Getting Noticed

The recent accident was a bit of a wake up call to improve my rear lighting. Even though the car that I hit was not indicating and didn’t have its brake lights on, the incident highlighted that clear and obvious brake lights would be a significant improvement over the rather pathetic lights fitted to Series Land Rovers and Defenders, especially their brake lights, which are small and not that distinct from the tail lights.

To that end, I have fitted a high level brake light in the rear door’s window. It’s a slim-line LED unit from that consumes very little power, and so has slim enough wires to be easily threaded through the door’s frame, joining up with the wiring harness for the window heating element and wiper motor.

All I had to do was make up a couple of mounting brackets (the unit’s own mounting feet don’t quite reach the dor frame with the LED aperture fully below the window edge line), drill the holes for the mounting screws and wiring, and make the connections to the right brake light connector.

To pass the wiring through the door frame, I had to remove the window retaining screws on the lock side of the door (the hinge side has anti-crish tubes through the frame for the hinge bolts, which would get in the way of the wires) so that the wire didn’t get caught on the screws inside the frame. The earth was connected to the wiper motor mounting bolts using a ring terminal, and the positive feed was run through the corrugated rubber hose for the door electrics and into the internal right side rear light cover. A bullet connector was soldered to the end of the feed wire to allow it to be fitted to the standard 4-way Lucar connector in that side. I also removed a rectangle of the window tinting film matching the dimensions of the LED aperture so that the LEDs shine through clear glass, so as not to reduce their intensity.

The results are very pleasing – it’s very neat on the inside, with only the smallest run of visible wiring, and is all but invisible from outside until activated. Its brightess when on is greater than that of the standard brake lights when viewed from directly behind. It should make a big difference in making clear to other drivers when I’m braking, especially given the way that the roof rack ladder can mask the left side lights at some angles.

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  1. Hi, the brake light looks good. Do you get any refection back from the glass or did it seal against the glass?

  2. Hi Steve,

    I can see enough reflection in the glass that it confirms the brake lights are working (a nice unintended benefit – the quality of modern replacement brake light switches seems very inconsistent and some brands are hopeless), but it is not enough to be even slightly distracting, even at night. I didn’t make any effort at all to seal the light system against the glass, but being LED, is tends to be fairly directional and shines the vast bulk of the light outwards.

    These are the people I got it from:

  3. Hi
    Have you got a clearer picture of your mounting brackets you made?


  4. Hi Tim,

    They’re just pieces of steel angle, less than 1mm thickness, to drop the light bar low enough to be seen from outside (otherwise the window retaining flanges obscure the light). They are the matt black parts screwed into the upper door frame, with the light unit screwing into the flat horizontal part of the steel angle underneath the door frame. You don’t need any fancy measurements or shapes – the small notches in these brackets are only there because they were made for something else and were laying about in my oddments bin.

  5. Hi Nick,

    What size of rubber grommet did you use for the wire to go into the door? Also have you got a pic of the bullet connector connecting to the 4-way Lucar connector?



  6. It would be a 10mm grommet, but you could use any size big enough for 2-core speaker wire; the lead to this LED unit is about the same size. I don’t have pictures of the bullet connector, but SVC or Vehicle Wiring Products will sell them – they’re standard on Series Land overs and other cars of the era, but you can use any method to patch the unit into the brake light system and earth, including splicing or the dreaded ScotchLok (would easily handle the current involved in this unit).

  7. I’ve got a 2001 TD5 so hope its a similar connector

  8. No, yours will have plastic plugs as opposed to loose leads with bullets on the ends. Cut and splice or use ScotchLoks – they’re hated by mechanics and electricians, but his just the sort of low current job they’re made for.

  9. Thanks Nick scotchlocked it this weekend, really chuffed with it. Nice idea and thanks for the help!

  10. Glad to help, Tim; that’s what this site is for. I’m pleased too that you have completed the job and are happy with it.

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