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Lights, Lamps, and Bulbs; Oh My!

Can you imagine driving down the road at night with barely a flashlight bulb to guide your way? The first cars were outfitted with headlights that were just about that dim. Fortunately, lighting technology has improved to the point to where your car’s lights can cut through the darkness allowing you to see and to be seen from great distances. Headlights are a terrific and important part of your car, without them driving one be reserved to daytime travel under optimum conditions. So, why do people sometimes neglect them? I used to own a Ford Escort. A basic car for a person like me who, at the time, was on a budget. The car served me well and was still running great when I sold it just after it had clocked 90,000 miles.

Hey, it was time for me to step up in the world and the Ford Taurus was a Lincoln Town Car in comparison. Okay, back to the Escort… the only problem I ever had with the car was with its headlight assemblies. You see, they leaked.and then some. I first knew something was wrong when I took a trip on an interstate and had my headlights turned on.

Oddly, I noticed that the lights seemed to be fading in and out. This happened for several miles before -- POOF! – the right bulb blew. Fortunately, I was near home by that time and I simply pulled into my driveway and took a look. To my shock and dismay both headlight assemblies were clouded over with moisture and a small amount of water was sitting inside at the bottom of each assembly. So, what I was seeing on the road was the water sloshing up and down before one “wave” took out the right bulb. My next step was to drain the two assemblies and caulk them both to keep out the water. 15 bucks for one halogen bulb and a few more dollars for the caulk and the job was done. So I thought. To make a long story short, eventually both headlight assemblies had to be replaced because the corrosion in each unit made them virtually inoperable. Yes, I took it to the garage and they cheerfully did the work for me.

Some five hundred bucks later, I had all-new assemblies in place and enjoyed them for about six months before I traded the car in. Is there a lesson to be learned with this story? Yes, keep an eye on your headlights and make them an important part of your vehicle’s regular check up. My car had gone through a pair of snowy winters and my mechanic and I determined that road salt ate away at the headlight sealant and exposed my highlights to further moisture. I since learned that this was a fairly common problem for many cars and that I wasn’t alone. Small consolation!.


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