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Submitted by pro-five-oh & ekooke/ 12-16-04



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 a kit)
  • 1996 LSC HID ballast assemblies (left and right, sold with headlights from Ford as a kit)
  • 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 electrical tape
  • 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 wiring *
* 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 REFINISHING 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 light.

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.

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. . .

So you've decided to take the HID plunge…

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 teeth.

These 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 bend.

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.

Here 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.

Ballast 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 grille).

           Photos courtesy of SONNY DAY OUT        Bracket 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 panel.

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.

If 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 the harness.

Connecting Ballast to Chassis Wiring

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 tubing.

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 cover.

On 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 to find.

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 here:

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!

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