LED Taillight Installation
Applicable Years: C4/C5
Difficulty Level: 1
Tools: No. 15 Torx driver, WD-40
Time: 1-1 1/2 hours
Parts source: Mid America Motorworks
It never hurts to pump up the brightness of your taillights and brake lights, and if you can add some style at the same time, what's not to love? That's what I thought when I decided to upgrade my C5's stock rear lights to some cool LED units from Mid America. This is an easy installation that should have taken well under an hour to complete, but it actually took about an hour and a half. it took longer because a good amount of time was spent trying to remove the gummy residue left by the "R" and "L" stickers affixed to the new lights to indicate their orientation. The red plastic lens of the light is covered in what could best be described as Saran wrap-it is a super-clinging plastic wrap that takes a bit of doing to peel off the lenses. To compound and complicate things, there are round adhesive stickers also applied with the aforementioned "R" and "L" designations, and these, too, are real buggers to remove. WD-40 ultimately came to the rescue. I soaked the still-clinging residue from the stickers with WD-40, waited about 5 minutes, then proceeded to use my fingernail to scrape the gooey mess off. A second application of WD-40 removed any remaining goop. With that out of the way, I was ready to proceed with the installation.
Rear Script/Letter Replacement
Applicable Years: C2/C3
Difficulty Level: 2
Tools: ratchet, 5/16-, 3/8-, 7/16- & 1/2-inch sockets, screwdrivers, ramps, or jackstands
Time: 1 hour
Parts source: Zip Products
The rear script on midyears and the chrome letters that spell out Corvette on early C3s, along with virtually all other decorative trim and insignias, are made of chrome-plated pot metal. Over time, due to exposure to moisture and the elements, the chrome plating develops pits and pocks as the pot metal underneath the plating reacts to changes in moisture content and air-borne chemicals. When this happens, there's no bringing the pot metal back-replacement is the only option for restoring a pristine appearance. Whether you're replacing midyear script or early shark lettering, the procedures are pretty much identical.
It's necessary to remove the rear valance panel to reach upward for access to the script or letter-mounting speed nuts. The first step in removing the valance panel is to remove the nut, bolt, and washers on the inside of each quarter-panel that secure the lower end of the valance panel. The project car shown has side exhausts, however, if your car has rear-exiting exhausts, it will be necessary to disconnect the muffler hangers from the mufflers so they can drop down for panel removal later. The rear license plate must also be removed for access to the two remaining 7/16-inch bolts located behind it, then the lower license plate mounting bracket screws are removed next. When these are out, the valance panel can be removed by pulling down gently on it. Here's the rear of the car with the license plate and the valance panel removed. The stainless steel tray at the bottom is a magnetic unit that's very handy for holding screws, bolts, washers, and nuts that will be used again for reassembly. At this point, I reached my arm up into the rear deck area next to the gas tank and used a 5/16-inch gear wrench to loosen the speed nuts holding the rear script on the car. On early C3s, the speed nuts will be located on the back of the vertical panel in front of the gas tank holding the C-O-R-V-E-T-T-E letters in place. it's close quarters here, so small hands are an asset for this job.
Along with the rear script, a speed-nut kit was also ordered from Zip Products. Five of the smallest speed nuts are required for mounting the script, and they're shown here positioned on the mounting spikes. When ordering letters for an early C3, be sure to also order the appropriate speed-nut kit, too.
Use a 5/16-inch socket to thread the speed nuts all the way down on the spikes. this is necessary since the speed nuts actually cut their own threads into the spike. I ran each nut down and back up again about three times for each spike so the threads were cut in nicely. This makes threading the speed nuts onto the spikes considerably easier when you're securing the script and you can't see what you're doing.