Fog light upgrades for better visibility
Many of us find our oem fog lamps to be inadequate. Dim stock bulbs and worn out housings cause limited brightness and range. Fortunately, there is a solution. Stock fog lights can be improved, and we can find aftermarket equipment for a complete upgrade.
Improving the factory fog lights.
Our stock fog light bulbs use about 27 watts of current, and have halogen gas. Swapping to aftermarket alternatives such as the Sylvania SilverStar or GE Nighthawk is the most effective upgrade we can make to factory equipment. These use about 37 watts and contain a small amount of xenon gas mixed in with the halogen. Xenon allows a higher operating temperature for better efficiency. The benefit is a significant improvement in visibility.
Part numbers for various fog bulbs include:
- Stock bulbs : 880
- Brighter, higher wattage bulbs: 893
- Longer life, higher wattage bulbs: 899
When changing the bulbs, check the condition of your fog light housings. As they age, reflectors and lenses deteriorate. Beam control is lost, and less light reaches the road. Because of the big impact this makes on visibility, you should replace fog light assemblies in poor condition. New oem style Thunderbird and Cougar Fog Light assemblies are currently on sale at Partstrain. Other sources include Autozone and Napa.
Part numbers for stock fog light assemblies:
- Napa Part: BK19536501
- Autozone part: FO2590106
- PartsTrain SKU: 19-5365-01
- '89-'91 Motorcraft (replaced by below): f1sz15200nl
- '92-'97 Motorcraft: f2sz15200a
The final improvement to the factory fog lights we will discuss involves upgrading stock wiring. This circuit is wired together with the head lights, fog lights, and multifunction switch on the steering column. Over time, heat builds up from the current draw of these devices running together. Failure of one or more switches and a possible fire hazard is the result. View the TSB for this problem at Autorecalls.org. See the SCCOA for a 'how to' article that walks you through an easy solution for this problem.
Upgrading to aftermarket fog lights
Even with improvements, there are situations were factory fog lights simply aren't good enough. This is when upgrading to aftermarket equipment makes sense. The housings have better aim and work with more powerful bulbs. Lenses and optics have lower glare and higher visibility in inclement weather. Separate wiring kits prevent overloaded factory circuits, and allow more flexibility. All these things contribute to a whiter, brighter beam which puts significantly more light where you need it.
Pilot Automotive makes several low cost 55 watt lights similar in size and shape to our stock units. Many Thunderbird and Cougar owners find these useful for adding more brightness while maintaining a stock look. There are many style options including lens color, beam color, beam style (driving or fog), and combined fog/driving lights. Buy these lights at AutoBarn.com or you can find some models at Autozone and other local parts stores.
Part numbers for Pilot fog lights include:
- Driving 55 watt, clear amber or blue: PL1055 (or 2055)
- Fog 55 watt, blue lens amber beam: PL1074B
- Driving 55 watt, blue lens simulated HID white beam: PLM2
- Dual driving/fog 55 watt x 2, amber or blue lens, amber beam: PL1068
For a significant boost in illumination, the PIAA 1500XT Series are a popular choice for Tbird and Cougar owners. These lamps use polyphenylene sulfide composite (pps) housings and glass lenses for long term durability, and 55 watt h3 bulbs for brightness. PIAA 1500xt light kits are available as fog lights with ion crystal lenses or clear driving lights. Buy them from Autoanything, currently the lowest price for the 1500xt online.
Perhaps the most advanced aftermarket fog light we can upgrade to is the Sylvania Xenarc X1010 HID. The Sylvania Xenarc HID lights produce around 3000 lumens using only 35 watts, with a color temperature as high as 5400k. These can be used as fog lights, or as driving lights with the optional shield removed. Finally, an included wireless remote simplifies installation by replacing wiring through the firewall necessary with other light kits.