Old SUV conversion to exterior LEDs -- a continuing saga . . .


Jun 30, 2004
Perhaps someone can offer some insight into an odd behavior which began with installation of LED (1157 and 1156) "bulbs" for the turn-signal/cornering and hazard/warning lights.

Anyone converting an old car to use these new LED lights should weigh carefully the advantages (lower power consumption, longer life, more lumens) and the disadvantages. Disadvantages? Well, you have a conventional flasher switch/module and a box full of fuses and relays. And you're trying to add something the car designer didn't anticipate. Yes! LED lights have repercussions.

The primary result will probably be what has been described as "hyper-flashing". Because of the way the old flasher module works, there is no regulation of the flash rate, and you will initially think "Great! Nobody is going to miss this frenetic flashing in nighttime traffic!"

And what are you doing? You are putting stress on the flasher and the dashboard signal indicator lights, for one thing. Once you realize this, you might discover a compatible flasher that works with LEDs and incandescent lights equally. The one I found was the Tridon/Novita EP34 or EP34C.

Then, you discover what a bitch it is to locate the flasher, and what a bitch it is to remove the old one while you worry about possible damage to your fuse box. Mine was located behind the vinyl side panel between the driver's side floor and the dashboard. There's no room to work with your hands. You can't see anything, or you cannot see very much. Patience! A delicate touch . . . you can do it .. . .

So then I replaced the four remaining bulbs in the exterior lights with one pair of 1156-ers and another pair of 1157s as specified for the SUV.

Now, the hyperflashing disappears. But in my case, the clicking noise you expect from a turn signal or hazard light activation is suddenly about four times louder. I took some time to investigate. The noise was coming from under the shifter console for my automatic 4WD tranny.

I returned to the workshop manual. The only items located under the shifter plate were the Parking Position Detecting Switch, the Shift Lock Controller, the illumination light and the Shift Lock Solenoid. Solenoid?!

I suspected the noise was coming from the solenoid. These items keep the shifter locked in Park until the ignition is turned on and the brake pedal depressed. There are horror stories: "I can't start my car!" "My car doesn't shift into gear!" etc.

So I was about ready to remove the Novita flasher and replace all the LEDs with conventional bulbs.

This loud clicking occurred with the shifter in Park, activating the hazard or turn-signal after starting the car. Then I discovered that shifting into R, N, D, 3, 2 or 1 caused the noise to stop. Putting the shifter back into Park, the noise didn't return. Turning off the ignition to start from scratch, restart the car, and reactivating the turn-signal or hazard would bring it back.

Suddenly, today after a shopping errand, I discover to my amazement that even that symptom had unexplainably disappeared. I can start the car in Park, turn on the cornering lights from either the steering column or hazard switch -- and -- no perturbing noise.

How did that happen? What caused it in the first place? I have no . . . freakin' . . . . idea!

Any thoughts?