All 1995 and later civilian crown victorias are equipped with a feature called "autolamps" which automatically turns on the headlights when ambient light falls below a preset level. The autolamp system also has a feature called "delayed exit" and if the headlights are turned on because of low light conditions, they will stay on for a short adjustable period after the ignition is turned off. Up until the 1996 model year, police interceptors like their civilian counterparts had autolamps. But starting in the 1997 model year, the autolamp feature was removed from P71's.

In 1997, ford modified the police 14401 dash electrical harness by removing the autolamp related pins from the headlamp switch and lighting control module (lcm) electrical connectors, additionally the ambient light sensor and the associated connector were eliminated entirely. Also, a unique police only headlight switch that cannot be adjusted to the autolamp enable position is used on non-autolamp equipped P71's. However in 1998, police models like their civilian counterpart have autolamp programming in the computer that controls the exterior lighting. After adding the light sensor & connector, autolamp enabled headlight switch and associated wiring, I now had a functional autolamp headlight system in my 1998 crown victoria police interceptor.

Acquring the Parts:

Light amplifier assembly:

On 98' and later models, the autolamp light sensor is located on the black plastic trim peice that covers the defroster vents on the drivers side of the dashboard near the a-pillar. Civilian models have mounting posts and a hole cut into the trim peice for the sensor, police models do not. Both police and civilian models share the same dashboard shell, so a civilian trim peice will physically fit on a police model without an issue.

Ford does not sell the ambient light sensor electrical connector seperatetly from the 14401 dash harness. So the most practical solution to acquire the needed parts is to visit the local salvage yard and purchase a used trim peice, an ambient light sensor and the associated connector along with a short length of harness from a 1998-2002 civilian crown vic or grand marquis. There are two variants of the dash trim peice in 1998-2002 civilian crown victorias and grand marquis. The version for cars with the EATC (electronic automatic temperature control) will have a sunload sensor on the passenger side of the car, civilian cars without EATC will not have the sunload sensor.

Headlight switch:

Next up on the list is to replace the headlight switch with an autolamp enabled one. The civilian headlamp switch has the ability to be rotated counterclockwise from the off position into the autolamp area but the police headlamp switch does not.

All 1995 - 2002 crown vic and grand marquis headlight switches are interchangeable as they have the same physical dimensions and use the same electrical connectors. But there are some subtle differences:

1995 - 1997 headlight switches have blue backlighting
1998 - 2002 headlight switches have green backlighting
1995 - 1998 have an autolamp indicator led to tell when the autolamp system is engaged
1999 - 2002 do not have an autolamp system active indicator

Note that the backlighting bulbs are continuosly illuminated whenever the ignition switch is in the run or accessory positions. For this reason, the bulbs usually fail within a couple years of manufacture. Replacement bulbs are not avaliable seperatetly from ford and you'll have to purchase an entire headlight switch to get them.

Also of intrest, when UTA started supplying the revised police only headlight switches without the autolamp feature to ford, the internal circuit board of the headlamp switch was not redesigned. Instead, the face of the switch was altered to remove the autolamp symbols from it and the physical detent mechanism inside the switch altered so that the switch could not be physically be turned to the autolamp position.

Can mix and match peices among headlight switches. For instance if you find a used salvage yard civilian headlight switch in decent cosmetic shape but with a corroded circuit board, you can take your original police only headlight switch and put the circuit board into the civilian headlamp switch and now have a functional autolamp enabled headlight switch.

Additionally, it is very common for the black paint on the headlamp switch to wear exposing the white plastic below. Solution is to be careful not to rub your fingers against the trim peice when turning on the lights. But once the damage is done, there is not much short of headlight switch replacement that will solve the problem. Civilian autolamp enabled headlamp switches will function in a police vehicle even if the rest of the autolamp system is not in place. However, when the headlamp switch is turned counter clockwise to the autolamp position, nothing will happen and it will effectively be like having the headlight switch in the "off" position.

Connector Pins:

The next part of the project was to physically run the needed wires from the lcm to the headlight switch and the ambient light sensor. Since I did not have the proper size connector pins around for the headlight switch and the lcm electrical connectors, I cut the lcm and headlight switch electrical plugs off a salvage yard donor vehicle. Although, the connector pins in the headlight switch and the lcm connectors may look similar, they have different physical dimensions and are not interchangeable. To remove the pins out of the donor vehicles connectors, a special pin removal tool or a bent paperclip can be used on the headlamp switch connector pins. But the lcm connector pins were stubborn and did not want to come out of the connector without damage even after lifting the connector lock plate up with a small flat blade screwdriver so I used a small electric grinding wheel to grind away a portion of the plastic that surrounded the pins. All 1995 - 2002 crown victorias and grand marquis use the same plastic castings and the same connector pins for the lcm connectors, so any 95'-02' lcm connectors will be suitable pin donors. The portion of the headlamp switch with the "panel dim" button on it also uses the same size pins as the lcm connector does. Additionally, other ford vehicles such as 1996+ tauruses/sables use connector pins on the gem that are the same size as the crown vic lcm pins.

Once all the required pins were removed, I slid them into the lcm and headlight switch connectors. Then I soldered some stranded 18 guage wire to connect  the pins to their appropriate locations.


To get the autolamp system on 1997+ police interceptors functional, you'll have to add the wires highlighted in red below.

The wire that connects pin 16 of the LCM to pin 11 of the headlight switch is optional. This wire controls the autolamp indicator on the headlight switch and is not present on 1999 and later civilian vics.

Ambient light sensor connectors:

There are three pins on the ambient light sensor that must be connected for it to be operational.

Ignition switched +12V source (Demand Lighting)
Outputs +12V whenever the light sensor senses low light conditions
& 3
Connected to the light emitting diode (LED) inside the sensor. On civilian models, this led flashes as a visual theft deterrent and also indicates if the PATS system is functioning properly. But police models do not have a pats controller, so the wires can be left disconnected or if you've got an aftermarket alarm they could be connected to the alarm.

Below is the autolamp amplifier connector used on 97' and prior civilian vics. Unlike the 98'+ version, the light amplifier assembly does not have an led built into it.

Ignition switched +12V source (Demand Lighting)
Outputs +12V whenever the light sensor senses low light conditions.
Not Used
Not Used

94 and prior crown vics do not have a computer to control the lighting (lcm), but they use the same autolamp sensor connector as 95-97 crown vics do. The setup used on earlier vics is the same one that is still used on other autolamp enabled ford vehicles such as recent ford f150's and tauruses. Note that all 5 pins on the light amplifier assembly are used in such applications:

Power in Start and Run
To autolamp on/off switch (provides a ground path when autolamps are enabled by the vehicle operator)
Outputs +12V to the headlamp & parking light relay coils during low light conditions
Constant +12V
To headlight delayed exit adjustment on headlight switch (controls amount of time headlights stay on after ignition is turned off)

The autolamp setup above is essentially a standalone setup that could be retrofitted to any ford vehicle. Apply power to the light amplifier module and you'll get an output when it's dark out which can be used to drive a pair of relays to supply power the headlamp and parking lamp bulbs. If the vehicle in question never came factory equipped with autolamps, you won't be able to find the proper switch to adjust the delayed exit feature or turn the autolamp system on and off. But this is not a big concern since a small universal spst rocker switch could be installed, and a generic rheostat used to adjust the delayed exit feature. The biggest issue would likely be finding a place to physically mount the light sensor that can accuratetly detect the ambient light levels but at the same time is not an eyesore to the vehicle operator. Ford typically chooses to locate the sensor on a speaker grate or under the defroster trim panel near the front windshield.

Note that in some applications, pin 3 of the light amplifier assembly outputs a pulsed ground rather the +12V.

Headlight switch connector:

Note that pin 9 is called "autolamp delay potentiometer" and "exit delay rheostat" in the previous diagrams.

The headlamp switch has two connectors on it. Do not need to add any pins to this connector, but since this connector uses the same size connector pins as the lcm connector does, it could be a suitable pin donor for the project.

Lighting control processor connectors:

Pin 7 connects to the output pin of the light sensor
Pins 6 & 8 connects to the headlamp switch

Note that pins 1, 2, 12, 13, 11, 22 that are at the left and right edge of the connector are a different size than the rest of the pins in the connector. If for some reason you need to change these pins, ones from the headlight/parking light portion of the headlamp switch can be substituted. The remaining pins on the connector are a different shape and if you need to change these, pins from the "panel dim" portion of the headlamp switch can be substituted.

Also note that all 1995 - 2002 crown vics and grand marquises have the three connectors pictured below. 95'-'97 models will have an additional two wire connector for the highbeam headlights. Although the physical plastic shell of the connectors did not change from 95'-02', some of the wires in the connectors on 01'-02' models have different functions from the diagrams shown below.

Pin 16 is optional as noted previously

The demand lighting output is also present behind the drivers kickpanel. One could alternatively use another ignition switched ignition source to power the light sensor, but there would be around a 20 second delay in between the time the ignition key was turned to the run position and the time the headlights automatically turned on if it was dark out. If you use the demand lighting output, the 20 second delay starts as soon as you open the car door. If instead connected to a regular switched ignition source, the delay starts from the time the key is inserted into the ignition and rotated to the run position.



Before actually soldering all the wires together, it is probably a good idea to make sure that the lcm and ambient light sensor function as they should.

When the Pin 6 "Autolamp On/Off Switch" and the Pin 7 "Autolamp Enable" lcm inputs are connected to +12Volts, the headlights should turn on as soon as the ignition switch is turned to the "run position". Disconnecting either wire from +12Volts should shut off the headlights. If the on/off switch and autolamp enable are connected to +12V, but the "autolamp delay potentiometer" lcm input not connected to anything, the headlamps will stay on for several minutes after the ignition is turned off. But if the "autolamp delay potentiometer" is connected to +12Volts, the headlights will shut off just a few seconds after the ignition is turned to the "off" position. If the headlights are not behaving as described above, make sure that the connector pins are installed in the locations described above. If everything appears to be connected properly, the autolamp programming in the lcm may be disabled for some reason.

Next check out the ambient light sensor. If your police interceptor has an a-pillar mounted spotlight, it can be used to simulate bright sunlight when it is actually very dark out. Tie the LG/O demand lighting input to +12V and the PK/O ground wire to ground. Then observe the light sensor output readings, approximately 20 seconds after applying power to the light sensor during darkness you should recieve +12V on the output. But if the spotlight is shined at the sensor, approximatetly 20 seconds later the ouput should shut off.

Now comes time to run the wires through dashboard and solder them together. Use caution the first few times you activate the autolamp feature at night to make sure that it works reliably. Keep in mind that you can always turn the headlamps on manually by turning the headlight knob in the clockwise direction.

Adding autolamps to a 1995 or 1996 police interceptor is considerably easier than it is on 1997 and later models as all 95's and 96's have the ambient light sensor and wiring installed at the factory. If you've got a 95' or 96' and don't have autolamps, all that has to be done to add the feature is to install an autolamp enabled headlight switch.

Pictures of actual headlight switches:

On the left is the front bezel from an autolamp enabled 98' civilian headlight switch, on the right one from it's 98' police interceptor counterpart. Both bezels share the same physical dimensions, but the silkscreen is different between the two. The civilian one also has a yellowish transparent area where the autolamp indicator will shine through, but this was eliminated starting in the 99' model year.

On the left is the circuit board from a civilian switch, on the right it's police counterpart. Both circuit boards are identical and have the same casting number stamped into them. The only difference between the two is the yellowish autolamp enagaged indicator soldered to the board on one of them..

The part pictured towards the bottom is the rotating contact assembly which connects the circuit board traces together as the knob is rotated. The contact assembly from my 98' police cruiser had noticeable wear on the copper portion of this peice, but was still well within acceptable limits.

Below is the plastic housing that controls which controls the positions to which the headlight knob can be rotated to.

Below is the headlight switch knob and one of the springs and insulators which holds it in the position to which it is turned. There are actually two of these springs and insulators inside the switch and you should consider removing this portion of the headlight switch inside a clear plastic bag so you do not loose them as they will likely become airborne and get lost.

The black stem with the greenish cap on the end is one of the two backlighting bulbs. These bulbs do not last long during police use due to the large number of power on hours, and you can see the discolored brownish area in the police housing above where the bulb would mount.

Headlight switch service parts are not avaliable from ford. The only service part sold is the entire headlight switch assembly.

On the police headlight housing pictured on the left, take note of the area circled in red. If the raised portion of the plastic in this area were removed, the headlight switch could be rotated counterclockwise to the autolamp area of the headlamp switch like it's civilian counterpart. But before attempting this procedure, be warned not to remove too much plastic as you will weaken the headlight switch housing.

If you look closely, you can see that the police switch actually has three stops inside the housing. Like it's civilian counterpart, it has the two pictured in the civilian headlight switch housing on the right. It also has an additional one circled in red towards the center bottom that is not present on it's civilian counterpart.

Below are some pictures of a headlight switch from a high mileage 96' PI. The black paint on the plastic is starting to wear off which is typical of used police cruisers. Some frugal crown vic owners have tried to apply their own black paint in non-productive attempts to patch similar damage. But the touchup paint rarely ever adheres properly and will usually flake off a little while later. Some owners have also suggested applying a plastic film in order to protect their headlight switches from future damage, but this usually ends up looking worse than a switch with a little paint missing. The best prevention to worn paint in this area appears to be to use the autolamp feature of the vehicle. And when you do manually engage the exterior lights to be careful not to rub the headlight switch bezel with your fingers.

If you're observant, you'll also notice that the headlamp switch knob has been assembled together improperly and is in an area that is not normally permitted.

Questions or comments?

Email me: [email protected]