How Will Ford Address F-150’s Headlight Design for Future Safety Tests?

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Earlier this week we told you that according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) — the folks who do independent crash testing — said that the current-generation F-150’s headlights aren’t particularly good. In order to earn the company’s Top Safety Pick in the future, it’ll have to perform better for headlight testing. What changes could the company make to address these concerns?

Safety is important to Ford, and they’ve worked hard to not only earn the government’s 5-star crash safety rating, but also ensure that the truck would ultimately do well in the IIHS’s crash tests. Those tests include an extremely difficult small overlap front crash. The F-150 performed the best out of all the half-ton trucks tested, and is the only truck to carry the Top Safety Pick distinction from the organization.

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So what’s up with the headlights? I’m a big proponent of LED and HID headlights, and while when I tested the F-150 with the LEDs I thought the light was decent, in their instrumented testing they found the light output to be inadequate. Additionally, the LED lights had too much glare for oncoming drivers.

One of the trucks that did well in the test was the Honda Ridgeline. The Ridgeline also has LED headlights for low and high beams, but they’re enclosed in a projector beam to focus the light output and reduce glare. If you notice on the F-150, there’s no projector keeping the light focused. I think that’s ultimately what hurt the F-150 in that test.

Interesting Ford already has a potential solution in their toolbox that requires nearly no effort to implement. The 2017 Raptor that’s heading to China has different headlights than the one sold in the United States. While they are HID — not LED — they’re enclosed behind a projector assembly that keeps the light beam focused. Presumably, that’s a requirement for sale of vehicles with advanced lighting systems in China, and why Ford had to make the switch in order for the Raptor to be sold there.

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Since those lights are already designed to work with the newest-generation F-150 and Raptor, it should be a relatively easy plug-and-play swap to make it work. Of course, that’s assuming Ford wants to address the headlight concerns in this current-generation F-150. They might not decide to make any changes until the truck sees a mid-cycle refresh or a complete refresh from the ground up.

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It should also be noted that the 2017 Super Duty’s LED headlights are also not enclosed behind a projector. While the IIHS doesn’t typically test trucks of that size, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the Super Duty would, at the very least, have the same glare concerns that the F-150 does.

While I’m perfectly happy with the light output of the 2015 and newer F-150 headlight, especially with the LEDs, many people do take the IIHS’s ratings seriously, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ford addressed these concerns in the near future.

What do you think?

Let us know in the comments below or over in the forums!

Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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