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2021 Highlander XSE V6
113 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Here's my DIY tutorial for replacing the maplight LEDs in the overhead console.
Unlike most of the lights in the car, these LEDs are soldered onto a circuit board and aren't easily replaced like a typical bulb.
If you're like me and you've swapped all the other interior bulbs with nice LED's , you'll notice how dim and yellow the factory LED maplights are. This swap will complete the interior lighting to all white LED's , will be brighter than stock and just make things more cosmetically pleasing.


I was able to complete this swap in about 2 hours without any prior experience working with circuit boards.
This job requires complete removal of the overhead console, disassembly of the console to remove the circuit board, removal and replacement of the 4 surface mounted LED chips from the board, and re-assembly.

The SMD LEDs can be purchased here:
5000K Colour Temp
Part number 160-2095-1-ND , Cut Tape packaging
You will need at least 4, these are cheap so grab extras just in case.

They're also available in these colour temperatures:

They come nicely packaged in a protective strip (see below)

Tools and Supplies

IMG_0709.JPG IMG_0703.JPG IMG_0687.JPG IMG_0705.JPG IMG_0706.JPG IMG_0714.JPG IMG_0713.JPG

Multi-meter with Diode Test mode
Large body panel removal tool with angled head
Small body panel removal tool with sharp edge
Torx T20 screwdriver
Butane soldering torch with hot air blow tip
SN63PB37 Soldering paste SSNC-15G SRA Soldering Products | Soldering, Desoldering, Rework Products | DigiKey
Tweezer Tools | Tweezers | DigiKey
Isopropyl acohol

IMPORTANT: a clean work area so you don't contaminate the chips or circuit board.

Soldering helping hands (Third hand) or circuit board holder
Duster spray
Electronics cleaner

Step 1 SMD LED chip testing

IMG_0709.JPG IMG_0710.JPG

Use your multi-meter in Diode Test mode to test the new LED chips prior to mounting them on the board.
This ensures they work and also identifies the positive and negative side of the chip. Since LEDs are directional diodes they need to be mounted in the correct orientation to function.
In Diode Test mode, place the probes on the terminals on each side and the multi-meter will send a low current and the LED lights up. It will be dimly lit so don't worry about that. Swap the probes if it's not working. Make note of positive/negative side. On the units I received the negative side had a disctinct dark spot on them, barely noticeable.

Continued on next post.....

2021 Highlander XSE V6
113 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Step 2 Overhead Console Removal.

IMG_0700.JPG IMG_0701.JPG IMG_0702.JPG IMG_0699.JPG IMG_0671.jpg IMG_0672.JPG IMG_0673.JPG

Use the large body panel removal tool to release the 4 retaining clips. The circles in the photo show their approximate locations.
Start at the top left, then top right. Squeeze the tool in until the bend part of the tool, then use the angled head on the tool as leverage to push the console down, releasing the clip.
Then pull the lower portion straight down with two hands and it should release the 2 lower clips .
Unplug the harness connector by pushing the tab in the middle.
Tape up the connector plug to prevent damage.
Take it to your clean work area

Continued on next post...

2021 Highlander XSE V6
113 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Step 3 Console Disassembly

IMG_0690.jpg IMG_0674.JPG IMG_0675.jpg

Next we need to take the console apart.
The orange circles in the photo above show approximate locations I pryed at to release the trim pieces.

Remove the middle trim containing the buttons first. Use the small body panel removal tool to pry and release the Y clips.
A tool with a thin fine edge would be a huge advantage here.
Release the edge just below the sunroof buttons first, then pry the sides then along the edge next to the sunglass holder door.
The Y clips are brittle and crack easily, I broke a few at the tips which doesn't seem to effect their function. As long you don't break them off at their base you should be ok.

Next remove the surrounding trim. Do not remove the sunglass holder. This doesn't need to be disassembled.
Pry next to each Y clip along the outer edge until it's fully released.

Set these trim pieces aside.

UPDATE: an easier removal method is provided by Symbiose in a later post in this thread.
Uses the same tool and less risk of chipping the Y clips.

Step 4 Circuit Board Removal.

IMG_0675-m.JPG IMG_0678.JPG IMG_0681.JPG IMG_0677.JPG IMG_0682.jpg

UPDATE: if you have the Panaromic Sunroof , please see 833psz’s helpful tips before proceeding. There’s an extra step required for the Pano roof buttons.

Next locate the 2 torx screws and remove them with your torx T20 screwdriver.
Just pull straight up to remove, the circuit board/button assembly comes out together.

Next we need to separate the circuit board from the button assembly.
This took a while to figure out, there's a few switches and the 2 lens on the side , seems like a lot going on here but the board is only attached to its button assembly at the 2 map light switches.
Just pull up at each maplight switch to release the button assembly from the board. See photo above.

The LED chips are now visible.
The harness connector is part of this board so make sure it is still taped up to prevent damage to the connector pins.

Continued on next post...

2021 Highlander XSE V6
113 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Step 5 Identify Stock LED Orientation


The photo above shows the positive and negative side of each LED chip on the board, as noted previously you will need the correct orientation of the chip or the LED won't work.
Same as with the LED testing above, I used the Diode Test mode on the multi-meter, placed the probes on the stock LED chip terminals to find the positive and negative sides.

Step 6 Remove Stock LEDs

I was not able to take photos and do these next steps at the same time so I'll try to explain it clearly.

Apply flux with a toothpick around each LED, this will help soften the solder under the chips.
I'm using rosin paste flux which I keep around the house for various soldering jobs in my vehicles and hobbies.
They sell flux in liquid form in pens or syringes which are easier to apply. Digikey also carries these so grab some when you buy the LEDs.

You'll need your butane torch with hot air blow tip now. To remove the LEDs, apply heat to the OTHER side of the board, directly behind each LED.
Use a helping hand tool or circuit board holder to secure the board or find some other way to prop/hold the board firmly while having both sides accessible.

Let the torch heat up good then apply heat in a tight circular motion behind the LED, don't stop moving it, making sure not to go within an inch or 2 of the board.
The flux will smoke so use a fan to dissipate the chemical smell. As the solder softens use the tweezer to pull the chip off the board.
This shouldn't take very long, maybe 5-15 seconds or so depending on the strength of the torch.

With all the chips now off, use the alcohol and Qtip to clean up the mounting surfaces.
There will be old solder still there which I didn't remove.

Step 7 Solder New LEDs


The method I used to solder the new chips on requires no conventional soldering.
Apply the solder paste to the mounting surface parts marked in dark red in the photo above. This paste has a low melting point and sets quickly. Apply liberally and don't worry if you make a little mess but don't over do it. When heated the premixed flux in the paste will liquefy then burn off and the solids will pull together and bond the mating surfaces/old solder with new LED terminals.
I couldn't get a clear pic but I found one on google showing solder paste applied to various sized surfaces.


Place the new LED chip on top of the solder paste using the tweezers, remember orientation is important! Position the chip onto the mounting points. Use the tweezer to nudge into position. The solder paste is sticky and helps hold it in place.
Same as the removal process above, use the torch with the hot air tip to heat the OTHER side in a circular pattern, non-stop, making sure not to go within an inch or 2 of the board.
After about 10 seconds it will start to bubble and smoke. Heat it for another couple seconds and let cool for a few seconds then try grabbing the chip with the tweezers making sure it's holding nice and solid.
Clean area around the chip with alcohol/Q-tip.

IMG_0686.jpg IMG_0688.jpg

I did all 4 chips then plugged just the circuit board back into the map light harness hanging from the overhead console opening , make sure the switch is set to "DOOR" or "ON" and see if it works.
If it's not BAF then you screwed up somewhere and will need to start over. It should be incredibly bright with just the board plugged in and LED's completely exposed. The factory lens covers have diffusers in them covering each LED chip , which dramatically reduces the intensity. You can see the 2 square shaped diffusers under the lens cover on the right in this photo:


If you want it blindingly bright, now would be a good time to remove/modify the diffusers to allow more light through.

Before doing this on my expensive Toyota circuit board, I practised on a circuit board from an old junk computer I had lying around.
Different types of SMD components can be soldered/desoldered using this method. Do it a bunch of times to various SMD components on a junk board until you're comfortable.

Continued on next post...

2021 Highlander XSE V6
113 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Step 8 Re-assemble Overhead Console.

With all the lights working you can now re-assemble everything by reverse procedure.

The only thing that took me a bit of time was figuring out how the board re-attaches to the button assembly.


In the photo above you'll see the maplight switches on the circuit board with the black coloured box-shaped heads. These clip into the white Y hooks on the the underside of the button assembly.
Just make sure it clips in firm and makes a definite click sound.

Re-connect the harness and re-seat the red console retaining clips into their holes, I started at the bottom clips then the top ones. Just push up firmly with your fingers.


Tested it by leaving the light on for 15 minutes, and turned off for 1 minute. Did that several times while working on something else in the garage. Didn't run into any issues like flickering or overheating.



This is not your average DIY, the difficulty and concern level is up there but I think most people can do it following the above methods.
I'm hoping this tutorial will give others the confidence to tackle the job without too much worries. I watched a lot of soldering alternative videos on YouTube and this could've been done a few other ways as well.

If you screw up royally, the replacement console is sold as a complete unit, colour matched for your vehicle and runs $330-$407 USD List Price depending on trim. Models with panoramic roof cost more.

Total cost to me was less than $50 with shipping since I had most of the tools and supplies already.

If you do this successfully and have some helpful tips, or better pics , please post up!



Premium Member
2020 Highlander Plat, 2000 Camry LE
2,089 Posts
Great job sir!
  • Like
Reactions: lightfreak

Premium Member
2020 Highlander Plat, 2000 Camry LE
2,089 Posts
I still haven’t gotten the guts to take apart mine and I’ve had the parts for a while. Lol

2021 Highlander XSE V6
113 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I still haven’t gotten the guts to take apart mine and I’ve had the parts for a while. Lol
That's the problem with fear, the longer you wait the worse it gets. I had these LEDs for 2 days. :D

BTW, I've updated first post with 2 other LED options , it's the same chip just different colour temp.
They have 5700K and 6500K versions
  • Like
Reactions: pimpin-tl

Toyota Highlander XSE 2021
63 Posts
Woooow... I just got my Toyota Highlander XSE 2021 last Monday and I was Toyota trippin with these yellow bulbs... so I WAS gonna do it til I just seen this. I can’t have mitch match bulbs soooo I may just have to stick with the yellows 🤨😩

70 Posts
Had the hot air station out today for another job so it was a good time to tackle this project. I do occasional SMD soldering but never soldered an SMD LED until now. Some notes…

Be very very patient during disassembly of the plastics. The middle Y clips, the ones around the buttons, were a nightmare. It took me longer to release those 4 clips than all of the soldering combined. If you get impatient you could easily destroy this thing.

Very surprised to see how fragile an SMD LED is. When desoldering, my plastic ESD tweezers were chipping apart the factory LEDs as I tried to get a grip on them. Wait until you see the solder liquify before you grab the LED in the tweezers. If you get ahead of yourself like I did, the LEDs will break apart causing grief.

On my ‘21 Platinum the two panoramic sun roof sliding switches needed to be removed before the board separated from the button assembly. There are two tiny tabs along the sides of each switch that need to be released with a small flat head driver. The bodies of the switches stay connected to the PCB on the panoramic version of the board. Take a picture before you remove the switch caps. You can refer to it to orient them properly during re-assembly so the little directional graphics won't be backwards.

I found it easiest to solder the new LEDs with the board hanging flat in the air (heat upwards from underneath) and do both LEDs on each side at the same time. If you do one LED at a time you’re heating the board a total of four times creating added risk of damage. Clean both empty LED positions on one side of the board & add solder paste to them. Carefully position two new LEDs on top of the solder paste. Confirm proper orientation with the tiny black dot, it should always be closest to the edge of the board. Heat one LED from underneath until the solder melts, sucking it down onto the PCB (let gravity do most of the work). Immediately move to heating the second LED and continue until it's in place as well. Do a quick visual inspection then redo the same procedure for the two LEDs on the other end of the board.

Thanks to lightfreak for the excellent guide! I certainly would have given up while disassembling the plastics if it wasn’t for his pictures proving that it is in fact possible to remove the PCB without destroying the plastic console. I believe he is being modest and has understated the difficulty here… It’s easy for us to follow his instructions, sure, but to be the first one tearing open that plastic, he deserves a lot more credit!

I have 8x LEDs left, if anyone in Canada wants to ship me their overhead console I could be bribed into changing the LEDs for you. I’m between Ottawa and Montreal.





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