— Are your Ford headlights not working? If you drive a Ford Crown Victoria or Mercury Grand Marquis and have trouble with the low-beam headlights going out, the problem will be studied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after the agency granted a defect petition.
The investigation was opened after the North Carolina Consumers Council petitioned NHTSA to open an evaluation of the headlights and other exterior lights. The federal probe includes 517,945 model year 2003-2005 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis cars with headlights that can fail while driving, specifically low-beam headlights and in some cases other exterior lights.
NHTSA has received over 600 complaints about failing headlights and Ford says it's received over 3,000 complaints about the problem. A serious trend is seen when looking at the complaints as most owners say both low-beam headlights failed suddenly and without warning while driving. A minority of Ford owners say the headlights dimmed or flickered before they failed.
Some owners said they could get the lights working again after waiting a while, and other owners said the lights wouldn't come back on no matter what a driver tried to do. Ford owners who experienced the failing headlights said they were able to hold the "flash to pass" lever on the steering column to turn on the high-beam headlights. However, the lights would only work as long as the driver held the lever.
A total of 15 crash incidents have been identified, including crashes involving deers, other vehicles and objects in the road that couldn't be seen with the headlights out. One driver injured their shoulder after striking an unseen object in the road.
It's believed the headlight failures are caused by the lighting control module that controls the headlights and other exterior lights. Ford did issue a "customer satisfaction campaign" (12N01) which extended the warranty to 15 years or 250,000 miles on the affected lighting control modules. However, that action is far from an official recall, which is what might happen after NHTSA concludes it's investigation.
NHTSA previously investigated Ford headlight failures in 2008 and 2009, but the agency closed the investigations by saying there was no evidence of a defect. Safety regulators are now rethinking that position.
CarComplaints.com will update you with results of the Ford headlight investigation. To read complaints about the Ford cars named in the investigation, click a model year below.