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Upgrading Your Mustang’s Lighting Explained

By:  Lisa Schaefer  / Sep 11 2019
Upgrading Your Mustang’s Lighting Explained

One of the most important functions to any road legal car is its lighting. The older your Mustang gets, the more the lights start to fade and dim, which leads many enthusiasts to replace them with aftermarket upgrades. Newer Mustang owners look to aftermarket lights to give their pony a more devilish and intimidating look. This guide will go over what you need to know when it comes to upgrading your Mustang’s lighting.

Table of Contents
  1. How Can I Modify My Mustang’s Lighting?
  2. Aftermarket Mustang Headlights
  3. Aftermarket Mustang Tail Lights
  4. Aftermarket Mustang Fog Lights
  5. Deleting Your Mustang's Fog Lights
  6. Mustang Fog Light Bulb Replacements
  7. Aftermarket Mustang Fog Lights
  8. How Do I Smoke or Tint My Mustang's Fog Lights?
  9. Yellow Mustang 'Rally' Lights
  10. Is it Legal to Drive with My Mustang's Fog Lights On?
  11. Can I Rig My Fog Lights to Come on Automatically with My Headlights?
  12. Aftermarket Mustang Light Bulbs
  13. Upgrading Your Mustang’s Third Brake Light
  14. Mustang Puddle Lights
  15. Upgrading Your Mustang’s Interior Lighting
  16. Trouble Shooting Possible Issues with LEDs
  17. Upgrading Your Mustang’s Light Trim
  18. Mustang Light Sequencers
  19. Mustang Light Tint
  20. Halogen VS HID Mustang Lights
  21. HID Color Temperature
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How Can I Modify My Mustang’s Lighting?

Believe it or not, swapping out your factory lighting for aftermarket alternatives is fairly easy and there are a good bit of options out there. You can upgrade your Mustang’s:

• Headlights
• Tail lights
• Fog lights
• Light bulbs
• Third brake light
• Puddle Lights
• Interior Lighting
• The trim around the lights
• The functionality of the lights

Speaking generally, most Mustang lights can be swapped out in a few hours amount of time with your basic hand tools that can be found in most garages.

Aftermarket Mustang Headlights

Your Mustang’s headlights are one of the most important part of your vehicle as they light up where you’re going at night. Mustang headlights can come in a few different styles such as bulb, projector, halo, smoked, and LED. Bulb lights are found on your older Mustangs and are your standard halogen light bulb. LED lights are a nice step up from that as they shine brighter, cleaner, and tend to last much longer.

Projector headlights look like a projector bulb, shining their light in a bright and wide fashion. Projector headlights are standard for Mustang’s built after 2013. Halo headlights have a halo strip of LEDs running around the circumference of the bulb, illuminating during the day as a running light. Smoked headlights use a tint or a film to cut down on the brightness of the headlight and to create more flowing body lines on your Mustang.

Aftermarket Mustang Tail Lights

The Mustang’s tail lights are as iconic and recognizable as apple pie and baseball. The tri-bar design debuted on the 1964 Mustang and have been part of the design ever since. Most of the aftermarket options available take the stock design and incorporate a smoked lens for a more aggressive look.

However, there has been a rising trend of LED Mustang tail lights, taking current model designs and retrofitting them to previous gens. There have also been a rise in style that feature rounded lights like you would find on a Ferrari or Ford GT.

Aftermarket Mustang Fog Lights

Mustang fog lights offer slightly enhanced visibility in low light conditions and some inclement weather. Some Mustang owners choose to delete their fog lights by going with a different aftermarket grille that ditches the factory fog lighting. However, upgrading your fog lights will improve your nighttime visibility and your general overall appearance. Fog lights can come smoked, with Halos or LEDs, or standard. Some Mustang owners have taken to rally lights, which is when you cover the fog lights in a yellow tint or film, giving them a more rally car/European look.

Depending what your final goal is, you can upgrade your Mustang’s fog lights a variety of ways such as:

• Deleting them with an aftermarket grille
• Replacing the bulbs
• Replacing the light itself for an LED version
• Halo lighting
• Yellow rally lights
• Smoking the lenses

Deleting Your Mustang’s Fog Lights

A common mod for a lot of Mustang owners is to delete the fog lights. The easiest way to delete a set of fog lights is to replace the grille with an aftermarket one that doesn’t have openings/mounts for the lights. All you do is remove the lights and undo the wiring, tucking up the connectors leaving a smooth look.

If you can’t quite come to terms with deleting your fog lights, there are some aftermarket grille setup that allow you to tuck them up behind the grille, hidden from plain sight. They can still function (albeit worse than the did prior), but it does give you a unique look.


Mustang Fog Light Bulb Replacements

If you are looking to increase the overall brightness of your Mustang’s fog lights without replacing the whole unit, you can replace the bulbs. Replacing the bulbs in your fog lights is relatively inexpensive and will drastically improve the brightness of your fog lights. Swapping out the stock bulbs is an easy install and a necessary part of maintenance, as your Mustang gets older.   


Aftermarket Mustang Fog Lights

Swapping out the stock fog lights for aftermarket ones will subtlety alter the look of your front end and improve your visibility at night and in foggy conditions. Many aftermarket Mustang lights use LED technology for a brighter more efficient light that last much longer than the factory incandescent lighting.

Aftermarket Mustang fog lights can come just as a standard singular bulb, a grouping of multiple small LED bulbs, or also with a Halo light. Halo lights feature a bright LED light that runs around the edge of the fog light, with the bulb in the center still functioning, giving a very menacing look to your Mustang.

How Do I Smoke Or Tint My Mustang’s Fog Lights?

Smoked or tinted fog lights can be achieved one of two ways on a Mustang. You can replace the whole fog light itself for one that is brighter and has a smoked lens or you can take your existing light and add tint to it. Light tint applies a slender layer of vinyl tint over your fog light to give it that sleek look without diminishing the functionality or usefulness of your fog lights. They provide a more aggressive look to the front of the car. These go great with an accompanying smoked head light set.


Yellow Mustang ‘Rally’ Lights

A growing trend that began with European rally cars is converting your standard plain fog lights to yellow rally lights. While mostly an appearance upgrade, yellow fog lights supposedly help improve visibility in rainy and foggy conditions, but really any difference is negligible.


Is It Legal To Drive With My Mustang’s Fog Lights On?

It is legal to drive with your Mustang’s fog lights on as this isn’t against any law and the light isn’t interfering with your primary lights. The only way you could get in trouble for it is if your Mustang’s fog lights were improperly aligned/adjusted and shooting higher than they should be. Otherwise, you may have your fog lights on whenever you would like.


Can I Rig My Fog Lights to Come on Automatically with my Headlights?

Can you rig your fog lights to automatically come on when the headlights do? Of course, you can. Lighting systems work with switches that operate the circuit. If you have the time you can splice the wiring from the fog lights to operate on the same switch the headlights do. With that in mind, you might want to make sure the laws or regulations in your area allow you to do so. This isn’t a costly mod by any means but will require you to chase wires and splice them under the dash. It certainly should only take about an hour or so but when you take into consideration how easy it is to simply turn the fog lights on and off independently it begs the question: is it worth the effort?

Aftermarket Mustang Light Bulbs

One of the least invasive and lowest cost ways to improve your Mustang’s lighting is by replacing the bulbs. When your lights start to dim, more often than not it is because the bulbs are dying or burning out. Aftermarket Mustang bulbs help rejuvenate your lighting and allow you to choose just how bright you want your lights to be.

Upgrading Your Mustang’s Third Brake Light

One of the more striking features of the Mustang’s rear fascia is the third brake light. On some Mustangs, it is on the trunk while on newer Mustang it is in the rear window. There are not many aftermarket third brake light options out there for your Mustang, however you can tint it or add strobing functionality to it.

Mustang Puddle Lights

Made popular by late model S197’s that had them equipped from the factory, Mustang puddle lights go beneath your side view mirror and project the Mustang’s logo onto the ground below. The main upgrade available for puddle lights is swapping out the wiring and the lens for one of a different color, giving you a more personalized look.

Upgrading Your Mustang’s Interior Lighting

Like the headlights, your Mustang’s interior lights can fade over time and grow dim. Even from the factory, the dome lights are not the best, which is why many enthusiasts choose to replace them with LEDs. LED interior lighting will shine much brighter and last longer than conventional halogen bulbs.

Trouble Shooting Possible Issues with LEDs

Hyper-flashing: Hyper-flashing, or blinking rapidly, is a sign of back-feeding. Back-feeding means the electricity is flowing in the opposite direction than its supposed to flow. Therefore, more resistance is required to fix the fast blinking issue. With the circuit already being depleted of resistance with other LEDs, replacing stock incandescent bulbs, adding resistors is going to be required. You should add a resistor to each blinker power wire, on each side of the vehicle.

No Illumination: Bulbs do no flash at all. Check the bulb sockets to ensure the metal conductors are making a good connection. Swap all the LED bulbs out for stock bulbs and see if the same issues remain. The reasoning behind this is the stock bulbs were designed to work with the stock power source. The car issues a 12v load to the stock 12v bulbs. When swapping these bulbs for LEDs, which only require a 3v load, it can be problematic. If an LED (3 volt) is issued an incandescent (12 volt) load from the car, it won't light up at all.

Therefore if the stock bulbs illuminate and the LEDs do not, it is likely resistors need to be added. A resistor will effectively reduce the 12v load to a lower voltage the LEDs will except. Meaning, the bulbs and harness are not defective.

Upgrading Your Mustang’s Light Trim

You can add headlight splitters that run a thin horizontal piece across the middle of your headlights. These are generally very easy to install and provide no other benefits than their appearance. You can also add tail light trim around your tail lights, giving them a more integrated look that flows with the body better.


Mustang Light Sequencers

The tri-bar tail lights on your Mustang can be modified to light up in sequential order. While newer 2011 Mustangs have this functionality stock for the turn signals, you can add a plug-and-play harness that adds sequential functionality to the hazard lights, brake lights, and lock/unlock mode. This is a generally cheap and easy to install modification that adds a cool effect to your tail lights.

Mustang Light Tint

If you are not looking to change up and replace the lights you have, you can add a more sinister and stealth look to your Mustang by using a light tint kit. Precut for your headlights, fog lights, tail lights, and side markers, Mustang light tint kits add a layer of film that darkens the look of the light, while maintaining all functionality.

Halogen VS HID Mustang Lights

High-intensity discharge light bulbs are completely different than a halogens. Halogen bulbs use a filament, where current is passed through and subsequently causes the filament to glow with such intensity that it produces bright light. HID bulbs are a filament-less design.

They work similarly to fluorescent lighting, but are much brighter and a lot more efficient. They two electrodes inside, and they're filled with a combination of gases (xenon is a common one) and metallic salts. When electricity passes through the bulb, an arc is created between the 2 electrodes.

This arc excites the gas inside the bulb (via heat) which in turn vaporizes the metallic salts (sounds like Star Wars, doesn’t it!). These vaporized salts then sustain the arc and become the root light source. HIDs require a high initial electrical input to started, but once the salts begin arcing, the input is significantly reduced, resulting in their overall efficiency.

This entire process is actually more efficient than a regular halogen bulb and produces more light per unit of electricity input! Halogen bulbs typically run on a 55W pull whereas HIDs use 35W. HIDs characteristically produce 2-3 times the lighting power as halogens.

HIDs provide a clearer light beam that extends both wider and farther than a conventional halogen bulb. Because halogen bulbs produce less light, what light there is needs to be concentrated and aimed to priority locations, such as right in front of you.

This priority aiming leaves less light to illuminate the sides of the road and results in lessened peripheral visibility. HIDs have more light to use, so it can be spread evenly and everywhere from your headlights across the road.


HID Color Temperature

HIDs are rated by temperature (in Kelvin). When someone says they're selling a kit that's 3000K, that means the color produced is yellow. Below is a list of possible colors for legal use on the street:

  • 3000K - Yellow
  • 4300K Ivory/Hazy White
  • 5000K - White
  • 6000K - Bright white
  • 8000K - Blue tinted white
  • 10,000K - Blue-white
  • 12,000K - More blue than white
  • 15,000K - Blue
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