DIY: HVAC, Key, and Button LEDs (on 2003 WRX)
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This is a discussion on DIY: HVAC, Key, and Button LEDs (on 2003 WRX) within the Cockpit and Cabin forums, part of the Tutorials & DIY category; With my STI cluster swap in my bugeye, I've got a red cluster, a blue head unit, and green interior ...

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    \_(ツ)_/ Rambo's Avatar
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    DIY: HVAC, Key, and Button LEDs (on 2003 WRX)

    With my STI cluster swap in my bugeye, I've got a red cluster, a blue head unit, and green interior lights! It's time to get things matching again. This will be a work in progress over the next few weeks as my LEDs are in the mail. There are a ton of guides out there, but I want to get a "one stop shop" for all of them put together.

    HVAC LEDS

    Stay tuned, but I'm using this excellent tutorial from Castper on NASIOC: Changing HVAC Lights in a WRX D.I.Y. - NASIOC


    Key Ring

    1. Remove the single screw on the bottom of steering column.
    2. Lower the adjustment lever.
    3. Pull off the bottom plastic panel.
    4. Gently pull out the key ring.
    5. Unscrew the bulb housing out of the ring.
    6. Gently pull out the old bulb.
    7. Replace with an LED.
    8. Reverse process to rebuild.



    Fog, Cruise Control, and I/C Spray Buttons

    So removing the switches are pretty easy, and changing out the incandescent bulbs isn't bad either, but unlike many Subaru lid switches that use "bulb condoms" these have a colored gel behind the button icon that defines the color. In order to properly change the color with LEDs later, this colored film must be sanded off, leaving the clear plastic.

    NOTE: The "ON" indicator for the Cruise Control and Fog Light switches are colored all the way through the plastic! It is NOT the thin gel like the icons and lettering. I chose to leave the "ACTIVE" indicator colors as they are.

    What LEDs to order:

    This seemed to be the most confusing part as there is lots of conflicting information. I decided to pull out my trusty pair of calipers, take some measurements, then look at the LED datasheets. The buttons use "T3"-type bulbs (the bulb socket is 3mm). I purchased mine RIGHT HERE. SuperBrightLEDs call this bulb NEO3-x, but other places called this a "T3" bulb.

    I also went ahead and ordered new map and dome lights as well. Here's my complete part list from SuperbrightLEDs. I order extra 3mm bulbs just because. I really only need 3 red ones to change the lettering/icon colors, and the two white ones to light up the "active" indicators. I got two red festoon bulbs to replace the map lights with night vision-friendly red, and a warm white LED stack for the dome light.


    Tools:



    You'll need a small flat head screwdriver from prying open the switches, a rotary tool with a burr grinder bit, and some needlenose pliers. It's also helpful to have a point light source for checking your work. I used my LED headlamp.

    1. Pry open the switch

      Use the screwdriver to carefully pry up the sides of the switch until it pops free. It's pretty sturdy plastic, so I wouldn't worry too much about braking it, but gently prying and twisting worked best for me.


      Note that there is some spring tension on the button, and the first time I tried this, it exploded bits everywhere. That's ok, I'll walk you through how to fix it in a second.
    2. Remove the button component

      Once the switch is apart, remove the button face with the offending colored gel. Shining a light through the back brings this into stark relief (this one was halfway done):


    3. Begin sanding out the color
      I used my small burr grinding bit on my Dremel, and set it to about 50% speed. Too fast will bore through the plastic too quickly, and too slow skipped everywhere. Carefully move back and forth across the inside of the switch to remove the coloring. Periodically check your work by holding the face up to a light:

      All done!


      Dim and green before:


      Brilliant white after:

    4. Reassembly
      Follow the assembly pics if your switch blew up like mine did. I've confirmed it is 100% functional again:




    5. LEDs Installed



      Sand down the LED with a Dremel tool to help disperse the light:


    All done!

    Last edited by Rambo; 09-26-2012 at 10:24 PM.
    Isaac -- 2003 WRX sedan Stg II - Gave its life for mine 6/2013.
    2007 Outback 3.0R wagon
    Proud owner of a N.E.R.D, Member 1.3810-23

    The pursuit of knowledge is hopeless and eternal... Hooray!!! - Professor Farnsworth

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  3. #2
    \_(ツ)_/ Rambo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Portland, OR
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    I Support ClubWRX
    Bump for new LED ordering information.
    Isaac -- 2003 WRX sedan Stg II - Gave its life for mine 6/2013.
    2007 Outback 3.0R wagon
    Proud owner of a N.E.R.D, Member 1.3810-23

    The pursuit of knowledge is hopeless and eternal... Hooray!!! - Professor Farnsworth

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