LED Lights, Plasti Dip, And Other Cosmetic Upgrades For My Laser Red Saab 9-3

Since my mechanical skills were in their infancy for most of 2013, I tended to take on easier cosmetic modifications.

One of the easiest and relatively cheapest modifications I did to my 2007 Saab 9-3 was swapping out the factory interior light bulbs with LEDs. My goal was to rid my car of that dull, yellow, halogen glow in favor of a crisper, truer white.

I converted all of the dome lights to white, and for the footwell and courtesy lights I decided to use red LEDs to match the Laser Red finish of my 9-3. There are many sources for LEDs in-cased in halogen style bulbs, so it was pretty easy to find plug-and-play bulbs. Below is a list of the correct styles and sizes for a 9-3SS, as well as a comparison gallery. I found LEDlight.com to be a good resource for referencing different bulbs and included their part #’s as well.

Center Dome Light: 42mm Festoon 20 LED Bulb (64357)
Map Lights: T10 Wedge 6 LED Bulb (78564)
Footwell/Couresy Lights: 41mm Festoon 3 LED Bulb (47185)
Trunk Light: 36mm Festoon 2 LED Bulb (74237)

Immediately after purchasing my Saab, when part of the infatuation had subsided, I noticed a small, faded portion on the black side body molding. There are various methods for restoring old trim like this, such as detailing products or by using a heat gun, but since the Plasti Dip grill project went so well I decided I would try that. What. A. Difference.

TIP: Be careful when removing your side trim as the clips are fairly easy to break, especially with older cars which tend to have brittle plastic. I used a screwdriver, but I would recommend a plastic automotive trim removal tool to prevent any damage to your paint if you are unsure of your skill level.

As the warm weather began to break in NEPA that year I dove head first into even more appearance modifications. I scoured the internet looking at hundreds of images of 9-3SS looking for my next modification. I laid my eyes on an Aero, and at first I couldn’t tell what really set it apart. Then I noticed the rear spoiler. I immediately went on eBay and found, to my surprise, that a fiberglass, paint-matched spoiler could be had for 100 bucks. A week later it was delivered and fixed to the rear of my boot lid. I also had a professional install 20% tint on the front and rear windows, along with 35% tint on my tail lights and side markers.

At the same time as the rear spoiler addition I was also beginning a “black-out” project. The project included new emblem decals for the bonnet, boot, steering wheel, and wheel caps. In addition, I decided to revisit my favorite product of 2013: Plasti Dip. I blacked out the wheels and added a small red lip to give it that accentual pop.

TIP: If you plan to Plasti Dip your wheels get together a stack of index cards and twenty pennies. The index cards make a great barrier that you can tuck between the wheel lip and tire to prevent overspray. The pennies can be laid in the holes for your lug nuts so you do not rip the Plasti Dip every time you take your lugs on and off.

The last project I decided to do that year was to address the engine bay a little. I removed some plastic and added some color to otherwise dull areas.

TIP: The valve cover in the photos was painted with wrinkle paint that didn’t quite wrinkle as planned. The instructions say to lay thick coats, when you get to your definition of thick, spray over it a few more times. The extra paint is really gives it that wrinkled finish.

Next week I’ll discuss some of the supporting mods I installed before I uploaded a long-awaited ECU tune. So, until next time, stay tuned!

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