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Those of you that have installed the HHR rearview mirrors (with autodimming, OnStar, compass AND maplights), you may be disappointed with the dim and yellow light from the map/cabin light LEDs. If you are a reasonable hand with a soldering iron, this is to show how to replace the original LEDs with much brighter and whiter LEDs. Note, the LEDs are surface mount, and not the easiest things to solder, so if you are worried about that, stop reading now!

First, you have to get yourself some replacement LEDs! The ones that come in the mirror are 3.5mm square, surface mount LEDs, running at probably 2700K color temp (or maybe even lower). I didn't want the ultra blue-white LEDs, so I chose to go with 4000K, which is white color, but still with a slight warm cast. I used Phillips/Luxeon 3535L LEDs, they are very bright and available in color temps from 2700K all the way to 6500K. You may wish to use something in the 5000 or 5700K range, but that's up to you. I bought them from Digi-key - cost was just $0.46 each LED (I got 3 in case I needed a spare) plus about $3 USPS post shipping. So with a total under $5, it won't break the bank! This link should take you to the filtered shortlist at Digi-key, for the LEDs from 4000-6500K - click on the part number in the column toward the left, to order your choice: Digi-key LEDs page

OK, after a few days, your LEDs should come in, so time to take your mirror apart. The mirror bezel is simply clipped to the plastic body by 12 clips around the edge. Use a plastic pry tool (like for an iPhone) or maybe a small screwdriver wrapped in tape, to push in at the seam angled toward the body. Start at the bottom right and go all the way round, releasing each clip in turn. The green arrows on this photo show where the clips are:




Once the front and back are apart, undo the 3-wire pigtail connector from the main board and set the mirror, bezel and main board out of the way. Next, undo the two T8 torx screws, marked "1" below. With the LED board loose, you'll need to unclip the plastic lenses from the bottom. Wiggle the board and reflector out of the way backward as much as possible and press hard against the clip marked "2". Takes some effort (DON'T break it!) but once it's free the lens will pop out from below. Repeat for "3".





Once the lenses are out, you'll be able to wiggle the LED circuit board out from the mirror body - the rubber buttons will bend. Unclip the reflector assembly from the board so you can get at the LEDs. I took the rubber buttons off too, but you probably don't really need to. This is the board with all the 'bits' removed. The cathode/negative sides of the LEDs, are towards the middle of the board (see the thicker lines on the silkscreen):



Now the MOST difficult part - removing the old LEDs. I found the best way was to use two soldering irons to melt the solder - one in each hand and on each side of the LED (in green circles below), then 'tweezer' the LED off the board between the irons. Your method may vary. The board itself is pretty tough, there's a lot of copper to act as heat sinks for the LEDs, and if you damage the LEDs themselves, it doesn't matter since you're replacing them anyway!




This is what it looks like with the left LED removed:




Now you can solder the new LEDs on. The Luxeon LEDs have one corner indented on the cathode side, so those corner indents should be oriented toward the middle of the board. I cut a thin strip of masking tape to keep the LED in place while I soldered each side. Just touch your iron to the exposed pad area on the board to melt the solder and the LED should settle in.




This photo shows the LEDs lit, after replacing just the right hand one. You can see the LED is MUCH brighter and whiter than the original. To test the board at each stage (recommended) just poke a piece of thin single-core wire into the loose end of the pigtail connector and connect them to a 12V power supply - actually a 9V battery should work too. Red wire is +12V and black wire is ground. Short the white wire (middle pin) to ground to turn both LEDs on, or leave the white wire unconnected and use the buttons to turn each LED on individually.



Then, as they say, "assembly is the reverse of dis-assembly"!

That's all folks. (Cross-posted on all three fora, 'cos not all read every forum.)
 

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Hey TS, great mod! I was thinking about updating my mirror with the auto dimming and compass, etc. have you the model number for this one you got. I am currently at work (3 week on / 3 week off gig) and there's a great u-pick salvage yard here that currently has an 08 HHR sitting in it with a mirror I might grab if it's the correct one? It has On Star, compass, map lights. I'm not sure about auto-dimming as it's kind of totalled with no power to it! Don't spend to much time on my request if you don't know off hand. Thanks W
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hey TS, great mod! I was thinking about updating my mirror with the auto dimming and compass, etc. have you the model number for this one you got. I am currently at work (3 week on / 3 week off gig) and there's a great u-pick salvage yard here that currently has an 08 HHR sitting in it with a mirror I might grab if it's the correct one? It has On Star, compass, map lights. I'm not sure about auto-dimming as it's kind of totalled with no power to it! Don't spend to much time on my request if you don't know off hand. Thanks W
Pretty sure that if it has those options it will have auto-dim. But easy to verify... does it have a manual dim knob/lever on the bottom? If not, it's auto dim.

Alternatively, does it have a hole in the mirroring (or other lens in the surround for the rear-facing light sensor) like the one shown here at middle-top? Then it's auto dim .

 

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Thanks I'll go grab it then, I'm pretty sure there was no twist knobby! Don't have tools here so I gotta go buy a torx set! Damn, more tools!
 

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Just wondering, but is the HHR rear view mirror a plug and play replacement? Will all features work right off the bat? (Compass, Auto-Dim, On-Star, etc,.)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Just wondering, but is the HHR rear view mirror a plug and play replacement? Will all features work right off the bat? (Compass, Auto-Dim, On-Star, etc,.)
It's plug and play EXCEPT you need to add a 12v switched (accessory) wire to power the dimming and compass functions. The OnStar and lights will work as plug & play though.


That'll work, but it's very expensive. I got mine used but in perfect condition off eBay for $45 shipped.
 

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I pulled mine out of totalled HHR at the U-Pick for a total cost of $20.47! Now to follow Soups instructions. Thanks TS for the detailed work!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Great SARBlade!

Again, you'll have to supply a switched 12V to power the dimmer circuit. The following is the info you need - from 2kwk4u on another forum:

Pin 13 needs ignition +12V. Tying it 10 14 won't work well as 14 is for the OnStar LEDs. Those are in turn tied into the dimmer circuit. As such, they will get variable voltage depending on the instrument panel lighting dimmer switch.

Pin 9 gives you reverse turn off. If you want that function, your best bet is to tap the wire that turns on the reverse lights. You can dig it out of the harness under the door sill trim on the
... and wire orientation - from LiquidPT:
Sol harness:
1 - grey
2 - <empty>
3 - <empty>
4 - <empty>
5 - <empty>
6 - blue/white
7 - <empty>
8 - black
9 - <empty>
10 - <empty>
11 - green/white
12 - green/black
13 - <empty>
14 - yellow/black
15 - brown/white (I think)
16 - <empty>
 

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So what features would I get if no onstar on the car? Is power available from that source since I don't have it?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So what features would I get if no onstar on the car? Is power available from that source since I don't have it?
Doesn't matter 'cos the OnStar LED power is on all the time - which you DON'T want, in case of battery drain.

(I should say here that others claim the OnStar power stops at "sleep" time - 20mins after car is turned off. But I wouldn't want to risk it.)
 

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So would I still get compass and auto dimming? Just curious if it is worth it if all I get is auto dimming.
 

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Wife always wanted outside temp like our suburban before they moved into the DIC like in the Sky. All you have to add is the little temp sensor and it's wiring. But I could never find a mirror with temp and the lights. Need the lights since they are the only ones. Any one ever find that?
 

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Hey TS,
Im doing this project now and am down to the removal of the old LEDs and am finding it quite difficult to take them off with one soldering iron, I know your directions say two soldering irons but I only had one on hand. Its looking like Ill be buying another soldering iron tomorrow. There isnt a specific type of soldering iron I should be looking out for, is there?
Thanks in advance.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hey TS,
Im doing this project now and am down to the removal of the old LEDs and am finding it quite difficult to take them off with one soldering iron, I know your directions say two soldering irons but I only had one on hand. Its looking like Ill be buying another soldering iron tomorrow. There isnt a specific type of soldering iron I should be looking out for, is there?
Thanks in advance.
No... for this, any old cheapy iron will do. Just needs to melt the solder.

Obviously it need to not be too physically big, though. You've got to get it in place :)
 
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