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LED Mood Lighting

Warning: If you are not competent or do not feel comfortable doing any of these modifications or procedures, then please do not do so. I will not be held responsible for any damages caused by a result of your actions. Now on to the fun stuff!

After driving a '99 Audi A4 and a '00 BMW 540i with interior LEDs lighting up the console area, I decided they would be an excellent addition to any e36 interior. I chose to mount the LEDs in the mirror and use the switch power supply to the sunroom switch.

Materials:
2 Clear LEDs with Red Illumination

Specs:
40 degree dispersion angle (Insures they aren't just dots on the console)
800 mcds (How bright they are)
1.7 V
20 mA

2 200 ohm resistor

Specs:
1/4 watt

16 gauge wire
Shrink wrap tube
2 LED holders Like this -->

All supplies are available from Radio Shack and/or
http://www.action-electronics.com/leds.htm

Tools:
Small Screwdriver
Wire Cutters
Solder
Soldering Iron
Hot Glue Gun
Drill
Drill Bits
Round File
Small Awe or Exacto Knife

Procedure:
Note: Be sure to check you work with a battery periodically during the entire process to avoid having to redo the project!

NOTE: TAKE YOUR TIME!

1.) Remove the mirror from the car by turning it on its base mounted to the windshield. It should take about a quarter turn.

2.) After removing the mirror from the car, remove the glass from the mirror. The glass is mounted in a plastic frame that surrounds it.
To remove the frame, insert the screw driver in the crack that runs around the mirror and gently pry them apart.

Here is the mirror with the glass and frame removed.

3.) Mark the locations where you want to LEDs and drill holes large enough to accommodate the LED holders (mine were 7/32")

4.) Use the round file to smooth out the edges of the holes you just drilled.

5.) Slip the LED holders into the holes you drilled. You'll want to use just this part . It might require a little extra filing to get it to fit just right. You want it to fit into the hole with enough room for the LED to fit in tightly.

6.) You're going to need to get the wires for the LEDs out of the mirror some how, so drill two holes the size of your wire (7/64" or 1/8" would work for 16 gauge wires). I put the holes right where the mirror casing starts to turn at the top of the mirror.

7.) Smooth out the holes and check that your wires fit through.

8.) Now we're going to wire up the LEDs. I needed at least (edit) 2 200 ohms of resistance in series, so I connected two 100 ohm 1/4 watt resistors in series (end to end). Willy (aka Stylin) has suggested that I need more resistance, so I added 2 more 100 ohm resistors. So you need to have 4 100 ohm 1/4 watt resistors connected in series. You could use 2 200 ohm 1/4 watt resistors or 1 400 ohm 1/4 watt resistor, I just had the 100 ohm resistors already. You'll have to run two wires off the resistors, one for each LED. Then connect those to the LED. Make sure that you test the LEDs out with a battery or power supply to make sure that they are wire correctly and will illuminate.

Take your time with this, it's the most important part.

So, the order is going to go as follows:
Power from distribution block - resistors - split wire - one wire to each LED - one wire from each LED - rejoin wires - power to sunroof switch

Things to keep in mind
LEDs only work one way, the have a + and - terminal (they're polar). On mine the longer lead from the LED was + and the shorter was -.

I soldered all connects and used a little hot glue to keep all the wires in place. I suppose you could use butt connectors if you like, but I wouldn't trust them.

Check your work. Hook everything up to the battery and test it out. If it's good, then run the power lines for the sunroof switch, you'll need about 20" for each wire to get back to the sunroof switch.

Take your time!

I think this picture really helps a lot.

Note that the wires to and from the power from the sunroof are not in place at this time.

9.) Once you get all the wires run and connections made, run the wires for the power in and power out lines out the back of the mirror. Slip a tube of heat shrink tubing over the wires and take the mirror into the car. Make sure you have enough wire to reach the sunroof switch.

10.) In the car, remove the plate that fits over the lighting assembly with a small screwdriver. There are small indentations on the sides of the cover.

11.) Remove sunroof motor cover by prying it out from the light assembly section back. It is best to start here and move towards the back of the car.

12.) Remove the switch from the cover by pushing it through the cover and disconnect the plug also.

13.) Remove the light assembly. Once again, use the small screwdriver to pry the portion closest to the rear of the car down. It should pop out.

Here's what we've got now.

14.) We're going to need some sort of hole in the headliner area where it meets the windshield. I used a small awe to put a hole at the top from the hole where the light assembly was. These aught to help a bit....

Looking up at the headliner from the dashboard.

Looking into where the light assembly fits in.

15.) Feed the wires from the mirror through here and reconnect the mirror to the windshield.

16.) Locate the wire that powers the illumination for the sunroof switch, on my car it was gray and red.

Cut it, the end from the power distribution block goes to the power in, the other end going to the switch goes from the LEDs.

17.) I chose to solder the wires together and heat shrink the joints, but you could use butt connectors if you so wish. Make sure you've got the heat shrink tube on the wires between the headliner and the mirror before making the connections.

18.) Once you've got everything all connected up, hook the sunroof switch up again. Try the lights. If they do not illuminate, you've got a problem somewhere. Make sure the circuit works before it has been hooked to the cars power and work backwards from there.
If all goes well, then heat up the heat shrink tube with a lighter, heat gun, or hairdryer.

19.) Replace the lighting assembly, then the sunroof motor cover and switch, then the light assembly.

20.) Head out and enjoy the new mood lighting!

This last picture is terrible, it hardly does the lights justice. I'll see if I can't get a better shot.

If you've got problems or questions, let me know. If something's unclear here let me know and I'll see what I can do to clear things up for you!

Final:
Note the addition of more resistance in the LED circuit.

Please note also that on 1994 and 1995 models the red and gray power wire for the sunroof lighting does not exist. According to Leo over on Bimmerforums.com (screen name cleoent) if you tap the red and run the LED circuit in parallel, not series, the sunroof will not work, but the LEDs will. Apparently, when run in series the resistors use too much of the power and then the sunroof will not function properly.

Update [04.23.02]: Some people have noticed that when the LEDs are on, you can see them from the outside of the car. I'm currently working on a fix for the problem. Keep checking back for more information.

Willy (aka Stylin) over on Bimmerforums.com and Samson over on Bimmermods.com decided to move them up to the sunroof access panel. I personally do not like this because then they are visible to me while driving the car.

Questions? Comments? >> Email