Reverse Light Upgrade

The back-up lamps on the 2.5 are more of a suggestion of light than actual practical illumination, so I decided to do quick and inexpensive upgrade.

I've had good luck with CREE style LEDs previously, as long as I replaced all the hardware with stainless. I came across these NiLight 18W flush mount flood lights and thought I'd roll the dice and give them a try. Eighteen bucks, why not?

The install required trimming a bit of the opening for the stock lamps since the NiLight height is about a quarter inch taller.

Remove the housing.

Then remove the lamp from the housing. I clipped the the socket off from the wires.

Before fitting clean the area around the opening to remove the footprint from the previous housing. 

I used a jig saw with a metal cutting blade to score the bottom edge of the opening, creating "teeth" that will be pulled to match the height requirement of the new housing.

Using a pair of ViseGrips, grab a tooth and slowly move it vertically until it breaks off.

 Test fit the opening.

I finished prepping the factory wiring with a pair of butt splices. Yeah, butt splices. Sue me.

On the NiLight side of the wiring I put on a sleeve of 1/4 inch heat shrink over the wires and outer sheath.

And then added two more pieces of heat shrink that will shroud the butt connectors.

Finish the splice, black to black.

Slide the two pieces of heat shrink over the butt connectors and heat 'em up.

Slide the remaining heat shrink to create a sheath from the fixture insulation to the connectors.

Add some split loom conduit, picking up about an inch beyond the factory conduit and tape the length back to the fixture.

Install the NiLight housing and mark a pilot hole for the first mounting bolt.

Drill, baby.

With the pilot bolt tightened, drill the remaining three using the housing as a guide. Attach the remaining bolts, which are stainless. Surprise. 

I finished the install by zip-tying the conduit in place above the frame and by adding marine silicone around the exposed edge of the bumper (behind the housing) to stave off rust. 

Tough to be scientific about these, but for reference they were taken at 400 ASA at 1/8 of a second at an f8, the closest exposure I could find within a reasonable ASA to what my eye was seeing.


  1. Nice write-up and photos! Thanks for taking the time to share ideas, how-to's, etc.
    Have they since been dunked, and if so, any issues with the inexpensive lights and butt splices?

    1. Thank you. Glad these posts are serving some purpose. No dunking or submersion, but the fixtures and harness have been drenched in heavy rain for hours of freeway driving, (I commute 700 miles every weekend) and everything is fine. The splices have their own insulation, they're heat-shrink wrapped, wrapped with split loom, and finished off with outdoor electrical tape.

    2. Looking great! I've enjoyed your build threads. It's given me lots of ideas.

      I'm looking for a Montero and am torn between a Gen III and a Gen 2.5. I have a wife and three kids (though the oldest is 16 and driving now). We'd like to take it up to the Sierra's, camp off the grid, overland. We also love the desert and bombing through Death Valley. Moab is on my list as well. How is the Gen 2.5 on long road trips compared to the Gen III? Would you pick one over the other?

    3. Rob, sorry it's taken so long to reply. Both are very capable, the III is a little better appointed, but I prefer the 2.5 overall, mainly due to styling. If I were in your shoes, I'd find a l ow-miles Gen 1. I think the market is going to respond well to that iteration due to its utilitarian looks and ruggedness.

    4. Thanks for the advice Eric. Just a week after I posted this question I found a 2003 Montero with only 122,000 miles. It has been very well taken care of with all major service being done, oil changed every 3k and garaged. I couldn't pass it up. The whole family loves it. It may be a little too nice for what I want to do. We took it to an OHV park and it can climb! Walked right up things my Pathfinder and 4Runner would have struggled with. My brother-in-law was so impressed he's thinking about getting a Montero. He likes the looks of the Gen 1 and this would be an extra vehicle for him.

      Looking forward to see what you do next.

  2. More than serving a purpose....they're generating appreciation for your attention to detail and gratitude for the encouragement. I can take things apart, but short-term memory loss has me taking even simple projects to someone able to get 'em back together. Step-by-step instructions enable me to tackle things like this. (I chose my 1996 Geo Tracker 4wd based on it being the choice of Aussies for Outback travel.)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Roof Rack Hack

Platform and Drawer System

Roof Rack Hack 2.0