Weve seen LED lights added to automobiles in a number of ways that werent so strange. But, LEDs are about to enter the world of oddity, replacing nearly every illuminating part of your car. Where will they go next? And what function will they serve? Lets explore the growing world of automotive LEDs.
LED lights first made automotive appearances in small doses many years ago, replacing alarm lights and stereo displays. Since then, LEDs have grown to replace entire tail light assemblies, running lights, and many other automotive lighting applications. Some of the new LED implementations look great. Theyre much sharper than large and ugly red reflectors. Plus, they draw much lower than standard bulbs and last significantly longer. Other implementations, though, are flat-out tacky.
Some automotive LED uses that make gearheads cringe include the fresh selection of LED trinkets at the local auto parts store. This includes LED rearview mirror backings, LED exhaust tips, LED mood lighting, and LED side view mirror illumination rings. In fact, they even sell random LED light strips for car owners to place anywhere they choose (these frequently become LED ground effects and trailer running lights). The king of LED tack is the newly popular strip of lights tacked beneath the tailgate of a truck. Yuck.
One of the latest LED automotive trends that isnt so offensive is replacing the stock third brake light with an updated LED model. This swap is growing in popularity because its an easy switch (just turn a couple of screws and plug in a couple of wires and youre done). Also, most factory third brake lights look like theyre straight out of the 70s. Massive red reflectors, bulky shapes and big cargo lights look great when replaced by the look of a clear LED 3rd Brake Light. Officially, this LED light replacement gets the thumbs-up here.
In the future, speculation has LED light technology replacing automotive headlights altogether. Automakers have keyed on the dropping price of this technology, the growing illumination power, the long lifespan, and the reduced load they place on the battery. Full LED lighting could be the way of the future for electric vehicles as well, as every ounce of power matters when youre running on batteries only.
Accepting LEDs as a fact of automotive life is a must. But, how theyre used doesnt always have to be tolerated. Because the dropping price of LED technology is creating a festering brood of bright bric-a-brac, gearheads need to watch out for growing trends that need to be snuffed out. Before we get the rolling equivalent of Fremont St. in Las Vegas, auto enthusiasts need to unofficially enforce an LED code of conduct. Together we may be able to prevent an infestation of tackiness.