Work light Toyota land cruiser 200 series

Installing an LED work-light into the tailgate of your Landcruiser 200 series is one of the most popular mods you can do but finding out how to do it is very difficult. I finally bit the bullet and had a go myself. This is how I did it.

Step – 1: Purchase the LED Work-light.

The type of light you’re actually looking for is normally called a Rock Light. There are heaps available all offering various light outputs and functions. Some come as an actual kit that installs into the factory wiring harness but you need to have a Sahara model for these to work. In any other model 200 series, you will need to run a separate connection to a 12-volt power source.

The unit I purchased came from eBay. It is nothing special but it is all-metal construction and it had two modes of operation. A one-watt white LED work-light and an RGB cycling coloured light that I refer to as my party light. The reasons I chose this unit were that it was relatively inexpensive, around $30 including shipping. It also has its own integrated switches so I didn’t need to wire in separate switches which many other types do. If you want to order the same unit, click here.

LED Work-light pic 1
I purchased this LED work-light from eBay. There are plenty of alternatives of varying costs and quality.

Step – 2: Select a 12-volt power source.

If you read the various posts on Facebook describing this sort of installation, you will learn there are a few options from where you can draw power for the work light. The first is to tap into the power for the tailgate lock. I looked at this and the wires were so thin, I wasn’t confident of obtaining a satisfactory and robust connection. Another possible source is the rearmost interior light. I found it had a similar issue to the tailgate lock in that the wires were very thin and there was very little slack to work with. Both looked to be way too much trouble for my amateurish soldering skills.

By far the most popular option is to tap into a power source that you have for your fridge, should you have one. I had an easily accessible 12-volt source for my fridge so I elected to tap into that. You will then have to decide how to install the power cable.

One simple way is to do a quick and dirty job using self-adhesive wire holders but the result would be rather unsightly. The other is to route the wire through the plastic trim in the rear pillar and through the window surround. This option requires the most work but, done properly, gives the best ‘factory’ look with no exposed wires.

LED Work-light install power source
I tapped into 12-volt power here. Please ignore the dust and messy cabling. I have intentions of cleaning this up a bit.

Step-3: Tools for the job.

These LED work-lights don’t draw a lot of current so I went for the smallest gauge wire I could get in order to make the install as easy as possible. I purchased a roll of plain old speaker cable for the job.

Next, you will need a few simple tools.

  • A length of bendable wire with a hook on the end. I used a straightened-out wire coat hanger.
  • A butter knife or plastic trim remover.
  • A selection of large and small wire zip ties.
  • Some electrical tape.
  • Some crimp connectors.

Step – 4: Install the power cable.

Run the power cable up through the back pillar behind the plastic trim as far as the roof lining. I was able to do this without completely removing the trim by prising a small gap in the panels and pulling the power cable through using the coat hanger wire.

LED Work-light install wiring in pillar
Getting the power cable behind the pillar trim is probably the easiest part of the job using a coat hanger.

Top Tip: Make sure you pull enough power cable through to reach all the way to the light’s install position on the tailgate as it will become impossible to pull any extra wire through once installed.

Next, you need to get the power cable along the rear roof lining to the rubber conduit where the factory wiring runs into the tailgate. The conduit unclips easily using a butter knife or trim remover to lever it out. Remove both ends.

Feed the coat hanger wire through the lower hole along the roof lining until you reach the corner of the pillar where the power cable is and pull it through gently. This may take a few attempts to get the coat hanger wire in the exact position you need it. If you bend the wire into the rough shape of the roof, it makes the job a little easier.

Now feed the power cable through the rubber conduit. I taped a large wire tie to the cable to make threading it through the conduit easy.

Step – 5: Run the power cable through the tailgate.

This is where the install gets a bit tricky. The logical thing to do is to remove the plastic trim surrounding the rear window and run the power cable through there. As much as I tried, I could not remove this trim without breaking it. If you want to do this, I strongly suggest you look at a few videos on YouTube to see how it’s done. I wasn’t prepared to risk breaking the trim so I had to resort to plan B.

advertise here caravan and Camping Australia

I chose to run the power cable through the tailgate metalwork in stages.

There is a large piece of rubber at the upper right-hand corner of the tailgate covering an access hole. With the zip tie still taped to the power cable, I was able to push the cable from where the end of the rubber conduit is secured through the tailgate to this hole and pull it through.

Next, I removed the rubber bump stop on the middle-edge of the tailgate. I tapped a small zip tie to the end of the coat hanger wire and pushed it through the bolt hole until it came to the hole in the corner of the tailgate. I taped another small wire tie to the end of the power cable and attached it to the wire tie on the coat hanger wire. I then gently pulled the wire through and out of the bolt hole.

Finally, I was able to push the wire back through the hole and pull it through to the access hole where the light was to be mounted. Just keep pushing the wire in until you can grab it with your hand.

Step – 6: Install the LED work-light.

With the power cable in position, the rest of the installation is pretty simple. The light bolts to the removable inspection panel with two bolts. You will need to drill a third hole for the power cable to run through. Make sure to align this hole to the position of the cable on the light.

Top Tip: Be careful to ensure you connect the wires up to the correct polarity of the cable you installed. A good idea is to check this with a multimeter before connecting the light.

I used simple push connectors to attach the light to the power cable and shrink-wrapped them to ensure they didn’t come apart post-install.

One thing I did notice was the panel is no longer a tight fit. With the weight of the LED work-light, it tended to move and rattle a bit. I used some electrical tape on each of the lugs to make the panel a bit more secure.

That’s it. You now have a useful work light and the installation looks very neat and professional.

This is by no means the only way to install one of these LED work-lights in a 200 Series tailgate and it may not be the best way. This is just the way I did it and it worked out really well for me.

Hopefully, this inspires other 200 Series owners who have been contemplating this modification to have a go at it themselves.

Safe travels.

By Marty Ledwich

Marty Ledwich is a writer and photographer who is on the road full-time with his wife, Kylie, towing their off-road Roadstar caravan with a Toyota Land Cruiser 200 series. Marty was a volunteer in the Victoria Sate Emergency Service for 30 years and has travelled extensively around Australia.

One thought on “DIY – Install an LED Work-Light into the Tailgate of a 200 Series Toyota Landcruiser”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *