Michael Johnson
Technical Editor
February 20, 2014

Updating a Mustang's taillights is nothing new. People used to add Shelby/California Special taillights to standard Mustangs back in the '60s. In the Fox era, the common swap was replacing GT cheese- graters with LX lenses. This trend continued with the SN-95 crowd since many people didn't like the look of the '94-'95 taillights. They would either add export taillights with amber turn signals, or swap them for the '96-'98 tails. In the New Edge era, the only option was the taillights featuring amber turn signals from the '99 or '01 Cobras.

When the S197 Mustang came along, there weren't many options, but the aftermarket got into the act by providing alternatives to the stock taillights. We've seen some good choices, and we've seen some really questionable ones, but these Raxiom Gen5 taillights from AmericanMuscle.com could be the best replacement yet.

Raxiom's Gen5 taillights from American Muscle.com mimic the look of factory '13-'14 GT units, and they come to you with built-in sequential capabilities, so you kill two birds with one stone. The taillights have the reflective look of the '13 models, but the sequential option means when you activate the turn signals or hazard lights (hopefully not ever, unless you're Justin Burcham racing Robin Lawrence) will sequence from the center out and repeat until switched off. When you apply the brakes the lights will sequence once and then stay lit during braking.

There couldn't be an easier installation with such satisfying results. If you own a '05-'09 Mustang, and you're looking for an upgrade you can perform yourself, this is it. Even if you're a rookie wrench, you can install these taillights, and we're going to show you how.

The Raxiom Gen5 taillights are designed to look like those found on ’13-’14 Mustangs, but bolt right on to your ’05-’09 Mustang. Here you can see how the new taillights conform to the ’05-’09 Mustang’s rear panel trunk trim. American Muscle says these Raxiom taillights “meet or exceed the strict guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation, making them legal for street use.” Plus, with the LED layout, your S197 will stand out in a crowd.
Here are the tools needed for the job. You’ll need a ratchet, a T30 torx bit, and an 11mm socket. You’ll need a deep-well socket, though, we had both just in case. The T30 torx bit is for the rear panel trunk trim, and the 11mm socket is for the taillight hardware. There are three 11mm nuts per side that need to be loosened in order to remove and install the taillights.
The rear panel trunk trim on Dave, er, Hillary’s GT was already halfway loose when we started the taillight swap. We guess a previous owner had done some work back here, and didn’t replace the trim hardware, which meant less work for us. If your trim is intact, the T30 torx bit is needed to move it out of the way to help gain access to the factory taillights. Plastic pushpins also secure the rear panel, which also need to be removed to gain access.
Once the rear panel is removed, Dave uses the ratchet and 11mm deep socket to loosen the taillight nuts. The taillights have three 11mm nuts holding them in place. There are three studs on both the old taillights and new Raxiom taillights that are used to secure them to the taillight panel.
Disconnect the electrical plug for the taillights like so...
...And remove the taillight while snaking the wiring harness through the access hole. The taillight wiring harness has a grommet on it to hold it in place on the taillight panel. Push the grommet through the taillight panel, and the complete assembly is ready to remove.
Now Dave can install the new taillight, snaking the new wiring harness through the access hole. The new harness also has a grommet for the access hole to keep it in place and prevent the possibility of it being damaged.
Line up the bolts with the holes in the taillight panel, and use a little muscle to seat the taillight into place.
Reuse the factory nuts, and tighten them up, and plug in the new taillight’s harness into the existing body harness, and voila, you’re done, except for putting the trunk trim back together.
Well, there ya go, it really is that easy to install the taillights. This is how they look with the lights on. The LED strips encompass the area where the brake lights illuminate, and the reverse lights are in the same place as the brake lights.
This is how the taillights look with the car in reverse. Raxiom’s Gen 5 taillights are probably the easiest upgrade you can do to your ’05-’09 Mustang, and it took Dave less than 30 minutes to install the new taillights, and that’s even with an associate editor in the way.