How to add resistors for LED tail lights - Chevy Colorado & GMC Canyon
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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How to add resistors for LED tail lights

A lot of people have asked me about how to add resistors in for anyone who wants to swap out their tail light bulbs to LEDs and prevent the hyper flashing. So I've created this thread for people to reference.

To start, the full set of rear lights are all wired in parallel. So if you open up the wire loom before all of the bulbs, you'll see 4 colored wires:

Black - common negative
Gray - turn signal positive
Orange - tail light positive
Yellow - reverse positive

Using this MS-Paint diagram, you can see that the common ground wire comes out from the truck (big blue block on the left) to the first bulb, comes out of that bulb to the middle bulb, out of the middle to the last.

***NOTE*** The left bulb in the diagram is actually your bottom bulb in the tail light housing



So as you can see here, this is before all of the bulbs, you T-Tap/Splice the resistor to the black wire and the gray wire:


You do the same for the last bulb:


Here is a full picture showing everything.


Any questions???

2015 Laser Blue Colorado LT
CC, 4X4, V6, SB

Mods:
LED light bar - 32"
HID headlights
LED fog lights
LED high beams
LED reverse lights
LED license plate lights
LED visor lights
LED dome lights
LED switchback front turn signal lights
LED cargo light turn signal conversion
LED bed lights
LED tail lights
LED sidemarkers
Canyon swapped tail lights
Red painted calipers
Supermod ported throttle body
Silver metallic rally stripes
Super Skidz skid plate
Volant CAI

Have a Colorado but want Canyon tail lights? Or vice versa CLICK HERE

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Last edited by Blue15ColoradoLT; 02-18-2016 at 10:27 AM. Reason: fixed the wording of my statement
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue15ColoradoLT View Post

To start, the full set of rear lights are all wired in series.
Great drawing, and, I know I'm not the Internet Police, but, I must say, your drawing shows a parallel circuit, not series. A series circuit would prohibit all lights in the circuit from lighting when one burns out.

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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 10:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FAL guy View Post
Great drawing, and, I know I'm not the Internet Police, but, I must say, your drawing shows a parallel circuit, not series. A series circuit would prohibit all lights in the circuit from lighting when one burns out.
I got this blue

Actually no. He is first of all not showing an electrical schematic, so deriving circuits here is not a possibility. He is merely showing the wiring as it appears on the back of the housing.

In technical sense, the wires tie together inside the plugs and thus provide continuity regardless of bulb status. They are not wiring in series and he does not show it as such.
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 11:55 PM
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Are the resistors mounted to anything or do they just hang?

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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 12:22 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USMC7011 View Post
Are the resistors mounted to anything or do they just hang?
mine just hang, but should you choose to mount them, mount them onto something metal because they will get hot
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2015 Laser Blue Colorado LT
CC, 4X4, V6, SB

Mods:
LED light bar - 32"
HID headlights
LED fog lights
LED high beams
LED reverse lights
LED license plate lights
LED visor lights
LED dome lights
LED switchback front turn signal lights
LED cargo light turn signal conversion
LED bed lights
LED tail lights
LED sidemarkers
Canyon swapped tail lights
Red painted calipers
Supermod ported throttle body
Silver metallic rally stripes
Super Skidz skid plate
Volant CAI

Have a Colorado but want Canyon tail lights? Or vice versa CLICK HERE

***NOTE***
SITE RULES

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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 12:31 AM
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Is the resistant from one not enough to fool the computer for both bulbs in one housing? If so, would a larger single resistor work verses 2 smaller ones?

2016 Cardinal Red 4x4 All-Terrain Crew Cab Short Bed

Trifecta Tune
Heated Mirrors
GMC Sill Plates
GMC All-Weather Floor Liners
Front Windows Tinted
Sports Bar with GM Off Road Lights
LED Backup Lights
LED Cargo Lights
Red LED Map Lights
LED Dome Light
LED Vanity Lights
LED License Plate Lights
Cargo Rings
Weathertech Mud Flaps
TonnoPro LoRoll
Lund Bed Extender
Pop-N-Lock
The Stubby Antenna


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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 01:01 AM Thread Starter
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one 50W 6ohm resistor wasn't enough. I tried the one before the first bulb first and still got the hyper flashing. I added the second one and it fixed everything.

I'm sure you can use a larger resistor as long as the numbers all match up.
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2015 Laser Blue Colorado LT
CC, 4X4, V6, SB

Mods:
LED light bar - 32"
HID headlights
LED fog lights
LED high beams
LED reverse lights
LED license plate lights
LED visor lights
LED dome lights
LED switchback front turn signal lights
LED cargo light turn signal conversion
LED bed lights
LED tail lights
LED sidemarkers
Canyon swapped tail lights
Red painted calipers
Supermod ported throttle body
Silver metallic rally stripes
Super Skidz skid plate
Volant CAI

Have a Colorado but want Canyon tail lights? Or vice versa CLICK HERE

***NOTE***
SITE RULES

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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 01:22 AM
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You helped me out so much. I had trouble after connecting with quick connector(scotchlock) so i soldered. Works amazing now. So much better.
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 07:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DasGoob View Post

Actually no. He is first of all not showing an electrical schematic, so deriving circuits here is not a possibility. He is merely showing the wiring as it appears on the back of the housing.
Perhaps I remarked incorrectly, as I was merely responding to Blue's comment "To start, the full set of rear lights are all wired in series." I was attempting to say the drawing indicated correctly and his comment was off, that is all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DasGoob View Post
In technical sense, the wires tie together inside the plugs and thus provide continuity regardless of bulb status. They are not wiring in series and he does not show it as such.
Again, I didn't say they were wired in series, Blue said series.

It is a great and helpful drawing, I simply didn't want wiring newbs to get the wrong idea, that's all.
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Last edited by FAL guy; 02-18-2016 at 07:13 AM.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 10:07 AM
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Just for clarification...

The two resistors are wired in parallel so the end result final resistance is
Rtotal = R1R2/R1+R2
R1 = 6 ohm
R2 = 6 ohm
Rtotal = 6*6/6+6 = 36/12 = 3 ohm
so one could use one 3 ohm resistor but you would need to double the wattage rating to handle the additional power lost to heat since the single resistor would need to dissipate the power that the two resistors dissipated before. Maybe not double the original power rating since the original resistors were overrated.

Total power using ohm's law is I = V/R
I = Power
V = 13.5 Volts
R = 3 ohm
I = 13.5/3 = 4.5 Watts round up to next highest rating.
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post #11 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 10:28 AM Thread Starter
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I have fixed my comment.

Didn't want to spark an electrical war here. Get it. Spark!!!

Ok focus!!!
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2015 Laser Blue Colorado LT
CC, 4X4, V6, SB

Mods:
LED light bar - 32"
HID headlights
LED fog lights
LED high beams
LED reverse lights
LED license plate lights
LED visor lights
LED dome lights
LED switchback front turn signal lights
LED cargo light turn signal conversion
LED bed lights
LED tail lights
LED sidemarkers
Canyon swapped tail lights
Red painted calipers
Supermod ported throttle body
Silver metallic rally stripes
Super Skidz skid plate
Volant CAI

Have a Colorado but want Canyon tail lights? Or vice versa CLICK HERE

***NOTE***
SITE RULES

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post #12 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USMC7011 View Post
Is the resistant from one not enough to fool the computer for both bulbs in one housing? If so, would a larger single resistor work verses 2 smaller ones?
I too tried just one resistor. It is most definitely smart enough to detect resistance in the circuit between one or two. you need two.

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post #13 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FAL guy View Post
Perhaps I remarked incorrectly, as I was merely responding to Blue's comment "To start, the full set of rear lights are all wired in series." I was attempting to say the drawing indicated correctly and his comment was off, that is all.



Again, I didn't say they were wired in series, Blue said series.

It is a great and helpful drawing, I simply didn't want wiring newbs to get the wrong idea, that's all.
10-4 good buddy!

I love a good forum!

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post #14 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warpster View Post
Just for clarification...

The two resistors are wired in parallel so the end result final resistance is
Rtotal = R1R2/R1+R2
R1 = 6 ohm
R2 = 6 ohm
Rtotal = 6*6/6+6 = 36/12 = 3 ohm
so one could use one 3 ohm resistor but you would need to double the wattage rating to handle the additional power lost to heat since the single resistor would need to dissipate the power that the two resistors dissipated before. Maybe not double the original power rating since the original resistors were overrated.

Total power using ohm's law is I = V/R
I = Power
V = 13.5 Volts
R = 3 ohm
I = 13.5/3 = 4.5 Watts round up to next highest rating.
yup. Spot on. However, their could be some issue if you do this. First, getting those readily available may be tough as everyone makes them now for the single bulb application. Second..... heat. That just means more heat in one place and that can cause other problems, especially since the old ones are toasty enough.

I did mount mine but I with some prejudice. I use zip tie adhesive pads to adhere to the truck body, then in between the zip tie and the resistor, I looped some shrink wrap to protect the zip tie from melting and to minimize what was covered to allow maximum heat dissipation. So far so good..... but it is winter. :)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Backup lights2.jpg (209.7 KB, 114 views)

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post #15 of 34 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warpster View Post
Just for clarification...

The two resistors are wired in parallel so the end result final resistance is
Rtotal = R1R2/R1+R2
R1 = 6 ohm
R2 = 6 ohm
Rtotal = 6*6/6+6 = 36/12 = 3 ohm
so one could use one 3 ohm resistor but you would need to double the wattage rating to handle the additional power lost to heat since the single resistor would need to dissipate the power that the two resistors dissipated before. Maybe not double the original power rating since the original resistors were overrated.

Total power using ohm's law is I = V/R
I = Power
V = 13.5 Volts
R = 3 ohm
I = 13.5/3 = 4.5 Watts round up to next highest rating.
Great math for resistance values and a reminder how Ohm's law will set you free in DC circuits, however I=Amps, not power (P) which is watts. You're also absolutely correct when you said the power rating (watts) of the resistor would have to be doubled.

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post #16 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-30-2016, 09:29 PM
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Just wanted to add, grey is also the brake light wire. In case someone sees this thread and is wondering which one is brake. It looks like turn signal is just controlled by the brake wire being sent a pulsing/flashing signal.

Per the electrical manual:
Quote:
When the turn signal/multifunction switch is placed in either the TURN RIGHT or TURN LEFT position, ground is applied to the body control module (BCM) through either the right turn or left turn signal switch signal circuit. The BCM responds to the turn signal switch input by applying a pulsating voltage to the front and rear turn signal lamps through there respective control circuits.
You can see in the chevy electrical diagram it is listed as stop lamp but no turn signal is listed.







Colors in the diagram show different because colors coming from the truck harness (green yellow, brown, white green) are different than the ones on the tail light harness (grey,orange, and yellow)

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Last edited by spoonman; 03-30-2016 at 09:38 PM.
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post #17 of 34 (permalink) Old 12-03-2016, 06:12 PM
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Blue...thank you so much for the diagram, saved me a ton of headaches when doing my install today!

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post #18 of 34 (permalink) Old 12-04-2016, 01:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue15ColoradoLT View Post
A lot of people have asked me about how to add resistors in for anyone who wants to swap out their tail light bulbs to LEDs and prevent the hyper flashing. So I've created this thread for people to reference.

To start, the full set of rear lights are all wired in parallel. So if you open up the wire loom before all of the bulbs, you'll see 4 colored wires:

Black - common negative
Gray - turn signal positive
Orange - tail light positive
Yellow - reverse positive

Using this MS-Paint diagram, you can see that the common ground wire comes out from the truck (big blue block on the left) to the first bulb, comes out of that bulb to the middle bulb, out of the middle to the last.

***NOTE*** The left bulb in the diagram is actually your bottom bulb in the tail light housing



So as you can see here, this is before all of the bulbs, you T-Tap/Splice the resistor to the black wire and the gray wire:


You do the same for the last bulb:


Here is a full picture showing everything.


Any questions???
YES, why use LED bulbs in the tail lights anyway? I can see using them to cut down on power usage but with the short circuit resistors that goes out the window. :)

Thanks for the info.

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Last edited by JScottM; 12-04-2016 at 01:22 AM.
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post #19 of 34 (permalink) Old 12-04-2016, 01:24 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JScottM View Post
YES, why use LED bulbs in the tail lights anyway? I can see using them to cut down on power usage but with the short circuit resistors that goes out the window. :)

Thanks for the info.
Because I like the light output and the clarity of LED lights over halogens
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2015 Laser Blue Colorado LT
CC, 4X4, V6, SB

Mods:
LED light bar - 32"
HID headlights
LED fog lights
LED high beams
LED reverse lights
LED license plate lights
LED visor lights
LED dome lights
LED switchback front turn signal lights
LED cargo light turn signal conversion
LED bed lights
LED tail lights
LED sidemarkers
Canyon swapped tail lights
Red painted calipers
Supermod ported throttle body
Silver metallic rally stripes
Super Skidz skid plate
Volant CAI

Have a Colorado but want Canyon tail lights? Or vice versa CLICK HERE

***NOTE***
SITE RULES

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post #20 of 34 (permalink) Old 12-04-2016, 07:37 PM
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I did this today and still had the issue of fast blink and notice on the dash. What led lamps are folks using? I am using the diode dynamics 7443's and have used their stuff in every other socket in the truck... want to get this nailed down and thought I'd try here before going back to them. Have their 50 watt 6 Ohm resistors...
Thanks in advance folks.

Jason
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