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Old 01-18-2013, 11:35 AM   #1
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Moisture Inside Headlights

Last year, my driverís side headlight housing began gathering moisture. Realizing there was an air gap somewhere, I sealed the assembly up with silicone, after the moisture dried up. It took one full month of California summer heat to completely dry it out.

This year, itís the passenger side that has developed moisture.

This left me scratching my head, as I sealed this side up last year as well. I am thinking that the moisture may be a result of an air leak from replacing the bulbs recently, and not securing the bulb adapter tight enough. Regardless, we are going on a trip next month, so there will be no summer heat to dry it out. Anyone know of a way to speed up the drying process? I tried the DWís hair dryer, but one can lay on the cold ground for only so long, holding the darn thing.



Craig
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Old 01-18-2013, 12:41 PM   #2
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Craig, these assemblies are usually vented to atmosphere with a small tube out the back , that can handle some moisture, but not a large leak. You may need to remove the whole assembly from the coach, and pull the bulbs , blow out with compressed air ( 25psi MAX ) re-seal and re-install. Usually removal will not change the headlamp aim , depends on the mounting.
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Old 01-18-2013, 04:30 PM   #3
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replacements are cheap if ya can find em.
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:20 PM   #4
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Pull it out and put it in your oven, set it low as it will go (around 150 degrees ) it will handle that because sure it gets much hotter in a California summer sun. I know because I live there. We go to the Colorado River in the Summer and it can get well over 110 in the shade.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:43 AM   #5
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Just turn on the headlights while driving, the heat from the bulbs will dry them out.
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lllkrob View Post
Just turn on the headlights while driving, the heat from the bulbs will dry them out.
No kidding! I have the same problem with one of my headlamps. So, really does turning on the lamps dry them out? I thought I would have to pull the lamp and air dry the interior?
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Old 01-19-2013, 07:11 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Skip426 View Post
Craig, these assemblies are usually vented to atmosphere with a small tube out the back , that can handle some moisture, but not a large leak. You may need to remove the whole assembly from the coach, and pull the bulbs , blow out with compressed air ( 25psi MAX ) re-seal and re-install. Usually removal will not change the headlamp aim , depends on the mounting.
Thanks Skip. I initially thought this would be a pain, but looking at the headlight assembly, they look fairly easy to remove. Four bolts per assembly.

This style headlight is a BMW E39. Looking at some possible replacements on Amazon and eBay, I came across this technical note in one of the listings:

"Condensation buildup is possible if the lights are not installed properly, which indicates that the light assembly does not have an airtight seal. If you happen to have moisture buildup in your lights, please try the following solution. You can simply remove your lights from the vehicle and set out in the sun or in a dry area. Wait until the condensation has fully evaporated, and reseal around the seams with a clear silicone sealant on the assembly and replace any worn down o rings or rubber gaskets. This should alleviate the condensation issue."

This made me laugh, because it puts the blame for any condensation on the installation, not the manufacturer. This leads me to believe that this is a common issue with these headlights. I think I'll follow your advice, and then re-seal them before re-installing.

Thanks.

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Old 01-20-2013, 08:36 PM   #8
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Success!

I looked at everyone's suggestions.

I looked at replacing both assemblies. If you're willing to settle for cheap Chinese plastic, a new pair of assemblies on eBay would set me back about $300. The originals are quality Hella assemblies, so genuine Hella's would cost about twice that. I chose not to pursue either option.

I considered drying it out in oven, but the assembly is too big to fit in our oven.

I tried the idea of just turning on the headlights. Since my RV is always plugged into shore power, this seemed easy. This was a bad idea in my case. It started to dry out the area closest to the bulbs, moving the moisture to the outer areas of the assembly. The problem is, it dried out the lenses closest to the bulbs so fast, that it left dry water marks inside the lens, that will now be impossible to remove. I don't recommend this method if you have as much moisture as my assemblies do.

Lastly, I removed the entire assembly. I placed a small fan in front of the open bulb sockets to force air inside. I remember how a flood restoration company used fans to dry out our home after a plumbing failure many years ago. Even though the fan forced unheated air into the assembly, it removed 90% of the moisture within two hours. There is still some residual water in the corners of the sealed assembly, so I plan on letting it sit out in the sun tomorrow. The is the warmest January we've had in years, and it's supposed to be 80 degrees again tomorrow, so the hot sun should dry out the rest of be moisture. After that, I'll re-seal the entire assembly and re-install it.

Thanks again everyone for the suggestions.

Craig
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:19 PM   #9
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OMG do NOT put these in an oven it will risk distorting the lamps, causing heat refractions in the acrylic lens's effecting clarity and other issues.

Remove the lamps from the coach and remove the bulbs, get a paper towel and wrap it around a bottle brush.
You can fit this through the bulb aperture of most modern lamps to dry off most of the moisture, then you can sit them someplace warm to dry out the rest, then as others say refit the bulbs and carefully reseal with silicon.

Avoid using to much as you will want to be able to replace the bulbs later.
Also its necessary to have a vent so if there is a vent tube ensure its clear.

Good Luck
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Old 05-11-2013, 12:42 PM   #10
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I know this is a little different but on our 99 Deville the headlights had a fog on the outside of the lenses and we tried everything to remove it including razorblades we got a price of around 3-400.00 bucks a piece OUCH from the dealership, found them on Rock Auto for under 100 bucks ea. Now the front of the car looks like brand new and boy can we see alot better at night.
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