Product Install: ACE Engineering Rear Bumper with LEDs

This week, my Black Friday package from ACE Engineering finally arrived!  All the hardware was glistening.  Horror stories of boxes being deformed in transit were unfounded for me.  Everything was in perfect condition…except one thing.  Where are the instructions?

ACE did not include any, and I personally found their video online as missing some key updates.  So I hope this install write up is a help to many!

NOTES: This install is for a 2013 Jeep JK.  I also found that ACE has been making changes to their products, and not everything in their video instructions is accurate anymore.

1. Open all boxes and lay out all hardware.  Ensure you properly protect the bumper and other items from concrete and damage to the powder coat.

2. Remove the factory or other bumper from the Jeep.

Remove the old bumper.

3. Insert the shorter hex bolt into each end of the Lifetime LED light.  For the end of the light that will be on the OUTSIDE end of the bumper, make sure you get enough turns on the bolt that it is secure.  This is because you will not be able to get a hex wrench (or anything, really) in the small space.  You will tighten the bolt on the other end with the wrench to secure the light.

Insert the short hex bolt. The kit comes with two lengths.
You will not be able to tighten the outside bolts well. No tools will fit.

NOTE: Run the wiring so they are on the inside of the bumper.

4. Drop the light into place, and per the above, tighten the INSIDE bolt with the included hex wrench.

One light, completed.
Verify fitment.

5. Repeat install for the other side.

Both lights installed. Note the wiring is on the inside.

6.  Locate the nut plate in the kit, and find the two non-open holes in the top-center of the rear frame.

The nut plate. Not to be confused with that 70s porno of the same name.

7. Starting with pilot holes, drill these out.  End with a 1/2″ bit.  Properly clean the holes with a magnet to prevent filings from getting into threads.

Start will pilot holes and work your way up.
End with the 1/2″ bit.

8. Place the bumper on the rear frame of the Jeep (you can put the nut plate in a safe place).

Set the new bumper on the frame. Make sure it sits securely!

9. Remove one side tail light assembly from the Jeep.  Remember, only remove the two INSIDE screws.

Remove only the two inside screws!

10. Grab electrical supplies: Extra wiring, butt connectors, male/female blade connectors, heat shrink, and other materials.

You will need extra electrical supplies.

11. Using the butt connectors, extend the positive (RED) and negative (BLACK) wires.  I ran about 1 meter of additional wiring.

Remember to put any heat shrink near the connection.

12.   At the tail light assembly, clip the black wire leading from the harness to the reverse assembly, NOT the black that goes from reverse to brake/tail light.  Also clip the white/green wire – this is your positive.

NOTE: Your wiring may differ, this is a 2013 JKUR.

13. Turn the ignition to the accessory position, and (if manual) shift into reverse.  At the rear of the Jeep, touch red/red and black/black for a light test.

With this test, the original backup light will not work.

14. Route wire extensions through the tub and through the tail light assembly space on the rear of the Jeep.

DRIVER SIDE: I ran the extension over the bumper, along the back and up through the opening via the “foam” piece.

The new wiring is under the electrical tape in this image.

PASSENGER SIDE: There is a small hole with foam insulation.  Poke a screwdriver through (I taped the wires to it) and reach in through the tail light opening to grab the wires.

Look for the small hole in this location.

15. Pull the wiring up through. Install the male blade connectors onto one end of the wiring. Note that on the tail light end, you will only have one wire.  On the LED light end, you will be twisting the new wire and the cut factory wire together!

Crimp these well. I also added small cable ties to add some support.

16. Install the female blade connectors on the appropriate wiring locations.

I just like to say “butt connectors.” How many chances in life do we get to say that?

17. Firmly connect all connectors.

Ensure wires are FIRMLY seated in the connectors.

18.  Heat shrink/tape/cable tie all cabling and secure as you wish.

19. Do the same test and wiring modifications on the other side of the Jeep.

20. Slide the nut plate into location between the bumper and the frame (where the two holes were drilled earlier).  NOTE: ACE instructions address the need to grind down the frame and to drill additional holes in the frame.  I found this was not needed.

21. Thread the bolts up through the bumper, the frame holes you drilled,  and into the nut plate. Stack should be: Bolt > Locking Washer > Washer > Bumper >Nut Plate.  Also insert the two bolts through the rear of the frame crossmember into the back of the bumper at this time (two outermost frame holes).

Hand tighten these at first.

22. Install the 4 bolt assemblies into the 4 holes at the rear of the frame in a Bolt > Locker > Washer pattern.

Tighten as needed.

23. Tighten the two lower bolts with tools.

Use a socket wrench.

24. Install the nylon cradle into the gate plate as shown.

No nuts are needed, they are welded.

25. Remove factory bolts and install the gate plate assembly as oriented below, reusing the factory bolts.

Reuse your factory hardware!

26. Thoroughly apply grease to the shaft of the tire carrier. Also grease the inside of the hole on the bumper.

I used a general grease and nylon gloves!

27. Insert the tire carrier into the bumper assembly.  You may need to slightly wiggle the shaft into place as it is a very tight fit.

It may take some patience, but for me it was super easy.
Fully seated.

28.  Place the large washer and nylock nut on the underside of the tire carrier shaft (there is an opening underneath the bumper). Tighten.  It may be useful for someone to hold the tire carrier closed while you are tightening.

Tighten to draw down the shaft!

29. Install the Heim joint as shown below.  Spacer position is important!  Tighten.

Use the small spacer.

30. Close the tire carrier and bring the Heim joint through.  Assemble it to the tire carrier as shown.

Large spacer on bottom, smaller one on top.

31. With the gate closed, see if the tube seats fully into the nylon cradle.  Mine did not, and left a gap (below).  if you have a gap, adjust the jam nuts and Heim assembly to draw that close and tight.

A gap is bad.

32. Assemble the tire holder (ACE calls it a stanchion) to the tire carrier using the 4 bolts/lockers/washers provided.  Its a little weird to not add a washer between the bolt and the stanchion, but ACE knows best. Tighten.

Straight forward.

The below shows the rear.

Bolts, washers and nuts.

33. Place the spare tire on the stanchion.  Tighten all lugs accordingly.

I am using a license plate relocation kit, yours may not look like this when adding your spare.

34. The tire should fit firmly against the carrier.  If not, follow ACE’s instructions on adjusting the stanchion  to move the tire back and against the carrier.

35. Check all bolts and nuts are tight.  Perform one final test and take it for a test drive!

So much light!

In closing:  I am blown away with the quality and design of this kit.  All grade 8 high quality hardware, beautiful welds, durable powder coat, and flawless install.  Great job, ACE!

12 thoughts on “Product Install: ACE Engineering Rear Bumper with LEDs”

  1. Thanks a bunch for posting this. WAY better than their lame YT video. Install was great except for a set of missing washers and lame threads on the LEDs that stripped out. How has yours held up on the trails over the past year? Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Max! Thanks for taking the time to write. Really glad my post helped! My bumper has held up amazingly well. Only issue I have is that the safety chain provisions are flimsy and are bent from taking my offroad trailer offroad.

      Like

  2. Thanks for the write up, I will be using this when I buy this bumper/tire carrier. I have one question
    What did you do for the third brakelight?

    Like

  3. Just received my ACE rear bumper and tire carrier and thought the video was lacking myself. Thanks for the great set of install instructions. Now that you have run this setup for awhile, how do you feel about using the LED’s as reverse light all the time. I was thinking they may be too bright if driving around the city, and thought about wiring them independently.

    Like

    1. Hey Bruce! So embarrasingly my lights have been disconnected for a little while until I figure out how to make them work with the Enzo USA taillights. Those are LED and I don’t think they draw enough power, as they use capacitors. However, once I take the time to figure it all out, I plan on also wiring them independently. Will be great for setting up camp, night recoveries, and that jerk that tailgates with brights 🙂

      Like

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