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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Footwell lights - process and install

Finally, after a whole month of waiting, I have finished installing all of my lighting goodies. For those of you who were following, I bought four sets of lights for my 2010 Camaro from an AACStyle re-distributor called Whiplash Auto. If you are interested in custom lighting for your car, I highly recommend you checking out these websites.

The first set of lights were my headlights, the HOD 5500K halogen bulbs. Then I installed the red LED dome and trunk lights. Next I had the super white LED fog lights installed, eventhough I didn't have a full blog post on it, you can see pictures of it where my splitter was installed. Since the fog lights were most accessible when the bumper was off, I just ended up swapping them out then. Last but not least, I had to install these CCFL footwell light bars. Now, everything before the footwell lights were directly plug and play, which meant, literally, changing the light bulbs. The footwell lights took a bit more thinking and planning. The footwell light kit comes with a couple of things: Two CCFL light bars, two power inverters which contains a fuse each, a light switch, and some zip ties.

I usually save the video till the end of the post, but somethings you shouldn't save the best for last. Hope you enjoyed it. Now lets get into my process with these lights!

As I have written above, the kit comes with a lot of goodies. Basically they were trying to make the install as painless as possible. To be honest though, the process of getting this install done was harder than it looked. I had to search the net to see what some other people have done; I wanted to know what options there were for installing the footwell lights. AACStyle suggested that we tap into the fuse box and have the lights turn on via a light switch provided. I had felt that turning the lights on and off WHILE your inside the car defeated the purpose of having the footwell lights, unless you planned to use it for car shows. Then I came across a very good DIY tutorial posted by a member of the Camaro5 Forums, screen name, TonyNo. You can view his tutorial here. I would like to credit him for his help and smart modification.

As you have seen in the video, the lights were very well integrated. This is because I tapped into the dome light wire. Having the footwell lights connected to the dome light made the most sense, because when you open the door, your lights illuminate your way in. The problem with having a custom switch to turn it on and off, is that you will never have the car greet you as nicely. Also, since it is hooked up to the dome light, when you switch the lights on or off, the footwells would react the same way. As I have said, better integration overall.

Before I start writing the DIY tutorial, I want to tell you that my pictures are limited. My steps are the exact same steps as TonyNo's, except for the parts I will be explaining. If I have an image up and an explaination, this means I have diverged from his tutorial, and it is really up to you for who you want to follow. Also, I take no responsibility for any damage you may do to your car or your lights. Please know that this tutorial isn't for the faint of heart, and if you are uncomfortable doing your own circuitry work, please find a professional. So, lets get to it!
Stuff you will most definately need: Soldering gun/iron, solder, wire cutters, wire stipper, electrical tape, shrink wrap tubing, ring/spade connector, socket wrench with 10mm socket, zip ties, X-acto knife, and your lights. NOTE: TonyNo's tutorial does not require a soldering gun and solder. His method is using insulated wire connectors, so you just need a wire crimper instead.
If you are using my tutorial, this means soldering is necessary. A little back story, TonyNo used t-tap connectors for this part. I would have gone with his route because it makes your life a whole lot simpler. However, due to me not being able to find t-taps available for purchase I decided to go with a different method. If you are going with my method, what I want you to do is stick your head under the steering wheel. Right above the gas pedal you will see many harnesses with assorted colors. I want you to pull out the gray harness. There is a release tab on the top of the harness, pinch it, and pull straight out. When you do that, you will hear you car doors lock itself. Don't worry, you can unlock it. I have double checked, pulling this harness won't damage anything, and won't give you a Check Engine Light (CEL). The reason for pulling this harness out is so that we have more room later for our process.
We are going to be tapping power from the gray wire attached to the gray harness. I know it's hard to see in the picture, but I have stripped the wire insulation of the gray wire, leaving just the copper wire exposed. To do this, you will need some steady hands. Take your wire STIPPER, not cutter, and snip two cuts into the wire, about an inch apart. Now take your X-acto knife and slice down the center from one end of your cut to the other. Do not press the knife too hard, because your finger will be behind the wire. I gave it a nice gentle cut first, then a second one, and finally cut through it on the third run. I HAVE TO BE CLEAR ON THIS, YOU ARE ONLY CUTTING THE INSULATION AWAY FROM THE WIRE, AND NOT CUTTING THE WIRE ITSELF!
So you take your lead wire(s) and twist them onto the gray wire that we had exposed, and you solder them together. Finishing up, you wrap the wires with some electrical tape, then replug the harness. The rest is the same as TonyNo's tutorial. However, I also soldered my negative wires to the ring connector, instead of crimping it.
Finding the right place to mount the lights was actually a pain in itself. For the drivers side, please do not mount the lights too close to the OBDII port. It would be a pain for you to have to access it if your lights are in the way.
The passenger side was a bit tricky. There is a glove box in the way, so make sure when you open the glove box your lights won't snap in half lol.

Overall the installation process went smoothly, other than the above mentioned light placement, and also getting under the dash really asked for you to become a contortionist. My back is hurting as I am writing this, but man is it worth it. Hope you had fun reading this post, it was a long one, and hopefully this will inspire you all to illuminate your feet! =D Cheers!

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