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Old 02-25-2020, 12:58 AM   #1
Zeebins
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1997 SL2
Default Trunk Reflector Light Bar

I've seen a few posts here and on Facebook of people wanting to turn the trunk reflector into a working light. Usually either for a vehicle width brake light or to just have additional lighting. I thought that having a light bar across the trunk under the reflector would look kinda cool so I wanted to see if I could make something work.

I used a red led light strip as well as a dimmer to get it as close to the brightness of the parking lights as possible. I think it came out pretty well and for the last few weeks I haven't had any problems with it. I did originally want it to come on at one brightness with the parking lights, and at full brightness with the brake lights, but I couldn't figure out how to make that work. I either wasn't wiring it right or it just can't be done with a 2 wire led strip so I currently have it wired to only come on with the parking lights.
I'll have a write up below if you want to know what I did to make it work.



List of Parts Used
Red LED Light Strip
White LED Strips
LED Dimmer
16 Gauge Connectors
Translucent Acrylic Sheet
16 Gauge Wiring
T-Tap connectors
Crimp connectors
Heat Shrink
Really Sticky Tape

I wanted to have an led strip run along the top of the trunk reflector, but I knew the current license plate lamps wouldn't work. They cover up to much of the reflector I'm trying to shine light through so I tried making some custom ones. I bought some translucent acrylic off Amazon and epoxied it into a little box with a small LED strip inside. I figured the best way to mount it back onto the car would be like how it was from the factory, so I epoxied the clips from the originals onto the new ones. Once it all dried for 24 hours it felt really solid. I'm not too worried about them falling apart.




With the new license plate lamps done, The light strip that will be going behind the trunk reflector can go in. The trunk reflector first has to come off the car and to get it off the car it is easiest to remove the whole trunk panel. It is held in by two big torx bolts on the center as well as 4 smaller torx screws in the each corner.
Pic of smaller torx missing

The whole panel then lifts up from the bottom a few inches, and slides up. Richpin has a good video on this if you need help.

If you look at the panel from the back, you'll see a bunch of tabs across the center holding the trunk reflector on. The tabs on the trunk reflector need to be carefully bent over these tabs for it to come off. I luckily didn't have anything break but this is over 20 year old plastic, and it was cold out, so I was pretty worried something would snap on me.



Now that the reflector is off the light strip can be stuck under it. I put down some 3M adhesive to mark where the strip would go, then put the strip over it. The light strip does come with adhesive on it, but I wanted to be safe with the better tape. The reflector just pops back over the tabs once the strip in on.



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1/2
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Old 02-25-2020, 12:59 AM   #2
Zeebins
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Default Re: Trunk Reflector Light Bar

2/2
----
With the reflector off you can really see why I needed the thinner license plate lamps. The OE ones cover up the whole reflector but my thinner ones leave enough room above for the new light strip.


Before getting the trunk panel back on I wanted to do most of the wiring I had to do. I bought some water proof connectors to replace the license plate bulb sockets and for light strip under the reflector. I could just wire everything directly, but this will make getting it off a lot easier in the future if needed. There is a factory grommet that the wires for the light strip can run through.



I fed the wires for the light strip next to the factory wire loom to the drivers side corner of the car . Behind the carpet trim there are some wires that go to the tail lamp. I'm not sure if they are supposed to be partially exposed like this, but mine where, making it easy to tap into. The brown wire is the parking lights, the blue wire is the brake lights, and the black wire is ground. You can tap wither the blue or brown wire depending on how you want the light strip to function. I added a dimmer so they wouldn't be any brighter than the parking lights since I wanted it to act as a light bar.


With that done the only thing left is testing and putting it all back together.






Thank you for coming to my Ted talk

Zach

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https://imgur.com/a/lFWvWF0
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Old 02-25-2020, 10:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Trunk Reflector Light Bar

That looks great!

Regarding the 2 levels of brightness that you would have liked; perhaps adding second LED strip connected to the brake light circuit. One strip on for parking lights and 2 strips on for braking. You wouldn't need to dim the brake light LED's.
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Old 02-25-2020, 12:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: Trunk Reflector Light Bar

Amazing work! I love seeing all the detail you put into this!
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Old 02-25-2020, 10:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: Trunk Reflector Light Bar

Very cool! This looks like something I would definitely do lol. Turned out amazing, great job!
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Old 02-27-2020, 11:59 AM   #6
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Default Re: Trunk Reflector Light Bar

Nice work!
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Old 03-13-2020, 11:55 PM   #7
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Default Re: Trunk Reflector Light Bar

Light bar 2.0 is now up and running! This time I used a different style light strip and added brake light functionality. I think it looks a lot nicer than the dot pattern it was before. Thanks to jpsuli for showing me that smooth looking light strips do actually exist. I probably would have used it the first time if I knew they had existed.







Light strip used,
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 03-14-2020, 12:19 AM   #8
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Default Re: Trunk Reflector Light Bar

Beautiful Safety Design! I'm impressed with your ingenuity!
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Old 03-21-2020, 06:25 PM   #9
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Default Re: Trunk Reflector Light Bar

That looks sweet! I always thought about illuminating the "Twin Cam" on the gen 1 trunk lids.
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Old 03-23-2020, 04:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: Trunk Reflector Light Bar

I like it! Great work!
...
1999 SL2 MT (287,130 km @ 10/2019)
2012 Ford Focus SEL HB MT
2011 Suburban LT

Past Saturns
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Old 04-08-2020, 05:18 PM   #11
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Default Re: Trunk Reflector Light Bar

That looks fantastic! Nice work.

I added that light strip to my Amazon list in case I get tempted to do stuff later
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Old 04-08-2020, 10:39 PM   #12
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Thumbs Up Re: Trunk Reflector Light Bar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeebins View Post
Light bar 2.0 is now up and running!
Bravo! Great job, thanks for sharing!! I always thought it would be neat to do something like this with the SL2.

Charlie
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