Vanagon – led lighting the glove compartment

I was in an unsettled mood today, my plans to help good friend Simon add some shims to his syncro were scuttled by unforeseen events. Spent some time with my falling apart dash cluster, trying out a new UV led, but that made me feel worse – the cluster foil is in such bad state that I fear the next time I go in there I’ll really be forced to do a hardwire. So I looked around for an outlet for my angst and I fell upon the 10″ bit of led strip left over from the interior light install shown in last post (on the kitchen side the 2m strip had to be trimmed to fit).

I had this idea to wire it in parallel with the small light above the glove compartment and placed so it would light up said compartment. And I didn’t want to dick around and fuss with the install, so what follows could have been done better.

Look up the Wikipedia entry for glove compartment. I draw your attention to the last paragraph, more proof that the Vanagon was a car ahead of its time.

Most led strips can be cut on the indicated lines (drawn on face of strip), at the cut area there are soldering points. I soldered a couple of wires to those points (nice tinned, teflon insulated wires).


Then some heat shrink.


Polarity is important, that’s why I have both wires the same colour . There are tiny +/- markings on strip, but you can confirm with 12 V power source (I’m fortunate to have an adjustable DC power supply. It is very handy for this sort of dicking around). The positive wire was soldered to the long contact strip on the little light that mounts above glove compartment (what the heck is that light called anyway – Courtesy light? Vanity light?  it’s a Map light according to BenT). The negative wire was soldered to the other contact strip. Yes, soldered to the strips. As I said, I wasn’t feeling like doing it kosher.


The strip and wires were fed through the light opening and the light popped in after. The strip has self adhesive backing, and I stuck the strip up under here (sorry about focus).


And how does it work? Some daylight pics to show.

Light off.


Light on.


Well what did you expect? Fireworks?


Just to be clear, the led strip is now switched on and off via the “courtesy light” or whatever you call that little light above the glove compartment. (BenT: It’s a  map light,  you dolt)

  1. #1 by famillysyncro on February 24, 2013 - 7:29 pm

    Good work Alistair, I think this is the way to do it.
    I don’t really see the point to put a micro switch on the glove box, I don’t think the glove box is rigid enough to do so.
    I like to way you soldered those wires on the light itself, not sure if there is another way to do it, at least, it is not going anywhere.
    I guess, I’ll be next to do it as same as you, I need to fix my odometer (again….) and really not happy about it.


    • #2 by albell on February 24, 2013 - 7:41 pm


      I had this great idea on how to connect wires to the existing light, but it didn’t work. I crimped on small ring terminals and I thought they would be held between festoon bulb and existing light holder. But no, pointy end of festoon bulb is not sharp enough to hold catch both ring terminal and existing holder.

      If i was to do it again, I would still solder but I would put a connector inline so that little light could be fully removed.



  2. #3 by famillysyncro on March 3, 2013 - 7:39 am

    Morning Alistair

    I was looking again at your pictures, I like your strip with measurement on them (cms and inchs), it is nice.
    I wasn’t able to see how mane leds you have per 10cms (I checked mine, I got 6 leds per 10cms).

    Good idea to add a connector inline. Still need to find a small and light connector so there is not too much stress on those wires.


    • #4 by albell on March 3, 2013 - 7:47 am


      60 leds/meter 30 leds/metre on my strips. I think this is pretty well the least dense led/m you generally find in this kind of strip. I’m thinking of buying some higher density strips for particular task lighting.



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