Eddie Davila

" 1961 VW Beetle dim tail lights"

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I own a 1961 VW Beetle, I was pulled over by the State Police TXDPS and local police Mission TX PD with the same results  no citations were issued just warning . They stated that my taillights were not bright enough and from a distance you  don't see the lights. What are my options without retro fitting the vehicle losing it classic look. or only drive it in the daytime. I drive a total of 120 miles to work I use it twice a week to save money.

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I was stopped on the freeway with my Model A Ford and warned the same, You could buy one of those led light bars that go in the rear window and that might save you a rear-ender. Of course you wouldn't be at fault if someone runs into you as is.

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Hi Eddie, here are a few ideas:

 

1.  You have a SIX volt system, because VW did not go to 12V until about 1967.  Make sure your battery cables are size 0 (aught); they may have been replaced by thinner 12V cables (perhaps 4 gauge) which will greatly reduce lamp output.  Clean all connections on both ends of the cables.

 

2.  Remove your taillight lenses and clean them inside and out, removing any accumulated dust and dirt on the inside.  If the outside is crazed or cloudy, get replacement lenses, but you can try scrubbing them with toothpaste, a mild abrasive, then polish with a microfiber towel.

 

3. Stop and taillight bulbs are probably dual filament (dimmer filament for tail, brighter for stop), likely 3 candlepower (cp) for tail and 21 cp for stop.  These days everyone is used to seeing super bright LED lights.  And the original 3 cp taillights emit about as much light as a votive candle in a goat's a$$ at midnight during the dark of the moon.  Almost ALL of us with 6V systems and low-output 12V bulbs have been upgrading bulbs to meet expectations of the ignorant ones behind us, who are used to seeing light shows from the back of modern cars.  You can do one of two replacements:  (a) buy replacement LED bulbs for 6V, but you must specify NEGATIVE ground (I think that's what your car is, but verify); or (2) buy aftermarket high-intensity bulbs (14 cp tail, 50 cp stop) from one of the Ford or Chev repro companies.  I bought those 14/50 bulbs from Bob Drake (repro Ford parts) in Medford, OR for $3.00-$3.50 each + shipping, BUT buy twice as many as you need--two of the ones I bought for my Jeepster had quality control issues and got tossed.  Consider the possibility that someone before you but **12V** bulbs in, which would be operating at half output on your 6V electrical system.

 

4.  Search the TX motor vehicle statutes online (in CA it's the Vehicle Code) for equipment requirements, such as a provision which says that Original Equipment lamps are OK for continued use.  Print a copy of an applicable section and carry it with your registration to show any officer in the future.

 

5.  6V systems require a little more maintenance, periodic cleaning of grounds.  To me, it's NOT worthwhile to change to 12V.

 

Good luck and please keep us posted.

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The LED bar goes to the inside and wires to the tail/stop lights. Grimy Gives good advice also, I have used brighter bulbs and painted lamp bodies inside for brightness. 

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I believe in is both I have 6v and 12v fuses and my battery is 12v I try what you said to yes if helps. I police officers and troopers are getting younger he was looking for the VIN on the dash. I replied what dashboard 

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Fuses don't care if it's 6V or 12V, they work on amperage.  So you have a 12V battery--hope gauges and all other 6V components have been changed to 12V.

 

Bob Drake and others have high-intensity bulbs for 12V as well as 6V.  Even 12V bulbs in post-1955 American cars which used 12V had 3/21 cp bulbs until the mid-60s at least.

Re officers:  Yeah, I've been there.  Educating them politely will go a long way.

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I looked the Tx veg code and it states 547.32 states at tail lamps emit a red light plainly visible at a distance of 1000 feet from the rear of the vehicle. I will clean the lenses and get brighter blubs. My lights are 12v

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When your VW was built, that code section probably read 300 feet, not 1,000.  What you found is what the cop is relying on.  So look for another provision which says that OEM lamps are acceptable--that's the section to keep with your registration, and that's your get-out-of-a-ticket-free card.  BUT...I certainly agree that you should make every effort to increase the visibility of your car with high-output bulbs.  All of my fleet below, except the Jeepster, have separate bulbs for stop and tail, and I've used different bulbs on ALL to increase output from bulbs with which the cars were delivered.

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3 hours ago, Grimy said:

Hi Eddie, here are a few ideas:

 

1.  You have a SIX volt system, because VW did not go to 12V until about 1967.  Make sure your battery cables are size 0 (aught); they may have been replaced by thinner 12V cables (perhaps 4 gauge) which will greatly reduce lamp output.  Clean all connections on both ends of the cables.

 

2.  Remove your taillight lenses and clean them inside and out, removing any accumulated dust and dirt on the inside.  If the outside is crazed or cloudy, get replacement lenses, but you can try scrubbing them with toothpaste, a mild abrasive, then polish with a microfiber towel.

 

3. Stop and taillight bulbs are probably dual filament (dimmer filament for tail, brighter for stop), likely 3 candlepower (cp) for tail and 21 cp for stop.  These days everyone is used to seeing super bright LED lights.  And the original 3 cp taillights emit about as much light as a votive candle in a goat's a$$ at midnight during the dark of the moon.  Almost ALL of us with 6V systems and low-output 12V bulbs have been upgrading bulbs to meet expectations of the ignorant ones behind us, who are used to seeing light shows from the back of modern cars.  You can do one of two replacements:  (a) buy replacement LED bulbs for 6V, but you must specify NEGATIVE ground (I think that's what your car is, but verify); or (2) buy aftermarket high-intensity bulbs (14 cp tail, 50 cp stop) from one of the Ford or Chev repro companies.  I bought those 14/50 bulbs from Bob Drake (repro Ford parts) in Medford, OR for $3.00-$3.50 each + shipping, BUT buy twice as many as you need--two of the ones I bought for my Jeepster had quality control issues and got tossed.  Consider the possibility that someone before you but **12V** bulbs in, which would be operating at half output on your 6V electrical system.

 

4.  Search the TX motor vehicle statutes online (in CA it's the Vehicle Code) for equipment requirements, such as a provision which says that Original Equipment lamps are OK for continued use.  Print a copy of an applicable section and carry it with your registration to show any officer in the future.

 

5.  6V systems require a little more maintenance, periodic cleaning of grounds.  To me, it's NOT worthwhile to change to 12V.

 

Good luck and please keep us posted.

As soon as weather clears up I will start working on it. I live in deep south TX on the border where there constant flow of human trafficking and drugs and the police is out in force sometimes and where the weather is 80 degrees one day and 50 degrees the other, thanks for all your help,  will try to upload photos next time 

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35 minutes ago, Eddie Davila said:

will try to upload photos next time 

When you can, we'd like to see photos.  I haven't worked on a Bug in years, but my girlfriend has a 1969 VW Type 3 squareback that was her father's from new, and I'm still learning the darn Bosch fuel injection system.  :-(

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I looked on bob drake website the I found on blind high power were light and turn signal I need brake light turn signal and light all in one . The item I saw is “ tail light & turn signal high power bulb (12v)  fits 1933-55 car and pickup 1955 thunderbird  is that it

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5 hours ago, Eddie Davila said:

I looked the Tx veg code and it states 547.32 states at tail lamps emit a red light plainly visible at a distance of 1000 feet from the rear of the vehicle. I will clean the lenses and get brighter blubs. My lights are 12v

 

If you have a 6 volt system and are using a 12 volt bulb, that is the problem.  Your light output will be 1/2 what it should be. 

 

What voltage system does your car have?  If you do not know, put a volt meter across the two batter terminals when the car is running and take a reading.  The bulbs in the car should be the same value as the electrical system of your car.

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I forgot to mention that the Drake catalog uses Ford part numbers (but in both 6V and 12 V, latter for those who have converted to 12V), but the key for us is whether you have staggered pin or straight pin bulbs--those options are in the catalog.  PROBABLY (confirm, please) you have staggered pin to orient tail and stop automatically, but my damn Jeepster used #1158 straight pin bulbs, which gives you a 50% chance of getting it right without turning on the taillights.

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I would go for LEDs all around, except headlights. They are now available in 6V and 12V in almost any format you can think of - red or white stop/tail (twin filament, offset pins), festoons, BA15, BAY15, BA15S, BA15D etc etc. Especially good for 6V systems because of their much lower current draw. Before installing locate the +ve end by testing , and mark with a texta or sharpie.

 

jp 26 Rover 9, 6V

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Good afternoon All

I finally bought some LED tail lights from Amazon " Techologica " The turn signal are the only ones that work, My battery is 12V I noticed I had 6V fuses? small cceramtic  types  under the dash. are those fuses 12v or 6V ?

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I had a 1960 VW with the same tail light design when I was going to college from 1968 - 72 and yes it had dim tail lights with the factory spec bulbs. I can tell you that even with brighter bulbs they may still be dim due to the extremely small size of the tail light and lens.

 

For safety it would help to have brighter lights, but if you don't want to do to that I would look up the Texas vehicle inspection requirements.  Most states require vehicles to meet the standards for the year the car was manufactured which may not be up to par with todays standards, but are normally allowed.  

 

If you don't want to make any changes, I would do a web search of the Texas inspection standards and if there is a section on what standards older vehicles need to meet then I would print it out and keep it in the glove box to show the police if your are ever stopped again.

 

When Pennsylvania first started allowing Year of Manufacture (YOM) license plates I printed out a copy of PennDot license place change and keep it in my glove box.  Yes one of the first times I drive the car with a YOM plate I got stopped.  Showed the officer the new law and everything was fine.

Edited by Vila (see edit history)
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21 hours ago, Eddie Davila said:

Good afternoon All

I finally bought some LED tail lights from Amazon " Techologica " The turn signal are the only ones that work, My battery is 12V I noticed I had 6V fuses? small cceramtic  types  under the dash. are those fuses 12v or 6V ?

Your fuses will work on 6, 12, or 24 volt automotive electrical systems.

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5 minutes ago, Eddie Davila said:

Thanks I going to upgrade the electrical wiring to see if it fixes the problem 

Not necessary other than cleaning connections and replacing any damaged wire.  Your 6V factory wiring has less resistance than smaller 12V wiring if it is in good condition.

 

3 hours ago, Vila said:

Most states require vehicles to meet the standards for the year the car was manufactured which may not be up to par with todays standards, but are normally allowed.  

I mentioned this a week ago in an earlier post.

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