How To: Neon/LED Bar Install, Hardwire Radar Detector, etc. - Mazda3 Forums : The #1 Mazda 3 Forum
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post #1 of 85 (permalink) Old 06-16-2004, 02:01 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Rockville, MD
Posts: 603
How To: Neon/LED Bar Install, Hardwire Radar Detector, etc.

Mods: feel free to move

Ok I have finally decided to write a how to so lets see how it goes.
For this install you will need:
Bell Automotive Distributor Block from PepBoys, here's what it looks like:

It should have a cigarette adapter to plug it in and have 3 places to hook up the wires.

10 Amp Inline Fuse Holder from Radio Shack
Closed End Connectors, 12-10 gauge & Larger Size but forgot #
Wire Cutters/Strippers
Phillips Head Screwdriver
Whatever lights or such things you want to install.

First thing, I did this install a few weeks ago and didn't take any pictures so all of these are post install. Before you begin anything electrical you need to unhook the battery, but if you have an automatic I would recomend starting the engine and putting it into drive with the parking brake on then shutting the engine off, it makes it easier later. Once the battery is disconnected you need to remove the center console:

Grasp the spot indicated in the picture and pull up and somewhat towards the dash and it will pop up.

2. Now you need to finish removing the center console, so put your fingers in the little indintation next to the shifter like so:

Pull up in this spot the best you can and it should eventually pop up in that spot, then you can start lifting it up the rest of the way around. Tip: Make sure the emergency brake is as far up as you can pull it, it makes it much easier to pull the center console cover off.

3. When you get to this step, both pieces of the center console should be removed and you should see two screws just under the ashtray:

Remove them and be carefull not to lose them.

4. Now you have to remove the ashtray from its spot in the dash and you will be pulling out that empty space and the part of the dash that the cigarette lighter and airbag light are.

Since these two pieces are connected they will come out together, but it is kind of hard to get them out. I found it is easiest to put your fingers where indicated and pull it outwards and side to side at the same time. Eventually one side will pop out and you can then get the other side out. Now is where shifting into drive helps out. You will notice that the part where the screws were to hold this piece to the dash hits the shift gate. You can bend the plastic and lift it over this and since it is in drive you will have plenty of room to pull it out.

5. After all of this hard work you will finally be to the power source, the cigarette lighter.

The orange wire is positive, the black wire is negative. To install the way I did you need to cut the wires, but they do make wire taps so you don't have to, just make sure you install the inline fuse holder between the tap and the distributor block. If you decide to cut the wires you will need to peel off some of the black tape stuff that is wrapped around the wires and cut them about 4 or 5 inches behind the cigarette lighter.

6. Now it is time to install the inline fuse holder. Now notice I didn't tell you to buy any fuses before. The reason is that the Bell Automotive distributor has one built in to the cigarette adapter that comes installed in it. You will need to cut this adapter off anyways, so just unscrew the adapter and remove the 10 amp fuse that is in there. Unscrew the inline fuse adapter from Radio Shack and put the fuse in there and screw it back up. Now it is time to install the fuse holder:

Now if you look in the background of the image, you see the closed end connector I used to connect the inline fuse holder to the power wire coming out of the dash. Just twist the wires together and put the closed end connector over them and squeeze it shut with some pliers.

7. Now is the time to run the wires for the distributor block into the dash. I installed mine between the drivers side seat and the center console:

Before putting it in place you need to slip the power wires underneath the center console between the carpet and the side of the console. Pull the wire as far as you can so that the distributor block sits right along the console. I kept mine in place by using the velcro that comes with the distributor block. Once you have everything in place strip off about a half inch of the black wires from the distributor block so you can connect them to the other wires.

8. Here is a diagram of the wire connections:

The black wires that lead to the distributor block are labeled, and the top black wire with the white strip is the positive wire for the distributor block.
This picture shows all of the final connections of the distributor block wires and the cigarette lighter wires:

Pay no attention to the goldish silverish wire, I used it to extend the negative wire because it kept pulling out on me but I doubt you will have a problem unless you keep removing the dash like I have been doing.

9. Now it is time to install the neons or LED bars and hook them up. I installed neon tubes under the dash of the driver and passanger sides. The neon tubes came with both two sided tape and screws, so I used the tape to hold them in place and then screwed them into some very thick plastic that was underneath the dash. Make sure before you secure them you cannot see them when sitting in the seats or it will look very cheap, and make sure the wires to connect them are pointed towards the middle of the dash. If they come with cigarette adapters you can cut those off now and strip the wires back. Now if you get down and look, there is a small slit on each side of the center consule that leads right into the hole that was created when you pulled out the cigarette lighter/ashtray part.

You can run your wires right through these slits and pull the wires right down into the center console. After you pull them through you need to position them so you can slide the cigarette lighter/ashtray part back into place.

The thick black wire is for the distributor block, while the whitish wire is for the neon. There is another wire there for the passanger side neon, but it is under the plastic so you can't see it. Don't worry about being able to see the wires now, as soon as you slide the ashtray back in you won't be able to see them.

10. Now it is time to connect the neons to the distributor block. Run them from inside the center console between the carpet and the plastic just like you did with the distributor block wire. Pull them through and then strip the wire back so you can put them in the connectors. Since the neons and LEDs wont take much power, you can twist the positives and negatives together from two of the neons and put them in just one set of the connectors.

Once you have these wires in place and secured, it is time to hook the car battery back up and then flip the switch. If you put neons in be aware that they sometimes take a few minutes to turn on. I didn't know this the first time I tried so I began freaking out thinking I ruined my car. If you put in a LED bar it should light up right away. If you are doing this during the day just lean under the dash and see if it is glowing. If nothing is working, try pushing in the cigarette lighter so that it will heat up. If it doesn't then check and make sure your battery is hooked up correctly. If it does work but your lights won't, then there is something wrong with your distributor block or the way you wired the neons, or the 3-amp fuses in the distributor block have blown. If you are happy with the way everything is working, put all the pieces of the dash and center console back together exactly the way you took it apart.

Now for everyone that read this because I said you could install radar dectors and such, as long as it runs off 12 volts or you can install it with a cigarette adapter, you can hard wire it using the distributor block, but as I don't have one I can't really tell you how to hide the wires. Somebody on the board did a permanent installation with the wire running through the dash, a search would probably bring it up and you could ask questions. For people that want to install a second cigarette adapter for a cell phone or want power for their palm pilot or what not, this will work too.

Now when everything is put back together, you should not see any wires or anything, just the switch right next to your seat. If you try to turn on the lights and nothing happens, and you try the cigarette lighter and it doesn't work, then the 10 amp fuse you installed inside the dash has blown and will have to be replaced, which means taking the dash apart again.

Look what I can do:

If anyone has any questions I will be happy to answer them the best I can, but I'm going to Florida in a week so no answers for you then.
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post #2 of 85 (permalink) Old 06-16-2004, 03:38 PM
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How To: Neon/LED Bar Install, Hardwire Radar Detector, etc.

sticky this for sure..

great writeup.

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post #3 of 85 (permalink) Old 06-16-2004, 05:24 PM
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How To: Neon/LED Bar Install, Hardwire Radar Detector, etc.

great write-up! sticky for sure!

I saw some guy at my apt complex with a blue light bar that lights up on the dash when the car is off (probably hooked in with the alarm). How would you wire something so that it has power only when the car is off?

3s sedan, winning blue, 6 disc, moonroof, leather
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post #4 of 85 (permalink) Old 06-16-2004, 05:27 PM Thread Starter
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Posts: 603
How To: Neon/LED Bar Install, Hardwire Radar Detector, etc.

You would have to feed off of the ignition wire which has a constant 12 volt current even with the car off, but to be honest that would make me nervous because I don't want to screw something up and not be able to start my car. I'm sure there are other ways but that is all I'm aware of.
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post #5 of 85 (permalink) Old 06-16-2004, 08:27 PM
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How To: Neon/LED Bar Install, Hardwire Radar Detector, etc.

great how-to thx!

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post #6 of 85 (permalink) Old 06-17-2004, 01:39 AM
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How To: Neon/LED Bar Install, Hardwire Radar Detector, etc.

Very nice instructions, if I ever want to install a lot of lighting ill follow your how-to, looks nice when done. Thanks again.

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post #7 of 85 (permalink) Old 06-18-2004, 02:24 PM
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How To: Neon/LED Bar Install, Hardwire Radar Detector, etc.

Great walkthrough! Keep it up.
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post #8 of 85 (permalink) Old 06-19-2004, 12:18 AM Thread Starter
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How To: Neon/LED Bar Install, Hardwire Radar Detector, etc.

Thanks for the positive feedback and if you have any questions I'm sure somebody on this board other than I could handle it so good luck. Also it might be interesting if other people posted pics of their installs to see how they turn out. Anyways I'm out and good luck!
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post #9 of 85 (permalink) Old 06-21-2004, 03:14 PM
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How To: Neon/LED Bar Install, Hardwire Radar Detector, etc.

Excellent instructions! I used them, together with the post on wiring in a radar detector (, to install a 3-socket cigarette adapter in the centre storage box between the front seats (needed to drill a small hole in the front of it to feed the wires through) and I've then run the wire for my radar detector back up behind the centre console. Frees up the original ciggy socket for my phone hands free kit. There's an added benefit in that the 3-socket adapter has an LED built-in and this lights up the inside of the storage box. Using the adapter also means the detector, hands-free kit etc retain their own fuses in the plugs and I don't have to take the dash out to change the fuse if it goes.

I'll have to get some neons now!



Mazda 3 2.0 Sport in Winning Blue / Moonroof / AC / ABS,EBD,DSC / Xenons / LED rear lights / 17in alloys / CD Autochanger / Sports Silencer / K&N panel filter / Blue gearknob & handbrake trim
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post #10 of 85 (permalink) Old 06-23-2004, 12:13 PM
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How To: Neon/LED Bar Install, Hardwire Radar Detector, etc.

Thanx for the guide man!! Now i don't have to waste money to get this professionally done!

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