Owners of the first generation Mark VIII's are well aware of their
car's poor headlight performance. While they passed government regulations
when new, yellowing of the external lenses and peeling of the chrome plating
on the inside parabola wreak havoc on your car's nighttime performance.
Unless of course you have a 1996 LSC with the Xenon HID headlights.
The difference between the two lighting systems is literally night and
day. You owe it to yourself to consider the HID swap on your car.
The parts involved with
this swap are as follows:
- 1996 LSC headlight lens assemblies (left
and right, sold with ballasts from Ford as
- 1996 LSC HID ballast assemblies (left and
right, sold with headlights from Ford as
- HID ballast installation bracket (optional)
- Nuts, bolts, and washers/metal tubing if
the above bracket cannot be found
- Various crimps/splices/heat shrink tubing,
extra long zip ties (approx. 1ft long) and
- A set of basic hand tools
- A rotary tool with a grinding attachment
or cutting wheel (1993-1994 models only)
- Headlight relays for ballast to chassis
This is known to reduce the electrical load on the chassis wiring
and is a worthwhile investment. More information to come in the future.
The lights and ballasts are available at your local Ford dealer for
anywhere from $432 per side (dealer cost from Ford) to $720 per side (full
retail cost). I had my local dealer match a price given by an internet
Ford parts dealer; they were happy to oblige. If you are lucky, you can
get all these parts from a 1996 LSC from a junkyard for significantly
less, especially if the junkyard does not know they are HID specific.
Reality check: what
if I can't afford the HID setup?
You have a few options: clean the external lenses using the polishing
method given in the HEADLIGHT
article in this TECH section. Then cut the casing
and refinish the chrome parabolas to return to
"like-new" levels of light output. Also pull out the metal
deflector inside the low beam assembly, this will shoot out more
Lastly, install a set of headlight relays from
a trusted vendor and add higher wattage clear
halogen bulbs. Furthermore, do not buy any lights
with a blue tint that are a Xenon/HID look-alike. These only
mimic the blue color, and do not work like an HID light.
In fact, they cannot even match the output of
a similar "clear" halogen bulb.
But after spending hours of labor and $50-$100 in relays and new bulbs,
you may find the lights to shoot a beam about as precise as target practice
with a shotgun. This is especially the case if you live in rural areas
with no street lighting.
So you've decided to
take the HID plunge…
Conventional headlight with metal deflector removed.
I have tried a few of the above fixes
and was unimpressed. It happened to me
and it may happen to you, so read on.
Once you have the parts, here is what you will have:
- HID light with a rectangular plug
- HID ballast with a rectangular plug and a round plug
The rectangular plug on the ballast connects to the matching plug
on the HID light. The other plug on the ballast must be cut and spliced
into the LOW BEAM wiring on your car. First examine the rectangular plug
on the ballast. You will notice three tabs inside the plug that have locking
tabs are designed by Ford to connect
the two plugs PERMANENTLY and will
require cutting the connection off
if you ever need to service the system.
Do yourself a favor and break these
tabs off with needle nose pliers immediately!
Now you will need open the hood and disconnect the battery. Remove
the plastic shroud covering the front end of your car. Take a Phillips
screwdriver to all plastic screws holding down the shroud. Pull up on
the shroud gently to release the clips under the screws, save these parts
in a plastic bag. Now you will need to remove the sheetmetal lever of
the hood release. To do so, gently bend the lever to slide out of the
body and lift it up and to the left to slide off the latch assembly. Remove
lever and plastic shroud and set aside, making sure not to let the shroud
With the headlights exposed, disconnect three
connections from each headlight: turn signal,
low beam and high beam connections. A blade screwdriver
is helpful to release the signal wiring clips. Now remove the
headlight from the body: this involves three metal attaching clips,
one closer to the center of the car and two closer to the
outside. Use a blade screwdriver and slide in
the slot of each headlight clip, pull up and
the clip will start to loosen. If you are having
difficulties getting a clip to loosen, bend (away
from the headlight) the locking "teeth" of
the clip and pull up on the clip again. If you
break/lose these clips, the replacement is available
at the dealer (E9DZ-13N129-A) for $3 each or
in the HELP! section of your local parts store
for significantly less.
Remove the old headlights and install the new ones. If you have a
1993 or 1994 Mark VIII, you will have to cut a square hole in the header
panel to accept the larger HID low beam headlight.
is a picture of what the header panel
looks on a 1995-1996 Mark VIII, duplicating
this will be easy for the older models.
The HID lenses have a wiring harness that wedges between the bottom
of the lenses and the bumper, make sure to have the wiring free of the
body so you can connect the ballast to it. You can either install the
clips and wiring connections to the new lights now or after you have finished
the rest of the under hood installation.
The ballasts can be installed in a variety of ways, after much research
I have found two simple ways. The easiest way is to get the ballasts installed
on the 1996 LSC's mounting bracket. This bracket bolts the ballasts to
the cross bar that is between the radiator support and the header panel.
That crossbar also holds the passenger side airbag sensor (behind the
Photos courtesy of SONNY DAY OUT
shown here has ballasts installed
This bracket makes installation a breeze, but it is quite hard to
find, and at $60 or more, there is a better alternative. You can mount
the ballasts using their stock mounting holes and drilling a hole in the
header panel (behind the grille) to attach them to the car. You will need
nylon locking nuts, washers and bolts to cinch them in.
I mounted my ballasts between the radiator and the horns, drilling
two holes in the header panel.
Because the header panel has an "L" shaped
cross section in this area, I made a metal spacer
(out of spare metal tubing) to slide over the
bolt and ensure a tight fit against the header
Before tightening down the bolts, angle the ballasts to allow maximum
space between the cooling fins of each unit. This location is ideal because
it does not completely block airflow to the radiator (the horns are already
in the way) yet will still provide adequate cooling for the ballasts.
Connecting Ballast to Light:
Now that the lights and ballasts are in your car, they need to be
connected. This is as simple as routing the wiring for the ballast near
the lights (the ballast with the longer wire will go to the driver's side
light) and connecting the harnesses together.
Connecting Ballast to Chassis Wiring
you broke the locking tabs as suggested,
you will need to get a very long zip
tie (1ft or longer) and slide it between
both pairs of wires, around the body
of the connector and cinch it tightly.
Cut the excess zip tie off and use
electrical tape on the bottom of the
connection to keep dirt from entering
Now it is time to connect the HID wiring
to the chassis' low beam wiring. This
will require cutting the current connections
at the ballast and at the chassis and
splicing the two pairs of wire together.
In case you have not connected the wiring
to the new HID lights and you cannot
tell the low beam wiring from the high
beam wiring, the low beam has the wiring
with a red and a black wire. Connect
the red wire of the chassis to the
red of the ballast, and the black of
the chassis to the black of the ballast.
I would recommend soldering the wires
together, then crimping, followed by
sealing the connection with heat shrink
NOTE: I had previously mentioned this is the location to install headlight
relays to reduce electrical load on the chassis wiring, this is due to
the fact that some cars converted to HID in the past have been known to
melt the automatic headlight relay in the fuse box.
Now that the work is completed under the hood, reinstall the plastic
shroud and hood release lever. Do not reconnect the battery just yet.
An HMO for your HID's:
Multifunction Switch Wiring
You need to modify the wiring to the headlight
multifunction switch to make your low beams stay
on when you activate your high beams. This is
absolutely necessary to preserve the life of
your HID lights, as their life is dramatically
shortened when asked to re-light after you "flash
to pass" with the high beams.
The multifunction switch is located inside the steering column, and
requires you to remove both the top and bottom covers. First, remove the
panel below the steering column, this part would touch your knees if you
were sitting in the drivers seat. There will be two bolts and two screws
holding this to the dashboard. Remove these and then pull on the upper
part near the steering column, four clips will easily pop out. When the
panel is removed the lower panel (above the pedals) will also fall down.
Remove the steering column hood, it sits on top of the dashboard below
the gauge cluster. Two clips on either side of the dashboard hold it on.
This is a very difficult part to remove without breaking the clips, but
if you do, the part will still sit correctly afterwards.
Remove the three screws at the bottom of the steering column cover.
There is also a small bolt on the back of this cover on the right-hand
side that must be removed. With these four things removed you can now
take off the lower cover.
Because you own a Lincoln and not a plebian Ford, the steering column
has no ugly seam between the upper and lower covers. This means that you
have to remove the ignition lock cylinder to take off the upper column
the lower cover you just removed, you
will see a fourth hole that is smaller
than the other three. This hole tells
you where to slide a 1/8" screw/bolt
into the ignition lock cylinder. I
found it easier to look under the column
after the cover is removed, it is simple
Put the ignition in the RUN position,
put the bolt in the hole, and wiggle
the ignition out. Keep the ignition lock
in a clean, dust free area. The upper
cover will now easily come out.
The multifunction switch is held on by two torx bolts, one on the
top and one on the bottom of the left hand side of the steering column.
You may choose to remove these bolts first, or wait until after you have
removed the two wiring harnesses attached to this part. A small screwdriver
works well to remove the harnesses. Use either a torx head screwdriver
or a socket to remove the bolt.
With the switch out you can now see which wires need to be connected
to keep the low beams on when the high beams are activated. Looking at
the picture of the multifunction switch, pins 13 and 15 need to be connected
together. The pins are outlined below.
The wires on the harness that connect to these pins must be spliced
together. The color of pin 13's wire is red/black stripe (or white/black
stripe if you live in Canada and have daytime running lights) and Pin
15's is red/yellow stripe. I used tap splices and a small strip of wire
for a quick and durable connection.
NOTE: Do not splice too close to the harness plug as shown here, it
makes installation of the steering column cover more difficult. Go down
lower on the wires and splice in an area that has less interference with
the column. Reinstall the multifunction switch, upper steering column
cover, ignition lock, lower steering column cover, and cover panel.
Getting Rid Of The "Check
EXT Lamp" Warning
You are almost done! If you were to drive the
car now, your Message Center will remind you
that you have a bulb burnt out. You need to cut
one wire to "convince" the Message Center that everything
is just fine. To find this wire, you will need to remove the lamp
out module from the dashboard.
Depending on how flexible your back is, this can be quite hard to
do. Open the glove box door and remove all its contents. Press on the
two stoppers on the left and right side of the glove box: you will feel
areas on the sides where you can push in on the plastic. Push these areas
towards the center of the glove box. Now let the glove box open all the
way until it is upside down.
Now look at the metal bar inside the dashboard near the glove box
latch. This will require you to be upside down on the seat or the carpet.
There is a hex head bolt on this bar that holds the lamp out module. The
bolt is loosened in the following picture:
The bolt is located between the glove box latch and the center of
the dashboard. Remove this bolt, and slide the lamp out module towards
the outside of the car until it pops out of the dashboard. This is what
the module looks like:
You will need to cut the brown/light blue stripe wire, which is circled
Reinstall the lamp out module, put the bolt back
in, press the glove box back into the dash, and that's it! Reconnect
the battery. Drive the car at night and adjust the headlights using
the two 5/32" adjustment
bolts on the back of the headlights. Use the level on the headlight
assembly and line up the bubble in the center of the gauge.
That's it - you are done! Your 10+ year old Mark VIII now has the HID headlights
that many brand new Luxury cars still do not have!