Time Needed: 2 Hours, Difficulty: Moderate, Cost: $50-$200
Do you miss the bygone days of the ‘00s, when The Fast and the Furious ruled the import scene, and sex-spec car shows were all the rage? While fiberglass body kits and big chromies are still a bit hard to come by, underglow installations are easier than ever thanks to the advent of inexpensive and durable LED lighting.
Now’s the perfect time to give your ride a bit of flavor from the turn of the millennium and install some underglow, and the editors here at Car Bibles are here to help you out. Let’s get after it.
The Safety Brief
There’s no point in flexing on the crowds with your sweet underglow if you’re too injured to roll up in your ride, so to stay safe while your car is in the air, make sure to have a solid set of jack stands to give you space to mount your underglow.
The undersides of cars sometimes are covered in rust and dirt, so a pair of safety goggles will go a long way here, and work gloves to prevent getting cut on any sharp edges on the frame will be useful.
The Tools & Parts You Need
There’s not a lot of tools needed to install your underglow kit.
- Don’t forget to choose your lighting kit.
- You’ll also need a floor jack to give yourself some extra space to install everything.
- Zip ties are the preferred method of installation…
- …along with some scissors to clean up the ends.
- A battery terminal post adapter or wire splicing kit is a good idea.
- You may need an extra fuse, so a small auto fuse kit is good preparation to have on hand.
How To Install Your Underglow
Luckily, with all these tools ready to go, installing your underglow will be really straightforward from here.
1. Jack Up Your Car
2. Control Your Environment
Open your LED lighting kit, which will normally contain four strips of lights (usually, two short and two long) and one control module, as well as wiring. Use the adhesive backing on the LED to position it and determine how you will mount it. Pay attention to the orientation of the light strips—the wiring will usually have a plug on one end, and an inlet on the other end, and all the strips will need to be connected to each other.
3. Get Everything Square
When you have centered and decided on your mounting points, use the zip ties to secure it in place. Do not connect it to any pinch points or moving parts—the best place to use are any existing mounting points on the unibody, such as wiring mounts or tow hooks. Snip the excess from the zip ties.
4. Wires Readied
Connect the wiring from each piece of the LEDs to each other. Route the wiring from the front light strip into the engine bay, and connect it to the underglow control module.
5. Connect to the Battery
Either wire the positive end of the control module to the battery terminal with a post adapter or use a wire splice to a 12V power wire (I personally recommend a wire from the steering column ignition, so that the lights will turn off automatically when the car is shut off. Wire the negative end to ground (a clean section of bare metal on the engine block or car body).
6. Run the Switch
If the LEDs are manually controlled, run the wiring for the switches from the control box through the firewall (using one of the holes already drilled through the firewall for the factory wiring is a smart time saver!).
Turn on the car, and test them out!
The Car Bibles Questionnaire
Car Bibles answers all your burning questions!
Q: Why not use actual neon for underglow?
A: Neon tubes are expensive, high voltage, and fragile. They need to be professionally installed because a wiring mishap can easily cause a fire, and the glass tubes can easily shatter on a speed bump or pothole if they are not protected sufficiently.
Q: Is underglow legal?
A: It varies state to state, but blue, red, and white are frequently illegal due to their resemblance to emergency lights. When the car is parked, any colors will be okay, but while driving, check your local laws to be sure that they’re allowed to be on.
Q: Will underglow kill my battery?
A: LEDs have a very low power draw, but it certainly still can. That is why I recommend wiring the power source to a wire that will only draw current when the car is running, to ensure you do not accidentally drain the battery by leaving your underglow on overnight.
Video Tutorial on Installing Underglow
Courtesy of Marty and Moog from Mighty Car Mods, check out how they pimp their Daihatsu Cuore into a head-turner, including some underglow, in just eight hours!
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