[youtube ac54H8PKjmI nolink]
Upgrading the new GM full-size pickups with Rigid Industries Grille Inserts and LED driving lights
By Larry Walton
(Photos by Bruce Smith and Mark Walton)
Living and working in the Oregon rain forest has its advantages, but it’s not for the faint of heart of heart or for those afraid of the dark.
Yes, winter nights are long here, but even in the middle of summer navigating logging roads in thick Douglas fir forests is more like being in a tunnel than anything else.
Add fog and heavy rain and your vision challenges can reach epic obscurity.
That’s why us Ducks were early adopters of auxiliary driving lights on our trucks.
Back in the ’70s we sent everyone we knew with work trucks to Bruce Smith (now HWTs Senior Editor) at Case Power and Equipment for his own combination of airplane landing lights mounted in rubber tractor light pods.
In those days we could simply drill holes in the steel bumpers and hang the light fixtures low to minimize reflecting the bright white light back in the fog.
The power wire ran from the battery through a dash-mounted toggle switch, which was used in lieu of floor mounted high beam switches by plenty of loggers.
[youtube WdZ_do2Tauk nolink]
Pickups and aftermarket light technology has advanced a lot since those days: Today pickup front fascias include plenty of molded-in lights but no real places to mount effective driving lights, and LEDs rule the road.
The front of our 2014 Chevy Silverado is no exception. Special new front air dams make this latest of GM designs quiet, fuel efficient and even more head-scratchingly difficult to mount aftermarket lights.
Enter the newest grille inserts with built in LED light mounts by Rigid Industries. Designed specifically for the Z71 model of the current gen Silverado, the Rigid Industries Complete LED Grille Kit offers an attractive upgrade of matte black mesh with openings and secure light mounts for three of Rigid Industries’ LED light bars.
Constructed of powder coated stainless steel, the grille accepts one 10″ SR-Series LED light and two 6″ SR-Series lights (sold separately).
One problem: our Silverado is NOT a Z71, but an LT model. How different could the grilles be? Not very as we found out. B ut enough different that we had to make some modifications to the mounting points and add some trim pieces along the outside edges.
Make the minor mods and the results are well worth the effort when it comes to dramatically improving lighting in rain, snow or foggy conditions – or when driving off-pavement.
We ordered Rigid grille kit, one 10″ LED spot for the center light mount and two 6″ of LED spots for the left and right slots. The three light mounting points offer a large array of light output patterns that you can mix and match to get the light output that best dispels the darkness in your world.
We found the build quality of both the grille and the lights to be excellent.
We used the wiring harness with only one modification: splicing the two side lights together to operate off of one switch.
Aside from the challenges we brought on ourselves by ordering a grille insert designed for different Chevy trim level, the only real challenge downside we have found to this light mounting system is a good way to access the mounting nuts for light-aiming adjustments.
The grille on our truck looks great. As much as we like the new front end design of the new Silverados, there is just too much chrome. Replacing some of the chrome with this matte black has both toned down the bling and added an industrial touch that toughens up the look.
The Rigid Industries LED spots are nothing short of amazing for reaching out and lighting up the road ahead at great distances.
We felt the tight pattern on our two side lights effectively widens the otherwise narrow horizontal spread of the far-reaching center spot. No previous lights, and I’ve had a lot of them, have given as much reach into the darkness of the Great Northwest.
The gallery below shows step-by-step how we handled the installation on our 2014 Silverado.