Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
February 5, 2014

The latest '10-'14 Mustang body style is certainly the current attention getter when it comes to aftermarket appearance items, but those who are tooling around in the '05-'09 S197 model shouldn't fear aftermarket obsolescence just yet. No, not with great companies like American Muscle offering a slew of new parts every month for this great body style. The '05-'09 is a fun car with great retro styling that has become an affordable second or third car for many families. The price is right for lightly used GT and V-6 models.

According to '13 owners we have spoken to, one of the main reasons for the trade-up or first time purchase was due to the new-for-'13 LED halo ringed sequential taillights. The smoked finish and the LED “rope” look for each taillight segment has become a popular conversation point at Mustang gatherings everywhere. Now you can have a near-identical look for your '05-'09 Mustang that'll have people scratching their head wondering just how you did it. Raxiom lighting is an exclusive brand for American Muscle and their new '13-look taillights are direct-fit replacements that plug right in with no splicing or complicated electrical work needed.

1 Accessing the taillight mounting area requires the removal of the trunk rear trim panel. Use a door panel tool or similar blunt object to remove the four pushpin retainers. There are two threaded retainers at the top (used for the trunk storage net) that simply unscrew, for a total of six fasteners. Then the panel can be pulled free and removed.
2 Using an 11mm deep socket, remove the three retaining nuts that secure each taillight. There are two easily found at the top, while the lower one is a bit more recessed, though still easily accessed.
3 Just beneath and to the inside of the lower retaining nut, you’ll find the electrical connector for each taillight. Depress the release tab and pull the pigtail free for each taillight.
4 Lastly, push the wire harness body grommet through the taillight panel and grasp the taillight housing at the top and inboard edge to pull the housing back towards you to remove. The studs might get hung up on the taillight panel, so wiggle the taillight as needed for the studs to clear.
5 Out of the box and its protective packing, the Raxiom ’13-look taillights are complete and ready to install with no modifications required. The kit includes a left and right taillight with preassembled wiring for a true plug-n-play job.
6 Comparing the new taillight to the stock taillight, you can see that the Raxiom housing uses much less material because there is no need for the deep prismatic reflector housings for the regular incandescent bulbs.
7 Flipping them over for a comparison of the outer housing, we find that the plastic is of the same type and texture. The new Raxiom lights even have the small rubber body gasket to prevent rubbing the quarter panel’s paint when installed.
8 Installation of the new taillights starts with passing the wiring pigtail through the taillight panel and fully seating the molded grommet into place to prevent water intrusion into the trunk. We went ahead and slipped the taillight connector into the mating body connector at this time too.
9 To fit the new taillights to the body, the three mounting studs need to be lined up and started into their respective holes in the taillight panel. Once the studs are started, gentle pressure with your palms will fully seat the taillight housing on each side. Install the factory retaining nuts to secure the taillights and then reinstall the trunk trim panel.

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10. Once you’ve finished the physical installation, turn on the parking or headlights and confirm that all six “halos” light up. Then turn your ignition key to “on” and test both left and right turn signal operation. You should have full sequential operation as seen here. Lastly, step on the brake pedal; you should see the brake lights sequence once and then go to a solid illumination.

11 Check the backup light circuit by putting your transmission in reverse with the key in the “on” position. Unlike the real ’13 taillights which have only one set of white LEDs in the middle lens, the Raxiom taillights have a full brace of white LEDs in each lens to provide plenty of rearward visibility at night.