Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
June 1, 2001

Step By Step

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This is our original light package. Notice the dull headlight and the diffused light emanating from it.
This is our new smoke light package. Notice how much sharper the light is that’s coming from the new, undamaged lens, even though it’s smoke-tinted.
Our original lights were replaced in 1993 after accident damage necessitated replacement. The lights on cars that sit outside will usually yellow more rapidly than those on cars parked in garages.
We’ve been told that yellowing comes from excessive oils (such as from skin contact) on the plastic lens causing a baking effect when the lights are on. We believe the more common problem is simply a matter of ozone and chemical reaction causing the top surface of the plastic to corrode.
The best way to remove the lights is to start with the inside light and work toward the outside, due to the way the lights’ edges overlap each other. The retaining nuts are 11 mm and can be accessed via a deep 1/4-inch drive socket or an 11mm box-end wrench. Depending upon the size and shape of your radiator, you might be able to sneak past the core support seals and get to the first pair of 11mm nuts as shown here.
Slide the loose turn signal light forward and use a twist-and-pull motion to remove the lightbulb socket from the back of the light housing. Inspect and replace any questionable bulbs.
In most cases, the length of the main headlight pigtail isn’t sufficient to pull the light forward and disconnect it. Instead, push down on the pigtail connector and slide it off the back of the halogen lamp.
The main headlight assembly includes the light housing and the alignment bracket, which are removed together. Remove the three 11mm nuts to free the headlight assembly from the bumper reinforcement. Once the headlight is free, the sidemarker light can be removed by removing the two 11mm nuts retaining it.
The new headlight assembly doesn’t come with an alignment bracket or a bulb retainer socket, so you must scavenge these items from your originals. The bulb retainer socket simply unscrews from the back of the old light. If you’re reusing your halogen bulb, you can remove it at the same time.
If you intend to reuse your halogen bulbs, make sure your fingers don’t touch the glass bulb; skin oil will definitely shorten the lifespan of the bulb by causing hot spots.
The rubber surround on the original light will need to be removed and transferred to the new light housing. This surround fills the gap between the light and the surrounding lights and the hood. Carefully pull the surround off and try not to bend the metal core.
To remove the original alignment bracket from the light housing, the three metal retaining clips need to be pried off to free the adjustment studs from the housing. Once the three clips are removed, the alignment bracket can be separated from the light housing.
Carefully line up the alignment bracket with the new light housing and snap the original metal retaining clips back into place to secure the alignment bracket to the new housing. Once these clips are in place, you can also install the rubber surround removed in step 9.
For additional nighttime driving safety, we decided to install fresh high-performance halogen bulbs into our new smoke lights. These bulbs feature an 80-watt low beam, a 100-watt high beam, and a distinctive blue tint to reduce glare and to look supersharp behind our smoke lenses.
Install the new lights in reverse order, ensuring you plug in the light pigtails accordingly. Secure the new lights with the original 11mm nuts removed from the original lights. A stubby ratchet (shown here) helps with securing the sidemarker lights, while a box-end wrench works best on the headlight itself.
Our new smoke lights give our dark-colored LX a very secretive and stealthy look. Shown here illuminated, the smoke lights don’t reduce visibility of the lights at night.
With the lights off, the smoke lights are just a tad darker but certainly look sharp on our project. In our opinion, they look just like an ’01 Mustang light.
Another close-up shot shows how defined and clear the fresh lens is, whether the lens is smoke or clear.

If there’s one universally aggravating problem with all late-model cars, it’s the plastic headlight assemblies that have graced their front ends since the mid-’80s—1987 for the Mustang. Designed to save weight and aid in aerodynamics (as well as give the designers more creative freedom), these plastic housings slowly age into a dull yellowish, distorted-looking mess that detract from the aesthetics of the car and pose a serious safety concern for nighttime driving.

Replacing these light housings is easy and can be accomplished in a matter of minutes in your own driveway, but now you have the option of upgrading the looks of your Mustang at the same time. Manufactured by KS Reproduction, these reproduction light assemblies come in various styles to complement your paint and/or to give your Mustang that certain look. From clear sidemarkers to smoke headlights (and clear and smoke taillights to match), you can easily regain lost light clarity while improving your Mustang’s looks. Of course, they carry stock replacement lights if that’s all you’re looking for.

We contacted Laurel Mountain Mustang, a KS Reproduction dealer, for a complete set of smoke headlights and marker lights for our resident ’90 LX hatchback. We believe the smoke look would complement the burgundy-colored Medium Cabernet topcoat perfectly. One last word: check with your local authorities on lighting requirements, because some municipalities frown on clear sidemarkers or clear taillights. Both the responsibility and the ultimate decision are up to you.