2002-2003-2004-2005 LED Headlights- The frustrations of modernizing your lighting...

Joined
Oct 23, 2018
Thunderbird Year
2003
I just thought I'd start cataloging my experiences in case anyone wanted to look this up in the future.

So far I've replaced the headlights with LED units - no errors, very clear, very nice - very happy. I've done them on other cars in the past with good success and this was no different. I got them from an Amazon seller you can find here : https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076P5H7TW/

So, afterwards, I thought "Well, I might as well do the rest of them..."

Front turn signals, despite being a 3457 in there, a 3157 constantly comes up as a suitable replacement or cross-reference for LED's - apparently there is no 3457 specific LED bulb. I specifically picked up these in Amber/

Rears were Red 3157's as well.

Reverse lights ... yep.. 3057 and 3157 come up for them too. These are clear/white.

So ... here's where the fun begins. Knowing there are amperage differences, I sprung for the "LED turn signal flasher relay" as well. That's where my nightmare begins - Did you know, there isn't a single source for the location of that relay for us? I looked darn-near everywhere for it - and tried the "Well, just switch on your signal and follow the noise until you find it" method. Wanna know where that sound is the loudest? Right behind the gauge cluster :mad: I mean... really? You couldn't put it down near the firewall like everyone else does?

No matter, the cluster was coming out eventually any way so I decided to leave it for now, and just try the bulbs and deal with what most people call "hyperflash" until I get the relay swapped out. Popped off the front left headlight, pulled the turn signal bulb, plopped in the new one and did a dry run before putting it back together. Fired up the car, flipped the turn signal, flash was normal speed, and nice and bright as expected. Cool - we're halfway there. Clicked it back off, flipped on the parking lights, it lit up just fine - alright, 2 out of 3 so far, looking good. Then I flipped the turn signal with the parking lights on - as expected the clicking was faster, but no blink up front and the dash indicated bulb out. Weeeeak. Super weak you guys.

So I thought maybe... just maybe I have to change both ends, front and rear before it plays nice - run around to the trunk, pull the panel, see what I thought was a 10mm nut, removed it (maybe 11mm, I didn't check which side of the wrench I used). Did a little wiggle, and .. well, there's obviously a nut on the other side - on a bolt that's 5 inches long! What?! Seriously?:eek: It got a little dark outside so I put everything back together and gave up for today.

So essentially, I'm reading about the relays, and there's these Load resistors you can wire up in-line that help the signal speed too. It was my understanding that you can do the relay, or you can do the resistor, but didn't need both. I'm in correspondence with the bulb makers just to verify. If any of you out there have tried this, drop me a little insight on what you did or how you got it working - maybe save me a lot of trouble - otherwise, I guess I'll be the one exploring this uncharted territory for you all.

As for the headlights, this is how they look (as compared to the fog's which are on the way) - don't mind my old man - he loves photo-bombing me.
 

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Jody

Active Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2018
Thunderbird Year
2003
I just thought I'd start cataloging my experiences in case anyone wanted to look this up in the future.

So far I've replaced the headlights with LED units - no errors, very clear, very nice - very happy. I've done them on other cars in the past with good success and this was no different. I got them from an Amazon seller you can find here : https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076P5H7TW/

So, afterwards, I thought "Well, I might as well do the rest of them..."

Front turn signals, despite being a 3457 in there, a 3157 constantly comes up as a suitable replacement or cross-reference for LED's - apparently there is no 3457 specific LED bulb. I specifically picked up these in Amber/

Rears were Red 3157's as well.

Reverse lights ... yep.. 3057 and 3157 come up for them too. These are clear/white.

So ... here's where the fun begins. Knowing there are amperage differences, I sprung for the "LED turn signal flasher relay" as well. That's where my nightmare begins - Did you know, there isn't a single source for the location of that relay for us? I looked darn-near everywhere for it - and tried the "Well, just switch on your signal and follow the noise until you find it" method. Wanna know where that sound is the loudest? Right behind the gauge cluster :mad: I mean... really? You couldn't put it down near the firewall like everyone else does?

No matter, the cluster was coming out eventually any way so I decided to leave it for now, and just try the bulbs and deal with what most people call "hyperflash" until I get the relay swapped out. Popped off the front left headlight, pulled the turn signal bulb, plopped in the new one and did a dry run before putting it back together. Fired up the car, flipped the turn signal, flash was normal speed, and nice and bright as expected. Cool - we're halfway there. Clicked it back off, flipped on the parking lights, it lit up just fine - alright, 2 out of 3 so far, looking good. Then I flipped the turn signal with the parking lights on - as expected the clicking was faster, but no blink up front and the dash indicated bulb out. Weeeeak. Super weak you guys.

So I thought maybe... just maybe I have to change both ends, front and rear before it plays nice - run around to the trunk, pull the panel, see what I thought was a 10mm nut, removed it (maybe 11mm, I didn't check which side of the wrench I used). Did a little wiggle, and .. well, there's obviously a nut on the other side - on a bolt that's 5 inches long! What?! Seriously?:eek: It got a little dark outside so I put everything back together and gave up for today.

So essentially, I'm reading about the relays, and there's these Load resistors you can wire up in-line that help the signal speed too. It was my understanding that you can do the relay, or you can do the resistor, but didn't need both. I'm in correspondence with the bulb makers just to verify. If any of you out there have tried this, drop me a little insight on what you did or how you got it working - maybe save me a lot of trouble - otherwise, I guess I'll be the one exploring this uncharted territory for you all.

As for the headlights, this is how they look (as compared to the fog's which are on the way) - don't mind my old man - he loves photo-bombing me.

Sean Pwnery:

This is Jody in Houston. I have a 2003 whisper white with 33k miles...perhaps a twin to the car you just purchased and are writing about. If you also live in Houston, I would like to contact you and compare our cars. I have made some cosmetic changes to mine. I tried to reach out to you yesterday but I am not sure that you got the message. so I will try one more time. Please contact me at jagc6@********* if you are interested and even if you are not so I least I will know....thanks and enjoy your car...I have really enjoyed mine.....Jody
 
Joined
Nov 19, 2017
Thunderbird Year
none
led dual lights(3157)have circutry inside I tried to add to turn signals and same result as you(although I was going for dual color amber to white) I even bought a single inline resistor it didn't work. I have yet to try what is listed at end of my post but want to as it seems to make sense because it sends resistor to both lights separately.when one of the lines does not resist the lights shut downwhen used at same time like flash when lights on. unfortunately I already returned the bulbs. I think that a electronic flasher like I have on my bike would not sent a resist message to the thunderbirds electronic system
https://www.ebay.com/itm/4157-Load-Resistor-3157-For-Switchback-LED-Turn-Signal-Light-Fix-Hyper-Flash-X2/112986164734?fits=Year:2004|Model:Thunderbird&hash=item1a4e800dfe:g:63IAAOSwySVaFiWI&vxp=mtr
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 23, 2018
Thunderbird Year
2003
led dual lights(3157)have circutry inside I tried to add to turn signals and same result as you(although I was going for dual color amber to white) I even bought a single inline resistor it didn't work. I have yet to try what is listed at end of my post but want to as it seems to make sense because it sends resistor to both lights separately.when one of the lines does not resist the lights shut downwhen used at same time like flash when lights on. unfortunately I already returned the bulbs. I think that a electronic flasher like I have on my bike would not sent a resist message to the thunderbirds electronic system
https://www.ebay.com/itm/4157-Load-Resistor-3157-For-Switchback-LED-Turn-Signal-Light-Fix-Hyper-Flash-X2/112986164734?fits=Year:2004|Model:Thunderbird&hash=item1a4e800dfe:g:63IAAOSwySVaFiWI&vxp=mtr


I got a reply back from the LED bulb manufacturer and they pretty much confirmed what I thought - you can do either the relay itself (which is behind the instrument panel on my 03 by the sound of it ticking away) or you can do the Load Resistors in-line with each bulb - I may just go that route too.

Today was a lame day ... apparently I ordered the wrong fog's ... I could have sworn Sylvania's bulb locator said 883's ... but they're 921's by the look of them.
 
Joined
Dec 23, 2018
Thunderbird Year
1957
led dual lights(3157)have circutry inside I tried to add to turn signals and same result as you(although I was going for dual color amber to white) I even bought a single inline resistor it didn't work. I have yet to try what is listed at end of my post but want to as it seems to make sense because it sends resistor to both lights separately.when one of the lines does not resist the lights shut downwhen used at same time like flash when lights on. unfortunately I already returned the bulbs. I think that a electronic flasher like I have on my bike would not sent a resist message to the thunderbirds electronic system
https://www.ebay.com/itm/4157-Load-Resistor-3157-For-Switchback-LED-Turn-Signal-Light-Fix-Hyper-Flash-X2/112986164734?fits=Year:2004|Model:Thunderbird&hash=item1a4e800dfe:g:63IAAOSwySVaFiWI&vxp=mtr
I put these VLEDs switchback bulbs in my 2003 Thunderbird, and they worked perfectly with no resistors. Nice Nice color (I ordered the 6000K color, to match the LED bulbs I put in the headlights.
https://www.vleds.com/shop-bulb-numbers/3157/3157-70-hv-wa-c.html
20181201_132520.jpg
 

biddle

Forum Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 9, 2003
I put these VLEDs switchback bulbs in my 2003 Thunderbird, and they worked perfectly with no resistors. Nice Nice color (I ordered the 6000K color, to match the LED bulbs I put in the headlights.
https://www.vleds.com/shop-bulb-numbers/3157/3157-70-hv-wa-c.html
View attachment 3119
Thanks for the heads up @cliffcostello ! They sent us a set today to use for a review, need someone in Knoxville, TN to volunteer to test-
https://forums.fordthunderbirdforum...e-tennessee-area-to-test-led-headlights.7203/
 
Joined
Nov 19, 2017
Thunderbird Year
none
am interested ,but not in the color.I am more concerned about how far down a completely unlit road they light up the dark. I have really bright to look at L.E.D on my bike and they are great to be seen but no so much to see down the road.so a pic of lights on a car wont show it nor will them shining on the garage. If I lived near I would try em
 
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
Thunderbird Year
2005
Thanks for the heads up @cliffcostello ! They sent us a set today to use for a review, need someone in Knoxville, TN to volunteer to test-
https://forums.fordthunderbirdforum...e-tennessee-area-to-test-led-headlights.7203/
Greetings guys - with all the posts regarding updating to LED lights - is there a comprehensive post of over recommendations for replacing the headlights, fogs, turning lights etc. and the best way to install them, resistors - no resistors. Is it as simple as plug and play?
It can be some what confusing. I'm not looking for lights so bright they are blinding but anything would be an improvement over the stock lights (2005 T Bird)
Much appreciated
Mike
 
Joined
Feb 9, 2019
Thunderbird Year
2002
I replaced the lights in my 63 Corvette with LEDs a year ago, its easy with the old mechanical flashers - you just install an electronic flasher.

I literally JUST replaced my 2013 Tundra's driving lights with LEDs this Saturday, modern cars are more problematic; especially if they are CANbus cars (an industry standard to automatically report faults)...LEDs have low resistance and that's equivalent to a missing/burned out bulb to our modern car computers and also a cause of "hyperflash". So, as with my Tundra, you wind up adding "load resistors" to simulate the old incandescent bulbs. Well guess what, the 50W resistors can reach up to 220* F so they have to be mounted to metal ... making things more complicated.
 
Joined
Jul 9, 2019
Thunderbird Year
2003
When replacing park/signal/stop/BU lamps with LED in my Town Car I also got the hyper flash. I put in the resistors and that fixed it but at an added expense and effort. With the resistors, likely you negate any power savings of the LED's. Just arrived are some 'CANbus error free' bulbs for the Tbird but haven't had a chance to put them in. At $10/bulb hoping they work plug and play as advertised. I also replaced the side marker lamps on the Bird with non error free LED and with the car off at night there is a low glow coming from the side light at all times. Sometimes weeks between starts it does not seem to effect the battery. I'll assume incandescent bulbs have this power flow too but it's not enough to fire the bulb as the LED will fire on low power. Looking into error free side marker lamps but there is little clearance in the light housing for a larger bulb.
 
Joined
Nov 4, 2019
Thunderbird Year
2004
I got a reply back from the LED bulb manufacturer and they pretty much confirmed what I thought - you can do either the relay itself (which is behind the instrument panel on my 03 by the sound of it ticking away) or you can do the Load Resistors in-line with each bulb - I may just go that route too.

Today was a lame day ... apparently I ordered the wrong fog's ... I could have sworn Sylvania's bulb locator said 883's ... but they're 921's by the look of them.
Does anyone know exactly where the turn signal relay is on a 04?
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2007
Thunderbird Year
2002
Be careful changing out halogen lights for aftermarket lights. Several years ago a friend of mine
was hit by a driver that crossed the center line. Required some hospital visits, but everyone ok.

The driver that crossed the center line sued my friend, most likely to protect themselves. After
investigations, they discovered my friend had changed out his lights, and claimed his illegal
lights blinded them, and that caused them to blindly cross the center line.

After three years case went to trial, and my friend was found 40% responsible.
 

Deputy JJG

RAVEN @ Big Lake, Texas
Joined
Apr 20, 2022
Thunderbird Year
2002
I
I just thought I'd start cataloging my experiences in case anyone wanted to look this up in the future.

So far I've replaced the headlights with LED units - no errors, very clear, very nice - very happy. I've done them on other cars in the past with good success and this was no different. I got them from an Amazon seller you can find here : https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076P5H7TW/

So, afterwards, I thought "Well, I might as well do the rest of them..."

Front turn signals, despite being a 3457 in there, a 3157 constantly comes up as a suitable replacement or cross-reference for LED's - apparently there is no 3457 specific LED bulb. I specifically picked up these in Amber/

Rears were Red 3157's as well.

Reverse lights ... yep.. 3057 and 3157 come up for them too. These are clear/white.

So ... here's where the fun begins. Knowing there are amperage differences, I sprung for the "LED turn signal flasher relay" as well. That's where my nightmare begins - Did you know, there isn't a single source for the location of that relay for us? I looked darn-near everywhere for it - and tried the "Well, just switch on your signal and follow the noise until you find it" method. Wanna know where that sound is the loudest? Right behind the gauge cluster :mad: I mean... really? You couldn't put it down near the firewall like everyone else does?

No matter, the cluster was coming out eventually any way so I decided to leave it for now, and just try the bulbs and deal with what most people call "hyperflash" until I get the relay swapped out. Popped off the front left headlight, pulled the turn signal bulb, plopped in the new one and did a dry run before putting it back together. Fired up the car, flipped the turn signal, flash was normal speed, and nice and bright as expected. Cool - we're halfway there. Clicked it back off, flipped on the parking lights, it lit up just fine - alright, 2 out of 3 so far, looking good. Then I flipped the turn signal with the parking lights on - as expected the clicking was faster, but no blink up front and the dash indicated bulb out. Weeeeak. Super weak you guys.

So I thought maybe... just maybe I have to change both ends, front and rear before it plays nice - run around to the trunk, pull the panel, see what I thought was a 10mm nut, removed it (maybe 11mm, I didn't check which side of the wrench I used). Did a little wiggle, and .. well, there's obviously a nut on the other side - on a bolt that's 5 inches long! What?! Seriously?:eek: It got a little dark outside so I put everything back together and gave up for today.

So essentially, I'm reading about the relays, and there's these Load resistors you can wire up in-line that help the signal speed too. It was my understanding that you can do the relay, or you can do the resistor, but didn't need both. I'm in correspondence with the bulb makers just to verify. If any of you out there have tried this, drop me a little insight on what you did or how you got it working - maybe save me a lot of trouble - otherwise, I guess I'll be the one exploring this uncharted territory for you all.

As for the headlights, this is how they look (as compared to the fog's which are on the way) - don't mind my old man - he loves photo-bombing me.
ordered LEd lights from Amazon for my 2002 T-Bird.
I just thought I'd start cataloging my experiences in case anyone wanted to look this up in the future.

So far I've replaced the headlights with LED units - no errors, very clear, very nice - very happy. I've done them on other cars in the past with good success and this was no different. I got them from an Amazon seller you can find here : https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076P5H7TW/

So, afterwards, I thought "Well, I might as well do the rest of them..."

Front turn signals, despite being a 3457 in there, a 3157 constantly comes up as a suitable replacement or cross-reference for LED's - apparently there is no 3457 specific LED bulb. I specifically picked up these in Amber/

Rears were Red 3157's as well.

Reverse lights ... yep.. 3057 and 3157 come up for them too. These are clear/white.

So ... here's where the fun begins. Knowing there are amperage differences, I sprung for the "LED turn signal flasher relay" as well. That's where my nightmare begins - Did you know, there isn't a single source for the location of that relay for us? I looked darn-near everywhere for it - and tried the "Well, just switch on your signal and follow the noise until you find it" method. Wanna know where that sound is the loudest? Right behind the gauge cluster :mad: I mean... really? You couldn't put it down near the firewall like everyone else does?

No matter, the cluster was coming out eventually any way so I decided to leave it for now, and just try the bulbs and deal with what most people call "hyperflash" until I get the relay swapped out. Popped off the front left headlight, pulled the turn signal bulb, plopped in the new one and did a dry run before putting it back together. Fired up the car, flipped the turn signal, flash was normal speed, and nice and bright as expected. Cool - we're halfway there. Clicked it back off, flipped on the parking lights, it lit up just fine - alright, 2 out of 3 so far, looking good. Then I flipped the turn signal with the parking lights on - as expected the clicking was faster, but no blink up front and the dash indicated bulb out. Weeeeak. Super weak you guys.

So I thought maybe... just maybe I have to change both ends, front and rear before it plays nice - run around to the trunk, pull the panel, see what I thought was a 10mm nut, removed it (maybe 11mm, I didn't check which side of the wrench I used). Did a little wiggle, and .. well, there's obviously a nut on the other side - on a bolt that's 5 inches long! What?! Seriously?:eek: It got a little dark outside so I put everything back together and gave up for today.

So essentially, I'm reading about the relays, and there's these Load resistors you can wire up in-line that help the signal speed too. It was my understanding that you can do the relay, or you can do the resistor, but didn't need both. I'm in correspondence with the bulb makers just to verify. If any of you out there have tried this, drop me a little insight on what you did or how you got it working - maybe save me a lot of trouble - otherwise, I guess I'll be the one exploring this uncharted territory for you all.

As for the headlights, this is how they look (as compared to the fog's which are on the way) - don't mind my old man - he loves photo-bombing me.
I just thought I'd start cataloging my experiences in case anyone wanted to look this up in the future.

So far I've replaced the headlights with LED units - no errors, very clear, very nice - very happy. I've done them on other cars in the past with good success and this was no different. I got them from an Amazon seller you can find here : https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076P5H7TW/

So, afterwards, I thought "Well, I might as well do the rest of them..."

Front turn signals, despite being a 3457 in there, a 3157 constantly comes up as a suitable replacement or cross-reference for LED's - apparently there is no 3457 specific LED bulb. I specifically picked up these in Amber/

Rears were Red 3157's as well.

Reverse lights ... yep.. 3057 and 3157 come up for them too. These are clear/white.

So ... here's where the fun begins. Knowing there are amperage differences, I sprung for the "LED turn signal flasher relay" as well. That's where my nightmare begins - Did you know, there isn't a single source for the location of that relay for us? I looked darn-near everywhere for it - and tried the "Well, just switch on your signal and follow the noise until you find it" method. Wanna know where that sound is the loudest? Right behind the gauge cluster :mad: I mean... really? You couldn't put it down near the firewall like everyone else does?

No matter, the cluster was coming out eventually any way so I decided to leave it for now, and just try the bulbs and deal with what most people call "hyperflash" until I get the relay swapped out. Popped off the front left headlight, pulled the turn signal bulb, plopped in the new one and did a dry run before putting it back together. Fired up the car, flipped the turn signal, flash was normal speed, and nice and bright as expected. Cool - we're halfway there. Clicked it back off, flipped on the parking lights, it lit up just fine - alright, 2 out of 3 so far, looking good. Then I flipped the turn signal with the parking lights on - as expected the clicking was faster, but no blink up front and the dash indicated bulb out. Weeeeak. Super weak you guys.

So I thought maybe... just maybe I have to change both ends, front and rear before it plays nice - run around to the trunk, pull the panel, see what I thought was a 10mm nut, removed it (maybe 11mm, I didn't check which side of the wrench I used). Did a little wiggle, and .. well, there's obviously a nut on the other side - on a bolt that's 5 inches long! What?! Seriously?:eek: It got a little dark outside so I put everything back together and gave up for today.

So essentially, I'm reading about the relays, and there's these Load resistors you can wire up in-line that help the signal speed too. It was my understanding that you can do the relay, or you can do the resistor, but didn't need both. I'm in correspondence with the bulb makers just to verify. If any of you out there I have tried this, drop me a little insight on what you did or how you got it working - maybe save me a lot of trouble - otherwise, I guess I'll be the one exploring this uncharted territory for you all.

As for the headlights, this is how they look (as compared to the fog's which are on the way) - don't mind my old man - he loves photo-bombing me.
I ordered LED headlights from Amazon for my 2002 T-Bird. They were AUXITO brand and were supposed to be a direct replacement. After changing them out, I went for a test drive as it had gotten dark. I soon discovered that the lights were somehow reversed. Low beam was actually high beam and vice versa. There is only one way to put them in. Wow! I changed them for Sylvania Silver Star Ultras. I'm satisfied with them. JJG
 
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