by Pat Goss
One of the most important safety aspects of an automobile is to be able to be seen by other drivers. And that means that all of your lights have to work properly. Especially the ones that flash. Or the brake lights. And you want them to be very bright and very visible. And that’s where a new type of light is coming into play. It’s called an LED, it’s a light emitting diode. A lot of new cars have them as standard equipment from the factory. But not all of them.
Now, if your car does not have LEDs, you can probably retrofit it, and get all of the advantages. The advantages, number one, much longer life. Five to ten thousand hours. Or probably the life of several vehicles. Now, disadvantage, they cost a little bit more money, but because you’re going to do them once, well that probably offsets the difference between incandescent and LEDs.
Another big thing with the LEDs is that they flash more quickly. They come on, and they’re off very quickly. Instantly, as a matter of fact. Now that can be a curse or a blessing, we’ll see why in a minute. But in addition to that, they don’t draw much power, and they don’t get real hot. So, if you want to retrofit a boat trailer, it means that they aren’t so prone to being so hot that when you back into the water, that they bust the bulb. And believe me they are available for just about every application that you could want, including trailers.
Now, let’s take a look here. You have two bulbs, virtually identical, the base is the same. This is an incandescent, this is an LED. Now, when this LED lights up, it’s going to be amber, like the incandescent. Now that business about flashing very quickly, which is a good safety feature. Well it may flash too quickly, and that may mean that if you have a car that has a lamp monitor, that tells you when a bulb is burned out, or when you put the LEDs in, that they flash too fast, you may have to put a ballast resistor in there. These go on the ground side of the bulb, there are two types of them: the ceramic, like I have here, for older cars. And an aluminum one, a metal one, for later cars. So it’s a safety feature that you can easily add to just about any car. Something I’d highly recommend. And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.