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Thread: Un-RetrofitSource-ing my Ford Escape

  1. #1

    Default Un-RetrofitSource-ing my Ford Escape

    Good day, all.

    This is my first time writing a post for CPF but I've found good flashlight advice here before. Currently rocking that ThruNite T10!

    Anyways, I've always been the kind of person who likes to improve and modify cars. There are great benefits to doing things like changing springs and shocks, dynamat/speaker upgrades, upgrading brake pads, etc. I have a Ford Escape Limited 2011 model with the 3.0 and I've done a lot of work to it.

    I always assumed that all the proven benefits of aftermarket upgrades also applied to lighting upgrades. I started with LED bulbs for the interior and cargo lights, which I believe is allowed.

    But that wasn't enough. I had seen all those folks saying "them stock lights suck, engineers can't design s***" about many other cars and they would install upgrades. I knew that the "Spyder" halo lights and PnP HID and LED kits were bad, but I heard a lot of good things about "Projector HID retrofits" and that RetrofitSource company and all their Morimoto brand products.

    I bought a set of D2S projectors, good Osram bulbs, a Bi-xenon H13 relay harness, Morimoto ballasts, and all the installation materials. Then I got a set of aftermarket (not even TYC or the like, they are no-name) headlight housings and sold my OEM ones. I took them apart, cut a hole in the reflector, JB-welded the projector in place while aiming it from EIGHT feet away from my garage wall. Of course, for some reason I put the cutoff step like TWO feet to the left for both lights so the alignment was way off.

    A few months ago I realized this was bad, and took them apart, took out the projectors, and "fixed" the alignment. Also painted all the chrome (except turn signal reflector). In the process of stripping the chrome, I somehow took it off of the sidemarker section so I "fixed" it with metallic spray paint. Then I "fixed" the butyl sealant with GE Silicone 1.

    Notice a pattern here?

    Then, a few months later, I was having a problem with moisture. I took them apart again, This time, I used black GE Silicone 2, which bonds to plastic but has a problem with off-gassing. Haze all over the inside of the housings and there was still moisture. I replaced the silicone with butyl and "fixed" the hazing with methanol.

    The housings are now beyond repair and the alignment isn't 100% perfect. The projectors can't be adjusted width or rotation wise, so they're further apart at short distanced because I installed them wrong. The clear coat on the cheap headlight housings is coming off, and I still can't fix the moisture problem. They're held together with a few cans of silicone, including the back housing cap is MADE of silicone since it's nonexistent.

    Enough redneck engineering. I want to do the right thing. I really thought that I could build something better than OEM with JB weld and Chinese parts. The worst part is that I wrote a 2-page forum post on the Ford Escape forum teaching people how to do this, because hey, Dunning-Kruger. I'm gonna get the mods to delete it.

    I also had some LED exterior bulbs for my license plate light, reverse lights (window tint) (they're worse than stock), a no-name LED third brake light, and some amber LED sidemarkers (actually pretty good). All but the brake light housing were from Morimoto so they're coming off too.

    I know what I did was "wrong," illegal, a whole lot of things. I thought that the projector cutoff was important and paid no attention to anything else. I didn't know about foreground light, lens construction, any of that. I'm not even sure that the beam pattern was better than what I had originally.

    Heck, I don't even know if my OEM lights were "bad," maybe just misaligned. I had them for years when I was in high school and college and they never gave me trouble. I just thought the 5500K, foreground light (I used the car to illuminate a worksite), and cutoff flicker. Thought it was cool flying down the highway thinking I could see everything with the highbeam on (covered all the trees and other useless areas.

    So I'm gonna buy new Ford OEM housings, get an H13 heavy-duty wiring harness, new Philips Xtreme Vision bulbs (as per the mod's recommendation), and a professional (not garage door) alignment. I will also replace my other lights on the exterior with appropriate upgrades (194->2825 if that's allowed, new 3457s on the front [no amber coating left], etc).

    I think I know why it was "wrong," but can someone explain the thing about subjective foreground light and the other problems with retrofitting?

    What kind of performance can I expect with putting things back to stock and using appropriate upgrades like bulbs and wiring?

    What else can I buy to improve lighting? I was thinking about getting some Hella 550s for an aux. highbeam. I heard that the Hella 90mm modules have fantastic performance and are available in many configurations, but how could I mount them on the front bumper? Custom buckets/enclosures?

    Thank you for any advice that I will receive and the resources that will help me decide to fix my mistakes.

  2. #2
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Un-RetrofitSource-ing my Ford Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by TexasTroubadour View Post
    I think I know why it was "wrong," but can someone explain the thing about subjective foreground light and the other problems with retrofitting?
    The issue with foreground light is that it draws the eye to somewhere you're not supposed to be looking with the added bonus of causing your pupils to constrict. If you were operating, say, an ATV at 2 MPH you may well want to be looking down at a 45 degree angle at the very pebbles and branches in your path. But that's the opposite of what you want at normal automotive speeds. You need to be looking seconds down the road so you can react as early as possible; if you're looking down at the apparently brightest spot at the hoodline and your pupils have constricted to the point that seeing anything dimmer is more difficult, you're not going to react to hazards fast enough.

    Filling the foreground has its place at low speeds - that's what fog lights are for under appropriate conditions. But it's a bad thing under more ordinary conditions at normal speeds.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  3. #3
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Un-RetrofitSource-ing my Ford Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by TexasTroubadour View Post
    Good day, all.

    This is my first time writing a post for CPF but I've found good flashlight advice here before.


    Anyways, I've always been the kind of person who likes to improve and modify cars. There are great benefits to doing things like changing springs and shocks, dynamat/speaker upgrades, upgrading brake pads, etc. I have a Ford Escape Limited 2011 model with the 3.0 and I've done a lot of work to it.

    I always assumed that all the proven benefits of aftermarket upgrades also applied to lighting upgrades. I started with LED bulbs for the interior and cargo lights, which I believe is allowed.
    Upgrading with aftermarket parts can be hit or miss with a lot of things, but with exterior lighting it can be a lot of miss. Interior lights, and upgrades to the cargo lights, are fine, and REAL upgrades to regulated exterior lighting is fine, but there's so much that isn't an upgrade.

    I had seen all those folks saying "them stock lights suck, engineers can't design s***" about many other cars and they would install upgrades. I knew that the "Spyder" halo lights and PnP HID and LED kits were bad, but I heard a lot of good things about "Projector HID retrofits" and that RetrofitSource company and all their Morimoto brand products.
    It's hard to not fall for that-- you get a lot of very vocal people who also fell for the marketing themselves, and who *aren't* willing to admit their mistakes. TRS and that "Morimoto" brand are particularly skilled at marketing, indeed.

    I bought a set of D2S projectors, good Osram bulbs, a Bi-xenon H13 relay harness, Morimoto ballasts, and all the installation materials. Then I got a set of aftermarket (not even TYC or the like, they are no-name) headlight housings and sold my OEM ones. I took them apart, cut a hole in the reflector, JB-welded the projector in place while aiming it from EIGHT feet away from my garage wall. Of course, for some reason I put the cutoff step like TWO feet to the left for both lights so the alignment was way off.
    Ouch, ouch, ouch....

    A few months ago I realized this was bad, and took them apart, took out the projectors, and "fixed" the alignment. Also painted all the chrome (except turn signal reflector). In the process of stripping the chrome, I somehow took it off of the sidemarker section so I "fixed" it with metallic spray paint. Then I "fixed" the butyl sealant with GE Silicone 1.
    How long were you driving like that?

    Notice a pattern here?
    You read every single bad tutorial you could possibly find?

    Then, a few months later, I was having a problem with moisture. I took them apart again, This time, I used black GE Silicone 2, which bonds to plastic but has a problem with off-gassing. Haze all over the inside of the housings and there was still moisture. I replaced the silicone with butyl and "fixed" the hazing with methanol.
    And you learned why we say don't use silicone

    The housings are now beyond repair and the alignment isn't 100% perfect.
    Yep, they are completely done. There's no coming back from that but by getting new OEM lamp assemblies.

    The worst part is that I wrote a 2-page forum post on the Ford Escape forum teaching people how to do this, because hey, Dunning-Kruger. I'm gonna get the mods to delete it.
    That took some guts to admit on THAT forum your mistake, given the popularity of those mods and how aggressive people can be defending them.

    I also had some LED exterior bulbs for my license plate light, reverse lights
    Some of those drop-ins are acceptable but it can vary widely on the lamp they go into.

    a no-name LED third brake light, and some amber LED sidemarkers (actually pretty good). All but the brake light housing were from Morimoto so they're coming off too.
    The no-name CHMSL might well be a dud, too. There are some good LED sidemarker lamps, but you must take care that they are a) the good ones (like Peterson Manufacturing or Truck-Lite or Grote) and the appropriate color for their position on the vehicle.


    I know what I did was "wrong," illegal, a whole lot of things. I thought that the projector cutoff was important and paid no attention to anything else. I didn't know about foreground light, lens construction, any of that.
    Again, that takes courage to admit that. Many will double down on their bad choices and call the rest "haters".

    I'm not even sure that the beam pattern was better than what I had originally.
    Undoubtably worse.

    Heck, I don't even know if my OEM lights were "bad," maybe just misaligned. I had them for years when I was in high school and college and they never gave me trouble.
    It's a near right-dead certainty that the headlamp aim is never correct. Also, automakers use "Long Life" bulbs which start out barely acceptable and then don't even burn out until long after they've stopped producing an acceptable amount of light.

    I just thought the 5500K, foreground light (I used the car to illuminate a worksite), and cutoff flicker. Thought it was cool flying down the highway thinking I could see everything with the highbeam on (covered all the trees and other useless areas.
    High CCTs are a favorite trick of the aftermarket lighting people. In that range they give the appearance of being brighter and whiter, and there's all that handwaving about "just like daylight" as well.

    So I'm gonna buy new Ford OEM housings, get an H13 heavy-duty wiring harness, new Philips Xtreme Vision bulbs (as per the mod's recommendation), and a professional (not garage door) alignment.
    Take care to get a good harness, too. There is so much out there that claims to be good but is of poor quality. Do the voltage drop test to see if you really need them, too.

    I will also replace my other lights on the exterior with appropriate upgrades (194->2825 if that's allowed, new 3457s on the front [no amber coating left], etc).
    The 2825 is a trade number, not an ANSI number, and is a W5W about equivalent to a 168, which will definitely outperform a 194. If the 3457 is going behind a clear lens on the front, then get the 3457A or NA (Amber/Natural Amber), since front turn signals must be amber. If there's already an inset amber/SAE yellow bubble, then the clear ones will do better.

    I think I know why it was "wrong," but can someone explain the thing about subjective foreground light and the other problems with retrofitting?
    There's a sticky about the "why are projector retrofits bad", but for the foreground light, that is just one thing that makes people think they are seeing better. This is why they turn their fog lamps on in clear weather, because that extra foreground light makes them think it's helping, when in reality it means seeing less of what's in the distance because of the distraction and pupil constriction and reduced night vision.

    What kind of performance can I expect with putting things back to stock and using appropriate upgrades like bulbs and wiring?
    A lot better than what you've got. Especially adding proper aim.

    What else can I buy to improve lighting?
    We have quite a few threads on that. The important part is finding the real estate to mount lamps on such that they don't block view of turn signals or reduce radiator airflow too much when the vehicle isn't moving, and it's got to be a strong place to mount it. Concerns for pedestrian protection exist (in the case you were to strike a pedestrian).

    You also have to determine what you want out of those auxiliary lamps. Auxiliary high beams can be useful but you might not get a lot of opportunities to really use them. And depending on the locale, you may need a wider beam or a 'pencil' beam to get the best use from them.


    An auxiliary reversing lamp on the right rear, and a rear fog lamp symmetrically arranged on the left side, can help address your backing up and looking through a tinted rear window, and the matching rear fog lamp can address those people that drive 75mph in the fog or ultra heavy rain behind you because they think they can see better.

    Thank you for any advice that I will receive and the resources that will help me decide to fix my mistakes.
    Thanks for being honest with yourself and with others, and coming here to get real advice for real upgrades.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Un-RetrofitSource-ing my Ford Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    How long were you driving like that?
    8 months with the bad horizontal alignment, 6 with the redneck fixes.
    Again, that takes courage to admit that. Many will double down on their bad choices and call the rest "haters".
    I used to think the folks (aka you and Virgil) over here at CPF were a bunch of uptight bureaucrats who were hypocrites when it came to auto lighting because modifying flashlights was all the rage.
    It's a near right-dead certainty that the headlamp aim is never correct. Also, automakers use "Long Life" bulbs which start out barely acceptable and then don't even burn out until long after they've stopped producing an acceptable amount of light.
    Mine had the original Sylvania basic H13 bulbs and I believe the left side was aimed lower than it should have been.
    Take care to get a good harness, too. There is so much out there that claims to be good but is of poor quality. Do the voltage drop test to see if you really need them, too.
    I believe that the only one for sale is by Putco, who I know nothing about. I could also build one with 10ga wire and good relays or find someone to build one for me. I heard about some guy name Daniel Stern who might know a thing or two about this stuff. I used to think his page was just as bad as the "uptight folks at CPF" and that we over at HIDplanet were the chosen ones.

    The 2825 is a trade number, not an ANSI number, and is a W5W about equivalent to a 168, which will definitely outperform a 194. If the 3457 is going behind a clear lens on the front, then get the 3457A or NA (Amber/Natural Amber), since front turn signals must be amber. If there's already an inset amber/SAE yellow bubble, then the clear ones will do better.
    I have 3457NA for the front two but they have virtually no coating left on them so I figured I might as well replace them. Is 3457 a good upgrade for 3157 tail lights or is the reduced lifespan not worth it?
    We have quite a few threads on that. The important part is finding the real estate to mount lamps on such that they don't block view of turn signals or reduce radiator airflow too much when the vehicle isn't moving, and it's got to be a strong place to mount it. Concerns for pedestrian protection exist (in the case you were to strike a pedestrian).
    Figured as such. That aside, what kind of things could I do with those 90mm lights?
    You also have to determine what you want out of those auxiliary lamps. Auxiliary high beams can be useful but you might not get a lot of opportunities to really use them. And depending on the locale, you may need a wider beam or a 'pencil' beam to get the best use from them.
    I want to get both auxiliary low and high lamps if the OEM upgrades aren't enough. I'm gonna test all this stuff on my Ford Bronco (9007) first, but I'm definitely getting some driving lights for that to mount on my grill guard.

    An auxiliary reversing lamp on the right rear, and a rear fog lamp symmetrically arranged on the left side, can help address your backing up and looking through a tinted rear window, and the matching rear fog lamp can address those people that drive 75mph in the fog or ultra heavy rain behind you because they think they can see better.
    I should definitely look into that. I have 35% 3M Crystalline (top of the line) tint on the front side windows and ~15% on everything else. I can see behind the car OK with the side mirrors at night but I have to use my backup camera for reversing which I don't like doing.

  5. #5
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Un-RetrofitSource-ing my Ford Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by TexasTroubadour View Post
    8 months with the bad horizontal alignment, 6 with the redneck fixes.
    And did they make it better or worse? Impossible to say. Worse in a different way, worse in all ways? That's the nature of these changes.

    I used to think the folks (aka you and Virgil) over here at CPF were a bunch of uptight bureaucrats who were hypocrites when it came to auto lighting because modifying flashlights was all the rage.

    I heard about some guy name Daniel Stern who might know a thing or two about this stuff. I used to think his page was just as bad as the "uptight folks at CPF" and that we over at HIDplanet were the chosen ones.
    Oh, but we ARE! We hate when people have fun and get themselves killed on the highway! :P
    There's a huge huge difference between modifying a flashlight and car lighting, as you're now quite aware. With the flashlight mod, you might or might not really see better but you're not hurtling down the road at 65mph depending on that flashlight. If you see better or don't, it was still a lot of fun and interesting at the very least. And with the main point of a mod ostensibly to improve lighting, with cars you might be limited in some ways but you can still get an improvement.

    I kindof used to think Daniel Stern might be a little stodgy, because I'd only read from his site and his NHTSA commentary. He's a genuinely warm and funny and smart guy and just has a real passion about vehicle lighting and doing it right.

    Mine had the original Sylvania basic H13 bulbs and I believe the left side was aimed lower than it should have been.
    They could have done much worse on bulbs. The "basic" one doesn't have the tinted glass gimmick and will have better lumen maintenance over its life than a "Long Life". Aim is critical-- but checking and setting the aim correctly is important. The left side will by necessity have less upward light to its own left so it might make it feel misaimed.

    I believe that the only one for sale is by Putco, who I know nothing about
    I can break out my favorite "Putco, where the putz goes!". Avoid them!

    I could also build one with 10ga wire and good relays or find someone to build one for me.
    Tyco-Bosch relays for sure. For the H13 sockets, go here.


    I have 3457NA for the front two but they have virtually no coating left on them so I figured I might as well replace them. Is 3457 a good upgrade for 3157 tail lights or is the reduced lifespan not worth it?
    Try to vacuum out any flakes of the coating if you can. If it means taking the turn signal off, do it. You can also slosh a Simple Green mix around in them, then rinse well with distilled water and air dry them. The 3457 has a 503lm major filament (the one that does the stop lamp function), vs the 402lm of the 3157.

    what kind of things could I do with those 90mm lights?
    You can SEE! I believe they're only available in a flush mount, but I haven't looked into them lately. Virgil will know more.

    I want to get both auxiliary low and high lamps if the OEM upgrades aren't enough.
    Auxiliary low beams have their uses. On my '95 Previa, I used them in traffic where high beams were all but impossible to use but extra seeing was needed-- unlit interstate highways or turnpikes. It gave more comfortable seeing without excessive glare for others. This made 60-65mph possible where 45mph would have been the maximum before.

    I have 35% 3M Crystalline (top of the line) tint on the front side windows and ~15% on everything else. I can see behind the car OK with the side mirrors at night but I have to use my backup camera for reversing which I don't like doing.
    15% is wonderful in broad daylight/scorching sun, but definitely can be a problem when backing up. The auxiliary reverse lamp I picked for my friend's RX300 was this, and I got a grommet and a bracket (not in that quantity). Originally, I wanted to flush mount it but couldn't find the best place in the bumper cover to cut a hole. Eventually I'll put up a thread for it and the rear fog lamp.
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 10-11-2018 at 08:50 AM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Un-RetrofitSource-ing my Ford Escape

    Welcome to the "light side"! I think most of us have done/said things we wish we hadn't, back when we knew it all, LOL. It's worse now than it used to be, because for every different kind of knowitall there's at least one internet forum full of like minds reasssuring each other that they're right and whoever says otherwise is just a h8r. What matters is that you decided to do it right from now on.

    I'm gonna buy new Ford OEM housings, get an H13 heavy-duty wiring harness, new Philips Xtreme Vision bulbs (as per the mod's recommendation), and a professional (not garage door) alignment.
    Good thinking. Be careful about the harness -- Putco's stuff is junk through and through; none of it is safely dependable, and that really can create a life/death situation if your lights suddenly go out and plunge you into darkness at a very bad time. I can't think of any prepackaged/on-the-shelf harness I would recommend for your application, and for that matter it may be problematic to put a harness (even a good quality one built to order) on your Escape. With later-model cars it's often not as simple or straightforward as it was on older past models. You can get into a "fight" with the body computer, if it's programmed to expect the electrical characteristics of bulbs in the headlamp circuit and instead there are relays. You'd want to talk to Daniel Stern and/or Rallylights about it.

    Moreover, before you decide, be aware of the downside of installing a harness even if the vehicle tolerates it: severely reduced bulb life. Increased voltage to the bulb increases light output exponentially ^3.4, but cuts lifespan exponentially ^-13. Now, the American system makes things a little complicated here because output is rated at 12.8v while lifespan is rated at 14.0v. That, and it's really hard to find reliable life ratings for the performance bulbs. Philips makes the vague, meaningless claim of "300+" hours for both the Xtreme Vision and the Vision Plus versions of the H13, which is neither credible nor meaningful (which filament do they mean, and what life figure?)

    So let's work around those uncertainties and look at Osram's data, because an Osram bulb and a Philips bulb of any given type are not going to be very different. I have reliable Osram data only for their standard H13, which has a low beam Tc lifespan of 2590 hours at 13.2 volts (in the system used in the rest of the world, output and lifespan are both tested and rated at 13.2 volts). So to try and get an idea of what you'd be looking at in terms of life, let's jump over to H11 bulbs, where Osram puts out data on a variety of different types. The Tc lifespan figure for their ultra-life H11 is 2000 hours, pretty close to the figure for the H13 low beam (a standard H13 is a long-life bulb by design).
    For the standard H11, it's 580 hours.
    For the +110 H11 (comparable to the Philips Xtreme) it's 250 hours.

    So 250 hours for the H11 +110 versus 2000 hours for the H11 most closely comparable to a standard H13. That means the high-perf bulb has a lifespan 12.5% as long as the long-life bulb.

    12.5% of the H13's 2590 hours is about 324 hours, so OK, that jives reasonably well with the Philips "300+ hours" claim. Let's go with that. The nominal output of an H13 at 13.2v is 1700 lumens on high beam, 1100 lumens on low beam, and for purposes of calculation let's just assume that's what the bulbs actually put out.

    Now, let's assume the bulbs in your Escape get 12.4 volts from the stock wiring. That'll mean low beam lifespan (for the high-perf/short-life bulb) of 730 hours and output of 889 lumens.

    Put in a harness so the bulbs get 14.3 volts. That's 1444 lumens, but only 114 hours.

    Not such a big deal if you're willing and able to replace bulbs on a fairly frequent basis. It could add up to a big and costly deal if yours were one of the vehicles where bulb changes are difficult and expensive. Just be aware, is all I'm saying.

    I will also replace my other lights on the exterior with appropriate upgrades (194->2825 if that's allowed
    194 -> W5W (2825) would be going from 30 lumens to 50. 194 -> 3652 would be 75 lumens, and 194 -> 2886X would be 85 lumens. I am guessing/assuming these are for your front side marker lights, which do not have an intensity limit, so go right on ahead. You might want to look into this while you are at it.

    can someone explain the thing about subjective foreground light and the other problems with retrofitting?
    The vision-related issues have already been covered in this thread. There's a detailed post about the problems with "retrofitting", over here.

    What kind of performance can I expect with putting things back to stock and using appropriate upgrades like bulbs and wiring?
    You can expect reasonably safe, reasonably adequate lighting. It might not be the world's most comfortable to drive with, and it won't look like the newer cars with HID or LED lights.

    What else can I buy to improve lighting? I was thinking about getting some Hella 550s for an aux. highbeam.
    Not a bad choice, though 500s might be better. There's a variety of different 500s and 550s, so get expert help in choosing. What kinds of driving conditions are putting you in need of aux high beams?

    I heard that the Hella 90mm modules have fantastic performance
    Some of them do, yes.

    but how could I mount them on the front bumper? Custom buckets/enclosures?
    Well, that's really going to be an issue with any aux lamps at all...how and where are you going to mount them? They really need to be mounted to a rigid structural member. Mounting them to a flexy/bendy bumper cover (or similar) really won't cut it.

    I used to think the folks (aka you and Virgil) over here at CPF were a bunch of uptight
    Well, kinda, yeah. There are significant safety effects that come into play with car lights, that don't exist with flashlights or floodlights or dining room lights. That's the key difference.

    I have 3457NA for the front two but they have virtually no coating left on them so I figured I might as well replace them.
    Good idea.

    Is 3457 a good upgrade for 3157 tail lights or is the reduced lifespan not worth it?
    I don't know that the brake/tail lights really need to be upgraded, aren't the brake lights plenty bright already?


    I'm gonna test all this stuff on my Ford Bronco (9007) first
    You might also mention that vehicle to Stern, if you contact him; he probably has some pointers.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Un-RetrofitSource-ing my Ford Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    Good thinking. Be careful about the harness -- Putco's stuff is junk through and through; none of it is safely dependable, and that really can create a life/death situation if your lights suddenly go out and plunge you into darkness at a very bad time. I can't think of any prepackaged/on-the-shelf harness I would recommend for your application, and for that matter it may be problematic to put a harness (even a good quality one built to order) on your Escape. With later-model cars it's often not as simple or straightforward as it was on older past models. You can get into a "fight" with the body computer, if it's programmed to expect the electrical characteristics of bulbs in the headlamp circuit and instead there are relays. You'd want to talk to Daniel Stern and/or Rallylights about it.

    Moreover, before you decide, be aware of the downside of installing a harness even if the vehicle tolerates it: severely reduced bulb life. Increased voltage to the bulb increases light output exponentially ^3.4, but cuts lifespan exponentially ^-13. Now, the American system makes things a little complicated here because output is rated at 12.8v while lifespan is rated at 14.0v. That, and it's really hard to find reliable life ratings for the performance bulbs. Philips makes the vague, meaningless claim of "300+" hours for both the Xtreme Vision and the Vision Plus versions of the H13, which is neither credible nor meaningful (which filament do they mean, and what life figure?)

    ...

    Not such a big deal if you're willing and able to replace bulbs on a fairly frequent basis. It could add up to a big and costly deal if yours were one of the vehicles where bulb changes are difficult and expensive. Just be aware, is all I'm saying.
    I don't have a problem with replacing bulbs more frequently. They're only $30 a set and are easily changed on that model. I'd rather have the higher voltage.

    I have a CANBUS system for the fuse/main relay box but it doesn't interact with the headlight circuit, certainly doesn't mind an extra volt or two. I had a Morimoto H13 bi-xenon harness for my redneck setup and the wiring itself never gave me any trouble, despite it all being cheap Chinese parts. Using a well-built relay harness and real upgrades should make a difference.
    194 -> W5W (2825) would be going from 30 lumens to 50. 194 -> 3652 would be 75 lumens, and 194 -> 2886X would be 85 lumens. I am guessing/assuming these are for your front side marker lights, which do not have an intensity limit, so go right on ahead. You might want to look into this while you are at it.
    I've seen that before and I definitely want to do that. The sidemarkers on this car are perfect for such an upgrade.

    Not a bad choice, though 500s might be better. There's a variety of different 500s and 550s, so get expert help in choosing. What kinds of driving conditions are putting you in need of aux high beams?
    Unlit rural highway (45-65mph) during winter/daylight savings time
    Well, that's really going to be an issue with any aux lamps at all...how and where are you going to mount them? They really need to be mounted to a rigid structural member. Mounting them to a flexy/bendy bumper cover (or similar) really won't cut it.
    I can get a small bull bar or fabricate some mounting plates that extend back to the frame.
    I don't know that the brake/tail lights really need to be upgraded, aren't the brake lights plenty bright already?
    You're actually right about that; the most important thing I need to do is get rid of this cheap no-name LED third brake light and buy a new OEM ford one. My old one (and all I'd seen on the 08-12 Escape and 02-10 Explorer) was oxidized and I wanted that fancy LED stuff.
    You might also mention that vehicle to Stern, if you contact him; he probably has some pointers.
    Will do. Thank you for the additional information.

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