Mounting LED Light Bars On Your Truck
A good LED lightbar is a fantastic accessory to add to your vehicle, but it isn’t going to do you much good if it’s not properly installed. Poorly fitted lights don’t perform as well – you can end up with an unsteady, flickering beam as the bar wobbles on its mounting – and can even be dangerous. It’s essential to get it right and if you’ve never fitted lights before it can seem like a tricky job. In fact anyone can manage it if they know how to go about it. For anyone who’s not too sure we’ve put together a quick guide to make it a bit easier for you.
The first thing to do is find a stable spot for your new lights. What you’re looking for is a part of the vehicle that’s solid enough to support the weight of the lights without any flex. Don’t forget that when you’re accelerating, braking or cornering, even at quite low speeds you’ll generate forces that can increase that weight significantly. If you drive a ute with a roll bar behind the cab that can be a good place; it’s about as solid as you’re going to get. A roll bar mount is ideal for work lights aimed into the bed, and it also works for front-facing spotlights. It’s not so good for floodlights though, because the cone of light is wider and some of it will probably be blocked by the cab.
If you don’t have a roll bar or it doesn’t suit the lights you’re installing there’s probably going to be drilling involved. This is where you need to look at the mounting brackets that came with your lights. On many lights these are fixed in position, so you don’t have a lot of choice about where to drill. A better solution is brackets that can slide along a rail on the bar’s casing; you can find these on units like the Tough or Narva lightbars. That lets you choose the ideal locations for the fixing bolts. What you want to do is drill the bolt holes right beside structural reinforcements, like the frame at the top of the windscreen. That way you’ll be fitting the light to metal that’s kept rigid by the reinforcement. Don’t drill right into the reinforcement unless you really know what you’re doing – you could weaken your vehicle’s structure.
If you’re replacing an existing bar it’s best to reuse the same bolt holes. This is where rail-mounted brackets are essential, because it’s difficult to exactly match the spacing of fixed ones between old and new bars. Even if a bar with movable brackets costs a bit more you’ll easily save that by avoiding the cost of filling and repainting the old holes, then drilling new ones maybe just a couple of inches away.
You also need to consider the mounting brackets themselves, whether you’re using the ones that came with your lightbar or going for after market ones. Cast alloy mounts can look really good and they’re corrosion resistant, but stainless steel is a lot stronger and worth considering if you spend a lot of time on rough ground. It’s a lot less prone to developing fatigue cracks.
Look for brackets that let you adjust the angle of the bar then lock it solidly in place. You don’t want vibration to loosen the mount so your lights start moving off the angle you need them at.
Fitting lights doesn’t have to be a big job, but it’s one you have to get right first time. If you have any doubts ask someone for advice. It’s much better to avoid a mistake than to fix it.