Part II: Installation and Initial Review of Valenti JDM full LED tail lamps from TWP

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Accessories and Modifications' started by HI MPG, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. HI MPG

    HI MPG Active Member

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    Difficulty level: Easy
    Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver; 10mm socket wrench (deep socket); and plastic pry tool
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    Time needed: Roughly 1 – 1.5 hours

    Let me start by saying that if you are not comfortable working on your car, please refer to a professional or shop for installation. This project is fairly easy. There is some difficulty involved in removing the light units from the car. The difficulty is not technical, just hard to pop the fasteners from their locations (I’ll touch more on this later). Time is what I stated above but could be quicker or slower depending on your skill level. I took a bit longer because I was taking pictures to document. There are some other references and threads out there that might have documented this installation process. If so, sorry about the repeat.

    1. First step is to remove the trunk shelf and bottom black tray.
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    2. Remove the shelves from both sides. On the driver side, there is a black tray held in by a plastic screw tab. Unscrew and remove so it will look like this:
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    3. At this point, I will just refer to the driver side, but you’ll need to do the same processes on the passenger side. Use the Phillips screwdriver to remove the screw on the side panel and use the 10mm socket to remove the nut holding the D ring at the bottom of the trunk.
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    4. Carefully pull the weatherstripping to separate it from the body panels. It comes off fairly easily. You’ll wanted to loosen about 6 inches above both tail lamps and full separate the bottom. It should look like this:
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    5. Once you have the weatherstrip separated, you could snap off the bottom cover. This will allow you to separate the side panels.
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    6. Carefully separate the side panels from the upper portion. The panel is held in place by some white plastic fasteners on the side and by tabs along the top edge. Be careful not to pull too hard to break the fasteners.

    7. Once you have separated the side panel, you could access the two 10mm nuts screwing the light unit to the body. Sorry picture quality but you could see the bolts where the nuts are fastened. (Missing this picture, will post tomorrow)


    8. Now you will need to remove the bolt holding the bumper to the fender. Please note in this picture, the bolt is on rear wheel well. Use the 10mm socket to remove.
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    9. You’ll then need to remove the screw holding the bumper to the trunk. Use the Phillips screwdriver to remove.
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    10. Once you have the bolt and screw remove, carefully pull on the bumper, starting from the wheel well to separate it from the fender and from the trunk. It should snap off with moderate effort. This will separate the light from the bumper to allow you room to remove the light unit.
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    11. Once you have the bumper separated, you can now remove the light unit. Use the handy pry tool to wedge between the light and the body panel. The light is still held in place by 3 plastic fasteners (two white and one yellow). You’ll need to pull with a steady effort to remove. Be careful not to pull in a jerking motion as this will probably break the plastic fasteners (like I did on my passenger side). This is probably the hardest part of the installation and will give your fingers a major workout. I think my fingers are still number from wedging and prying the lights. Once you pop the unit off, you can then disconnect the wiring harness (sorry I didn’t get a picture of this).
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    12. The Valenti units do not come with the mounting hardware, so you’ll need to source the two white plastic tabs, the bottom black plastic tabs, and the side “wings†from the OEM unit. Be careful removing the bottom black plastic tabs. I actually broke both of them; one trying to remove from the actual light unit and the other from pulling the light off the car too roughly.
    The “wing†is held on by three Phillips screws on the OEM unit, so you could just transfer them over to the Valenti units. These pictures are for reference of the said tabs and “wing.â€
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    Here’s a side by side comparison of the OEM and Valenti SB unit.
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    Once you have the hardware installed on the Valenti unit, connect the direct plug and play wiring harness. After you connect that, you could pop the unit back in place and refasten the 10mm nuts to the bolts.
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    Repeat the process on the passenger side. Reverse steps 1-10 to complete the installation process.

    I'll post my initial review, additional photos and video tomorrow.
     
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  2. 32kcolors

    32kcolors Senior Member

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    I have just my left (driver's side) Valenti unit installed at the moment as I am in the process of taking additional side-by-side photos/videos of the Valenti and OEM lights. Please post any special request(s) of side-by-side comparison that you'd like to see and I'll try to honor them before I install the passenger's side unit.

    UPDATE: See my other post for tips to make the removal process 20 times easier as well as a method to remove the slip-lock retainer without breaking it.

    Installation photos. I've annotated the steps within the body of the photos for easy identification.

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    The installation process is fairly easy and straightforward, leaving the only hard part getting the OEM unit out. Unfortunately, Toyota has made it difficult to take out the OEM lights with the stubborn white plastic fasteners. I ended up breaking one of the two white fasteners and the other one came flying out intact. Like Calvin, I also partially broke the bottom retainer clip that slip locks into the bumper cover while pulling the OEM unit off the car. I tried installing the lamp without this bottom clip but there was too much play at the bottom. However, I was able to attach the bottom clip to the bumper cover first (snaps into place in the tabs within the bumper cover itself), then just lower the clip attacher (on the rear of the unit) onto the bottom clip. I was happy to find it's totally secure this way (despite one broken white fastener), with absolutely no play at all. The new lamp ended up fitting really well. The rest of the installation was a breeze though.


    Out with the old...

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    ...in with the new

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    Rear side-by-side comparison of Valenti and OEM units (FYI: I have the silver-coated Philips Silver Vision bulb in OEM turn signal to avoid the "fried egg" look). The red tail makes the rear end look not as tall and perhaps more balanced compared to the stock light.

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    Close up

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    It's nicely flush with the body line

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    You can judge the fit for yourself

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    I'll post more side-by-side pictures and videos in the next couple of days. In the meantime, if you see a major faux pas black Prius on the 110 that's me!
     
  3. RoyThePriusGuy

    RoyThePriusGuy New Member

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    How much??? If I recall they were over $300.

    IMO....not worth it at all.
     
  4. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    Thanks for doing the write up. :)
     
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  5. HI MPG

    HI MPG Active Member

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    Some additional pictures of the Valenti SB version on a Winter Grey Metallic Prius:

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    Detail of taillamp with light bars on and reverse lights on in daytime light.

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    Details of light bars at night. For some reason, my camera captures the ends of the bars in yellow although they are definitely a deep red to the naked human eye.
     
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  6. 32kcolors

    32kcolors Senior Member

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    The SB looks perfect with your rims! :thumb:
     
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  7. HI MPG

    HI MPG Active Member

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    Thanks! It took me longer than I thought to do the write-up. I think the installation went faster. LOL.

    Thank you. The HC's are looking very sharp on your SUPER SHINY Prius! Almost ashamed of showing pictures of my dirty car.
     
  8. 32kcolors

    32kcolors Senior Member

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    One-side shots


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    Parked at work today. Can you spot the interesting one out of sameness?

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    More to come (side-by-side shots, lights in action and videos).
     
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  9. SDM44

    SDM44 Señor Member

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    The HC tails look good on the black Prius. And the SB tails look good on the dark gray Prius, although I could see it looking good on a red Prius as well (with a sunroof & window tint for extra contrast), but that's just me.



    32kcolors - I have a request for you, since it looks like you still have the US factory tail on the passenger side.

    I'd like to see a video of the JDM tail and the US tail lit up to compare the brightness of both, but from a distance.... like 3-4 car lengths back, something what other drivers would see if they were behind you. I'd like to see the parking lights on, the brake lights on, and the hazards flashing. I'm not really concerned about the reverse lights as much, but more so the lights that drivers behind you would see.

    I'm mostly curious about the lighting from that distance, in the following conditions....

    - During the day under the direct sun light.
    - At night in the dark, so see how bright they look compared to each other.
    - At night with headlights shining on you from behind, like a car behind you on the road.


    Ok, maybe that's a tall order to ask for. But I'm somewhat curious to know that the brake light and turn signal intensity will be enough for drivers behind you to see it, especially under the direct sunlight during the day.
     
  10. 32kcolors

    32kcolors Senior Member

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    Some side-by-side photos of the lights in action:


    Inside garage, lights on

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    Nighttime, lights on

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    Daytime brake and reverse lights

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    Daytime brake, reverse and turn signals

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    Inside dimmed garage, lights on

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    Inside dimmed garage, lights on with turn signals

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    Backup camera (please excuse the crappy NAV screen with only 256 colors instead of 32K colors). The reverse light from the Valenti unit casts a bluish hue on the road. At least it matches my 6000K license plate LEDs :p

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    Backup camera with the brakes applied. There's a strong reddish hue coming from the Valenti brake light.

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    Showing this just because it's cool

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    To make Calvin feel better, my camera sometimes captures the yellow ends in the bars, which aren't visible to the human eye

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    Close-ups of the various lights in action. The one on the far right is especially for macmaster, who most properly asked what the heck are all three lights doing at once?

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    Videos forthcoming.
     
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  11. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    I'm not usually a fan of changing brake lights but damn those look nice!
     
  12. HI MPG

    HI MPG Active Member

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    I've finally uploaded a video of the Valenti taillamps in action. Sorry for the poor quality; it was taken with my phone's camera. I shot the video in direct sunlight to show the taillamps' performance. In the video, the lights are on full time; starting with the hazards; then the drive side turn signal; then the passenger side turn signal. Notice that when the turn signal for the passenger side is used exclusively, the hyper-flash condition exists.
    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgcYr3-mGtM"]YouTube - ‪Valenti JDM Prius Full LED Taillamps‬‏[/ame]
     
  13. 32kcolors

    32kcolors Senior Member

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    Videos of Valenti and OEM lights side-by-side comparison:


    The Valenti turn signal is in sync with the other turn signals. It's perfectly in sync with the LED turn signal mirror and the front turn signal (reflected in the opaque glass by the door). It has different characteristics from the OEM turn signal but is still in sync with it. This different characteristics will of course be a non-issue once the Valenti lamps are paired (assuming mine doesn't suffer from the hyper-flashing that Calvin has with his passenger's side lamp).




    Daytime side-by-side comparison.




    Nighttime side-by-side comparison. This video looks bad as the Valenti brake light bathes it with strong red light, thereby washing it out.




    I've taken two nighttime videos per your request. Will try to do daytime tomorrow. The camera was about 4 Prius lengths back. Looks like at night from a distance the OEM parking light is stronger compared to Valenti and the brake lights/hazards/reverse are about the same.

    -At night in the dark, to see how bright they look compared to each other



    - At night with headlights shining from behind, provided by my RX350 HID headlights (uh-oh, a black cat crossed the road)




    I think the HC model would look good on all the colors. It was in fact Calvin's second choice after SB. Both would look great on Winter Gray. I'm a big fan of solid red tails on red. If I had a Blizzard Pearl, I'd definitely get the SB tails (especially with SR) and fit it with gunmetal rims.
     
  14. 32kcolors

    32kcolors Senior Member

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    Daytime side-by-side video from 4 Prius lengths distance per SDM44's request. It was taken at 10 am, under direct sun light. It helped that it's street sweeping today so I had the road to myself :)

     
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  15. SDM44

    SDM44 Señor Member

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    Thanks! That looks good. The LED turn signals appear to be just as bright (if not slightly brighter, depending on the conditions) on the tail lights, as that was my main concern when driving around in LA traffic. The only other concern would be the brightness of the brake lights, but it's obvious there's no problems there.


    After you swap out the passenger side tail light, I'm wondering if you get the same fast blinker issue that HI MPG has. And if so, I wonder how the CF-018 relay will work (should cure the problem), and make sure that it doesn't affect the lock & unlock turn signal flashing.
     
  16. HI MPG

    HI MPG Active Member

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    Here are some additional pictures I took during the installation and during this first week of having the Valenti taillmaps on the Prius.

    Garage shot comparison of Valenti vs. OEM taillamps; lights on, reverse lights:
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    Garage comparison shot of Valenti vs. OEM taillamps; lights on, turn signals:
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    Garage shot of Valenti taillmaps on both sides; brakes on, turn signals and reverse lights:
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    Daytime shot of Valenti taillamps; lights on, reverse lights:
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    Comparison shot of Gen II with OEM taillamps vs. GEN III with Valenti SB taillamps. Sorry, I couldn't find another Gen III to take this comparison photo:
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    And finally, some "artsy" (as MacMaster would call them) shots fo the Valenti taillamps functioning in the early evening light:
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    After about a week of having the lights installed, I am very satisfied with the look of the Valenti SB taillamps. The dark tint definitely lends a "sportier" appeal to the Prius compared with the OEM taillamps. Fit and finish is near stock quality, although there is some play with the units in the current location. For now, I'm blaming this on my breaking of the retainer clips instead of the taillamps themselves since 32K had mentioned that his taillamp is fully flush and has no play. I will order some replacement retainer clips and will report on the fit after that time. The light output is very good, although the light bars do appear dimmer in certain conditions compared to the stock LED lights. The turn signals and reverse lights are as bright, if not brighter, than the OEM units.

    As for the hyper flash issue with the right side turn signal, the problem is now intermittent. I was driving around the other night and having to use that turn signal a couple of times, it started blinking normally. I powered car off and on and tested the turn signal again; still blinking normally. Repeated a couple of times, but the hyper flash returned. This has happened on my morning commute a couple of days this week as well. However, each time I try to replicate certain light on/off positions to see if it affects the turn signal, I get different results (sometimes hyper flash, sometimes normal rate). I can't seem to isolate it to a certain condition that stops the hyper flash.

    On a side note, I had to the drive my Prius to a lunch appointment with some coworkers and a vendor. We went to a very poshy restaurant in Newport Beach/Irvine. We counted no less than 3 Bentleys, a couple of Maseratis, and some BMW 6s and 7s. As we got out of the car in the valet zone, my coworkers joked that they'll park my car in the back corner of the far lot. I looked back at the car and saw practically all the valet attendents looking at the Prius. Walking out after lunch, I saw my Prius front and center, next to one of the Bentleys. Guess my Prius has clout with the valet folks. LOL.
     
  17. 32kcolors

    32kcolors Senior Member

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    Last set of side-by-side comparo before the passenger's side unit goes on!

    Although the LED bars (the Valenti's parking lights) appear dimmer under certain conditions such as at night from a distance, they pose an advantage over the OEM lights in one area. The four LED bars (ignore the yellow ends in photos; they aren't visible in person) have a much wider viewing angle as illustrated below. The OEM individual LEDs are at their brightest when viewed head on and diminish greatly when you move away. The Valenti light bars are equally bright when viewed at all angles.


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  18. 32kcolors

    32kcolors Senior Member

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    I've installed the passenger's side unit and in my limited testing so far, there's no hyper flash issue with the turn signal that Calvin is experiencing with his unit, indicating it's an isolated problem.

    I also figured out a trick to make the removal process 20 times easier. As Calvin mentioned earlier, the OEM light is still held in place by 3 plastic fasteners/snap-ins (two white and one yellow) after you've removed the two 10mm nuts from the rear of the unit. The yellow fastener (at the top) is designed to hold the unit in place; however, the white fasteners appear to be primarily for anti-theft purposes. This is obviously to make it as difficult as possible to steal the LED lights as thefts of HIDs/LEDs have been prevalent in the past. The bottom white fastener (shown below) is particularly stubborn so what you need to do is take a regular plier and squeeze the end of it to collapse it. Don't worry about it becoming bottomed out as it's not necessary for stability. Once you do that, the unit comes out cleanly. You do not need to do the same with the top white fastener (which you can't really see) or the yellow one, both of which unfasten relatively easily.

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    Once you have the OEM unit out, take a small flat head screwdriver and insert it under the retainer clip as shown. Slowly and carefully pry upward and it'll pop right off. It snaps in place when you transfer to the new unit.

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    Installation finally completed.

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    #18 32kcolors, Jul 2, 2011
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  19. justintiime

    justintiime Junior Member

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    Alright I'm definitely sold. I want the smoked lens lights more now that I initially did. My only concern is the fast flash issue. I've read about a replacement flasher relay to help solve this?
     
  20. 32kcolors

    32kcolors Senior Member

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    My units do not have the hyper flash issue so it's an isolated problem with Calvin's right unit rather than a production issue.
     
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