I recently upgraded my third brake light and license plate light to Off Road Only’s (ORO) LitePLATE after my previous setup failed to pass a state vehicle inspection.
The short story is I’ve had my vehicle fail two different state’s vehicle inspections for third brake lights that didn’t meet their specific requirements.
One was because the bulbs on my third brake light were red and the lens was white, and the particular state required a red brake lens. The other was because my third brake light was a license plate frame that illuminated the license plate red when I applied the brakes, per that states law the lights needed to face out towards the driver behind me and not towards the plate.
Regardless of my opinion of individual on these state vehicle requirements, the law is the law. For $30 it was an easy decision to purchase ORO’s product that was able to pass my local states inspection with flying colors.
This is a simple, yet solid product that arrived well packaged and looks exactly as advertised. The frame is made from stainless steel that’s thick enough to resist bending during handling or installation. The machining left no burrs or sharp edges.
The LED light housing is a compact and minimalist design made of a black poly-carbonate that appears to be well built and sealed. The wiring itself is well insulated and I didn’t encounter any issues damaging the wiring while stripping the insulation or while manipulating the stranded copper.
While not part of the product itself it did come with some really nice solder seal connectors that helped with the ease of installation.
It has three white led bulbs that face the license plate to illuminate it at night and three red led bulbs that face outward and illuminate red that can either function as a brake or clearance light.
The red lights may be small in size but they do cast a very intense red that is bright enough to be clearly seen during any weather conditions. The white lights shine with equal intensity and due to their close mounting and narrow lighting disbursement, the beam is focused on the upper center section of the license plate and does not illuminate the entire license plate as well as some others.
The important factor here is that the red lights will definitely warn anyone behind you that you are applying your brakes and both lights will meet any vehicle inspection requirements you may have in your area.
The ORO LitePLATE is sold in three different versions. The lights and frame are the same for all three and the difference lies in the wiring. You can purchase either a one-foot harness, a six-foot disconnectable harness, or a seven-foot harness. The price variance between the three models is $15 with the one
The LitePLATE has three wires: green is the license plate light, red is the brake light, and black is the ground. It’s not a complicated product but the difficulty of the install is largely dependent on your individual vehicle and your personal wiring abilities.
The installation manual that comes with this product is specific to a Jeep JK and it shows images of wiring this plate to a specific license plate relocation kit.
I understand it would be difficult to write an installation manual for this product for use on every make and model vehicle so I don’t really see this as a negative thing. I consider myself an amateur when it comes to wiring and electricity. I’m pretty awful at it to tell you the truth, but I wired mine to my TJ in a couple of hours. I tapped into my original third brake light wiring and my trailer lighting bundle. It is fairly easy to find wiring diagrams for your individual vehicle online so you can figure out how to connect this product to your vehicle.
This is a well-built product that did exactly what I needed it to do at an affordable price. I would recommend it for anyone who needs to find an easy and inexpensive way to add a new third brake light and license plate light.
While I do think this is an excellent product, I also see some things I would like to see changed.
The first thing I would like to see is a more universal model. By this I mean ORO should offer a LitePLATE frame that doesn’t already have massive holes drilled out. It’s clear that this was designed for a specific vehicle and that’s fine, but if they offered a blank frame where you had to drill out your own mounting holes then the LitePLATE could be used in a lot more applications with a little less work. My license plate holes were much smaller than those on the current LitePLATE frame which left me with two options: drill out my license plate and license mounting bracket to accommodate a larger bolt, or use a massive washer that was wider than the hole in the LitePLATE frame. I went with the latter option.
The second place I see room for improvement is in the installation manual. I already mentioned the LitePLATE was designed for a particular vehicle and expecting ORO to write an installation manual for vehicles outside of that is unrealistic.
My thoughts on improving this manual and helping this product find itself on a wider variety of vehicles though actually came from one of the things I really liked about their installation manual. I was impressed that it included a wiring color code for both their LitePLATE and the JK’s taillight and tailgate wiring bundle.
I think it would be really useful if ORO took the time to update the installation manual with other popular vehicles Taillight wiring bundles color code such as the Jeep JL, Jeep TJ, latest generation Tacoma, and maybe even some of the more popular side by sides that are hitting the streets.
I realize this requires time and labor on ORO’s part but it certainly would have made wiring this product to my TJ a little easier.