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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been following the how-to posts on this site since a month before I got my 2010 Mazda3 HB, 6 speed. Now that I've had it 3 weeks, I'm starting my tweaks. :laugh:

My final product isn’t as psycho-bright other people's, but it provides full illumination in the dark without burning your eyes out. I also really like how it’s hidden and looks like it came with the car.

Dual, Hidden LED Hatch Lights on a 2010 Mazda 3

The hatch light on the 2010 Mazda3 is an abysmal POS. It’s incandescent, gets super hot, and hardly illuminates anything.
My goal was to sub-in some LED light bars for better illumination. There are a couple write ups already, and I took my inspiration from StitcH’s great write-up, but here’s where mine differs:

  1. I mounted LED bars on both sides of the hatch
  2. The LED bars are in the vents
My final product isn’t as bright as StitcH’s since my light bars aren’t as bright and the vent slats block some of the light, but the illumination is still really good, and it’s an amazing improvement over the stock lighting. I also really like how it’s hidden and looks like it came with the car.

Parts
  • Dummy bulb
  • 2x 10″ LED Piranha bars - These are great because they’re cheap, pretty bright, and come with mounting clips that work perfectly with the insides of the hatch vents.
  • Heatshrink tubing
Time: 2-3h
Cost: $25, shipped

Remove Vents
The light bars are going in the vents, so we have to remove them.

  1. Fold down the rear seats.
  2. There are tabs toward the rear of the vents that have a phillips screw underneath. Flip these down, and remove the screw.
  3. Use a small screwdriver to remove the pushlocks at the back, closest to the rear seats.
  4. Slide your hands along the edges of the vent to pop the clips out, and give a firm tug. They should mostly pop out.
    !There’s still a pushlock behind the passenger door trim that we still have to remove. Don’t break anything in the meantime.
  5. Pull gently on the vent piece close to the rear door until the trim starts popping out.
  6. Pop out the top part of that panel by following along the seam and popping out a couple clips. Pop out along the weather stripping by pushing down and pulling out. Play a bit until the top half pops away from the door. (The bottom will remain attached)
  7. You can now reach down and remove the pushlock for the vent that’s behind that panel. (referred to in stop #4)
    !Don’t drop it down there.
  8. The vent pops right off.
  9. Repeat for the other side.
Preparing the hatch for wiring
This section is for gaining access to where the wire'll go.

Remove the plastic trunk guard
  1. Take up the trunk mat and the foam around the spare tire.
  2. Undo the two pushlocks on either side of the plastic guard. (refer to picture above)
  3. Pop off the trapezoidal piece around the trunk latch.
  4. Pull up firmly and the guard pops out.
Pull back the side panels
  1. Undo the pushlock that’s were under the vent.
  2. Undo the pushlock by the net hook.
  3. Remove the net hook. The hook has a lid that pops up to reveal a 10mm bolt. Pop the lid and remove the bolt.
  4. Remove the light access panel for the right side, jack access panel for the left.
  5. There’s a strong metal snap along the side panel midway between the top and bottom, along the edge of the trunk. Get your fingers as close to it as possible and give a STRONG tug. It’ll make a loud POP! and come off.
  6. Repeat for the other side.
Wiring
I ran the wire from one vent, down the side panel, along the front of the hatch (following the subwoofer wiring), up the other side panel, and to the other vent.
  1. Feed the wire from vent to vent, behind the side panels, and along the front of the hatch. I lightly ziptied it to the subwoofer harness along the bottom and the rubber tubes behind the side panels. (We’ll tighten them later).
  2. Attach the connector ends to the wire and the dummy bulb. I used a drip of solder and covered with heatshrink. Make sure the extension wire gets different connector ends, and the end attached to the dummy bulb is opposite the connector on the wire it’ll be plugging into.
  3. Snap in the dummy bulb, and put all the connector ends over the panels where you want them.
Mount the LED bars
  1. Snap the bulb mounts onto the bulb.
  2. Position the bulb inside the vent. The snaps that snap the vent into the side panel are perfect for attaching the bulb mounts.
    !Don’t forget to flip the bulb in the right direction so the connectors are right.
  3. Use hot glue to attach the bulb mounts to the vent snaps.
  4. From here you can slide the bulb back and forth or spin it so the light will shine out the vent how you want.
  5. Repeat for the other side.
Finishing up
  1. Plug it all in and test it out before putting the hatch back together.
  2. Tighten zipties.
  3. Re-assembly is the reverse of the install. Make sure the weatherstripping doesn’t get pinched anywhere.
Before

After
The picture makes it seem a little dim in the middle, but it’s illuminated pretty well. As you can see in the second picture, the vent slats make the light appear in strips…a neat, unintended effect.
 

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Thanks. In the future, is there button I can push to forumize stuff? Or are you just super fast at doing it by hand?
I use the standard editor, and in the top right, it looks like two A's with a diagonal slash between them. This is to switch to the advanced editor (or you can set this as your default in user options), which is basically a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor.

Copied your blog entry, pasted in here, and wham bam thank you ma'am.
 

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I actually just did something similar. Got my LEDs from oznium. Just a couple strips and used a dremel to thin the vent fins and just wedged the strip in the fins.
 

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Engineer / Scientist
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Or, you can do what I did and have results just as bright as that with the factory incandescent housing, just modified to LEDs.

Taken from my other post...

.....This had a small festoon style bulb, and I fitted it with a custom circuit board drawing 180milliamps of current. This board has 9 total LEDs. I designed it in CAD and etched/assembled the board myself. Took about 2-3 hours total. It was very simple actually....





 
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