batteries included option, all you need to decide is if you will mount the little battery pack using hot glue, double sided tape, zip tie or bubble gum. You are done.
If you are using the hardwired option, your fun is just beginning. If you want to do it right, you will need to run wires under the trim pieces along either door jamb of the car. Since the chassis is ground, you will only need a single 12v wire from a constant on +12v source. This is easier if the rear seats are out. Luckily our friends at Autozone have provided a handy diagram of how to remove the back seats in the Loyale as shown below.
While the seats are out, you may find enough change to offset the cost of the LED strips or even a not too old french fry that escaped the bag from the last trip to McDonalds. I don't advise you actually eat those old french fries you find. Though your doggy might be happy to have them.
Edited by MR_Loyale, 24 March 2013 - 11:32 PM.