Tag Archives: led

Upgrading the number plate lights to LED on the Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, GTI, R32, Rabbit and Passat


The bulb indicator denotes a failed bulb
The bulb indicator denotes a failed bulb


The rear number plate lights can be upgraded to LED however there is a problem with the bulb monitoring detecting failed bulbs and displaying a warning on the instrument cluster and MFD. There are a few approaches that can be taken and all revolve around adding extra resistance to the rear number plate light circuit to prevent the warning, one option is to install a resistor inside the car on that citcuit and the other approach is to add the resistor to the LED lights whilst being mindful that the bulbs are enclosed in a sealed enclosure so excess heat will melt the light fitting (as will fitting 10watt bulbs like the Polargs to replace the existing 5 watt bulbs).

The point at which the bulb out warning activates is around 6 watts and the LED modules that were used here are 1.5 watts so an additional 3 watts of load was required, after some testing 2 x 270 ohm resistors performed nicely and did not generate excessive heat.

Parts required are

Start by wrapping the resistor around the body paying attention to the end that is isolated from the body (some shrink wrap will be placed around this end to prevent a short circuit), once the legs are fully wrapped use a dremel/sandpaper/file/knife to scratch away the coating near the legs in preperation for soldering. Place some shrink wrap over the resistor and the leg on the end that is isolated and solder the legs to the end caps.

The resistor needs to be kept close to the body to maintain clearance to fit into the housing and to transfer heat to the body away from the resistor.


Once both units have been finished all that’s left is to fit them, these are polarity sensitive so if they don’t work the first time you put them in reverse them. When fitted to the holder correctly as shown below they have room to spare on each side. Make sure they are facing downwards as the light output is very directional unlike the standard bulb which outputs in all directions.


Golf hatch light upgrade to twin LED modules

The standard lighting in the hatch of the MarkV Golf leaves a lot to be desired, the easiest way to upgrade this is the use of LED modules. The drop in replacement units that replace the standard globe are not going to push out much more in the way of light because of the design of the fitting so I choose to use 2 flat directional 28 LED modules. Installation takes around 60 minutes.

The standard lighting is shown in the photo to the right.

After unpacking the new LED light kit you will have a set of adapters for replacing the standard light, foam to stick the LED light kit to a surface and the LED unit itself.

This unit has 28 LED’s in a 4 x 7 layout. (edit I’ve just replaced the units with a 48 LED unit – see details and photo below – the photos still show the 28 LED module)

The standard globe is around 39mm which is longer then the longest adapter. There are a few options here. You can cut the wiring harness and join the wires on, solder wires to the light fitting or my recommended way is to extend the longest adapter. This is a simple process that involves you carefully using pliers or slip joint  pliers to loosen the ends, once one end comes off mix up some epoxy resin and fill the end and part of the tube and push it back together until you end up with the adapter being the same lenghth as shown in the photo below. The 48 LED module comes with a spring loaded adapter so this isn’t required however I would place some shrink wrap over the outside to minimise any risk of the spring moving and causing a short as this will blow the interior light fuse.

Clip the adapter into the light fitting and fit the light as shown, the double sided tape included is sufficient to hold the module in position but as there is little surface area for it to stick it you need to wipe down the area with a suitable cleaner. You could use a cable tie to ensure it stays in place as you can see in the photo to the left but I found this isn’t required, this can all be done without removing any trim. You can see a wire attached to the harness in this photo which is the power to the other side and also at the right hand edge you can see where the wire passes down from the top behind the trim and down into the trim that runs down beside the hatch opening.

The photo on the right shows the hatch with one of the new LED modules installed, the light is an improvment but there is still a shadow cast by the wheel arch.

To run the cable around to the other side I tucked it in around the trim, you can see the wire sticking out from a few places to give you an idea of how to run it. The left hand side LED module is fitted the same way as the first, get the wire hanging out of the correct location and then fit the module and stick it into position.

That’s it, the install is now finished, all the wires can be tucked away and you should have a result that looks like this (the new 48 LED modules are even brighter and have a slightly warmer colour).

The 48 LED modules are USD $8.28 delivered anywhere in the world from Dealexteme, the new .  The light is also projected out to the ground behind the car providing extra illumination. These LED modules draw ~3.4w (275ma @ 12.45v) each so combined they draw ~6.8w which is ~1.8w more then the single incandescent globe did earlier.

New 48 LED Module

The 28 LED modules are USD $10.84 delivered anywhere in the world from Dealexteme however I ended up with dry joints on both of these in a number of locations, some where from new and some developed soon afterwards so I don’t recommend these any more.

It might be worthwhile fitting a resister when the lights are installed if the lights are operated with the engine running but as I only use my hatch with the car switched off most of the time I didn’t worry about this.