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2003 Forester
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59 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I had several burned out bulbs in the dash cluster of my '03 and figured I'd go over to LEDs. They're dimmable, they don't burn out as quickly, and they look cool. I got enough to do the entire panel in either blue or green for $20 shipped from Ebay--which is cheaper than what I would have paid for just the burned out ones at the local auto parts store. I used the wide angle ones with the concave top and they have a fairly diffused beam.

They look really great---especially when the whole dash is done in blue. The problem is, they light the face of the instruments, but not the needles. I can barely see the needles when I drive in the dark. Doesn't matter whether I've got the blue ones in or the green ones. Plus with all this swapping I've basically killed off my justification for using them. I've spent two hours trying to save myself from doing a 15 minute job two years down the road.

I can't figure out why it doesn't work. The light put out by the LEDs is similar to that put out by the stock bulbs and they are exactly the same length as stock. I even tried the dome-topped ones--got a bright pinpoint of light on the dash face and a general glow everywhere else, but nothing on the needles.

Has anyone had any luck getting this mod to work?
 

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Super Moderator
2018 2.5i Premium CVT
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17,887 Posts
LEDs in general do tend to be brighter on-axis than off, unless they're specifically designed otherwise. I've replaced the incandescent in the ring around the key with a drop-in LED replacement, and it seems to be working out OK. I don't know how it would do in the dash cluster.

You can see pix at this post.
 

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Registered
2003 XTi Cross Sports 4EAT :(
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1,353 Posts
I had several burned out bulbs in the dash cluster of my '03 and figured I'd go over to LEDs. They're dimmable, they don't burn out as quickly, and they look cool. I got enough to do the entire panel in either blue or green for $20 shipped from Ebay--which is cheaper than what I would have paid for just the burned out ones at the local auto parts store. I used the wide angle ones with the concave top and they have a fairly diffused beam.

They look really great---especially when the whole dash is done in blue. The problem is, they light the face of the instruments, but not the needles. I can barely see the needles when I drive in the dark. Doesn't matter whether I've got the blue ones in or the green ones. Plus with all this swapping I've basically killed off my justification for using them. I've spent two hours trying to save myself from doing a 15 minute job two years down the road.

I can't figure out why it doesn't work. The light put out by the LEDs is similar to that put out by the stock bulbs and they are exactly the same length as stock. I even tried the dome-topped ones--got a bright pinpoint of light on the dash face and a general glow everywhere else, but nothing on the needles.

Has anyone had any luck getting this mod to work?
Might be helpful to see a picture too if you have one.
 

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Registered
2008 Forester
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1 Posts
LED output

I had several burned out bulbs in the dash cluster of my '03 and figured I'd go over to LEDs. They're dimmable, they don't burn out as quickly, and they look cool. I got enough to do the entire panel in either blue or green for $20 shipped from Ebay--which is cheaper than what I would have paid for just the burned out ones at the local auto parts store. I used the wide angle ones with the concave top and they have a fairly diffused beam.

They look really great---especially when the whole dash is done in blue. The problem is, they light the face of the instruments, but not the needles. I can barely see the needles when I drive in the dark. Doesn't matter whether I've got the blue ones in or the green ones. Plus with all this swapping I've basically killed off my justification for using them. I've spent two hours trying to save myself from doing a 15 minute job two years down the road.

I can't figure out why it doesn't work. The light put out by the LEDs is similar to that put out by the stock bulbs and they are exactly the same length as stock. I even tried the dome-topped ones--got a bright pinpoint of light on the dash face and a general glow everywhere else, but nothing on the needles.

Has anyone had any luck getting this mod to work?[/

In order to get a color other than white from a regular bulb you have to put a colored filter on the bulb. Because the bulb produces the full color spectrum the filter intensifies that color. Other colors will still get through. So putting a bulb with a blue filter in a panel with red indicators will show the numbers blue but the indicators red (or purple). A LED produces only the color of the LED. So if you put a blue LED in a panel the numbers will light up blue but the red indicators will not light up because the red blocks the blue light. The only way to get full illumination with red needles is to use red LEDs.
 

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Smooshed FOTY 2011
2005 Lifted 2.5 XT 5-Speed MT Dual-Range
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5,813 Posts
The only way to get full illumination with red needles is to use red LEDs.
White and Warm White LED's will work as well. But if you use a dark color (such as blue or green) to illuminate red, it usually turns out badly. If you use warm white or white LED's, they'll illuminate all colors just fine.
 

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2002 Subaru
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1 Posts
Good to know. I just ordered red LEDs for my 2002. I'm a little worried about the "red behind green tint" combo, but at least now I know I'll be seeing the Needles.

BTW, I found mine at a site called BulbTown. More info below:
L8043R T1-3/4 6V-28V RED L.E.D. MINIATURE BULB WEDGE BASE 4 $5.75ea

Not sure I got the right ones still... :(
 

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Registered
2015 Forester CVT
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613 Posts
With blue and green LEDs there is not red/orange light to illuminate red pointers. Color LEDs are quite specific in their wavelength so they will not illuminate subtractive colors. I suggest cool white, as it is a generated color from a blue LED and emits a broad spectrum.

GD
 
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