Wolf's Motorhome Modifications
... and Other Stuff
LEDs in a Saturn
Electrons are scary things. So are cars. They have wires and computers and switches that are all so confusing. If they confuse you, move on. Pay a RV place to install or fix your toad lights. You shouldn't be here. Otherwise, if you enjoy the RV as an RV, then read on.
Probably the cleanest way to add lights to your toad is to install a new set of bulbs in addition to the ones already on the car. You run the wires from the new bulbs back to the motorhome connector. While clean, it is not elegant. It ignores the elegance of understanding your toad and its electrical system. Further, it tends to leave a bunch of lights unconnected. For example, having added lights to the rear of the toad doesn't make the side marker lights or front clearance lights operate as they should.
In my case, my Saturn works great using the existing bulbs. I've installed appropriate blocking diodes to insure that it is the motorhome that is running the car lights and not the other way around.
I've had an ongoing war with trying to keep my Saturn lights at an appropriate brightness. There are too many connections in the chain. The chain has to live through use on streets where salt is used to battle snow and ice. Salt is a corrosive. Every once in a while I have to spray contact cleaner on the motorhome-to-car connections. Every so often I have to take a Dremel tool and burnish the contacts. I have to adjust the contacts. This shouldn't be so hard. The problem was not that there was no voltage, but that the current required to operate all those bulbs was subject to resistance in the line. That was dropping the voltage. If I could cut current flow, I could survive resistance.
I decided to experiment with LEDs. I changed out all my Saturn bulbs with LEDs and dropped my current requirement from seven or eight amps to perhaps an amp. My lights are at full illumination. I am servicing all parking, brake, marker, license plate and other lamps. The change-over worked wonders. If I have any connection, I have enough.
I bought my LED replacements from www.superbrightleds.com. They have links to charts to help you decide what bulbs you need. I replaced all exterior bulbs, right down to the license plate lights. Be careful when ordering as the many-LED bulbs could have too large a diameter to allow the new bulb to fit in the socket. For my brake lights I chose the super bright and super expensive one LED bulb. The photo above shows the bulb. It was worth it. The illumination is the same no matter if it is the car or motorhome driving the bulb. Remember that you need amber bulbs for amber lenses, red bulbs for red lenses, etc.
I did have to modify the flasher relay. That job is documented here.