I recently got the upgrade bug when a friend of mine got me some 6000k DiodeDynamic HID's for my 2012 Hyundai Sonata Limited low-beam and fog lights. HID's? What are these crazy looking light bulbs that I was looking at? I had heard about them, but truth be told, had done very little in terms of research regarding exactly what they were, nor did I realize that those bright, crystal clear headlights that I see at night were HID. Call it one of those technological marvels that slipped through the cracks for me. Anyways, as an avid DIY'er, I spent a few of hours online researching HID's, along with my car's electrical system, and ended up quite excited. Brighter output, cleaner looking light, less power draw? Love it. This started my LED journey and soon after the installation of the HID's I upgraded just about every other available light source on my car to LED.
The HID's proved to be the most painful to install because there's just not a lot of space to work with under the hood of a Sonata. The installation is easy, but it's just time consuming which could also be credited to my OCD with keeping cable routing nice and neat, etc.
The only tools you need for installation of the HID's is a screwdriver, a drill with a 1" paddle bit, some zip-ties, and a socket wrench. The screwdriver for removing the panels under the car just below the fog lights, the paddle bit to drill a hole in the headlight caps for the low-beam, and the socket wrench to remove the nuts on the battery terminals to attach the relay harness and also to remove the ground nut, under the hood and on the passenger side to ground the relay's. Beyond this the product is pretty much plug-and-play. I secured the ballasts against metal with zip-ties and routed the harness cables securely across the top of the radiator where they can just barely be seen. I also secured any loose wiring.
Hyundai Sonata's REQUIRE a relay harness because they use junction boxes between the BCM and the headlight bulbs. This setup is only designed to handle the power requirements for normal bulbs, not HID's. The HID's will work without a harness, but you will see flickering, and you may have the issue where only one HID ignites when you turn the car on, and you have to turn your lights on and off to ignite the second one. This is not how HID's are supposed to work and you will inevitably fry your junction box which is an expensive repair. A relay harness, when installed, allows the HID's to utilize the cars circuits for low current draw and uses the battery to handle the high current draw requirements. I used one harness for the low-beams and one harness for the fog lights and they work flawlessly. Zero flickering, zero issues to date.
Along with the HID's I also changed out vanity, map, dome, door, glove box, trunk, and license plate bulbs with LED's. I also added blue acrylic LED's cup holder inserts. I'll briefly mention each one, as the installation of them is very simplistic. You just need a screwdriver for the license plate bulbs and a knife, or thin piece of plastic to pop the dome light and map light covers off. Everything I purchased was 6000k to keep uniformity across the entire car. I find this color temperature perfect and ideal if you're looking for the crisp, clean bright white light with zero yellow. It looks and feels much more modern.
I can't say enough about this upgrade. The level of brightness you get out of these and the increased visibility is staggering. My wife, who thought I was silly for upgrading everything, couldn't stop complimenting on how much easier it was to see at night. A very solid product and highly recommended for both low-beam and fog lights. Personally, I'm unsure right now what I want to do with the high-beam since they also function as DRL's. I'm either going to replace them with the highest intensity regular bulb that I can, or replace them with some LED bulbs since I rarely ever use the high-beams for anything. For me, personally, a HID conversion of high-beam isn't a possibility. HID's do take about 30 seconds to reach their full brightness, and with the use of high-beams typically being something you need quickly, it's just not worth it for me. You also lose the functionality of the DRL's which impacts overall safety. Again, personal opinion here.
I opted for the stage 2 because my wife always complained about how dim the vanity lights were. No longer. Stage 2 is very bright and gone are the days where we had to lean up nearly against the visor mirror to see ourselves at night. When installing just make sure you adjust the bulb angle down, I thought adjusting them to shine towards the cars seat would be a good idea until I turned it on and blinded myself.
I originally ordered the stage 2, but for me and my wife they were just too bright. She commented; "It feels like you installed a sun in our car." I ended up swapping them out with the stage 1 and they were plenty bright enough for our needs. Much brighter than stock, but not overly bright.
I hit a small snag here. DD's website states the 2012 Sonata has a 194 glove box box. The fixture it set up for a festoon bulb but 31mm, 36mm, and 39mm do not fit. The first are too small and the last is too big. It seems to be some mystical size that has gone unnoticed. Ultimately, all I had to do was use a 36mm bulb and bend the bottom metal contact up with some pliers until it kept the bulb snug.
Here was another issue. DD's website claims the dome lights (backseat lights) are 31mm size. This is only true for Sonata's that DO NOT have the dual sunroof. If your 2012 Sonata has the dual sunroof, you need to order 2 194 bulbs for the dome lights.
It's hard to tell the difference between the halogen door lights and the LED because of the red plate that covers them. You can buy clear plates online which I intend to do, so I can take advantage of the crisp white light. I never liked the red light anyway. Maybe that's something you guys at DD could start offering? *nudge nudge*
I went with the stage just below the LED board and it is a significant boost in visibility. With the stock bulb you could only see the very front of the trunk, but now you can see the contents of the entire trunk at night. I was very happy with this.
I opted for stage 2 with the license plate lights and I'm glad I did. They are the perfect amount of brightness. My only issue lies with Hyundai and not DD. The bulb housings on the license plate are angled, which means both bulbs, when installed on both sides, are angled to the right instead of the left side angling right and the right side angling left, which could keep the light dissipation even across the license plate. However, this isn't the case, so the light output shifts to the right. Something I doubt anyone will ever notice, but if you're OCD like me, it drives me crazy. Currently looking for a fix, or trying to figure out a way to DIY something myself.
My second favorite light upgrade besides the HID's. These blue cup holder inserts match the blue console lights of the Sonata and provide a very pleasing aesthetic at night. Yes, even my wife couldn't stop complimenting on how nice they looked. These were a little time consuming to install and require you to take apart your center console, but it's not as daunting as it looks, and well worth it. There are also videos explaining how to do it. This is where my only gripe with this entire list of upgrades was. The leads on the discs were too short. 6 inches too short to be exact. Luckily I had the same gauge wire and just spliced on an extension. I believe DD manufactures these themselves, and I would suggest they make the leads at least 18 (24 ideally) inches long instead of 12.
As of right now, I intend to upgrade my backup lights next and potentially my DRL's. I also expect to change out the turn signal lights eventually. Though my experience with handling LED products is limited, each product seems to be of high-quality and they're all very sturdy.
Dealing with DiodeDynamics has also been a great experience and I would highly recommend them. There were a couple of hiccups with my order because of the websites information, but the issues were quickly remedied both politely and very professionally. I got the sense, from the four different people I talked to at Diode, that they are all very customer oriented and care about everyone who places an order. They've earned my business for all future LED car related upgrades.
Products Used (All 6000k):
Vanity : 31mm SMF2 (x2)
Map : 31mm SMD2 (x2)
Dome : 194 SMD2 (x2)
Trunk : 31mm SMF6
Glove : 36mm SMF2
Door : 194 SMD2
License : 194 SMD2 (x2)
HID : H7 for low-beam with added harness
HID : H8 for fog light with added harness
Cup : Sonata blue LED