(EN)Headlights mod for MR2, Toyota Celica & Others

Today I’m gonna talk about how to mod your pop-up headlights to speed up turn off status and other cool features (like wink or sleeper mode).

Vehicles that might support this mod:

  • Celica: AT160, ST160, ST162, ST163, ST165, ST182
  • Corsa/Tercel: EL31
  • Corolla (Sprinter/Carib/Trueno): AE92, EL31
  • MR2: AW10, AW11

This mod has been tested on my ’87 Toyota Celica and a friend of mine’s MR2 Mk1. Both vehicles uses the same module for control headlights, so it would work fine.

Some of the first units of the Toyota Celica, the headlights module might differ and use other module (wich I’ll call blue module) that has been used on the Mk3 Toyota Supra:

The "Blue Module"

Right now I don’t know how to mod this one, but I found this module on a near scarp yard and it is inside on a Mk4 Celica, so I can try to bring it to my home and test it.

**EDIT 11/22/2021: The “Blue Module” is a automatic shut-down module to shut down the headlights (NOT parking lights) when engine if off and driver’s door goes open. I’ll check how it works and how to modify it ASAP.

If you have the “black model”, you will be able to mod your car:

The "black module"

If you don’t want to modify yours, you can buy a cheap replacement on this site (Thanks to Paul):

Toyota MR2 MK1 /mk3 spares Breaking Cheshire (Headlights Module)

I bought a lot of things for my Celica (my car is a 4A-GE Toyota Celica). He sales worldwide and he’s a really kind person. Spares prices are a really good deal. If you need any spares for MR2 or cars that have 4A-GE (or your car shares some modules as MR2), here’s your site. Also, he offers spares for Mk3 Toyota MR2. Feel free to ask him whatever you need, if you don’t find the spare, contact to him and he will search on all his stock to find it (most spares are not listed in the site as they’re a lot of them).

To open the case, pull carefully with a planar screwdriver or with the finger nails the 4 clips at both sides of the module. Then, remove the lower cover of the module, and after that, extract the circuit board from the case. You’ll see something like this:

The "black module" board

Once you checked that the board looks fine and there’s not any capacitor leaks or it’s rotten, it’s time to mod it. You’ll need to remove one of the capacitors, that is used to delay the headlights to close, and change another one that is used to keep some power to headlights motor if you press the “high-beam flash toggle” quickly. Both are located at the top of the board, on the opposite side of the plug:

On this pic you can see one of them is bluish. That’s because this pic was taken after one of my modifications. Both should be black.

Anyways, I’ll use last pic as a reference to explain the purpouse of both capacitors. The bluish one is used to keep some power while headlights are going up. Without it, if you make a “flash” with “hold” position selected on the headlights toggle level / switch, the headlights will lock as soon as you release the toggle. So instead of going up to the limit, it will keep as “sleeper mode”, and for resuming the rise of the headlights, you’ll need to hold the flash toggle until headlights reach the upper limit. I recommend to replace the bluish one and use an 1uF capacitor that will keep enough power to rise up the headlights up to the limit unless you press the flash toggle as fast as you can with “hold” position enable, in that case your headlights will keep in “sleeper mode”:

The images of the MR2 Mk1 were provided by my friend @marcos_sport  (Owner). Images were taken by @misancars .

In the video, you can appreciate that if you don’t add the 1uf capacitor, headlights will work like a chameleon if you keep flashing the headlights quickly. Also, you can add a custom capacitor value until you get the perfect balance for you.

Well, if you’ve reached until this point and you install the headlights module like I told you, you’ll notice that headlights goes down “a bit faster” than before. In my case, by default, the headlights goes down after aprox. 4secs after switch off, but with 1uf capacitor time will decrease until 2secs or so (I don’t remember it exactly).

To improve time, you just need to remove the black capacitor and leave the board without it (check again the capacitor image as reference). With this, headlights will go down as fast as you switch headlights off. But  it you add the 1uf capacitor, headlights will go down in aprox. 0.5secs, enough to flash headlights and keep them a small time up if you flash high-beam a couple of time (for example, to indicate another driver to move in a intersection), but they will go down almost instantanly if you turn off your headlights (in less than 0.5secs).

Now I’m gonna explain how to wink headlights with the Toyota Celica:

It is really simple. First, turn on the headlights and wait a couple of seconds (5-10 seconds). After that, turn off the lights and “flash” intermittently and uninterruptedly. It will get to a point where the headlights become out of sync and start to “wink”.

That’s it! I will include more pics and video soon (right now I don’t have all the images and videos that I made). Any questions please let me know in comments! 😉

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