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Very Dim Backup/Reverse Lights?

NY_Rob

Member
Feb 13, 2020
755
782
Long Island
I have the new style tail lights in my 2021 MY. It's only a month old now and I have only taken the car out a handful of times in darkness. The headlights are great, but the backup/reverse gear lights seem to be really weak when viewed on the backup cam. The only way I can actually get a decent picture with enough illumination to actually see the surroundings is when hitting the brakes while backing up (using the bright brake lights for illumination). Anyone else with the new style tail lights notice the same thing? Wonder if I can mod the backup lights to add additional illumination? Maybe just add an IR LED array back there running off the OEM backup lights?

I came from a 2017 Bolt that had the 360deg overhead backup system with spectacular detail all around the car even at night, the MY by contrast is a nightmare to backup at night because it's got that high hatch and it's really dark beck there. Looking for solutions as I love the rest of the car...
 
  • Informative
Reactions: Stach

mark95476

Active Member
Jun 21, 2020
1,014
551
Bay Area CA
Yeah, we need better rear illumination. It's been a problem since Model 3. Bjorn had an video while filming auroras where he had to stick a light on the back of his M3 to back up safely.

I have the new style tail lights in my 2021 MY. It's only a month old now and I have only taken the car out a handful of times in darkness. The headlights are great, but the backup/reverse gear lights seem to be really weak when viewed on the backup cam. The only way I can actually get a decent picture with enough illumination to actually see the surroundings is when hitting the brakes while backing up (using the bright brake lights for illumination). Anyone else with the new style tail lights notice the same thing? Wonder if I can mod the backup lights to add additional illumination? Maybe just add an IR LED array back there running off the OEM backup lights?

I came from a 2017 Bolt that had the 360deg overhead backup system with spectacular detail all around the car even at night, the MY by contrast is a nightmare to backup at night because it's got that high hatch and it's really dark beck there. Looking for solutions as I love the rest of the car...
 
  • Informative
Reactions: NY_Rob

DaveORD

Member
Mar 12, 2020
636
556
Chicagoland
Bird’s eye view coming soon!
Not sure about your area, but not many birds flying at night where I live, so not so sure how a bird's eye view at night will help much... :p May be we should get an owl's view for night time driving, especially since they can turn their heads crazy amounts so seeing 360 should be easy for them in the dark...

But seriously, I was having the same questions, was it the tint, cameras, or just me. I was wondering how I could add something back there to turn on extra light when in reverse, either a manual switch which I do not like using in case I forget and probably illegal to do, or triggering off of the existing reverse light, or somehow getting gear position from the CAN bus and then using that to turn on some LED lights when in reverse. But ya, it is dark backing up, so now I try to avoid doing that at night if possible and park so I come head out, to minimize backing up in dark areas.
 

NY_Rob

Member
Feb 13, 2020
755
782
Long Island
Went out tonight for ice cream... I rolled down the windows so no tint was involved, looking outside (not at the main screen) those backup lights are as dim as anything from back in the 1970's. What a joke, super safe car... going forward!
 

Xtek

Member
Sep 13, 2017
605
430
Seattle, WA

NY_Rob

Member
Feb 13, 2020
755
782
Long Island
Had one of my kids put the MY in reverse tonight while I stood next to it.. from back there you can instantly identify why the backup illumination is so poor at night unless you ride the brakes. The brake lights are blinding bright, but the backup lights only come from the thin strip of white LEDs circled in the photo below. They are actually fairly bright, but they are not directional or focused so their light just dissipates into the darkness.
OEM-Backup-Lights.png



One set of trial lights arrived today ($4.99 for the set of 2), I brought them outside tonight and they seemed pretty bright, will Velcro them in place tomorrow and try them at night.. I expect a big difference....

Small-lights.png
 

NY_Rob

Member
Feb 13, 2020
755
782
Long Island
Thanks @Battpower ... I'll find out tonight. The lights are mounted with command Strip Velcro, so no harm to the paint when I pull them off.

As mentioned in the thread you linked... people are riding the brakes to get some illumination back there, that does indicate that more light helps. It's like the rear camera auto-gain control is offset incorrectly for night ops? It never occurred to me that maybe some of the light from the backup LED's or license plate lights is getting in to the lens and fooling the sensor into thinking it's lighter than it actually is resulting in a dark scene? Maybe something reflecting off the chrome license plate frame? That will be easy to determine.. We'll see.....
 
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