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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ok, thought I'd post these up because it's a simple enough mod to do, should take no more than 2hrs. . . 1hr if you're fast.

This mod blinks the CHMSL (center high mounted stop light) that's been federally mandated for around 20 years. I have seen on the highway a Porsche Panamera that blinked its brake lights under heavy braking, and also a high end Mercedes that had varying intensity of brake lights correlated to braking force. Not really pertinent for road use, but I've also seen a few exotic cars on Top Gear blinking their brake lights wildly and it took me awhile to find out that is an indication "launch control" has been engaged on some makes/models.

I liked what I saw on the Panamera and Mercedes a lot, it seemed like a really great mod to be safety consciouss. When I'm in a situation where I feel like I need to really, really make sure someone behind me knows I'm breaking I'll tap my brakes really quick, this eliminates that need and hopefully will greatly increase the attention of every fool behind you that's texting, lost in space, careless pedestrians while you backup, etc., pay a little more attention to you.

The good: NTHSA did a 2010 study that found 29% of all accidents are rear end collisions. . .they did the biggest g'ovt study to date to evaluate different methods of decreasing the rear end collision accident rate and found that flashing the entire brake light cluster (vs. I only am running mine having the CHMSL middle LED light flash) had the best result w/ approx 5% reduction. May not sound like much, but its almost 30,000 less crashes a year.

Here's a cool picture from their study that shows how a test subject, intentionally told to focus on the stereo or HVAC controls, looks up when a brake light cluster flashes.


Unfortunately, the legal motor vehicle regulations have not caught up to these facts yet (don't ask me how Porsche and other are able to do what they do legally, I don't know. . .) because Title 49 Part 571 of the regulations states:
(d) All other lamps shall be wired to be steady-burning.
"All others" to the exclusion of turn signals and hazard lights. (note - did you know it's legal to flash headlights to use as turn signals?)

So, this is a do at your own risk mod. . .I've made a good case why it's important to me, but you're not me - and this requires modifying the brake lights of a vehicle and skirting federal vehicle regulations. (Technically, something my aftermarket HIDs and projector beam reverse lights probably do as well, and Johnny Law has not shown me his angry face yet.)

The nylon body tool set I mention at the beginning of the bumper removal tutorial would be handy for this, but not absolutely critical, however - it's something you should eventually just have anyway. . .

Oh you'll also need 3 scotch lok or quick-tap type connectors for automotive gauge wire (16-20), preferably some VHB double sided tape, super glue, and self-fusing rubber electrical tape, as well as plain electrical tape.

Set up a painters tarp or moving blanket or something so you have a scratch free area to put your trim pieces.

First step - purchase one of these flasher units.


I got mine on eBay
from this seller for around $20.

Then, time to pop your tailgate (sorry I'm a little light on actual photos and more heavy on service manual diagrams today. . .it was getting late, I was tired! :) )

First step - remove the two privacy partitions in your hatch, and throw them in the back seat or something for awhile.


The second step is going to be to peel off the middle piece of trim that separates the large rear glass window with the small stealthy one. If you haven't pulled interior pieces apart ever, the amount of force you have to exert and the loud popping sound it makes will alarm you at first. . .I've taken my tailgate apart 3 times and each time I think I've broken a panel, but alas - it's just really loud.

So you're going to start at one edge of this, and peel like a banana. You can pull it away enough to see where the fasteners are and obviously exert more "peeling" up and away force there, and they all come out like dominoes. The fastener clips stay attached to the trim pieces in every step of this, never should they remain on the body.

If you happen to break a clip or two, they are $3-4 ea at the dealer, and it's really no big deal.

Second step, remove the side pillars, starting from the bottom and going up. I believe you only have to remove the passenger side pillar to do this mod, so let's stick with that for now. First part of this one, remove the hooks that hold one of the privacy partitions, just as explained below, then start pulling up the trim.


Then there are two bolts to remove here:


Then it's time for the last large trim piece, this is the most awkward feeling one to remove, you have to show it who's boss. The service manual recommends starting with the area by the tailgate catch, then moving out. I've started in random places too, and it works, but to be safe, start they way they recommend and peel this one back like a giant, flat, plasticy banana peel.




Now that they're all off, it'll be pretty obvious where the LED power splits off. There is a clip or two that holds the wire bundles into the tailgate. You have to pinch it out with needle nose and undo the electrical tape.

This is a little disorienting, but it's looking up at the inside of the passenger side of the tailgate. There is a white molex style connector that is connected together just outside an access hole that has the rest of the wire going inside the sheet metal to the LED bar, you can start to undo the electrical tape around this area and unclip the molex connector.



Now take a very tiny flat blade screw driver (it might take trying a couple sizes) and if you press it on the top of the molex terminals, the long silver pins, and pull one at a time while you're doing it, they slide right out.


Green/Grey is the hot wire for the LED strip and black is the ground, so we can follow this relatively simple diagram:






(it also comes with a diagram on how to do ALL the brake lights, you might be able to do it from back here since the tail light / brake light are different colored wires. . .PM me if you have questions)


Here I am doing sort of a "mock up," flasher unit is just electrical taped to the sheet metal, I haven't put the molex connector back together, just using the plain terminals, and my scotch loks are connected, but not "loked." I'm not going to verbalize the wiring diagram, because it's easier to follow just drawn out above.

Test it here, and it should work great. It might flash at a weird rate or for a long or short amount of time, that's ok because now is when we're going to tune it in. You will need someone to help you and sit in the drivers seat and press the brake pedal. The two dials on the flasher unit let you set for any possible rate of flash, or duration of flash. I have a video at the bottom of what I went with, but you can adjust yours as you see fit.


Now I'm getting my install finalized, Cut my wires down to length, closed up my scotch loks, put the molex back together, test fit to make sure the panels were in the right places (try to mirror my flasher unit location, it works really well and gives you perfect clearance). I used VHB on the back of the flasher unit, along with some superglue (the painted but not finished metal is a hard place for it to get a perfect seal), press it in place for like 30 seconds and you're set. I put wire loom back where I could, and I used self-fusing electrical tape to make a nice looking bundle everywhere else.

Where the bundles cross in an "X" in the middle is the plastic wiring clip that secures them to the sheet metal, that we took out way earlier.

I also put some electrical tape over the little wheels on the flasher that adjusted the settings, just to keep em safe.




Here everything is starting to get buttoned up, put the trim pieces back on in the order you took them off, and they go on by just aligning the clips & holes with your eye and giving it a good whack.



Don't pay attention to the middle trim piece here, I was holding it up for fitment testing, it wouldn't go on until after the side trim.

If, down the road, the flasher unit went berserk on me or something all I would have to do is pop off the middle trim piece (by hand) and unplug the molex connector, and I'd still have two good brake lights to drive home and later reconnect it the old non-flashing way or do as I see fit. . .having it accessible is important because if there is a problem I want to be able to very quickly address it.

And last but not least, here is the video showing my finished install results. As I mention on the Flickr page itself, the number of flashes is a bit exaggerated here because I'm hitting the brake pedal several times as I pull into my garage. Normally you'll hit the brake once, it'll blink, then it'll go steady.

Good luck and any questions let me know!

-Aceman
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Interesting info on Mercedes getting an exemption a few years ago to have a flashing CHMSL. Can't find current info but I'm speculating this exemption was either continued or made permanent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Gentlemen, we have an interloper! Some Hyundai driver has obviously been reading the posts on this forum, specifically my DIY on the blinking CHMSL. :)

Footage shot earlier today

 

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Great info!! Bought one and just installed it today. With your photos and instructions, installation was a breeze - I'm about to do the same thing to Victor's SAAB 9-3... I hope it's just as easy, though there will be a few research hours invested. :D
 

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Ever since reading this thread shortly after it was created, I've had this mod on my list of things to do. I am extremely busy and haven't had much time over the last several months to think about doing it, so I put the brake light modulator on a wishlist and figured I'd get around to it if somebody bought it. Well... it showed up under the Christmas tree and I installed it yesterday afternoon.

Installation on the center high mounted stop light of my 2012 Crosstour went fine. Didn't have any broken clips or pieces, all of the trim fit back together perfectly and there are no noises or rattles after pulling the pieces off. I had intended to take a picture of the set up and placement of the modulator, but my phone died before I started the process and I did not have a camera.

My wife shot this brief video from her cell phone as we drove home from my parents house last night so please excuse the shakiness.


As you can see, I chose a setting to make it blink twice before going to solid on the third time it illuminates. For those of you that are thinking about this mod but wonder about the settings like I did, I think the maximum amount of blinks that you can set it to is about eight. I didn't play with the different speed settings very much to see how fast you can flash the lights, as I basically wanted to confirm one thing. If you should need to turn this unit off so that your brake light acts like a normal, solid-on brake light again, you can adjust the settings to do that so there is no need to remove the module later if you don't want to. In my case, it's wrapped up pretty good so it'd be a pain in the behind to have to remove it.

Many thanks to the original poster for putting this idea out there as well as the information on how to do it!
 
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