Horse Sense: While there's no disputing the fact that HIDs are cool accessories for a 'Stang, their blue-light glare is a thorn in the sides of motorists who feel the bright beams are a distraction from the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has studied HID lighting and its effect on drivers for several years, and has published several reports that detail its findings. Visit www.nhtsa.gov and search "HID headlights" for the government's take on the subject.
Saul "The Surgeon" Gutierrez...
Saul "The Surgeon" Gutierrez raises our '02 Mustang GT for another tech operation. The 'Stang looks crazy with its "eyes" missing, but rest assured-the condition is only temporary.
High Intensity Discharge light systems have been accessories of interest to 'Stangbangers for quite some time. The lights, provided as standard equipment on most European sports-screamers (Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW, to name a few), as well as a couple of popular Japanese starships (Lexus and Infinity), emit a wider beam and cover more distance than a Mustang's standard halogen lights. They're a great help in identifying potential road hazards at night.
While night-piercing HID headlamps and foglamps are making their way onto some of the vehicles in Ford's passenger-car lineup as OEM features, the high-tech illumination has never been offered by the factory as standard or optional equipment on Fox-to-present Mustangs.
Model year '08 Shelby GT 500s will receive the brighter lights as an option, but that does nothing for the enthusiast with an earlier car. Those Fox-and-later Mustang owners who desire HID-style headlights for their rides have had to install either the blue-colored, halogen bulbs that are more for show, or single-beam HID systems that have only low-beam functionality.
After disconnecting the negative...
After disconnecting the negative battery cable, Saul unplugs connectors for the driver- and passenger-side headlights. He removes both assemblies by dislodging their metal retaining clips and carefully pulling them away from the 'Stang.
We recently had a chance to install and test the new 'Stang-specific, HID headlight conversion kit from AmericanMuscle.com. The bright-white lights come in all-inclusive, easy-to-install kits for the popular late-model Mustang platforms ['87-'93 Fox (PN 22000 DUAL-9004), SN-95/New Edge (PN 22002 DUAL-9007), and S197 (PN 22004 DUAL-H13)] and feature "dual-beam" technology that allows enthusiasts to retain use of their high beams. Each system sells for about $279.99.
The plug-and-play headlight upgrade for our '02 Mustang GT was handled by Saul "The Surgeon" Gutierrez of Extreme Automotive. With the exception of finding good underhood mounting locations for the HID headlight system's twin trans-formers, there's no trickery involved with this installation.
Since Saul is adept at handling the switch to HID headlights and foglights on the car, we had him walk us through a bench assembly of AmericanMuscle.com's dual-beam HID system. Ambitious do-it-in-the-driveway 'Stangbangers will have a clear understanding of how to go about tackling this easy project.
AmericanMuscle.com offers HID conversion kits for '87-'07 Mustangs. We're using a dual-beam system (left, PN 22002 DUAL-9007; $279.95) for our 'Stang's headlights and a single-beam foglight set (right, PN 22003 SINGLE-893; $219.99). The dual-beam elements in the headlight kit allow retention of high beams for ultimate illumination in the darkest conditions. Each conversion kit includes a control box, ballasts, bulbs, wiring, and all mounting hardware necessary for a clean installation.
Adapter rings (similar to the one shown on the left) required for mounting the new HID headlight elements are included. It's important to confirm their notches match the openings in the OEM bulbs' chassis. Once they're installed, reinstall the locking collars for each bulb. This system is simple, and bulbs can easily be flip-flopped back to stock halogen.
Saul recommends "bench building" your HID swap before putting the pieces on a Mustang, especially if it's your first time attempting the installation. An understanding of how components in the systems are linked makes the installation go a lot smoother than if you tried to wing it.
Here's the source of the bright-white, high-intensity light emission-and blue glare many motorists complain about-that sets HIDs apart from regular halogen light bulbs. The system for our 'Stang's primary beacons uses 9007-series bulbs. They have a longer life-span than halogens, don't generate as much heat, and require less power to operate than the OEM elements. The HID systems' headlight bulb holders feature electromagnetic servos, which aim the elements down (low beam) or up (high beam). Keeping the glass shielding around HID bulbs-or halogen, for that matter-free of skin contact is critical. Body oils transferred on the glass create hot spots when the light warms up, causing the glass to break.
AmericanMuscle.com's HID headlight and foglight conversions are 100 percent plug and play. Wiring links are made with Weather Pack-style connectors similar to the one in this photo, and each connection is unique so there's no way wires can be incorrectly joined.
Our headlight upgrade includes a ballast for each light that must be mounted in the engine compartment. They amplify voltage to the amount required for the HIDs to function properly (12 volts are boosted to 35 watts). Saul elects to install ballasts out of sight on our 'Stang and attaches each piece to the underside of the core support's beauty cover. The two ballasts for the foglights were attached to the front framerails on both sides of the car.
After mounting the control box for an HID system (ours is next to the fuse box on the driver-side inner fender), wiring must be routed from the controller to both headlight pockets. We hid wires running to the passenger side along the core support, which made plugging into the ballast on that side a snap.
The HID system's blue connector streams the high-beam/ low-beam signal from the factory wiring, to the system's controller, to the lights themselves. This connection must be made before reinstalling the headlights.
Saul gives the system life by attaching the controller's power wire to the positive terminal on the battery and ensures our new lighting system has a solid ground by securing the control unit's ground wire into the core support.
...and ensures our new lighting system has a solid ground by securing the control unit's into the core support.
With wiring completely connected and the system prechecked for proper function, Saul reinstalls the headlights and the upgrade is complete.
Now we're ready for the darkest nights and the thickest fog.
Here's a comparison. On the top, a driver-seat view with our 'Stang's OEM lights illuminated at full power. We took another photo after installing the HID system, and the difference is dramatic. The HID headlights and foglights (bottom) emit brighter light and have a larger coverage area than the stockers.