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need a reverse / backup bulb replacement

67013 Views 62 Replies 31 Participants Last post by  ramblerdan
ok I know this has been talked about somewhere already but I cannot find it.
Does anyone know a bulb that can be used as a replacement for the backup light that comes standard on the element?
It is just way too dim for me to see down my driveway.
If you have a link to someplace I could buy them online that would be great. :)
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Its a 921 bulb but I havent found any high wattage bulbs anywhere
The brighter the bulb the higher the heat the higher the heat the harder it is on the plastic.......
Ever thought about aftermarket back'em up lights? :roll:
How many miles do you back up every day? Usually I just go a few feet when backing up I am not concerned about heat melting the plastic because they are 40-55 watts nor would I be concerned about the 16AWG wiring with the load.

OK seriously now... I dont want to add a pair of goofy lights to the rear of the element I like it the way it is althought some have done this. The only valid adition would be a 2" light that would fit in a hitch reciever and illuminate everything.
One, the rear windows of our Es are very dark, which is part of the problem

Two, the lenses on the reverse lights are smoked, not clear, which looks cool but doesn't do much for light transmission

Three, LEDs are very bright, but only for very short range, if you have ever used one of those LED headlamps for camping they are awesome for cooking and reading but stink for walking around through the woods or campsite, only give you a couple feet of helpful light
Did a little test myself tonight. Modified an 894 fog light bulb (37 watts) to work in the stock socket. Did the first one to see if it worked, which it did. Was going to do the second one and take step by step pictures, but dropped the bulb and broke it. :oops:
Anyway, I was impressed with the difference it made and have included the comparison photo with my modified bulb and the stock bulb.
I'll try to get another bulb ordered and take some pictures next week.

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1: 896 or 894 fog light bulb. 37.5 watts.
2: cut the bulb mounting tabs from the socket with Dremel cutoff wheel.
3: try to leave as much of the metal tabs as possible when cutting
4: bend metel mounting tabs in half to form the "base"

This will snap into the stock socket like the original bulbs.
(I apologize for the poor image quality)

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One question: I haven't had my taillights out yet, so this may be of no concern... but when plugged-in, what direction are the tabs aligned? Vertical, or horizontal?

They're hanging the bulb out quite a bit, which actually is OK relative to the socket (less heat transfer). However, if the tabs are vertical, just the vibration of going down the road can cause them to "sag" in the socket, evenutally disconnecting or even shorting-out (with "uh oh" circumstances for our automatic-transmission friends, a/k/a fuse #10).

I'll attempt to dodge the raindrops and look at this today.
I just finished the foglight-bulb mod. This fix is a winner:

1) even in daylight the brightness difference is noticable;

2) not too much wattage. You're replacing two 18W bulbs with two 38W bulbs - adding a mere 3 Amps;

3) no wiring mods, no new lamp housings, no brackets. You do the "nasty" to the easiest replaceable part, the bulb;

4) it's CHEAP! The bulbs were $8 each at AutoZone;

5) it's FAST! Including the round trip to the store it took me 45 minutes;

6) it's technically sound. There is plenty of room in the taillamp housing to handle the extra heat, and the extensions on the contact pins isolate the heat from the socket. Also, the socket has the pins horizontal (see above), so no risk of vibration pushing the bulb out.

There are only two caution points. First is that most foglight bulbs are going to be halogen-type - so keep them clean and dry. Wash your hands first to minimize oil transfer. Second is that it might take a little force to push the folded contact blades into the socket, and if you aren't careful you might bend the pins too close together. I spread the pins slightly before pushing into the socket.

You don't need a Dremel to do this - I cut the bulb base with a mini-hacksaw; an X-Acto micro-saw would work fine, too. Just cut up against the flange of the plastic base (remove the silicone gasket first!). The trickiest part was making sure that the tabs were even after bending.

Ramy, this is a great mod. It was quite astute to realize that the dimensions of the bare foglight bulb were the same as the T-5 spec of the originals. Good job!

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I picked up a pair (actually two pair after I broke one) of these bulbs from ebay for around $8 for the pair shipped from auto8811. He is one of the few who charge a reasonable shipping charge, so look closely before bidding from any others!

You can avoid a quick bulb burnout by wiping the bulb down with a rag and denatured alcohol after plugging it in. This should remove all of the oils from handling it during your modification.

The length of the bulb from the socket actually turns out to be really close to the original bulb. That combined with no actual contact of the glass to the socket should ease any worries about too much heat. (As mentioned by MikeQBF) I have one on for as long as 5 minutes while taking the original photos and I could not really tell a difference in temperature of the tailight housing to the touch between the upgraded side and the original, (real scientific I know) and no melted plastic!

But as with all do-it-yourself mods, proceed at your own risk.
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How about wear gloves when installing the bulbs, then you dont have to worry about any oils at all. Thats recommended on most bulb replacements.
Tom B
Re: Lamp specifications Back up

Faggettabout Autozone, their cross reference goes to 2003 and then quits.

Here is what I did after some experimentation.

I took a #855 bulb- Sprawl mart #4.96 ea
While holding the flat portion of the leads with a needle nosed plier I crushed the plastic socket away by cranking down on them in a bench vise.
You will notice the flat leads do a one half twist in order to make the right angle turn inside the now removed plastic. Still holding the flat part above this point with needle nose pliers flatten this half twist with another pair of pliers. Then grasping just above the now flattened out twist bend the tab over to make the new lead fat enough to be held firmly in the lamp socket.
You now have a 50w halogen back up lamp.
Open hatch and lower tailgate, remove 2 phillips screws from the tail light lens and wiggle it free. Remove the backup lamp socket by turning it 1/4 turn counter clockwise. Install the newly modified bulb. Re-install the bulb socket in the lens assembly. Engage the 2 pins of the tail light lens in the car first and put the 2 screws back.
All of this goes smoother if you look at the base of the original bulb to see how fat to leave the bends in the lead. If you need to open the bend up a bit slide a pocketknife blade in.
Don't bend near the glass or anywhere on the round part.

No hacksaws, no dremels required.

The reason you hold the flat part of the leads with a needle nose plier is the weld between the round lead and the flat is very weak and can easily break.

Bench vise, needle nose pliers, regular pliers, #2 phillips screwdriver.

The 37.5 W 896 bulbs will also work , they aren't as bright and they cost more.

Do not do this in the bathtub or while actually in reverse, eye protection never hurt anyone, fingerprints ruin halogen bulbs, if you void where prohibited don't face the crowd, your mileage may vary.
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Re: Lamp specifications Back up


Quote "You now have a 50w halogen back up lamp."

My first thought was that this would put out too much heat. But I guess you wouldn't be in reverse for any length of time.

What is the wattage for the stock lamp?
Re: Lamp specifications Back up

If it is a 921 it is rated at 16 watts
the 906 is rated at 8 watts.
There appears to be sufficient space to dissipate the heat from the halogen bulb, I would not leave the backup lights on overnight.
If I run into any downside I will post my findings.
So far it is clear and bright behind me when backing up with the 50w halogens.

Seems to me I ought to be able to cobble together a decent set of fog lights for my E for 50$ or less, although I never had a need for any on any vehicles I have owned.
The factory ones sure seem inflated.
Re: need a reverse bulb replacement

I took the idea and ran with it but my posts ended up in "exterior" because I couldn't find this thread.
You can crush the plastic away from the leads instead of cutting them with dremel or saw by squeezing in a bench vise but you need to hold the flat leads with needle nose pliers.
I went with 50 watt.
If anything fries I'll let you know
Re: need a reverse bulb replacement

I have done the backup bulbs for a few other cars with the same tinted rear window dim factory bulb set up. It is far easier to crush the plastic away from the base of the foglamp bulbs than to attempt to cut it away. Bench vise is the tool.
You lose none of the lead length and have enough left over to fold and make a decent plug with enough length to stand a bit proud of the socket and also not touch the lens.
Wal-Mart was 2-4$ cheaper per foglamp replacement bulb than Auto Zone
They seem to come from 30-50w and even the 50w will work. I guess the OEM fuses might have taken in the additional current required for a trailer.

I don't need a roadmap to fall from a tree which is a good thing because I can't ever fold the damn things!
Re: need a reverse bulb replacement

I'd be happy to post a pic if I could find those 50W bulbs bamboo was talking about. In another thread, he calls them #855 bulbs, but I cannot find them anywhere on the internet, even at Walmart where he got his. I wonder if 855 was a typo? Here's the post:

[EDIT] The bulbs are 885.

MikeQBF, if you think the 50W's are too much, I'll settle for the 894's.

blutch, maybe this'll help: I have attached a picture of an 894 bulb. If I understand the procedure correctly, what they're talking about is cutting off the lower plastic part, leaving just the two metal leads as long as possible. You would then bend both of those up and stick those in the socket, effectively creating a new base to insert out of the bent leads.

[EDIT] OK, here's some pics of the finished product. I used a Dremel to cut off the leads after breaking a bulb ($10.99 at Kragen!) by trying to emulate a bench press with a pair of vice grips. ;)
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Re: need a reverse bulb replacement

ramblerdan said:
I finally did this mod and created a DYI page here.
I love your DIY! Question, would it be bad to go with the 885? I know it's a 50Watt and am thinking that it will melt the plastic...ok prolly a dumb question...:)
Re: need a reverse bulb replacement

50 watts will certainly produce more heat and put more stress on the wiring and fuse. Still, could be a worthwhile experiment if you're willing to take it on.
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