Lighting Up: Installing AnzoUSA Lights In A Chevy Colorado

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Automotive manufacturers have minimum lighting requirements imposed by the United States federal government to ensure adequate safety for individuals in and around the vehicle. Unfortunately, the light emitted is just that; adequate. AnzoUSA, in Chino, California, has built their business around the idea that adequate lighting is not enough, and they look to improve it with style.

Federal vehicle code 571.108, also known as Standard Number 108, covers federal requirements of all lamps, reflective devices and associated equipment for vehicles on the road within the United States. The lengthy document details a multitude of definitions, size, quantity, and location of lights, as well as the required photometrics – meaning light measurement of the vehicle lighting.

 

AnzoUSA builds all of their lighting to be DOT and SAE approved. This means high quality construction as well as ample light output.

AnzoUSA builds all of its lighting to be DOT and SAE-approved. This means high quality construction, as well as ample light output.

AnzoUSA has been building SAE and DOT-compliant for more than 30 years. To be DOT-compliant, the products need to meet or exceed all of the required specifications set forth by the department. AnzoUSA does so with meticulous design and production of all their products.

Using CAD/CAM computerized designing software and equipment, AnzoUSA can finely dial in the amount of light emitted, as well as the beam pattern for a much more focused and usable light array. After the products are designed, prototypes are built and extensively tested for light output and vehicle fitment. Following this step, the products are then manufactured in a state-of-the-art ISO 9002 and QS 9000 quality certified factory for premium quality and long-lasting use.

These products will stand the test of time, too; AnzoUSA puts their products through a series of rigorous tests in a Thermo-Hygrometer, for testing against temperature and humidity changes, as well as a Rain-Resistance Tester. They even test them against salt water damage, impact strength, and dirt resistance.

Projector Headlights

Projector

Projector lights focus the light emitted from the bulb to reduce the amount of lost or unusable light.

When projector headlights first came out, they were either in extremely high-end and expensive foreign car models or cheap reproductions that failed miserably. AnzoUSA put the technology to good use in a budget-friendlier package, “Projector beam patterns are a more focused beam” explained Bee Thao, National Accounts Manager for AnzoUSA. “They cut down on lost light on the road.”

The entire assembly is designed to meet or exceed the OEM quality, not just the light output for DOT-compliance. To ensure a strong shell, the exterior housing is built from virgin plastic, as opposed to recycled plastic that can break more quickly. The lens is built from strong polycarbonate plastic, helping to avoid cracks or damage from debris, and has a protective UV-coating to prevent hazing from damaging sunrays.

Left: Headlight on with stylized daytime running LEDs on, note the amber side marker light also illuminates. Right: The amber turn signal light reflects through nearly the whole housing.

To test out AnzoUSA’s products, we got our hands on a late-model Chevrolet Colorado. The install process was rather easy. If you can swap out a factory light, you can install AnzoUSA’s LED plank style switchback headlights (P/N 111361). The LED projector headlights are fully self-contained and come ready for installation. Being DOT-compliant, they feature daytime running lights, reflectors and turn signals.

A Brighter Install

The factory lights on the Colorado are decent lights but like just about everything that come out of an automotive manufacturer, it could be better.

The factory lights on the Colorado are decent lights, but like just about everything that come from an automotive manufacturer, it could be better.

Installing the headlights was simple but slightly tedious task. To gain access to the mounting hardware, the front fascia (aka bumper) needs to be, at the least, partially removed.

There were several bolts that held the headlights onto the front of the vehicle. Many of them we hidden. We started with the easy ones on the top of the light housing.

There are two bolts that secure the top of the light to the

There were two bolts that secured the top of the light. Both were accessible without removing anything.

The front fascia could be removed entirely to gain the necessary access but in our case, we found that disconnecting the outer ends allowed us to pull the piece out of the way far enough to get to the bolts without much trouble. There were a couple more bolts below the housing as well. As with the side bolts, the fascia could be gently pulled back to allow access.

The headlight had mounting hardware that tied it into the front core support, just behind the edge of the facia and near the front of the fender (left). With the facia pulled back, reach in under the headlight and remove the two final bolts (right).

With the headlight loose, we carefully pulled it far enough to unclip the wiring. Reinstallation of the new light was the exact opposite.

AnzoUSA uses all the same mounting points as the factory. There were no special wiring modifications that need to done to connect the new lights, we simply connected the original harness to the plug on the new light.

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With all bolts removed and the harness unplugged, we removed the factory headlight. Installation of the new unit was the exact opposite of  removal.

Lighting The Rear Of The Truck

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The AnzoUSA rear lights were built much like the fronts, with a strong polycarbonate lens and UV coating, virgin plastic housing and high-quality LEDs optimized to exceed OEM light output. As with all other AnzoUSA vehicle lighting, the light housings were a direct fit for their specified application and utilized the original factory connectors.

To round out the lighting on the Chevy Colorado, we went through the install process of AnzoUSA’s taillights and rear bumper step lights. Just like the headlights, the rear lights were are all simple bolt on products that could drastically improve the lighting and looks of the vehicle.

The factory taillights work, but could be brighter and have more style.

Left: Stock, Right: AnzoUSA's LED replacement

Left: Stock. Right: AnzoUSA’s LED replacement

The factory taillights were held in by two screws and two tabs, that’s it. We dropped the tailgate, removed the two screws and pivoted the light out of the tabs on the bedside. Then we unplugged the factory wiring harness.

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A simple screwdriver was all we needed. After the two screws were removed, the light housing pivoted out of two tabs on the bedside.

Installation of the new parts was just as simple. We connected the plugs to the factory harnesses and had it ready to bolt back in using the same points as the factory unit. If installing the step lights, pause after taillight disassembly so the wiring can be joined together.

We connected the plugs and installed the new taillight just like the factory ones. Going by comparison, the AnzoUSA (left tail light) unit gave off a lot more light and looked better than the factory taillight (right).

The integrated rear bumper step was a great innovation on GM’s part, especially for trucks that get lifted. The slightly lower stepping point made for an easier access point and also provided AnzoUSA with a location to add some additional useful lighting. The install took more time than the taillights, but it was still easy to do with typical hand tools.

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The step light gave an extra level of protection while driving. It was wired directly to the taillight harness, so it reacted the same for running, brake and even reverse lights.

There was a hidden bolt that helped secure the unit to the bumper. It was tucked up on the backside of the bumper and near the license plate. Once all the bolts were removed, we pulled the cap off the bumper. We were then able to slide the step pad off the end cap and replace it with the new light-up unit.

We removed the hardware that secured the end cap to the bumper (left). The pad itself was then unbolted and replaced with the new unit. It would be easy to miss this bolt, as it was hidden behind the bumper near the license plate mount (right).

The wiring tapped into the existing taillight wiring. This allowed the unit to mimic the taillight’s functions. Currently, the step lights are not 100 percent compatible with vehicles that have an amber turn signal in the taillight. The units can still be used but can not utilize the turn signal function to match the taillight.

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Wiring was simple, it connected directly into the taillight wiring.

The control module built into the wiring of the step lights allowed them to work with multiple functions. When the vehicle was put in reverse, the brake lighting in the step light was overridden so the white LEDs can shine and provide additional back-up lighting. This was also a benefit for vehicles that could shine the reverse lights when the vehicle is unlocked, potentially providing additional light to use the step when the vehicle was parked.

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The white lights took precedence when the vehicle was in reverse, providing additional back-up lighting.

The aesthetics of our Colorado jumped considerably with the addition of the AnzoUSA lighting. Form and function have been brought together in less than a day’s work.

To find out more about the products available for your vehicle, head over to the AnzoUSA website.

Article Sources

About the author

Jake Headlee

Jake's passion started at a young age wrenching on cars with his Dad. Obtaining that glorious driver's license sparked his obsession with grease and horsepower, and the rest is history. Soon, he was a general mechanic and suspension specialist, and currently designs and modifies products for the off-road industry. Jake enjoys rock crawling, desert racing and trail running, and writing in his spare time.
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