Tuesday, March 11, 2014

DIY: Removing water from tail lights

Words & Snaps by Ben

It's quite common to see moisture in car's head-or tail lights. Whether water started seeping in after the light casing was cracked following an accident, or simply because it's getting old, water's getting in there, and it's a pain in the "exhaust pipe", if you catch my drift.

In my case, I suspect water started seeping in after I stupidly reversed without properly checking my blind spot. Yeah, I still cringe in shame when I think about it.

The result is nonetheless there: my rear right tail light turned into a fish tank, which annoyingly fogs up when driving at night because of the heat of the light bulbs. It was time to pour out the water and make sure it never came back.

I started off by disconnecting the bulbs and upon inspection; I noticed that the cruise/brake bulb had some electrolysis, caused by the water reacting with the bulb mount. This gave me a first hint as to where the leak might be.

I carried on with removing my tail light (3 little hex nuts in my case) and swirled the water around in the tail light to identify any potential crack or leak. To my relief, the shell was sound, and no water seeped out.

If there was a leak, I had some clear epoxy glue on standby to seal the crack, but I was lucky not to have to use it.

I emptied the shell, and was amazed at the amount of water that came out. It was like its water broke, and it was about to give birth to baby tail lights. Well, not that bad, but you get the idea.

I then left the shell in the hot sun upside down to allow for the rest of the water droplets to evaporate through the bulb-holes for a few hours.

Once the enclosure was dry, I mounted it back in place. As the water leaked in from the brake light (my boot had a bigger leak which I sealed a few weeks back) I decided to do a quick ghetto fix. I wrapped rubber bands around each lamp mount before fixing them back in place.

The rubber bands, squeezed between the mount and the boot act as o-rings and keep the water out.

Call it a cheap fix, but I've been driving with my rubber band-aid tail light for a few months now, and my tail light is water free!

Oh one more thing. When unplugging the bulbs, make sure you mark which bulb is the side indicator, the reverse light, fog light and brake light, it will save you annoying minutes running around your car to make sure you put all of them back in place, like I did...

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