91 Sahara euro tail light conversion

SuperFrankieOSX

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Hello everyone,
I grabbed a set of these (Jeep Wrangler Australian/Euro Tail Light (87-95 Jeep Wrangler YJ)) in hopes of converting my US tail lights to European style ones with a separate brake light and turn signal. The pigtail plugs into the factory harness, however the brake and turn signal lights are on the reverse light portion of the lens, the reverse light is on the turn signal portion of the lens and the running light is in the correct spot. I'm sure I can correct that on the tail light itself by swapping the wires around. I just don't know what color wire going into the running light controls the second filament in the bulb for the brake lights. And I would also like to know how to stop the brake light from deactivating with the turn signal so it's correct with the European lens. I do know that I can run power from the front turn signal directly to the separate one in the rear. I heard somewhere that there is a wire underneath the column that comes from the brake light switch that is interrupted by the signals and that I can cut it to stop that. I'm sorry for the lengthy post which I'm sure is confusing but I just wanted to see if anyone can help me figure this out. Thank you!

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machoheadgames

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They plug in but they don’t work because of the different functions. The factory setup is a 3-wire tail light:

Parking lamp power
Brake/turn signal lamp power
Back-Up lamp power
Ground through the mounting bolts.

The euros are a 4-wire light:

Parking lamp power
Brake lamp power
Turn signal power
Back-Up lamp power
Ground through the mounting bolts.

The way the factory USA setup works from the factory is that the brake light power from the brake light switch runs through the turn signal switch in the steering column. That switch normally lets the brake light power pass through and run out to the tail lamps on the brake/turn signal wire. When the turn signal switch is in turn mode (L or R), it cuts off the brake lamp power to the side you’re turning, and instead feeds that brake lamp blinking turn signal power from the turn signal flasher in the fuse box.

I will explain what to do to run the euros but before I do that, I’ll list a few reasons why you might ditch the project or at least what you might consider implementing if you follow through with this swap:

  • The euro tail lamps do not have red side markers. I don’t know if inspectors in your area care, but DOT standards require red reflective side markers that are illuminated by the parking lamp circuit at night. The Euros don’t have that because the euro YJs either have a different separate fixture, or they don’t have rear side markers. I don’t recall. To keep yours officially Street legal, you might consider picking up a red rear side marker housing from an 81 and earlier CJ7. They used to have a red version of the front amber side marker mounted behind the rear tires. You could drill a 1” hole or whatever it needs, and screw it down and then be street legal.
  • The euro YJs had a real rear bumper with a center license plate mount, much like a truck in today’s world. As such, the tail lights don’t have that window at the bottom to illuminate the license plate. You might want to relocate your plate to the spare tire or something and put a light on it.
  • The euro tail lights are not very bright. The bulbs having those tiny windows really makes for them being quite dull. I love amber turn signals and I’d like to do the same project but when I did my testing, I was not satisfied with the output. Even using bright LEDs I like to use it wasn’t good enough for my standards.
  • This will screw up your trailer wiring if you want to tow. The proper fix would be to get a 3-wire to 2-wire trailer converter to take the newly separated tail/brake/turn circuits and will combine the brake and turn portions again for a trailer. Would be a decent amount of wiring you’d need to do in the wheel wells to have a nice clean 4-pin trailer pigtail coming out that you could tow a trailer with.
Those are the negatives. If you have solutions and want to proceed, then there are only a few things to get the lights working themselves.

First, you need a constant brake input. You have a 1991 which does not have the factory third brake light. That makes the job a bit more time consuming than it would have been on a 94+ with the third brake light. You’ll need to find the brake light switch and splice into the wiring after that switch (before the wiring goes to the turn signal switch). You’d need to cut that wire and then splice onto the portion coming from the brake switch and run that power to both tail lamps on the brake circuit. You can run it down the tub harness, splice it into two wires, run the L one to the left light and terminate to a weather pack terminal that you can insert into the factory 3-wire body side tail light plug. Just put it in the spot that corresponds with brake lights on the new euro lights. Run the other leg to the right side and do the same thing. Both lights will light up when you hit the brakes and they’ll no longer be disturbed.

Cutting that brake light wire to splice onto it for the brakes actually fixes the turn signal problem too. At this point the brake power no longer runs through the turn signal switch since you cut it; which means the original factory turn signal/brake wires are now just turn signal wires. Make sure those wires in the tail light plugs correspond to the turn signal power in the euro lights and you’ll be good to go.

For the record, I love the idea of this swap and I really wanted to do it. What killed me were the negatives. What someone needs to do is a company like Quadratec or similar who sells the LED tail lights needs to make a custom light that has an amber section and an additional wire. If quadratec sold their red LED tail lights with 4 of the 16 diodes being amber, I’d jump all over it. They could still illuminate the plate properly, could still have the side marker, you’d just have to deal with the install quirks like the wiring, and then the trailer wiring if that matters. Would be awesomely bright to being a properly designed LED fixture. Unfortunately at this point the only options are the bulbs and lens housing like you bought and I just wasn’t happy with the brightness or the lack of side marker and plate light, so I ultimately settled on Quadratec LED tail lights and called it done. They are super bright as least but they certainly are not as cool as an option with amber would have been.

Good luck.
 
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SuperFrankieOSX

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Thank you for the reply. The Euro tail lights actually have a Removable plastic piece on the bottom that I can probably install a window into for the license plate light. As for towing, I don't have a tow bar and don't exactly need or want to use my YJ for towing anything. As for the inspectors they don't pay attention to the reflector thing either although I'm pretty sure if that would be a problem I'll modify the housings to add them if needed. I did happen to order a factory 3rd brake light kit as well so I am going to be at the brake light switch anyways, at least if I cut the wires at the replaceable switch itself I won't ruin my actual harness if I ever want/need to switch back. I definitely love your idea of an LED setup that has the extra amber section, that would be awesome. I just have to now figure out the brake light switch wiring color codes before I mess with anything there's 4 wires coming off my brake light switch, would I be able to work with it there or do I have to mess with the wiring that comes out of the column? I did already denote which 4 wires got flashing 12v input with the left and right turn signals on, so maybe go from there?
Wiring from column (from the turn signal switch going into the main harness)

-yellow, blue is left signal

-greenish aqua, blue w/ black stripe is right signal



Thank you so much for the ultra well detailed and very helpful reply.
 
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SuperFrankieOSX

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According to a diagram, green is for right rear turn, yellow is left rear turn and white is the brake light input. So I would have to basically remove the brake light input from going into the column and run wires from those into the rear brake lights, white is from the column, so I'll just relay to the other side of the plug and get the left and right brake light inputs off of there. Or could this be done at the brake light switch itself?
 

machoheadgames

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Sounds like the cons i mentioned are not a problem for you, so you’re free to dive in.

Yes, you can splice into the brake lamp switch wiring itself since it actually has a pigtail. I’m not afraid to dig into factory wiring but it’s better if it can be avoided.

As far as I’m aware, maybe 91 is different, but 94 and 95 the wiring for the brake light switch is black, white/pink, white/tan, and pink/blue. Pink and blue is the battery power to the switch, white/tan is the output to the brake lights. Black is ground, white/pink is a brake sense for the PCM. When NOT using the brakes, the brake sense wire is connected to ground. When you hit the brakes, the PCM no longer sees ground on that circuit and knows you’re using the brakes. I don’t know what function that plays in real world usage of running the engine but it’s there.

You can do it your method or at the brake switch itself. The main thing is you cut the brake light output before it goes to the steering column, and extend it from where you cut it. Heat shrink the cut wire running to the steering column. You can make your cut in the brake light switch if you have enough access to work in there, or you can snip it closer to the column. Your call. Either way, the cut portion that is not extended, I’d heat shrink it and tape it up to the harness. The heat shrink can always be removed and it be respliced later.
 
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SuperFrankieOSX

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Sounds like the cons i mentioned are not a problem for you, so you’re free to dive in.















Yes, you can splice into the brake lamp switch wiring itself since it actually has a pigtail. I’m not afraid to dig into factory wiring but it’s better if it can be avoided.















As far as I’m aware, maybe 91 is different, but 94 and 95 the wiring for the brake light switch is black, white/pink, white/tan, and pink/blue. Pink and blue is the battery power to the switch, white/tan is the output to the brake lights. Black is ground, white/pink is a brake sense for the PCM. When NOT using the brakes, the brake sense wire is connected to ground. When you hit the brakes, the PCM no longer sees ground on that circuit and knows you’re using the brakes. I don’t know what function that plays in real world usage of running the engine but it’s there.















You can do it your method or at the brake switch itself. The main thing is you cut the brake light output before it goes to the steering column, and extend it from where you cut it. Heat shrink the cut wire running to the steering column. You can make your cut in the brake light switch if you have enough access to work in there, or you can snip it closer to the column. Your call. Either way, the cut portion that is not extended, I’d heat shrink it and tape it up to the harness. The heat shrink can always be removed and it be respliced later.







Tested the connector at the brake light switch, the wiring is the same, i'm going to cut the white/tan at the switch and run the wires to the power for the rear brake lights. Perfect, thank you so much. I'm definitely gonna figure out a solution to the license plate light and possibly the sidemarkers.
 
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SuperFrankieOSX

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Finished it last night, it turned out awesome. Turns out one of the connectors already had a pin with a wire inserted that went into nothing (driver's side) so I spliced into that wire and ran the other one to the passenger side, pinned it and inserted it into the connector. The wiring came out nicely (y)
 

machoheadgames

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Finished it last night, it turned out awesome. Turns out one of the connectors already had a pin with a wire inserted that went into nothing (driver's side) so I spliced into that wire and ran the other one to the passenger side, pinned it and inserted it into the connector. The wiring came out nicely (y)
That would be ground. There is no need for ground there, for whatever reason Jeep put one anyways. So makes sense. Pics and videos would be cool, especially if you get some in the daytime to show the visibility.
 
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SuperFrankieOSX

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UPDATE: I solved the License plate light issue by installing a plate frame with a built in LED light, hooked it up to a weather connector and then hooked that into the light circuit, works well! I added a factory third brake light by installing the factory style contact pin set up in the tailgate using new pin seals (OMIX-ADA Sliding door Grommet 12029.41). I used rubber grommets to fill the holes in the tailgate to let the wires through and fluid filmed the inside of the tailgate while it was unsealed to protect it from rust. I pined the 3rd brake light with weather connectors so i can disconnect and remove it easily or swap it (which I will, because its a TJ housing so it's way too tall for my YJ carrier and spare, I have an all metal YJ one on the way). I just connected the pins on the body to the brake light circuit using bullet connectors to connect to the pins. Drilling was required but I just looked at my junk '94 for reference of where to drill and whatnot.