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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

This is a little lighting DIY that I had seen around on a few cars (and even fewer CR-Zs), but hadn't been able to find any guides for it. This project is designed to illuminate the area in your engine bay, and in front of your radiator, giving the futuristic illusion that something in your engine compartment is glowing. Its a nice cheap addition to the vehicle!

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Unfortunately, there are motor laws that prohibit subtle aftermarket lighting effects like this. I am not responsible for you getting pulled over. Please research the laws in your state or country to understand what you can or can't do. As a general rule, as long as you use aftermarket lighting modifications responsibly (that is, only for showing purposes and not while in motion), you shouldn't have any legal issues.

Difficulty: Moderate; tasks involved:
  • Removing Hood Latch & upper bumper cover
  • Basic understanding of electronics is helpful
  • Stripping & Splicing wires
  • Drilling a hole from drivers compartment to grill area

Things to buy:
  • (1) Tap-a-fuse minifuse
  • 12V LED Strips
  • Illuminated Rocker Switches
  • Black/Red Automotive wire. (I use 18 gauge, which can be found at places like Walmart or AutoZone)
  • Electrical Tape (Walmart, AutoZone, etc)
  • 3M Double sided tape (Walmart, AutoZone, etc)
  • Reflective foil tape (Walmart, Autozone, etc)

  • Step 1: Remove Hood Latch. There are 3 bolts that need to be removed.

  • Step 2: Remove the 2 Bolts and 10 Push Pins securing the hood/bumper seal and upper bumper cover.

  • Step 3: Remove the seal and cover. This may take a bit of wrestling, but if you pry carefully, you should be able to get it off. You should see this afterwards:

  • Step 4: This is optional, you don't have to do this, but you may get better results. The inside surfaces aren't very reflective and could absorb alot of the light that your LEDs will emit. Using something reflective can redirect some of the light out through your grill, giving you a brighter end result. You can get this effect by strategically placing reflective foil tape on the inside faces of the bumper and that bumper cover you just removed. Here's some examples:

  • Step 5: Wire in the switch. You will need to tap a fuse for this. I chose Fuse #19 since its "on" when the key is set to "ACC" or "ON". If you want to tap it into another fuse, this thread may be helpful for you (LINK) In my case, Fuse 19 serves as my power source for the entire Grill LED system.

    You need to find a ground next, and there's plenty of metal bolts near your fuse box that can be used.

    Solder the wires to the rocker switch.

    Your switch is now powered, and should illuminate when turned on. I mounted my switch on the little panel below the driving mode panel. (Drilled a 0.75" hole)

  • Step 6: Run the output wire from the switch to the front of the car. This is the wire that will deliver power to your LEDs when the switch is on.

    DISCLAIMER!!! I'm not completely sure how 6MT owners run wires to the engine compartment, so you'll need to find that out. For CVT owners, this thread will help you (LINK). In summary, you drill a small hole (1/8") in the firewall where the 6MT's clutch pedal would normally be, and thread your wire through. You will probably want to use a grommet to avoid chaffing the wire on the edge of the hole. Once I got through the firewall, I ran the wire along the driver's side fender to keep it as far away from the engine as I could. Use a few zip ties or electrical tape here and there, to make sure your wire won't come loose during operation.

  • Step 7. Splice the red wires on your LED strips into the wire coming through the firewall. Now you need to run a ground wire from any bolt on the frame. I share the same bolt that the battery is grounded to. Splice the black wires from the LEDs into this ground wire. Depending on what kind of LEDs you got, you may have to use a liberal amount of automotive wire to run the strips where you want them. When you're happy with the rough placement of the strips, tuck the extra wires out of sight. You don't want them accidently getting yanked into your engine belt. Should look something like this:

  • Step 8: Mount the LEDs. You may want to run a quick test and make sure all 4 strips come on before you start sticking them places.

    I use good ole heavy duty 3M tape to mount my strips. Make sure you're happy with the placement before you start sticking it places. Once the tape sets, you're probably not going to be get the strips off without damaging them.

    Placement on the front crash bumper. Two strips are aimed back at the radiator, two strips are aimed downward. I oriented the LEDs like this so I could have a pair aimed at the radiator to get it well illuminated. Some side scatter will reflect off that tape we placed earlier and help out with the illumination. The other pair of LEDs is aimed downward, and illuminates that flat area in front of the radiator, as well as shines through the grill onto the ground in front of the car.

    Here's where I placed some of my engine bay strips. Directly on the inside of the wiper cowl above the throttle body and manifold:

    In the end, you'll have something looking like this:

  • Step 9: Clean up. Make sure you didn't leave anything inside the engine compartment. Check again to make sure none of the wires are loose. Put the upper bumper cover and the hood seal back on. Make sure you put all the push pins and bolts on.

    IMPORTANT!!! When you put the hood latch back on, you may have to adjust it a few times. If you put it back on too low, your hood won't latch. If you put it back on too high, your hood will have an open gap when its "closed".

  • Step 10 (the easiest one): Enjoy! :thumbup:

101 Posts
I put a 6 strip, weatherized Chinese LED kit from Lexinmoto off Ebay for $39 on my motorcycle last year. They are low power and have a remote with 15 colors and flashy modes. Been very happy with them for underlighting. The only thing to keep in mind is the battery on the remote went out in 9 months, so had me troubleshooting until I realized the bat was dead.

82 Posts
Nice, I did the same thing, different lights though but still blue. Since I didn't have a switch I just spliced directly into the low beams. And yes I know I should have used a relay going this rout but we're talking like 500mA here... lol

Nice mod!

Premium Member
6,284 Posts
Nice DIY, and thanks for posting the good pics and info. I've been thinking of doing the same type of lighting in the engine bay, but switched at the latch to come on only (or also) when you open the hood.
Thanks again, for the inspiration CRyoZ:thumbsup:
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