I was driving the other night down a dark road and I tried to adjust the mirrors of my Toyota Highlander. I couldn't see the mirror adjust switch, I know more or less where it was but it was so dark I couldn't find the switch. A similar experience happened to me after I got in my car in a parking lot and wanted to lock the doors, I couldn't see the door lock rocker switch and although I knew where it was and I pressed it I wasn't sure if I had locked or unlocked the doors. The Toyota Highlander switches aren't lighted! Today I fixed that by adding a couple of small lights to illuminate the dash area to the left of the Toyota steering column and the drivers side door panel. This little project was a pretty straight forward thing to do and it turned out pretty nice. I only wish that Toyota had added lights to these switches on the base model so I didn't have to do this.
The first thing that I did was lift up the switch panel in the drivers door using a guitar pick to pry up the panel. A guitar pick (or a the corner of a credit card) works nicely to lift up car trim because it won't mark of mess up the plastic panels. The switch panel lifts up and unsnaps from the rear.
|2009 Toyota Highlander Drivers Switch Panel|
Once I had the switch panel lifted up I removed it and released the harness from a plastic retainer inside the door. Releasing the harness didn't disconnect it from the switch panel, it just freed up some slack in the wired so I could pull the panel out. The switch panel has a bunch of wires of various gauges going into it and I probed around with my meter to find a couple that had power when the engine was running.
The two wires that I choose were the white with a black stripe and the solid black wire. The solid black one turned out to be the positive. After stripping back some of the insulation of both wires I soldered in my own wires and a 4.7K ohm half watt resistor. I added the resistor because the lights that I choose for this project were just too bright for what I want. I used a half watt resistor because of the poser that is has to dissipate.
Power in a circuit can be a tricky thing. Ohm's Law says that power is equal to the current squared times the resistance. In this case the LED's are drawing about 0.01 amps. I'm using a 4700 ohm resistor to dim the lights so 4700 * (0.01^2) = 0.47 watts. That's almost a half a Watt!
|Highlander Door Panel Wiring Modification|
Above is a picture of the wiring harness of the switch panel dangling down out of the picture. The two thin black wires are the LED wires that I added and in the upper right you can see the lights themselves. I drilled a small hole in the door panel to route the LED wires through. The LED's are Winplus lights that I bought in a kit that had 4 lights and a cigarette lighter adapter to power them. I got rid of the cigarette adapter and two of the lights (I'll use them later) and soldered the wires into the modified harness.
|Toyota Highlander Night Lights|
Above is a picture of more or less what it looks like at night. The lights have adhesive on them so I can stick them where I want them. I'm going to wait to do that until I have driven around in the dark enough to figure out right where I want them. I'm a little worried about adhesive in the summer when the car gets hot so I might attach them a bit better once I'm sure I know where I want them to go.
If you have any questions about what I did please let me know in an email or leave a comment (or both!). Check out some of the other projects that I have build HERE. Thanks for checking out my blog!