I saw a thread a while ago that had WRX badges that were lit up. A lot of people thought it was cool but the instructions on how it was done were very vague. I decided to do it myself and provide a good DIY post. So…Here it is.
This is what it looked like when I was done.
This is not difficult but it does that time and patience. If you don't take your time you will break or scratch the badges. Cutting out the letters is what takes the most time.
Aside from the normal tools you will need:
1. Dremel tool.
2. Needle files.
You will also need:
1. Badges x 2 one left and one right. You can get them online from any OEM parts vendor. I got mine from Fred Beans Parts. Part numbers are 91123FG020 and 91123FG030. Trust me it's easier to buy 2 new badges to work with. The badges on the car are difficult to remove in useable condition and this also means you won't be driving around with a blank spot where your badges belong while you are working on this project.
2. You also need 2 x reflectors.
3. LEDs x 2
Be sure to cover the front with masking tape or the badge will get scratched. I used an exacto knife to cut away the portion of the trim molding tape from the back of the badge. This stuff is the consistency of bubble gum and has to be peeled/rubbed off.
Secure the badge so it won't move being careful not to scratch it. I used a dremel tool and a sanding wheel to sand away the ribs on the back side. Once the ribs are sanding down you will start to see the WRX lettering show through. Sand down just a little further until no chrome is showing. DON’T GO TO FAR!!! I tried to sand it down to the point the letters would fall out but once you are that far down the badges are so thin and brittle they just fall apart. Now the back is nice and flat for your reflector to rest one.
Now mask of the lettering like the picture below. I cover whatever letters I'm not working on as I go. I slipped once and scratched one of the badges on and unprotected surface. I used the smallest engraving/craving bit I could find to cut most of the plastic inside the lettering. I don't have the hands of a surgeon so I used some brass angle iron from a railroad hobby store to cut small pieces to fit inside the letters. These acted as a guide and kept me from nicking the sides.
Then I used needle files to finish it up. I left quite a bit of plastic because I didn't want to nick the side. This meant I had to file a lot more but it was worth it. Get to know the shapes of your needle files and you'll be able to get in the hard to reach areas. The corners of the X are difficult but if you take your time you'll be pleased. There's little bit left in the corners of mine but you can't tell from more than 5 feet away. The picture below shows the WRX lettering in both finished and rough form.
I used cutting wheel to trim the reflectors down to size. I used the orange reflectors that allow the light to defuse at night but still look good during the day. The reflectors worked great for this. Even with the LEDs off they look great and reflect light when parked. At 1st I thought the reflectors would be too thick but once I removed the double sided tape I saw they are hollow. Once they are trimmed down they are the perfect thickness. This is important because there is not a lot of room to squeeze the LEDs between the reflector and body of the car. Some folks use colored plastic cutting boards or clip boards but I couldn't find any the color I wanted or weren't too opaque.
Now I removed the side molding. To do this you have to pull the front two plastic clips free on the front of the rocker. You have to pull pretty hard. This is easier if you remove the two plastic clips underneath first. Confused? Watch this video and you'll see what I mean. Pay attention because you'll need to remove the fender liner like they show in the video later.
Rally Armor Mounting Instructions
Now start from the top and pull the side molding off. It comes off much easier than the rocker. Now use a heat gun or hair dryer to heat up the badges and pull them off. The trim molding tape with probably come off the badge and stay on the molding. Peel/rub this off the side molding and use some Goo Gone to remove all the sticky residue.
Now I used my cutting wheel again to remove a small piece of the side molding so the LEDs would fit behind the reflector. I used amber LED modules from Oznium. They are small, thin, water proof and very bright!
At first I thought I would have to glue the reflector and led in place but it all fits so tight I just used black electrical tape to hold it in place. Once the Side molding is snapped back into place it holds it all together. Peel the backing off the trim molding tape and attach your badge.
Remember the video you watched? Good because we need to remove the fender liner to hook up the LEDs to the fuse box. Loosen the rocker and loosen the fender liner. Replace the rocker with the fender liner detached. Now jack up the car and remove the wheel. If you jack up the car 1st you can't loosen the rocker to get the fender liner loose. Now detach just enough of the fender liner that you can tuck it behind the brake out of the way. Now you can see the rubber grommet in the fender well (there's one on the driver and passenger side). This is the best place to get through the fire wall. I used some loom/plastic electrical conduit to make it look neat. I used some blade style attachments so I can easily remove the side molding later if needed. I hooked up to the position marker (fuse number 14) with an add a circut/fuse tap. The badges will light up with the parking lights or headlights on. Put it all back together in reverse order and you done.
I'm quite pleased with how it came out. Sometimes the electrical tape will stick to the reflector and create a blobbing effect. I may go back and put some silver reflective tape behind the LEDs. Also a night the LEDs are so bright that from far away you can't really read the lettering because of the halo effect. I thought about using a piece of reflector that extends further down and defuse the light up instead of having the LEDs directly behind the reflector. However, for now, I am really happy with it. Don't get too wrapped around the axle about the little details. People will be looking at the from at least 15 feet away and unless or parked you be traveling 10 mph : P