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"And let there be light" -- Plug and play supplemental back up lighting

When I replaced my 1998 Jeep Cherokee with a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee I knew there was going to be an adjustment period.  I was going from a vehicle that was the most stripped down version (Jeep Cherokee SE 2DR 4.0L manual transmission) to a vehicle that was the most feature loaded vehicle I have owned.  Another thing I had never had before is tinted windows.  The factory tinted windows on the Grand Cherokee are dark,  I mean welding helmet dark.  This coupled with the pathetic factory back up lights in the tail lights made it difficult to see behind the vehicle.

I needed a solution that required the least amount of cutting and wiring that would give me additional lighting when backing up.  I researched improving the existing back up bulbs but there really wasn't much I could do without taxing the circuit they are on or potentially melting the housings.  I then thought of an LED light bar. Here is the step by step installation that I did, the best part is I did not have to cut into the factory wiring or run additional wiring and the light comes on when the vehicle is shifted into reverse.

I went with the KAWELL K6-6218 Off Road 18W CREE Ultra-thin 60 Degree LED Flood Light.  Being that I was mounting it on the plastic tow bezel, I needed a little bit of an extension of the mounting brackets so I added the rubber bushings that I found at Lowes in a size that gave me the distance I needed.

With the mounting hardware all together, I focused on the wiring aspect of the project.  The key things I needed from the electrical connection were:

1. No cutting into the existing backup light circuit
2. No running of new wiring, fuses, switches, etc.
3. The light must come on without any other action than putting the vehicle into reverse.
4. The light can be shut off when towing a trailer (camper or cargo box) so that the light        does not beam back into the vehicle into the drivers eyes.

Being that I have a trailer package on my Jeep with factory wiring I went with a CURT 58140 7 Pole Plastic Connector that I wired the light directly into.  The wiring is dead simple.  Run the two wires from the light into the 7 pole (pin) plug and there are slots and set screws that are marked.  Put the positive on the back up light pin and the negative on the ground pin.  Tighten the strain relieve where the LED light bar wire enters the plug so it grabs the wire securely.  For additional security from the elements I put a dab of Permatex 81158 Black RTV Silicone Sealant where the wire enters the plug.  When I do not want the light on I just unplug it and store the plug up behind the bezel.

The final product:  The light is out of the way and does not interfere with the trailer hitch in any way.  The project took me with taking the pictures about an hour and I am working in the driveway on stones, so figure in that time me searching in the stones for dropped washers.  Overall cost is about $30 depending on what or any bushings are needed for your install.  So if you have a vehicle with a tow plug and want to improve the back up lights this is a way to go.  I have provided the links to the products on Amazon where I purchased them in the blog post.

Even with it being still light out the camera on my phone had a hard time getting a picture of the light in action.  You can clearly see the difference in light output from the factory back up lights in the tail lights.


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