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What You Need To Know When Upgrading Your Mustang’s Headlights

By:  Glenn Cope II  / Jun 13 2019
What You Need To Know When Upgrading Your Mustang’s Headlights

From styling to functionality, your Mustang’s headlights play a pretty big role in your build. Your headlights can majorly impact what your front end looks like, but more importantly can help you see on the darkest of runs in the pitch black of night. This guide will go over what you need to know when it comes to upgrading your Mustang’s headlights.

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How Can I Modify My Mustang’s Headlights?

Thanks to a huge aftermarket, you can modify your Mustang’s headlights to have:

•    Tinted/smoked lights
•    Halo CCFL lighting
•    LED lights
•    Replacement bulbs
•    Projector style lights

Any upgrade to the bulbs or the headlights themselves will be pretty easy to install and only require basic hand tools.

How Do I Tint Or Smoke My Mustang’s Headlights

There are two ways you can go about smoking or tinting your headlights, either by replacing the whole light or tinting the lens. The “smoked” term in Mustang headlights refers to the lens itself being smoked and is something that is only available when replacing the whole headlight. Smoked headlight are still DOT legal and blend much better with the front end of your Mustang.

Unlike smoked headlights, tinted headlights will reduce the output of your lights as you have to layer the lens of the headlight with a piece of tint film to get your desired look. If you are looking for that more menacing look, but want to maintain a bright output from your headlights, go with smoked lenses over light tint.


What Is Halo CCFL Mustang Lighting?

An incredibly popular headlight upgrade for Mustang enthusiasts is going with a set of lights that offer CCFL Halo lighting. CCFL stands for Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lights and the form a ring/halo around the main bulb. The soft glow is visible during the day and at night, creating a very unique and high-end look. CCFL Halo Mustang lights are DOT legal and will allow you to see objects more clearly and further away at night.


Benefits Of LED Mustang Lights

The older incandescent lights from the factory do not offer the greatest amount of longevity for your headlights. Over time their power and brightness diminishes them, making it harder and harder to see. LED Mustang lights are a great replacement for your stock headlights as the shine 2 to 3 times more brightly than stock, and offer a whole higher ranger of light temperatures and lumens.


Replacing Your Mustang’s Headlight Bulbs

One of the simplest and cheapest ways to improve your nighttime visibility is to replace the stock headlight bulbs with a set of aftermarket ones. Mustang bulbs can be bought in a range of lumens and temperatures, allowing you to choose just how bright you want your lights to be. If you don’t have LED headlights, you can upgrade to them by replacing the bulbs.


What are Projector Style & Reflector Mustang Headlights?

Reflector or projector? That is the question. Projector headlight housings are all the rage as they really improve the appearance of the front end of the vehicle. They also manipulate the light pattern which gives them serious cool points. Up until 2014 Mustangs used reflector style housings, and from then on projectors became a factory option.

So what’s the difference and what should you use? Well, reflectors work to spread the beam of light over a wider area. The light doesn’t seem as bright but more is illuminated. 

Projector style headlights offer your Mustang a much more concentrated and directed headlight. Most lights illuminate the road with a fuzzy blanket of light, that just sort of tapers off at the edges. Projector headlights have a very definitive line of where the light they admit starts and stops. As you drive down the road at night, you will see a horizontal line projected out on the road where it neatly ends and the night begins.

Projector style Mustang headlights are DOT legal and thought to be one of the best options for aftermarket headlights. Their bright and efficient delivery is considerate to other drivers, while providing you with the most amount of light you need to see what’s in front of you.


Types of Mustang Headlight Bulbs and their Advantages

Though Halogen bulbs are currently the most common found in cars today, there are other options that have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few of the most common types of bulbs used in automobiles:

Halogen: Low in cost when compared with Xenon and LED bulbs, these are still the most common bulbs used in cars today. With a gas-filled design these bulbs do not last very long compared to Xenon or LEDs.

It should also be noted some HID bulbs also utilize halogen gas but are not intended for non-HID setups. Be sure to check the application before purchasing any bulbs.

Xenon/HID: Referring to the type of gas used, Xenon bulbs are available for both HID(high intensity discharge) and standard setups. Xenon bulbs that are HID-specific are more efficient and brighter than Halogen bulbs, as well as much more expensive. Also, HID setups should be factory installed on your Mustang and modifying your car with an aftermarket conversion kit requires a projection headlight meant to focus HID bulbs. It should also be mentioned HIDs take a moment to reach full luminosity, unlike LED and halogen lighting.

Bulbs labeled “Xenon” that are actually halogen merely have a blue tint added to the glass or a blue coating on the glass. These bulbs have nothing to do with Xenon except for producing light that appears to be a color similar to that of a true HID setup but produces no additional light. Bulbs like this can be used interchangeably with halogen bulbs and do not offer any of the advantages of a true HID Xenon setup.

LED: LEDs(Light-Emitting Diodes) need very little power to run but also tend to produce less light than an HID setup. LEDs reach full luminosity instantly, much like halogen bulbs. LED lighting is also much harder to focus, contributing being less bight than their HID counterpart. The major downfall of LEDs are their cost. Conversion kits can be purchased to convert from standard halogen bulbs to longer lasting and brighter LED lights.

Note: Some 2010 Mustangs came equipped with HID lighting from Ford and need to utilize HID bulbs and lenses. Using an HID conversion kit with projectors/reflectors not intended with an HID setup, or that is not a factory setup, can be illegal due to the glare caused by an improper combination of light emissions and poorly controlled projection. Another issue, though uncommon, has been shortages in the wiring due to a voltage imbalance. If you purchase an HID kit for your Mustang, be sure to follow all instructions for setup and installation. HID setups need a HID-specific headlamp in addition to HID bulbs to properly focus the extra light that is emitted. Otherwise, your setup runs the risk of glaring and blinding other drivers.

How to Convert to HIDs

Converting to HID bulbs is as simple as changing a light bulb. Industry numbers are used to dictate the style and installation process of the bulbs meaning that HIDs are designed to pop in place of the factory equipment. With that said, additional harnesses will need to be installed between the bulb and the factory wiring. Back in the day, you would have had to have worried about splicing whereas now it is plug and play.

Two things you need to consider are: is it legal? And do you want to use a projector housing? HIDs may not be permitted on the street in your local area so you need to do some homework before buying a fine. Reflector housings will make use of the intense light emitted but projectors will take full advantage of the discharge.

Mustang Headlight Splitters

A widely popular look on the 2010 Mustang is the addition of headlight splitters. Purchasing headlight splitters for your V6 or GT are another way to up the intimidation factor of your Mustang and build upon your car’s character. Headlight Splitters come pre-painted for the GT and V6 in all OEM colors direct from AmericanMuscle.

How do Headlights Change a Mustang's Overall Appearance?

Something as simple as headlights can really change the appearance of your front end. Another reason to pick up a new set of headlights is wear and tear. Aged headlights can develop cloudy lenses, or cracks that let in moisture which will make the lens constantly look wet. In either case, both of these situations only allow a fraction of light through. Even if you have high powered bulbs installed, a worn our housing will make night driving that much more challenging.

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