Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

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Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby moedawg140 » Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:50 am

Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY:

When I saw puddle (courtesy) lights on several threads on this site, I knew I wanted to have those on my car as well, so I could have a little more light when unlocking/opening the door at night. The coolness factor is definitely up there in my opinion, and when done right, looks stock. You won’t be able to see the actual strip lights unless you bend all of the way down and look underneath.

You’ll need:

-LED strip lights of your choice: I ordered 2 of the 5,000K 48-inch 72 LED strip light set from vleds.com
http://www.v-leds.com/Strip-Lights-LED/ ... 46996.html

Image

If the strip lights are out of stock, you can purchase another color/length, or keep checking back to see if they have the ones you want in stock.

-Car Ramp
Image

-Power Drill with different widths drill bits

-A thin metal apparatus (like a straight hangar) or use fish tape.
Image

-Electrical tape

-Thin hard object like a spatula

-3M Strip Caulk (or equivalent)
Image

-Snips/sharp scissors

-Zip ties

-Rubbing alcohol
Image

-Speaker wire - ~1ft (You’ll need long enough to make it from the end of the strip light wires to the footwell light wires)

-Wire stripper – something like this one:
Image

-Soldering gun or iron with flux – something like this one:
Image


Use car ramp and make a front tire go up it.

Take off the kick plate carefully, using a thin hard object like a spatula (pops off) - shown here:
Image

Take tabs off underneath the kickplate (you only need the front exposed) so the carpet is pulled back and the frame is exposed.

Use the size drill bit that can be used to get the thin metal apparatus that you will use to “thread” the strip light wire through the bottom and top holes you will drill.

Drill as straight as possible a hole from the top to the bottom of the car frame as shown here:
Image Image

Have a long enough drill bit to drill the top and bottom of the car frame at the same time so it is infinitely easier to fish the strip light wire through.

Important side note: Make sure to take care and not have the drill bit get loose and go inside of the top hole or you will have to use some thin metal object with strip caulk at the end of it to get the drill bit out (that is what I had to use when a bit got loose and fell in the top hole, causing the bit to get stuck in the car frame). Not fun at all.

Cut off the strip lights contact (the rectangular piece shown below)
Image
so the wire is now showing. You will need the piece off so you can soldier the wire leads to the footwell light wire leads. It should look like this:
Image

Wrap some electrical tape around the strip light wire end and a thin metal apparatus.

Fish/thread the two taped pieces through the bottom of the car to the top of the drilled holes. Pull it through and then take off the tape from the thin metal apparatus.

Use of a friend is nice, so you can fish the taped pieces through the bottom of the car and your friend can look on the top for when the pieces are at the hole so your friend can pull it up.

Use enough 3M Strip Caulk to fill in the holes you drilled as shown here:
Image Image

Use rubbing alcohol to clean the underbody of the car so the tape backing of the strip lights will bond better. Shown here:
Image

Take off tape backing of strip lights and carefully place the lights from the front to the back of the car. I have it so it is a 3ft strip for the front door, and 1ft for the back door, hence was the reason why I purchased a 4ft strip. Shown here:
Image Image Image Image Image Image

Once that’s done, go inside the car and take off footwell light cover (pops right off). Unplug footwell light plug, shown here:
Image

As you see, you also need to take off part of rubber shielding to footwell light wire to expose the wires inside. Use some snips/sharp scissors as shown here:
Image

Important side note: Make sure that you know the footwell lights are activated when testing the wires/lights to solder (the interior lights turn off ~10 minutes of the doors being open). Just close all car doors and open to reactivate the footwell light operation if you notice that the interior lights are off.

Strip end of speaker wires with wire stripper:
Image

Strip the end of the strip light wires with wire stripper the same way.

Solder the bare strip light wires to the stripped ends of the speaker wires. Put electrical tape over the solder. Shown here:
Image Image Image Image

Strip the other end of the speaker wire housing and part of the footwell light housing so the wires are bare as shown here:
Image

Before soldering the other end of the speaker wires after exposing them, wrap them around the footwell light bare wires with your fingers first and see if the strip light turns on (note the red arrows – you’ll be connecting so the wires meet). If they don’t turn on, change the wires to the other configuration and see if they light up. Once they light up, they will look like this:
Image Image

Solder the connection and put electrical tape over it.

Zip tie up the wires so they aren’t seen once you put on the kick plate as shown here:
Image

Put the footwell light plug back on footwell light cover, put cover back on.

Put tabs under kick plate back on, and put kick plate back on.

Roll your car down the car ramp and roll up the other side so you can install the strip lights on the other side.

At night they look like this:
Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Marvel at your creation and receive oohs and ahhs from the peanut gallery when unlocking or opening your doors at night.


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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby TDot » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:20 am

Great write up. Im stillon the fence with doing this. I think if I do this though I'm going to attach a switch to turn off this attention grabber in less than desireable areas that I may pullup in.

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby GenericM35 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:43 am

TDot wrote:Great write up. Im stillon the fence with doing this. I think if I do this though I'm going to attach a switch to turn off this attention grabber in less than desireable areas that I may pullup in.
In Toronto? Really? If you lived here in Chicago, I would see the need...but Toronto? That place is incredibly safe.

Edit: I see you're in NY. Your username (TDot) confused me :crazy:

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby TXT » Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:25 pm

If I were to do this, I would get some lights that aren't as bright. I believe the MCD scale is used to determine brightness?

Are your puddle lights that bright? Or does your camera make them brighter than they are. I would get something way more subtle.

In my previous car (99 TL), I put lights on the outer door handles and tapped it into my dome light. Same way some Audi's have. Every time I unlocked the car with Key FOB, they would turn on. Unfortunately, that can't be done in this car because of the design of the handles.

Nice write up.

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby moedawg140 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:16 am

TDot wrote:Great write up. Im stillon the fence with doing this. I think if I do this though I'm going to attach a switch to turn off this attention grabber in less than desireable areas that I may pullup in.
Thanks! You can install a switch if you want, but in my opinion, the lights don't scream for attention, it just brings a smile to the faces of most people who do see it.
TXT wrote:If I were to do this, I would get some lights that aren't as bright. I believe the MCD scale is used to determine brightness?

Are your puddle lights that bright? Or does your camera make them brighter than they are. I would get something way more subtle.

In my previous car (99 TL), I put lights on the outer door handles and tapped it into my dome light. Same way some Audi's have. Every time I unlocked the car with Key FOB, they would turn on. Unfortunately, that can't be done in this car because of the design of the handles.

Nice write up.
The puddle lights are bright, but the color matches every other light component I have, so it doesn't look out of place. The camera does a good job of accentuating the light output. I will tell you that I was afraid about the potential brightness as well, but bit the bullet and did the install. No one has told me the lights were too bright, and my friend (who is more on the conservative side) actually told me I should put more puddle (courtesy) lights - on the front and back of the car!

I love how the M37/M56's car's door handles have LED lights that illuminate when you walk up to the car (no unlocking of car needed), but didn't want to go through the trouble of trying to fabricate an install like that on my 2006 M. And thanks for the compliment.

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby GQM45s » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:28 pm

I was considering adding door handle courtesy lights, I wonder how hard it would be to do something like that, or if possible to even try to swap door handles... would be a nice try or attempt

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby GQM45s » Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:39 pm

oh BTW, how are these in not so great weather? ie ( rain, snow, desert storm... haha) i was just wondering about that as I live in Oklahoma and well we are never too sure about our weather

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby cruzad3r » Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:51 pm

too fast toooo furious for me... but great write up nevertheless. i agreed, deffy need a switch for less desireable location.


how long is the installation?

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby Ilya » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:29 pm

Adding this to the FAQ.

I may do something similar to this as well, eventually, but only have it activated with the indoor lights (as a courtesy light of sorts).

So, like, approaching car in the dark...hit unlock and these bad boys come on.

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby moedawg140 » Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:56 am

GQM45s wrote:I was considering adding door handle courtesy lights, I wonder how hard it would be to do something like that, or if possible to even try to swap door handles... would be a nice try or attempt
It would be pretty tough, considering the M37/M56 handles light up as your are walking up to the car, and the M35/M45 keyless system doesn't have that option (to light up handles or anything else upon walking near the car). You could definitely make the fabricated/swapped door handles light up if you manually unlock the car, but in my opinion that defeats the purpose of it being able to light up automatically.
GQM45s wrote:oh BTW, how are these in not so great weather? ie ( rain, snow, desert storm... haha) i was just wondering about that as I live in Oklahoma and well we are never too sure about our weather
I'm not too sure, because I live in So Cal, and it hasn't rained and there hasn't been any adverse weather over here since installing the lights. Having a clean underbody where installing the lights, coupled with the 3M adhesive backing should aide well in keeping the lights in check. The strip lights are very light (weight) as well, so it will be winning the endless wrestling match with gravity.
cruzad3r wrote:too fast toooo furious for me... but great write up nevertheless. i agreed, deffy need a switch for less desireable location.


how long is the installation?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - I welcome your opinion. :) Thanks for the compliment. Installation should take, if using 2 people, around 2 hours. If you are doing it by yourself, add a little more time. It took around 15 minutes just to get the dropped drill bit out of the car frame.
IlyaKol wrote:Adding this to the FAQ.

I may do something similar to this as well, eventually, but only have it activated with the indoor lights (as a courtesy light of sorts).

So, like, approaching car in the dark...hit unlock and these bad boys come on.
This is exactly how it works. Since I am having the lights connected to the footwell lights, it works as such: Whenever the door is unlocked with the unlock button on the key FOB or door handle button, the puddle (courtesy) lights come on. When you turn your car off, the puddle (courtesy) lights will turn on - they will turn off after several seconds if no car door has been opened. Regardless if the DOOR/OFF lights toggle switch is on DOOR or OFF and you open the door, the puddle (courtesy) lights come on.

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby Ilya » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:42 am

Do your lights fade in and out like the overhead lights? That's my plan eventually if I go through with this. Would be a nice touch.

As for the lights, for those wondering, you can also google waterproof strips of LEDs like this (not sure if VLeds are waterproof as I just skimmed this thread).

I ran a small 6" section of such LEDs in my license plate on my old 99 Maxima. Looked great and never went out because they were encased in protective see through plastic or what not.

Image

Image

Sorry to hijack lol. Just giving slightly other options for those looking to do this.

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby moedawg140 » Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:07 am

The lights do fade in and out, but the fade in is around half a second, and the fade out is around 2 seconds, then turns completely off. It is definitely a nice touch when you see it in person.

These particular vleds.com strip lights are water resistant and OK for exterior use. All of the internal components are sealed to keep moisture out.

No worries on hijacking, I like to see any suggestions that I may not have thought of (or haven't had the need to use).

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby Ilya » Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:59 am

In that case, good work sir.

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby moedawg140 » Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:43 pm

Thanks Ilya, I appreciate it.

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby CPJ LB » Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:46 pm

....good write up...

....I'm planning to do this to my M -- when I had my E Class, this was a cool mod to do (BRABUS tuning made their cars with puddle lights that were spaced apart and turned on and off when locking/unlocking the car. you can also wire it so the lights fade when shutting off....wired to the dome lights....

here's a pix I found of another forum mbr

Image

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby moedawg140 » Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:09 am

Thank you CPJ. That definitely looks like a snazzy Mercedes mod to do. Several months ago, I saw a GL class Mercedes SUV with the spaced puddle light setup.

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby Finiamh » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:42 am

Hello

Did you wire the back(1ft) and front door(4ft) wires together?

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby cruzad3r » Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:51 pm

so after 5 years, i have to say i'm growing on this mod. maybe because I see it more often now. Kudos to the innovation and genius that done this mod. :dblthumb:

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby moedawg140 » Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:42 pm

Finiamh wrote:Hello

Did you wire the back(1ft) and front door(4ft) wires together?
Footwell wiring - please read and follow the review for directions.

cruzad3r wrote:so after 5 years, i have to say i'm growing on this mod. maybe because I see it more often now. Kudos to the innovation and genius that done this mod. :dblthumb:
It's been a while (years I believe) since I've posted on this forum) - I definitely remember your username, hope all is well! The puddle lights are still doing well. There was one instance where I had a wire un-solder, so I had my friend help me solder it back up and all is great!

On another note, my M35 hit 200,000 miles last week, and even though my car works correctly, I have lifter issues. It will basically cost the same to fix it compared to if I just replace the motor. If anyone has any other suggestions where I won't have to pay an uber load to fix the issue, please let me know (I've tried Slick 40-type treatments, different oil brands and viscosities, etcetera).

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby cruzad3r » Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:55 pm

you're masking the issue instead of fixing it. i just swapped my engine, bill came out around 3.5k. the up side is 60K miles engine with another one as a spare along with new cats and misc. parts.

if you're thinking of dumping it, then ride till it dies. if you're thinking of keeping it then invest. for me, i'm going to have another 3 years with the car so that's 1.2k per year which is less than paying for a newer car.

as for the mod, have you tried daisy chain the VLEDs together? also interested in hearing if you have any other issues with the mod.

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby moedawg140 » Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:49 pm

cruzad3r wrote:you're masking the issue instead of fixing it. i just swapped my engine, bill came out around 3.5k. the up side is 60K miles engine with another one as a spare along with new cats and misc. parts.

if you're thinking of dumping it, then ride till it dies. if you're thinking of keeping it then invest. for me, i'm going to have another 3 years with the car so that's 1.2k per year which is less than paying for a newer car.

as for the mod, have you tried daisy chain the VLEDs together? also interested in hearing if you have any other issues with the mod.
I wasn't even masking it to tell you the truth. It made the clicking noise no matter what I did to attempt to alleviate the issue.

I swapped a motor already several years ago that had the same issue, and I am aware it is also an issue with 350 Z's that have the same engine.

I plan to ride the car until the wheels fall off (the new Pirelli P ZERO tires are my best overall tires, even compared to the Michelin Pilot Super Sport that I owned for several years). I will get another motor when the time comes (when the car isn't running at all, pretty much).


Regarding the modification...daisy chain? For what specific purpose?

No other issues as well with the mod - the puddle lights always garner compliments, even to this day! :woot:

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby cruzad3r » Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:44 am

i asked because i want to know if it's going to be an issue (power-wise) if i linked several strips together to run the underbody.

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Re: Underbody Side Puddle (courtesy) Light Installation DIY

Postby moedawg140 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:55 am

cruzad3r wrote:i asked because i want to know if it's going to be an issue (power-wise) if i linked several strips together to run the underbody.
I only used one strip of LEDs for each side as noted in the review. My thinking is as long as the total power requirements of the LEDs are less than a regular stock bulb, there shouldn't be any issues. If you want to daisy chain, as a precaution, you may need to purchase another fuse or two from the dealer in case the stock one blows. If you choose to daisy chain, let us know how the entire process goes (with pictures would be awesome as well).

Thanks in advance!


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