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Hard-wiring 240T tail lights

fivealive

New member
Joined
May 24, 2005
Hard-wiring 240T tail lights

NOTE: You don't have to solder to do this. The other option, as discussed in the comments below, is to use female spade connectors on the tabs for the tail light connections. You can either use big spade connectors (which do exist, although they're hard to find) or use a dremel tool to make the tabs small enough for standard spade connectors.

OK, I thought this idea up because my tail lights have a lot of problems. After getting pulled over many times for having a bulb out that just turned out to be a bad connection, I got sick of it. So I pulled out my handy soldering iron and ran wires to all the bulbs in the tail lights to replace that printed-circuit piece of plastic.

Car is a 1981 Volvo 242 GLT-Turbo. Not all Volvo's have this printed circuit. Many have real metal that works fine.

Here's what you'll need:
8mm deep socket and wrench
Phillips screwdriver
Soldering Iron and lots of solder
Wire (18 guage is best, I used 16. Getting OEM colors would be nice)
Shielded connectors (bullet or spade)
Ring-terminal connectors for ground wires
Wire cutters/strippers
Permanent marker
Shop knife
Sand Paper

Ok, first, take all the junk out of the trunk, including the spare tire. Now, unscrew the plastic knob that holds on the plastic cover that is on the inside of the tail light.

Once that is off, unplug the tail light wiring harness from the tail light. (white plastic connector). Unscrew the tail light grounding screw. Remove the tail light by taking off the four 8mm nuts. Carefully pop the tail light off of the car, pushing from the inside of the trunk. Be careful not to damage the rubber seal or the light itself of course. Here's what it should look like:

tail_light_before.jpg


Now, you'll need to remove that rubber seal and set it aside. Look at the blue printed circuit and figure it out. It's pretty straight forward. All of the light bulbs share a common ground wire that runs around the edge of the circuit board. The "+" wires are the yellow, brown, blue, and black wires that connect to the white plug. I don't know what the white wire does; on my car, it doesn't go to anything. Oh well.

Get out your permanent marker and mark up the blue printed circuit with the color of wire that goes to what bulb so you'll be able to hook things up right later. Also mark each bulb holder so you know what one's go in what holes. They are mostly interchangable, but it makes it easier to keep them straight later.

Next, remove each bulb holder from the tail light and remove the bulbs from the holders. Set the bulbs somewhere safe. Find the plastic tabs on the holders that cover up the metal tabs that go to the light bulbs. Cut off these plastic tabs with the shop knife. An alternative method is to melt them off with the soldering iron. These tabs don't seem to do much and will really get in your way when soldering if left on.

Get your sand paper and sand all the tabs so that the solder will stick to them. Using the blue printed circuit as a guide, cut wires of the appropriate lengths and strip the ends with wire strippers. Now solder the wires to the metal tabs, duplicating the layout of the blue printed circuit. Solder to the "back" side of the tabs so that you can still screw in the bulb holder when you're done.

Here is a picture of the light about half way done. All of the "+" wires have been soldered. Next I did the ground wires. I only had red 16 guage wire, and I didn't want to pay for more wires. However, it would have been easier with 18 guage color-coded wire of course.

tail_light_after1.jpg


Now, wire the ground wire. You can do one ground wire, but I did two. One for the lower two bulbs and one for the upper three bulbs. Now put ring terminals on the ground wires and bullet/spade connectors on the "+" wires. Here's a pic of the completed light

tail_light_after2.jpg


You can use zip ties or whatever to keep the wires together. Next, just cut off the old white plug that is attached to the car and put bullet/spade connectors on those. You could just solder them instead of using connectors, but I wanted to still be able to remove the tail lights later if necessary.

Now put everything back together and do the other side. As far as the "Bulb Failure Warning Light" on the dashboard, this may make it start flashing. However, my bulb failure light went on any time a light was on in my car, even when they were all working, so I just removed the bulb from the back of the instrument panel to keep it from driving me crazy.

It works! (brake and reverse lights not shown)

tail_light_after3.jpg
 
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Acid8000

New member
Joined
May 3, 2005
Location
Victoria, BC - Canada
Genius! Ive had alot of problems with Volvo's rear lights, both my dad's 90' 240DL and my 83' 240T go through about 3-6 rear lights every 3-4 months. Very annoying to say the least, and I never even thought of doing this!

Thanks a million!
P.s - Was it you who had the B21F or B23F intake manifold and was considering using it for a Swap instead of the B230? If it was, we should compare notes!
 
Joined
Jul 30, 2004
haha, cool/ I did this to my last four door too. Since I started driving wagons though (I guess almost ten years now) I haven't thought about it in a while. Did you drill little holes in the bulb holder contacts? I did because I was never able to get the wire to solder on good enough to not pop off otherwise (but then again, my soldering skills have increased 100^100 times since then). i drilled little holes in the contacts and then soldered the wire on after pushing it through the hole. Never came off again afer that.

Good job!
 

CAPT_BLOTTO

#Crush It
Joined
Jul 19, 2005
Location
Kansas City
thanks for the idea i did it a little differently becuase only one light wasn't working and i just soldered the connections for that. one the the ground wire. one to another light and the last i scraped off some the pc board and soldered right to the copper underneath
 

Morley

Barbie Ken
Joined
Sep 9, 2004
Location
Norway
If the bulb failure light goes on after wiring that up, you made something wrong.

My #1 tip: make sure everything is 100%, then completely remove the bulb failure sensor and solder the wires there.
 

Thor

New member
Joined
Feb 20, 2007
Location
Nebraska
I did this last night. Except I used a dremel tool to size up the spades on the sockets and used spade connectors. I tried the soldering but it didn't work so well. But every thing works fine and no bulb failure light.
 

fivealive

New member
Joined
May 24, 2005
I did this last night. Except I used a dremel tool to size up the spades on the sockets and used spade connectors. I tried the soldering but it didn't work so well. But every thing works fine and no bulb failure light.

That's a great idea. I didn't do that at the time because I couldn't find spades big enough and didn't have a dremel. That way you can disconnect them if you need to. I'll put that tip in the article at the top.
 

bdimag

abandon all hope
Joined
Oct 10, 2007
Location
Northern VA
i've looked all over for the larger than 1/4" quick disconnects... they'd need to be 5/16".

i can't even find them w/ an electronic component distributer (Mouser)... they seem pretty non existent...

though, a trick is, using the .250 connectors, just roll the sides out; they'll fit on without any further modification.
 
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15A

World's Oldest Brewery
Joined
May 7, 2004
Location
OH-MI....just like it sounds
Older GM truck bulb holders (the ones that are hardwired themselves) fit inside the 240 wagon tails perfectly. It worked great for my LED "conversion".

They'll fit the sedans too but stick out too far to be able to put the inside trim covers back on.
 

pinguin

Queen Bitch of MWC Thread
Joined
May 13, 2006
Location
Straight Outta Camden
Older GM truck bulb holders (the ones that are hardwired themselves) fit inside the 240 wagon tails perfectly. It worked great for my LED "conversion".

They'll fit the sedans too but stick out too far to be able to put the inside trim covers back on.

I was wondering which plug out there would fit...

Those trim covers are like quim covers.

They just get in my way...
 
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