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Headlight / electrical issue

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    Hi all… hope everyone is hanging in there. Disappointed that we haven’t been able to make it to any recent events… crazy year.

    Anyway, I have developed an electrical issue over the last couple days. A couple evenings ago I started the car to drive home, and noticed that the driver side headlight was dim, and the other normal brightness. It stayed that way the 10 minutes home. The next morning, I turned on the headlights to check them, and they appeared to both be normal. Car ran fine to work and back. Running out that evening, saw that the passenger side headlight was dim, and the driver side was normal brightness (dimness swapped sides). Stayed that way 10 minutes out, and then back home again.

    Last night we were out, and heading home the driver side was dim again. When I got home I left the car running in the driveway and went to look under the hood with a flashlight. As soon as I got out of the car I could smell burning insulation, and saw a couple little wisps of smoke coming out from around the hood gaps. I immediately turned off the headlights. By the time I popped the hood, it had dissipated, and I couldn’t see anything obvious.

    I left the car at home today, and am going to look it over after work.

    I do have H4 headlights installed since last December, but they are standard wattage, not the high-wattage ones that some people put in… They have been working fine until now.

    From my initial reading, first things are to look for frayed wires / shorts, and then check the ground points. Any other thoughts / suggestions beyond that?

    Thanks in advance. -Tom

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    Tom,

    Sounds like a short somewhere. Unfortunately the only way to fix it is to find it. I would start at the fuse box in the engine compartment (the fuse for the headlights) and work forward from there. Also check the grounds, but with the smell, I would expect to find a hot wire arching somewhere.

    Good luck,

    Dave

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    I meant to say I have Cibie E-Code H4 headlamps installed…
    Anyway, I took a look at things after work today. One of the three terminals on the driver-side headlamp connector was moderately melted. (Black wire… I believe this is the ground?)

    Image here:
    Melted headlamp connector

    I didn’t see any other obvious frays, shorts, etc. I removed the grounding bolt under the master cylinder where I believe the headlights are grounded. The bolt was pretty rusted on top, but underneath everything seemed clean. I cleaned it up a bit more and re-attached.

    I picked up a replacement connector to splice on, but want to take a closer look tomorrow before putting everything together, since I haven’t seen anything that might have caused the problem in the first place.

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    Sounds like you found the issue, but not sure of the cause. I would be sure to solder the connections to the new connector and do everything you can to reduce impedance in the circuit. Maybe a little dielectric grease on the male blades of the bulb? A tiny tube from NAPA seems to be a lifetime supply for me. There does look to be some corrosion in the old connector, I can see some green color. Maybe try and protect the new connection? Electrical tape might be the easiest, but most messy (in the future) option.

     

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    Right, I guess if the contacts were corroded enough it could create enough resistance to heat the connector and cause it melt. I picked up new connectors that have rubber boots on them, so that may help keep the elements out… and good idea about dielectric grease. And yes, am planning to solder and heat-shrink them.

    I see I could pick up ceramic sockets on Amazon, but probably not necessary with standard wattage bulbs.

    Thanks…

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