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MK5 LED Tailight project

7 November 2008 5 Comments

Earlier this year, I bought a set of European MK5 LED tailights (the real deal, before the made in China knock off came out) for the Jetta for the sole purpose of doing the “Skyline”-style quad rings tailights. But as is, it’s a great upgrade from the stock halogens as many who have done it can attest to their cool factor.

Pic of the Driver side LED tailight:

It’s a 2-piece design – the outer housing which houses the turn signal, brake light and parking lights and the inner housing which houses the reverse signal light. In the Outer Housing, it has a set of SMT LEDs which lights up red and amber depending on the mode set up. The inner ring that surrounds the reverse light, although it does have provisions for a set of LEDs, doesn’t have any so it’s a bit of a let down.

Here’s a quick diagram of how they function on “passat mode”

This is just fine and many people have done it even having the “amber mode” possible through VAG COM programming credit to Tim Birney, iThread and the fellas at VWVortex.

But I had no plans on installing this just as they were. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to do a skyline-style look by making the INNER rings around the reverse light functional. I’m sure I’m not the first nor the only one who thought of doing this mod to these tailights. As a matter of fact, OEMPl.us offered a similar mod for the B6 Passats which proved to be very popular. But for the MK5 Jetta, we weren’t so lucky. So at this time, I believe no one have successfully done this, at least with any photos as proof. What I’m doing here is not as revolutionary as what Tim Birney did when he figured out the codes and wiring for the “Amber Mode” but it’s something that can be done in addition to that.

It was fun being able to be the 1st to do the angel eyes mod on BMW E36s and also the 1st to mod the MINI tailights with the upper and lower brake lights in dual filament (more on this on another post). And now with this project, it requires opening up the reverse light housing to have access to the guts so I can remove the rings and add a new set of LEDs with its respective resistors.

Pic of the Passenger side LED Tailight:

So after soldering 20 LEDs, I went in the car and tested it. I connected the outer tailight housing to the wiring harness and the inner rings from the inner tailight housing is tapped into it. The inner circle brake light of the outer tailight housing is not connected so only the outer brake rings lights up during this test. And obviously the ring for the inner tailight housing is out of it’s housing for the time being.

Below is the Tailight in the OFF Position.

And the moment of truth, the first test- turned on the PARKING LIGHTS…

nice, 2 rings, just as how I wanted it. Outer Ring and now the INNER RING are ON. Note: The camera flash washes out the brightness intensity of the leds so in real life, it’s actually brighter than this.

and now stepping on the BRAKE…

Coolio! Outer Ring and the INNER RING gets full brightness.

Camera Flash turned off:

When the Turn signal is on, it basically flashes/blinks regardless if the brake light is on or off… oh joy.

This was all done last week actually but only getting to post it all now. Currently, I since then inserted the new rings back to the inner tailight housing now fully assembled and everything still works. I just gotta install it in the car soon and get some vag com programming done. Stay tuned !


  • Craig said:


    Lurve the look of this mod. Any chance of getting a step by step on how to? Would love this look on my TDI



    jonsibal Reply:

    Here’s a thread in vortex with a link to DIY. There are some notes in the thread so it’s better to link to it instead.

  • Ricky James said:

    Please could you send me a link to where you purchased these tail lights and exactly how did you make the modification. Also, is a Euro switch required for the American Jetta?

  • Craig said:

    Could you tell me where you sourced the LEDs? They are an almost perfect match for OEM.



  • Tiki said:

    can you send me the web site from where you bay that lights please