Adding LED Bar Brake lights and replacing the stock one Modification

Original idea: twospirits
Idea enhancements: Onigoroshi
Tester, Author, Images: twospirits

Introduction / History

The view out the Hyundai Santa Fe rear hatch window is smaller compared to the width of the hatch. The view is less when one attaches a Rear Hatch Mirror. Unfortunately when one places a rear Hatch Mirror on the Santa Fe, it has to be place to the right side. Not only does this limit and reduces the view even more, but when viewed from behind you have a mirror sticking out that is too one side and disrupts the smoothness of the rear not being even. The ideal place for the rear Hatch Mirror would be right in the middle o the hatch, but this would cover the stock 3rd LED brake light from being seen by any driver behind you, which is not only dangerous but illegal. This modification addresses this problem, by placing additional LED Bar brake lights on each side of the stock brake light those that have the hatch mirror can place it in the middle. This evens out the look from the rear, plus gives the Santa Fe an even more unique look. This modification can also be done for those that do not have a Hatch Mirror. The resulting look is unique as well.


Please Read the disclaimer before proceeding

Difficulty level / scale: On a scale of 1 - 10

Easy   Difficult
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Tools and materials needed:

3M double sided tape  
Phillips (cross tip) screwdriver  
Wire Cutter  
Electrical Tape  
Dremel tool  
Grease pencil  
2 LED Brake lamps (about 8 inches long)   
masking tape   
5/32 drill bit   

Time to perform modification:

Total time for mod: 60-120 min  

Step 1:Removal of stock brake light.

  I would disconnect the negative battery cable (just in case).
Open the rear hatch and take out the plugs from underneath the stock 3rd brake light. You will need a slim size 10mm socket wrench attachment to unscrew the bolts, otherwise it will not fit inside the hole.

(SEE PIC # 01.)
  Once the stock 3rd Brake light is detached, you will notice the wire connector. Push the pin in to disconnect it. Put it to the side for now.
(SEE PIC # 02.)

Step 2:Finding the right spot for the lamps..

  The LED bar lights I'm using for this mod are the Benton #1997 12 volt, 28 LED Bright Brake Lamp. I purchased two of them at Pet Boys Toys, but I'm sure you can get any compatible led bar from any auto shop.
(SEE PIC # 03.)
  I placed the led bar lamps where I thought they would look best by using masking tape. I also connected them just to see if the look was what I was going for. I'll go over the actual wiring later on. 
(SEE PIC # 04a.)
  The view of the led bar lamps with the hatch closed.
(SEE PIC # 04b.)
  I also placed the lamps on the left to see if it look good, which it does, but due to the nature of the design, the lamps would have to be placed on the gas struts.
(SEE PIC # 05a.)
  As you can see, it looks good. Yet as mentioned above it would have to be placed on the gas struts and there is no way that I can think of to keep them there permanently. So I resorted back to my original idea of placing them on the top.
(SEE PIC # 05b.)

If you notice in pic # 04a above that the wires leading out of the lamps is on the left of the lamp. This would make the left lamp have a wire more exposed than the right one, so I decided to do some fixing. If the lamps that you get do not have the wires coming out on the same side then you can skip step 3 and proceed to step 4..

Step 3:LED preparation.

  I place the left lamp on a work (bench) area so I can work on it much better.
(SEE PIC # 06.)
  I took it apart, which was quite easy.
(SEE PIC # 07.)
  The lamp has a built in hole on the left side that allows the wire to come out of. You will duplicate this hole on the left side.
(SEE PIC # 08.)
  I took the ends out and with a dremel tool I took out some of the plastic that made part of the inner circle wall. I then drilled a hole (use 5/32 drill bit). I actually drilled a small hole in the right lamp end also for reasons I'll explain later. 
(SEE PIC # 09.)
  I put the  pieces back together and the result is shown. Now the wires of the left lamp go out on the right side of the lamp.
(SEE PIC # 10.)

Step 4:Hatch Trim preparation

  Place the stock 3rd brake light on top of the trim and with a grease pencil outline the area the brake light takes up. Remove the brake light and store away for now.
(SEE PIC # 11.)
  You will take your finger and insert it in between the rubber and trim and gently but firmly pull the trim towards you.
(SEE PIC # 12.)
  The trim is held by 4 pins and hinges as you can see.
(SEE PIC # 13.)
  Place the upper trim on your work area.
(SEE PIC # 14.)
  Take off the 3M tape cover off the lamps and stick them on to the trim. (They will not stick and stay on forever, so we will have to attach them with screws. Drill a hole where the end pieces of the lamp will sit. Take screws and screw it in and attach the lamps.
(SEE PIC # 15.)
  Reattach the upper trim back onto the hatch. Make sure the rubber weather-stripping goes over the trim.
(SEE PIC # 16.)

Step 5:Wiring the lamps

  If you haven't done so already, disconnect the negative battery cable. Shave of a bit of the stock brake light wire insulations. The stock brake light has two wires a black wire and a green wire. The lamps also have two wires a black one and a black one with a white stripe.
Take the led lamps' black wire and attach them to the stock lights green wire.
Now take the led lamps' black with white wires and attach them to the stock lights black wire.
I would reconnect the negative battery wire and test the light.
(SEE PIC # 17)
  Disconnect the negative battery wire again.
Wrap the wires in electrical tape. and tuck the lamps wires underneath the rubber weather-strip of the hatch.
(SEE PIC # 18)

Step 6:Deciding the final look.

  Its up to you to decide whether you want to keep the stock 3rd brake light working or not with the LED lamps.
This pic shows the lamps on without the lamp on. If you like this look proceed to Step # 8.
(SEE PIC # 19)


This pic shows the lamps on along with the 3rd brake light. If you like this look proceed to Step # 7.
(SEE PIC # 20)
  For those owners that do not have a Hatch Mirror and decide to place it in the middle instead of the usual side, you can proceed to the final step # 9
For those with a Hatch Mirror, please note it does not matter if you connect the stock 3rd brake light to light up because it will not be seen by the driver behind you, but you will have to do one further modification, to the rear wiper. (See step # 9 below)
(SEE PIC # 21)

Step 7: Reattaching the stock 3rd brake light.

  Place back the stock 3rd brake light onto the hatch and screw in the bolts and place the plugs in the hole. Enjoy your new Lamps.
(SEE PIC # 22)

Step 8: Stock Brake Light replacement.

  Step # 8 is just for those owners that have the Hatch Mirror and decided to place it in the middle to have LED lamps on each side.

By removing the stock 3rd brake light you end up having a open area that exposes the wires (see pics 2, 12, 17). I needed to cover this area and decided on using the vinyl cover of a middle console that I bought for the rear seats a while back. Since I don't use it anymore it was a perfect candidate for the final steps of this project.
(SEE PIC # 23)
  I took off the top of the console, and detached the vinyl top off the lid. (its attached by sticky tape so it was easy).
(SEE PIC # 24)
  I cut the vinyl to the right size and used crazy glue/contact cement to attached the cut ends. The vinyl has a foam inside, so it makes it look plush.
(SEE PIC # 25)
  I turned it around to attach the 3M tape to it.
(SEE PIC # 26)
  I place the vinyl onto the trim, making sure that the top part of it is tucked under the rubber weather-stripping.
(SEE PIC # 27)
  This is a close up of the attached vinyl. Doesn't look half bad almost OEM, especially knowing that it can't be seen until you open up the hatch and get up close.
(SEE PIC # 28)
  Now that the stock light is removed and the vinyl took its place the area is more opened up. This allows me to see more of the Hatch mirror (since its in the middle now).
(SEE PIC # 29)

Step 9: Rear Wiper Fix / Replacement if you place the Hatch Mirror in the middle of the rear window.

  I placed the rear Hatch mirror in the middle with this modification so the rear looks more uniform instead of having the Hatch mirror placed to the side like it usually is.
(SEE PIC # 30)
  Placing the Hatch Mirror in the middle brings up a problem of making the Rear Wiper totally unusable. It stops half way, and can possible burn out the motor since its trying to continue on its path.
(SEE PIC # 31)
  Observing the path of the wiper, I noticed that I would have to cut too much of the Hatch Mirror, making it not as secure and totally ugly to look at.
(SEE PIC # 32)
  Therefore I concentrated on the wiper itself. I can either cut the wiper down temporary or get a smaller wiper. Pic 33 shows where I would have to cut the wiper.
(SEE PIC # 33)
  I decided to cut the wiper down temporary until I get the smaller one. I cut the wiper metal arm with a dremel tool about 1 and a half inches from the edge. Then inverted the hinge to fit underneath the arm in the groove. It actually fit in very nice and tight.
(SEE PIC # 34)
  I placed the temporary modified wiper on the wiper arm and tested it. It worked and pass through without any problems or damaged to the window or the Hatch Mirror.
(SEE PIC # 35)
  I took off the temporary wiper and took some measurements and decided I can get an actual wiper in the correct length. 10-11 inches. Fellow member Rib told me of the wipers made for older Volkswagon Beetles in that length and I purchased one. This is the package it came in. I ordered it through ANCO 31-Series Blade for $10.00.
(SEE PIC # 36)
  I tested it and it works great and now the mod is a total success.
(SEE PIC # 37)

This site was last updated 06/10/05