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Lighting Forum
Angel Eyes, DDEs, lighted rings, Clear Turn Signals, LEDs, Xenon, HID, or Bi-Xenon. If it lights up and you want to discuss it, post here!

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Old 05-12-2011, 01:01 AM   #1
homeryen88
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Gaithersburg, MD
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My Ride: 2002 325i sedan
Exterior Mod: UMNITZA R/C/R LED Tail Lights (Review and Impressions)

Exterior Mod: UMNITZA R/C/R LED Tail Lights (Review and Impressions)

BRAND: Depo
RETAILER: umnitza
LINK: http://www.umnitza.com/index.php?mai...oducts_id=1106
My Car: 2002 facelift sedan

I was definitely pining for LED tail lights. No surprise there. The aesthetic and technological advantages of LED lighting are vastly superior to that of OEM halogen lighting. But, I was also intent on getting the Red/Clear/Red LED Tail Lights (RCRTLs). Both types of LED tail lights are pictured below.

So, this review will probably only impact a small handful of readers out there because there is a such a preponderance of forum Fanatics that prefer the more-popular LED Clear/Red tail lights (CRTLs). If a forum sponsor sells LED tail lights, they'll definitely be the ones that you see in the first picture below. The most competitively priced ones (that I've seen) can be found at DDMTuning.com. But it's an entirely different story for the RCRTLs. It is like finding a needle in a haystack. And, even when you do find it, you're likely to prick yourself.

Logically, the CRTLs do make more sense. All of the sponsors' LED CRTLs are advertised as plug-and-play, which means no resistors or any fiddling are necessary. Less aggravation always equals more joy! Also, installing the LED CRTLs is a fairly easy project, even for a novice DIY'er. Most importantly, LED CRTLs are much more affordable. For example, DDMTuning's LED CRTLs retail for $145. The LED RCRTLs on UMNITZA's website retail for $356.83 for my kind of vehicle. Granted, if you Google long and hard enough, you might find sellers that retail these hard-to-find lights for less. But, I believe that you are taking unnecessary chances by going with a non-sponsor.

However, when BMWs marketing machine equates BMW ownership with "JOY", then it is the neurons in the emotional side of our brain that begin to crackle with energy. So, logic be damned!

Emotionally, I am not attracted to the more-affordable, more-common, more user-friendly LED CRTLs because here's how I "feel":

1. The inner trunk lights don't light up and I think that it would look great if they did.

2. The LED CRTLs, to me, resemble the tail light design of a pre-face lift E46. In keeping with the style of my car, I wanted to preserve the facelift tail light design.

3. The LED CRTLs are found on //M cars. But, I have a non-M car, so I don't want my 4-dr sedan to pose as if it was an //M.

4. When it comes to LED tail lights on an E46, everyone has these so these seem "common".

5. If given a choice between getting the LED CRTLs or just keeping my OEM Red/Amber/Red tail lights as is, I would opt to keep my OEM assembly intact.

Emotion trumps logic every time so despite their pleas to think this purchase over, I went ahead and placed my order. Give UMNITZA some integrity points here because they were right! Between the time you open the box and the time you install it, you will encounter several bumps in the road.


BUMP-IN-THE-ROAD #1
This is NOT a DIY project. After seeing this thread about guidance on installing this product, I could immediately tell that I needed an Electrical Engineering degree or at least needed access to a professional installer.

Title: DIY: 99-01 Sedan R/C/R LED Retrofit to 02-05 Sedan
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=640040


Fortunately, there is a great local business that handles all sorts of difficult installs, Invius Motorsports in Rockville, MD. I brought everything to them and, after several hours of wiring and work, they were able to successfully install them.

BUMP-IN-THE-ROAD #2
There is no back casing. One would certainly expect this to have a casing. Having exposed wires looks unprofessional and messy. I've attached pictures to show you this.

BUMP-IN-THE-ROAD #3
Your OE light assembly does come with a back casing. Further, the OE bulbs that are used to illuminate your trunk area are of the festoon variety (like 1" long cylindrical bulbs). Thus, lighting is ample. However, the type of trunk lights that comes with the LED RCRTLs are the miniature 164/198 wedge base bulbs. It's the same type that you'll find in your backseat reading lights and they don't give off much light at all. You will probably need to purchase a brighter bulb. And, getting a pair of LED bulbs would be ideal, but it adds to the overall total investment. See below for more info on this*.

BUMP-IN-THE-ROAD #4
The turn signal bulb is halogen. To create a uniform LED look, the true Fanatic will be compelled to replace this with an LED turn signal bulb. But, again, it adds to the overall total investment. See below for more info on this**.

BUMP-IN-THE-ROAD #5
Resistors are needed! You'll need 2 resistors for the LED RCRTLs (included with the purchase). AND, you'll need an additional 2 if you are going to install the LED turn signal bulbs. That's 4 total. And, resistors can reach temperatures of up-to-200-degrees F, so be careful where you secure them.

BUMP-IN-THE-ROAD #6
There is a not-very-noticeable-but-it's-certainly-there difference in LED illumination levels between the inner trunk lights and the outer part. Though I like to be thorough (as evidenced by my comprehensive posts), even I am not such a perfectionist to really care. However, to see a visual of this and how to sort-of fix it, please look at this thread:

Title: DIY: R/C/R LED bright trunk light FIXED!!! w/pics
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=535464


BUMP-IN-THE-ROAD #7
When you step on the brake pedal, the eye-level brake lights (the strip of lights at the top of the rear windshield) will come on a split-second before your main brake lights come on. Again, I am not such a perfectionist to really care. However, it is what it is and there is no fix for this.


* SUBSTITUTING THE DIM 164/198 WEDGE BULBS (in the back of the tail light assembly which lights up trunk area) WITH HIGH POWER LEDs:
Go order this: High Power SMD WLED-xHP9-T (194 type)
Go to this link: http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-b...LED-WHP9-T.htm
Add'l Amount: $25.90 for a pair

** SUBSTITUTING THE HALOGEN TURN SIGNAL BULBS WITH LED BULBS:
Go order this: BAU15S-x18-T: 18HP-LED 1056 LED Tower bulb
Go to this link: http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-b...U15S-x18-T.htm
Add'l Amount: $35.90 for a pair



SUMMING UP THE TOTAL INVESTMENT -
UMNITZA LED RCRTLs: $356.83 (includes 2 resistors)
LED Trunk Light: $ 25.90 (superbrightled.com)
LED Turn Signals: $ 35.90 (superbrightled.com)
6 Ohm 50w Resistors (x2) $ 9.90 (superbrightled.com)
Professional Install Labor: $120.00 (Invius Motorsports)
TOTAL INVESTMEMT: $548.53


And yet, despite all of the road bumps and the head-slapping and the additional steps needed to procure/arrange everything, I have to say that I am not only relieved but very happy with this unique mod. And, I think that's the point of modding. It's to achieve the Uniqueness Factor.

I liken this purchase to my love for my just-turned-3-years-old daughter. She's at that point where she does whatever she thinks she can get away with, she tries to push the envelope on what I will tolerate, and she wants me to pick her up and to pick up after her. Yet -- YET -- when you look into her eyes and she melts your heart with her beauty, all seems to be forgiven. Ok, so maybe you don't have a 3-year old daughter. Then picture this. You're with a beautiful girl that constantly demands attention and you wonder if what you do is ever really good enough. But when she slips on that curvy black cocktail dress to go out with you or wears your favorite lacey underwear just for you or holds on to your arm at a party to send a signal to others that you've got a winner on your hands, you realize that the pain is only temporary.

I definitely can't say that I'd recommend this to everyone. In fact, if you have a low tolerance for frustration or have a need to DIY or have a clamp on your budget, then going with the more readily-available LED CRTLs is perfectly fine. And, even if you do order this, know that there are many road bumps ahead, so proceed with caution and at your own risk. It's probably a product that, given its quirks, would appeal to about 20% of the Fanatics out there.

However, because I've done my research, I've battled through the challenges, I've orchestrated everything successfully like a decorated Field General and because the final product looks very nice, I "feel" that I've really accomplished something that few people have. Call it pride of conquering a challenge. Call it joy of putting it all together. Call it the Cool Factor of a little-seen mod. Call it a statement of your uniqueness. Whatever. There's no logic here. And. That. Feels. Great!

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Last edited by homeryen88; 05-12-2011 at 01:12 AM.
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Old 05-12-2011, 02:33 AM   #2
Rajput
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I have the same lights and I completely agree with all the issues or say "defects". I have a prefacelift 325i and my inner trunk pieces don't light up because there is no wiring for it anywhere in the trunk. And of course that annoying tail light out warning.
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Old 05-20-2011, 01:03 AM   #3
mujjuman
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those RCRs are awesome... if only the blinker had an LED board too
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Old 05-20-2011, 03:03 PM   #4
Solidjake
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The lights look great, but too much hassle.
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Old 05-20-2011, 05:02 PM   #5
Riverbmr3
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looks awesome, but $548, never mind...
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Old 05-20-2011, 05:05 PM   #6
HyeWarrior
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Make this simple plug n play, and do want
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:46 PM   #7
wdeerfield
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+1 simply plug-n-play + led turn signal + interior finished panel = would buy (but not for more than $250)
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Old 09-27-2016, 09:54 PM   #8
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You bought additional LEDs t0o get the inner brake lense to light up in LEDs?
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