Using LEDs in place of Sprinter incandescent bulbs

I thought it might be helpful to have a place for people to report on successes and fixes related to the common problems one encounters when opting to replace the factory incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs.

The most common problem swapping in LED lamps for any of the external lamps is a bulb fault, indicated by an illuminated bulb icon on the instrument panel. This is caused by the LED replacements drawing a small fraction of the power the detection circuits expect and the circuits reporting a fault. Another problem (with turn signals) can be rapid flashing, caused by the same reduced current consumption. A third issue seen sometimes is a faint glowing of LED lamps when the circuit is supposed to be off. This is most often seen on interior dome lights and is probably the result of the way such circuits are controlled, which leaves a small potential on the lamp circuit, which is enough for the incredibly efficient LED to produce a small amount of light from.

For my contribution I want to describe my replacement of the backup light bulbs in my 2012.

I chose to go with LED's in the backup lamps in order to create brighter light behind me while backing. I have always felt the stock backup illumination was lacking and it only gets worse when I add a trailer and want to see a bit further.

The LED I picked is the "Phinlion 3600 Lumens 1156 LED Backup Bulb Super Bright P21W BA15S 3497 7506 LED Bulbs for Car Truck RV Back Up Reverse Lights, 6000K Xenon White" currently available on Amazon. Note the 3600 Lumens is for both bulbs. They are 1800 each. These replace the OEM 7506 which are rated for 460lm when new. The OEM lamps are rated to consume 21W each and the LED 8.6W.

When installed in the Sprinter they indeed are MUCH brighter and the white is of the "daylight" variety, but they do cause the bulb out report indicator to come on.

Bit of added info. The Sprinter routes a single wire to the rear (white with blue tracer) to the rear to power the backup lights. That wire is in a small bundle of wires that runs along the drivers side roof-line. Being a single wire to both bulbs it is safe to say the Sprinter sensors for "bulb out" need to trip is around half or less of the expected 42W is being consumed.

I did a little testing and found that with these LEDs I needed to add a load resistor of around 6 ohms between the white/blue wire and ground to satisfy the bulb out monitor. 8 ohms was not enough load in my case. The 6 ohm resistor basically turns 32W or so of current fed toward the backup lights into heat. So one would need a 6ohm 50W resistor here. Also it should be mounted in a safe place because it is going to get hot when the backup lights are on. Luckily, this is such a common problem (CAN bus and flasher errors when converting to LED lights) that there are a ton of little kits being offered using chassis mountable heat sinked 50W 6 ohm resistors, and often they include those crappy inline taps and have useful insulated pigtail wires already soldered to the resistors. I used these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00L4V9ECY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


Anyway, the point is a 6 ohm resistor between the backup lamp power wire and chassis ground eliminated the lamp fault on the instrument cluster for the pair of backup LED lamps.

Also, there are LED replacement lamps sold that claim to be CAN Bus error free. From what I can determine they simply add a resistor within the LED lamp to consume the same current as the incandescent bulb they replace. My main beef with this approach is that heat is the enemy of LED technology as is dramatically shortens their life. Each LED bulb already generates significant heat (5-10W in this case) which the housing must shed. Adding another 20W of heat to that problem just makes it much worse (less reliable). I prefer to generate that heat away from the bulb.
 

Mickyfin

Member
I have found some true canbus leds for the front side light headlights, and front and rear true canbus indicators. These have been working 100% for 5k miles now. I will add info on the specific leds they are when I have a little more time.

I have some reverse light leds, rear fog led, mirror leds, and H7 leds yet to fit, test, and find out what, if any resistors I need.
 

autostaretx

Erratic Member
There is a purchase option to turn off the bulb testing ... you might see if it's available from MB as an aftermarket tweak.
(after all, it's just a software feature activation/deactivation)

Quoth the book:
JW2 Deactivation Lamp Monitoring Failure (Compared to Sprinter 906: Carry Over ) <-- so it's in NCV3, too

This code allows body builders to connect own or additional lights to the vehicle but must take into account the maximum lamp load. The maximum lamp loads can be found in the body builder guideline for Sprinters. When the bulb failure indicator is active the exterior lighting is monitored by the signal acquisition and control module (SAM) for torn wires and short circuit. If a light bulb with output other than the vehicle‘s standard is connected, an error message is entered in the control unit log, and the driver is informed via a message displayed in the instrument cluster.
 License plate light: 1.0 A
 Backup light: 2.4 A
 Turn signal: 1.75 A -1.96 A (maximum 2.1 A)
 Fog light: N/A (tape back)
 Tail light: 1.0 A
When using LEDs, a resistor must be used to compensate for the lower amp draw. Turn signal LEDs amp draw is recommended to be between 1.75 A – 1.96 A (maximum 2.1 A) otherwise rapid flashing will occur. Please consult the Body Builder Information Book for further information.
Benefits: Standard on Cab Chassis.
---end quoth---

--dick
 
I need to take my Sprinter up to Knoxville to have the Takata airbag on the passenger side done. I will inquire about this JW2 Deactivation Lamp Monitoring Failure as a possible dealer service then.
 

Kajtek1

2015 long/tall limo RV 2.1l
...........

Also, there are LED replacement lamps sold that claim to be CAN Bus error free. From what I can determine they simply add a resistor within the LED lamp to consume the same current as the incandescent bulb they replace. My main beef with this approach is that heat is the enemy of LED technology as is dramatically shortens their life. Each LED bulb already generates significant heat (5-10W in this case) which the housing must shed. Adding another 20W of heat to that problem just makes it much worse (less reliable). I prefer to generate that heat away from the bulb.
I used the "error free" bulbs on several of my sedans front marker lights as could not stand white headlights and yellowish halogen next to it.
The bulb were on all the time lights were on and never had to replace them before selling the car.
Difference might be that my bulbs were originally 5W rated, when backup bulbs are 21 W rated, but than backup lights usually run for only few seconds.
 

marshroger@hotmail.com

2006,2500,118, Passenger
I am still trying to find LED dome lights for my 2006, 118 passenger van. Any recommendations for the proper ones?
 

autostaretx

Erratic Member
I am still trying to find LED dome lights for my 2006, 118 passenger van. Any recommendations for the proper ones?
Cargo area or above the front seats?
I've replaced one (or two? i forget) of my cargo (passenger, actually) area lamps with a 42 mm "festoon bulb" (LED) picked up at a local marine supplies store. The T1N doesn't try to "sense" the bulb quality of the cargo lamps, so "plain LED" worked fine.


I prefer to drop into the store and *look* at the bulbs to select the pattern (and color temperature) of the LED array.
For the ceiling light, we don't need a 360 degree illumination pattern ... 180 degrees is fine.
I may have chosen this one: https://www.fisheriessupply.com/lunasea-lighting-6-led-festoon-bulb-42-mm ($10)
((my memory says i paid $15, but that was over a year ago))

I also added a piece of reflective aluminum tape on to the metal above the bulb to increase the amount of downward-reflected light in the remaining incandescents. (i have a dark blue Sprinter .. the inside of the roof is not very reflective).

--dick
 

marshroger@hotmail.com

2006,2500,118, Passenger
I'm planning the cargo area but maybe the front later. I sit in the cargo area with a wheelchair and it is very dim for doing tiedowns etc. Thanks for the info. I'll probably have to buy a few types/sizes and see what happens.
 

Nimpoc

Enginerd in wander
Very interested in headlight replacement results. Can’t have enough light down range.

I got reverse lamp, map light, and passenger festoon LEDs from SuperbrightLEDs. The reverse lamps are brighter, but not profoundly so. Map lamps and passenger cabin lamps are much improved, and don’t feel like they’re going to catch fire after being left on for ages.

The parts appear to be similar to the genetic stuff you’ll find on Amazon. I went with them to have some sort of warranty support. Turns out when two lamps failed, sending a video wasn’t enough, and I had to return the lamps. Between my time and the postage, it was a wash compared to buying new ones. For that reason, I’ll just risk Amazon in the future.
 

borabora

Well-known member
I am still trying to find LED dome lights for my 2006, 118 passenger van. Any recommendations for the proper ones?
I use these for the interior (map/dome) light in my 2016 NCV3. There's no off glow and no bulb out indicator (I don't think those apply to interior lights). Very white light which I don't like too much but the brightness and low power draw make up for that. I primarily got them so I do not have to worry too much about opening/closing doors and the cab light draining the chassis battery on extended camping stays.

 

DefyInertia

‘17 4x4 Moto Camping Van
I use these for the interior (map/dome) light in my 2016 NCV3. There's no off glow and no bulb out indicator (I don't think those apply to interior lights). Very white light which I don't like too much but the brightness and low power draw make up for that. I primarily got them so I do not have to worry too much about opening/closing doors and the cab light draining the chassis battery on extended camping stays.

42mm?

the incandescents are melting my thinsulate which is concerning to say the least. Hoping LED will run cooler.
 

asimba2

ourkaravan.com
My van was not picky about the dome lights, but SUPER picky about the puddle lights in the bottoms of the front doors. I'm on my second set of CANBUS LEDs and so far all of them flash five times then turn off. Still haven't found any that will work.
 

borabora

Well-known member
My van was not picky about the dome lights, but SUPER picky about the puddle lights in the bottoms of the front doors. I'm on my second set of CANBUS LEDs and so far all of them flash five times then turn off. Still haven't found any that will work.
You won't find any magic LEDs that will solve that problem but you need to install a load resistor in parallel with the lights. You need a load resistor for each bulb that can be activated individually or a single load resistor for all bulbs that always light up simultaneously. The resistor is connected in parallel with the new LED and mounted against metal because it has to dissipate heat. The value of the resistor depends on the number and wattage of bulbs it supplements.
 

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