Miata Mirror Lights
Installation Guide by Wilson Steele
One day I decided that the inside of my í93 needed more light inside at night.† Actually, after many, many hours, and way too many trips at night reading maps with flashlights, this didnít take a lot of brainpower.† I wanted to do a slick and stock looking installation, and I think the end product came out really well.† You canít even see the lights from outside the car, even when there on.† And I wired properly, as described below, so that the multi position switch works for each passenger as well.
The best improvement to the interior of my car, and Iíve done quite a bit.† I canít believe how much of a difference this made to everything at night, especially map reading and such while traveling.† Just getting into and out of the car is better too.
Project:† 2 hours all told, ††††† (but several coats of paint on another day, + 37sec ea.)
First off, go to Autozone with the follow list:
2 side marker lights, simple as possible (2-wire) (probably in the trailer section)
2x 10 ft 18 gauge wire in black
1x 10 ft 18 gauge wire red
1 pack 18 gauge butt connecters
1 pack 18 gauge ring terminals
1 pack of wire ties†††† (if youíre really professional, heat shrink for 3x18 gauge)
1 Wide crimp tool† (it you donít own a crimp tool thatís as wide as your set of diagonal wire cutters, get one, it does a much better job and doesnít cut insulation like the cheap, stamped, thin ones.† Theyíre crap . . . . )
††††††††††† I only wanted light to come out of the bottom of the housing, so I masked off everything but one side with tape.† Painted it bumper chrome twice, and then flat black twice, and when they were installed, light still shone through a little.† So paint the heck out of them, the little 10 bulbs put out some photons.
††††††††††† And while I had the paint cans out, I decided to paint the stock panel lights as well, which came out very well.† I didnít leave one unpainted to compare to, but they do seem to put out more light to the oleí highly calibrated eye.
††††††††††† There is one screw in the back of your mirror which is easy to access if you swivel it around to face forward.† I donít think it needs to be completely removed to take the mirror down, but be careful not to loose the washer under the screw if you do.
††††††††††† It takes a gentle hand and a bit of force to pop the glass out, but it can be done.† The glass is pressed against the rear ribs in the plastic by an outer lip all the way around, but none of that comes apart.† Itís just pressed together when made.† I slide a knife past the lip, and put a thin ruler in there to hold open what Iíd just pried.† Then repeated with several handy razor blades many times down the side till the whole bottom edge popped out.† It helps a little to convince one side to come out as well, meaning start at a corner and work around to the diagonal corner.† Iím sure the glass is quite breakable in bending, to BE CAREFUL!!!!!!
††††††††††† Putting the lights on is very easy, as they came with their hard ware.† Each light required three holes, two for screws, and then one in the center for the wiring.† Itís just plastic, to a drill bit goes right through and wraps well around the towel you laid on the bench.† Another large whole was require near the center of the mirror to allow 3 18ga wires to exit in an ordered fashion.
††††††††††† Pull the wires cleanly through the center whole made for each housing, and screw down the lights.† I guess that didnít need to be said, but I needed some text next to this picture.† I even had to snip the ends of the light mounting screws off with my bolt cutters, but they wouldnít have been in the way.† Quite a clean look when itís all put together, and it does wonders for the car at night.
††††††††††† At some point, you will need to strip 1/4Ē of insulation off the ends of the wires, so nowís as good a time as any.† If youíre done with your beer for the moment.
Wiring Part 1 Ė The Easy Stuff
††††††††††† Inside the mirror, we want to run 1 power (red ) and 2 grounds (black).† Each mirror light, or map light from now on, will be activate either by the door switches (together), or by the panel light switch (separately).† The panel mirrors have power before the switch, and the switch operates which ground they go to.† Which makes our life a little easier than a switched power system. †(Wiring diagram at end of tech article.)† And before wiring took place, I drilled some 1/8Ē holes in the ribs in the rear to run the wires through, cleans the mess up a bit, and keeps things out of my night-time driving mechanism.†
††††††††††† So, with four wires there on your lights, elect two to be hot, and two to be ground.† The hot ones will always have power, and they will share it.† The two grounds will each have a separate wire, which will go to the back of each panel switch.† With one butt connector, connect one wire (doesnít matter which) from each light to the red one.† I had to also crimp on some 10Ē red extensions to make it reach, you probably will too.† When I crimped on the long ones to come out the back, I put on all that was left of the spool, roughly 9í.† Which is a bit messy, but your going to need at least 6í of it.† And zip tie every 6Ē for cleanliness of running the wires in your trim.
Drink Beer, Admire Handy-Work
††††††††††† Well, this picture also needs some text to go next to it, so there you have it. †If you are really professional, you will substitute heat shrink for all the zip ties I used, but I am not that anal.† In most things.† But if I did it all again, I would probably do that as well.† And if you were really anal, you would put on a 15Ē or so piece, so your couldnít see any separate wires disappearing into your trim when the project is complete.† Now that would be slick, and you would get an honorary Mazda employee merit badge.† Ah, more things to think of for the next Miata I own.† And I must say the paint job looks just exquisite at this point, doesnít it?
Re-Install Mirror, run wires in trim
††††††††††† Okay, the easy part is done, now put the mirror back up, but DONíT put the glass in yet.† Still time to look at yourself later.† Your going to need something rather thin, blunt and plastic, like your wifeyís best spatula for this next bit.† But itís a pretty simple job to shove the wires behind the plastic trim along the top edge of the car.† It gets a bit tricky at the corner, but you will be able to pop the side piece of trim off a few of its spring-locks, and throw everything back there.† Mine came right off, but Iím not sure how well that will work for everyone.† And there a little flexible, and not too brittle in my 13 year of car, but they could be, so careful on that one too.
Run Wires Down Drivers Side
††††††††††† I imagine that it doesnít matter which side, but I originally wanted to run my power right to the fuse box, which would have turned into more of a PITA than its worth, so the power actually follows the grounds to one of the panel lights.
††††††††††† I popped off the A-pillar trim piece without meaning too, so itís not to hard, but it does take a nasty looking bend in the middle.† Just run the wires down to where they will tuck nicely into the door sill trim rubber, and youíre good to go
Give it Juice: Wiring Part 2, the Diagram
††††††††††† Hereís that diagram youíve been wait for, but itís a little easier just to look at the pictures of the next step, when things are connected.† But remember, at this point, you have three wires to deal with, one red and two black.† IF you can follow instructions.† The red will be a common power, and the 2 blacks will be grounded whenever the panel lights are grounded by their switch.
††††††††††† The two new grounds will actually have ring terminals crimped on their ends, and ground to the back of the panel switch by the screw that holds the switch together.† Either Iím a genius, (no question there), or we should thank Mazda to doing their panel lights in a way that lends itself to extra wires hanging off the back.
††††††††††† Obviously, the new stuff is the red and blue.† I was out of black ink in Photoshop, so blue will have to do.
Wiring Part 3: Crimp to Panel Lights
††††††††††† Alright, hereís the part where you get to test is all out.† If you havenít connected your power yet for some reason, donít worry if the lights are one with the two grounds connected.† If you study the diagram long enough, youíll see why.
††††††††††† Run both red and black wires for the left light out the dash hole for the driverís panel light, and run the right lightís ground out the whole for the passenger panel light.† Crimp a ring terminal on the end of each black light.† On the right is the driverís side set up, the passenger side will just have the ring terminal grounded to the back of the switch.† I wish I could have run the power to the wiring harness before this connecter, as the module doesnít unplug from the car when youíre done, but that wiring harness is WAY up under and behind the dash, so no thanks.† IF you leave a lot of extra red and black wire, you can have this set up reach to your lap anyway, which is removable enough.
While the panel lights were out, I gave them a bit of bumper chrome paint as well, and they seem to put out more now as well.† And I cut an extra ring terminal down to act as a spring enhancement to the switch, which was pretty loose after years of springing (think helper leaf in the back of a pick-up).† Much more positive feelÖ
Youíre Done Ė Finish Beer, Clean Up, Drive at Night
Plug the panel lights back in, and make sure it all works.† Itís pretty simple stuff, so I didnít have any problems, other than a new ground loop, and the lights working before the power was connected.† But connecting the power solved that.† Replace glass with a solid push (not a shove crack tinkle tinkle . . . ), and youíre pimpiní in style.
Thatís about it, feel free to send me comments on Miatas, my spelling and beer drinking to firstname.lastname@example.org
í93 Miata CSP
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4 July, 2005