North American Turbocoupe Organization



New Member Head Light & Fog Lights Question
5088TBird Offline
Junior Member
#1
Hello NATO.  A friend recommended I come here as he said you all are supreme experts on the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe.  I have an 88 Turbo Coupe that is having head light & fog light issues.  I am in the South.  It has been raining a lot lately.  Yesterday I got caught in the rain.  I normally don't take the Turbo out unless the sun is shinning. Anyways, I had the head lights & fog lights on.  I made a quick stop while leaving the car running.  When I came out less than 5 minutes later, the only thing on was the parking lights.  The head lights & fog lights were out.  The switch panel for the fog lights still (or did) show the red light when the fog lights are on.  It does not illuminate now.  I did notice that when I was flipping the head light switch power was going to it because the ride control light was dimming as it normally does when I flip on the headlights.  Everything else still that is normally lit works.  I am still able to dim the panel, all brake lights, dome lights, reading lights, etc. still work as  normal.  I checked the fog light fuse under the dash.  It was not blown.  I flipped the switches on & off a few times-nothing.  All bulbs are fairly new as well.  I searched the forum for other related issues.  I could not find anything.  Has anyone had this issue or know what the issue may be and how to correct it? All input is appreciated & welcome!  Thank you!
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50RACER Offline
Senior Member
#2
Running the fog lights and the headlights at the same time on these cars with the stock set up is always a bad idea. It overheats the circuit and melts the connection in the multifunction switch on the steering column. You may be able to remove the switch and clean up the connectors to get them to work again. You will just have to take a look and see. Some have created a separate circuit with a relay to relieve the stress but others will have to chime in on how to do that.
87 TC Medium Canyon Red
88 TC Black Beauty
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Jeff K Offline
Administrator
#3
^^^^^ +1

Headlight switch has a self resetting circuit breaker inside it (thermal breaker) that will often trip out if headlights and fogs are on for a period of time. Sometimes the breaker will cause the lights / fogs to flash on and off. As Brian said, MFS is also a issue not only in the TC but many other Ford cars and trucks.

As Brian said, put the fog lights and headlights on relays so only the .1 Amp relay coil current flows thru the headlight switch, fog light switch and MFS instead of the 20 Amps that flows thru the switches without relays. I think there is a tech article on wiring up relays for the lights With relays, the lights will also be noticeability brighter since they will get full system voltage.
Jeff Korn

88 Turbo Coupe: Intake and exhaust mods, T3 turbo at 24 psi, forced air IC, water injection, BPV, Ranger cam, subframes, etc., etc.
86 Tbird 5.0 (original owner): intake, exhaust, valvetrain mods, 100 HP N2O, ignition, gears, suspension, etc., etc.
05 Taurus SEL Duratec daily driver
04 Taurus Duratec (wifes car)
02 Pontiac Grand Prix GT
95 Taurus GL Vulcan winter beater
67 Honda 450 Super Sport - completely customized
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Rob H Offline
Member
#4
Something I think new people to this site might not know, I know I certainly didn't for the first year or two, is that there is a GIGANTIC amount of information on the OLD NATO WEBSITE.
I know about it, but without a link I saved to a separate tab in my browser, even I don't know how to get to it!
There is a ton of really great information there. More than a few times  I have been told "I think there is a write up somewhere on here about that", and usually, the old site it turns out is what they are talking about...

Anyways...
There are a couple articles you can find under the electrical section at that link that I think you might find useful. One is for rewiring fog lights, and another is regarding headlight relays.
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anasazi4st Offline
Senior Member
#5
(02-15-2021, 05:59 PM)Rob H Wrote: Something I think new people to this site might not know, I know I certainly didn't for the first year or two, is that there is a GIGANTIC amount of information on the OLD NATO WEBSITE.
I know about it, but without a link I saved to a separate tab in my browser, even I don't know how to get to it!
There is a ton of really great information there. More than a few times  I have been told "I think there is a write up somewhere on here about that", and usually, the old site it turns out is what they are talking about...

Anyways...
There are a couple articles you can find under the electrical section at that link that I think you might find useful. One is for rewiring fog lights, and another is regarding headlight relays.

I have done the same thing, Rob, creating a bookmark and also keeping a tab open in my browser.

5088TBird: Before I made the modification and added the relay for my fog lights, I was burning through an ignition switch every other year, it seemed like. And it wasn’t pretty: 10 gauge wire melted, contacts burned, the plastic of the switch both burned and melted.

Simply put: Jeff Korn’s relay mod diverts the 30 amps that used to run through that switch to a relay that is more than capable of handling it. Instead, only a few amps now passes through, which powers that relay and operates the fog lights. HIGHLY suggested.

As for the headlights: Amazon sells a good LED headlamp set for under $50 which is a near-plug and play install. No more dim headlamps! They are very bright and, while I have had no drivers flash me or otherwise express dissatisfaction with being blinded by them, just to be safe Jeff has recommended making an slight change to the headlamp alignment, lowering the vertical aim a bit, which helps ensure that doesn’t happen.

The Amazon link is HEREThis is the post by W60 (scroll up to #6) describing the modification required for the LED headlamps, which is minor. I’ve installed them several months ago and am very happy with their performance.

UPDATE: WOW! When I bought these last fall they were under $50. They are now listed for $89.99! Still, worth that and more.
Another proud dues-paying member.

1987 Turbo Coupe w/T5OD, 8.8 axle, grey smoke; most options. Got it in 1991 with 41K miles: 3 turbos, 2 heater cores, 1 T5OD full rebuild, 5 clutches, 1 head gasket, 2 Teves II ABS units, etc. later....
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ABird Offline
Member
#6
(02-16-2021, 10:01 AM)anasazi4st Wrote:
(02-15-2021, 05:59 PM)Rob H Wrote: Something I think new people to this site might not know, I know I certainly didn't for the first year or two, is that there is a GIGANTIC amount of information on the OLD NATO WEBSITE.
I know about it, but without a link I saved to a separate tab in my browser, even I don't know how to get to it!
There is a ton of really great information there. More than a few times  I have been told "I think there is a write up somewhere on here about that", and usually, the old site it turns out is what they are talking about...

Anyways...
There are a couple articles you can find under the electrical section at that link that I think you might find useful. One is for rewiring fog lights, and another is regarding headlight relays.

I have done the same thing, Rob, creating a bookmark and also keeping a tab open in my browser.

5088TBird: Before I made the modification and added the relay for my fog lights, I was burning through an ignition switch every other year, it seemed like. And it wasn’t pretty: 10 gauge wire melted, contacts burned, the plastic of the switch both burned and melted.

Simply put: Jeff Korn’s relay mod diverts the 30 amps that used to run through that switch to a relay that is more than capable of handling it. Instead, only a few amps now passes through, which powers that relay and operates the fog lights. HIGHLY suggested.

As for the headlights: Amazon sells a good LED headlamp set for under $50 which is a near-plug and play install. No more dim headlamps! They are very bright and, while I have had no drivers flash me or otherwise express dissatisfaction with being blinded by them, just to be safe Jeff has recommended making an slight change to the headlamp alignment, lowering the vertical aim a bit, which helps ensure that doesn’t happen.

The Amazon link is HEREThis is the post by W60 (scroll up to #6) describing the modification required for the LED headlamps, which is minor. I’ve installed them several months ago and am very happy with their performance.

UPDATE: WOW! When I bought these last fall they were under $50. They are now listed for $89.99! Still, worth that and more.

Thanks for the link.  I just ordered them.
AES
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5088TBird Offline
Junior Member
#7
Good Morning NATO:  THANK YOU EVERYONE for sharing your experiences and giving your excellent advice.  Ironically, I attempted to turn the head lights & fog lights on without success.  However, for some unknown reason pulled the dimmer switch to bright and the head lights and fog lights came back on!  I pushed it back to and they stayed on.  I also turned them off and on several times separately as well as together.  They are working fine.  I don't know a thing about electrical, but this tells me something somewhere is shorting out, not making correct contact or going bad somewhere. Any thoughts on next steps?  Should I have someone check it out (I have a master mechanic of 45 years that usually does my work) or just leave well enough alone.  Again, thank you all.
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Jeff K Offline
Administrator
#8
You do not have a short. Short circuits blow fuses and/or burn up fuse links. You may have an intermittent OPEN circuit inside the light switch. Get a can of electrical contact cleaner (I prefer CRC brand), remove the switch, and spray the cleaner in every opening you can find, then operate the switch multiple times. Repeat this process several times and put the switch back in and see if the issue goes away. As noted above, relays for head and fog lights will greatly extend the life of the ignition, fog, and multifunction switches.

New headlight switches are not available, and even fair used ones are big $$.
Jeff Korn

88 Turbo Coupe: Intake and exhaust mods, T3 turbo at 24 psi, forced air IC, water injection, BPV, Ranger cam, subframes, etc., etc.
86 Tbird 5.0 (original owner): intake, exhaust, valvetrain mods, 100 HP N2O, ignition, gears, suspension, etc., etc.
05 Taurus SEL Duratec daily driver
04 Taurus Duratec (wifes car)
02 Pontiac Grand Prix GT
95 Taurus GL Vulcan winter beater
67 Honda 450 Super Sport - completely customized
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anasazi4st Offline
Senior Member
#9
(02-16-2021, 05:03 PM)5088TBird Wrote: Good Morning NATO:  THANK YOU EVERYONE for sharing your experiences and giving your excellent advice.  Ironically, I attempted to turn the head lights & fog lights on without success.  However, for some unknown reason pulled the dimmer switch to bright and the head lights and fog lights came back on!  I pushed it back to and they stayed on.  I also turned them off and on several times separately as well as together.  They are working fine.  I don't know a thing about electrical, but this tells me something somewhere is shorting out, not making correct contact or going bad somewhere. Any thoughts on next steps?  Should I have someone check it out (I have a master mechanic of 45 years that usually does my work) or just leave well enough alone.  Again, thank you all.

A word of warning to you: if your ignition switch goes bad, you won’t have a good day. Mine first went out in the middle of summer. I had NO power assisted brakes, the A/C quit and nearly all the gauges stopped working, along with just about every electrical accessory that the car had. Of course, at the time I had NO idea what was going on, and continuing on home was a real challenge.

While it’s good news that the functionality was at least temporarily restored, the first step (after Jeff’s suggestion, above) should likely be the replacement or, at the least, inspection of that ignition switch. It’s not where you think—the place where the key goes is the ignition LOCK. The SWITCH is about 6 inches below that, on the right side of the steering column. The plastic shroud on the bottom half of the column must be removed (several Phillips screws), and the switch and its connector are readily visible.

Many odd issues, problems and activities—or lack thereof— can be linked to that switch, so it’s best to check that first.

After that, the relay modification for the fog lights will help keep that switch healthy and working properly.

While it’s okay if you are not mechanically inclined (it’s likely best you not go messing around someplace if you don’t know what you’re doing), most of us here have learned or taught ourselves (if I can be so bold and speak for others!) to perform repair work on our cars. Overall it’s much cheaper, and for me at least the satisfaction of successfully completing a repair myself is a major reason why I do it.

With a set of Ford shop manuals for that year and some common sense, you should be able to at least understand what needs to be fixed, which will save you some $$ right there in explaining the repair to a mechanic.

We are here to help. If we can, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Another proud dues-paying member.

1987 Turbo Coupe w/T5OD, 8.8 axle, grey smoke; most options. Got it in 1991 with 41K miles: 3 turbos, 2 heater cores, 1 T5OD full rebuild, 5 clutches, 1 head gasket, 2 Teves II ABS units, etc. later....
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Jeff K Offline
Administrator
#10
^^^ Yup, the Ford shop manuals are a lifesaver. I have the complete Ford (published by Helms, Inc) shop manuals as well as the EVTMs for our 5 Fords and they explain pretty much everything in great detail, with step by step instructions for virtually every and any repair procedure. A few I bought new, but most I picked up on Ebay for 20% of the cost for new. Dont even bother with Chiltons, Haynes, etc manuals, they are totally worthless.
Jeff Korn

88 Turbo Coupe: Intake and exhaust mods, T3 turbo at 24 psi, forced air IC, water injection, BPV, Ranger cam, subframes, etc., etc.
86 Tbird 5.0 (original owner): intake, exhaust, valvetrain mods, 100 HP N2O, ignition, gears, suspension, etc., etc.
05 Taurus SEL Duratec daily driver
04 Taurus Duratec (wifes car)
02 Pontiac Grand Prix GT
95 Taurus GL Vulcan winter beater
67 Honda 450 Super Sport - completely customized
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