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Headlight bulb socket melted


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22 replies to this topic

#1 applegump

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 10:44 AM

One of my headlights stopped working a couple of days ago. When I took out the old bulb I realised that the filament was still intact... I then looked at the socket and the middle connector's plastic is totally melted away! Does anyone know the part number and a place to get it from? Any idea on price? Is it dificult to install the wires to the socket?

BTW the other socket is in perfect shape and I use 100/80W xenon bulbs.

Thanks.

#2 Commuter

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 11:07 AM

I'm running 90/100W bulbs in my 97 OB. The connectors get quite warm. The soft rubber boot that surrounds it has hardened and cracked, but the connector itself is ok. I've had these bulbs in for close to 3 years.

Make sure the connection is good. I have to 'tighten' mine every so often. And keep it clean. I use some silicone dielectric grease.

Go to a scrap yard and cut the connector off a car. This is what others have recommended. You'll want to be sure that you make a good connection with your existing wiring. I'm not sure what the best would be. (If I ever have to do this myself, I was thinking of using the household wire connectors, but the ones that have little set screw that tightens right down on the wire. Just my thought.)

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#3 remarcable

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 12:38 PM

If I use anything higher than 55w/65w in my outback the harness starts to melt.

They aren't designed for hotter bulbs. Your best solution would be to make a new wiring harness, or find one for purchase.

#4 Crashton

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 05:36 PM

I've heard of other people having that problem too. I have a friend with a WRX that took his high wattage bubs out because of heating issues. I've had 80/100W Hella's in mine for four years without problems. I can't explain it.:-\

#5 99obw

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 08:13 PM

Originally posted by Commuter
You'll want to be sure that you make a good connection with your existing wiring. I'm not sure what the best would be.


I have used the following technique countless times on similar repairs:

Cut the wires as long as possible on both the car and the junkyard connector so you can stagger the solder joints. Make sure you cut away any wire on the car that has heat damage to the insulation. Overlay the "new" connector with the wires from the car and cut both wires where each solder joint will be, staggering the connections. Strip 1/2" off each wire, gently twist, and tin with rosin core solder. Once the wires have cooled, slide the appropriate size shrink tubing over the wire, making sure that it will be well away from the heat of soldering. Lay the wires so they overlap, one coming from the left and the other coming from the right, then solder them together. Slide the shrink tubing over the connection and shrink. When completed it should look like the original with the exception of a bump under the shrink tubing on each wire.

The same technique can be used with different types of splice connectors. The solder makes the connection much more durable, and the shrink tubing keeps it clean and dry.

This is only a temporary fix, as the heat of the bulbs you are using will most likely damage the "new" connector with similar frequency.

It seems to me that if bulb manufacturers are going to sell bulbs that are clearly beyond what the cars were designed for, they should also sell the connectors that can take the heat.

#6 EOppegaard

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 01:14 AM

I cannot stress enough the importance of using the correct size bulb for the correct size wiring harness. I have been to countless car fires just for the simple fact of people running the incorrect wattage bulbs in their cars, and that melts the housing of the lamp, including the wiring harness.

The bulbs specified for your car are just that...specified for you car. The car is designed to run those bulbs, no others. If you start messing with higher wattage bulbs, they will be pulling more amperage through the line, thus causing a potential electrical hazard in the vehicle.

If you want to run higher wattage bulbs in your car, you must upgrade the wiring, AND the housing. The heat generated by some of these bulbs is insane and can melt right through your plastic headlamp housing.

You can do it...just do it right! :banana:

#7 edrach

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 03:42 AM

Besides upgrading the wiring and sockets, install relays to handle the extra current AND FUSES when you add high output lighting.

#8 Tiny Clark

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 03:56 AM

I would suggest splice connectors for 2 main reasons.

You already have a heat problem, so solder is not a good choice for these wires. Rosin in the solder can also cause corrsion at the solder joint.

When properly done, crimp connectors do a very good job, and can be sealed up using silicone or heat shrink.

#9 99obw

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 08:03 AM

The splice should be sufficently away from the connector such that the wire reaching the melting point of solder (361*F for 37/63) is not an issue, if you are really worried about it use 2%silver solder. If the wire is consistently getting hot enough to melt solder then you will need teflon insulated wire, which the car may have anyway, I don't know. The excess flux can be cleaned off using "Flux Off" or some IPA.

In my experience I have seen the soldered connections hold up much better than crimp connectors.

#10 EOppegaard

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 12:57 PM

Originally posted by Tiny Clark
I would suggest splice connectors for 2 main reasons.

You already have a heat problem, so solder is not a good choice for these wires.

What? Solder is not good for high temp? Are you kidding me?

If the wire is getting hot enough to melt the solder...you have a larger problem than finding a better connector! :slobber: You will most likely need to install heavier gauge wire...no connection should get hot enough to melt solder :banghead:

#11 EdgeFire

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 01:47 PM

This is too funny. It never ceases to amase me the level of mis-guided direction that comes up when it comes to electricity in any automotive forum.


Your stock headlight circut can not and will not handle high wattage lamps. It isn't designed for it and it will fail, usually catostrophicly. You may get lucky and just melt the plug. You might not be so lucky and lose a good chunk or you wire harness. When it starts melting, it will also melt the wires around it rending whatever circut it happens to be inoperable. You might ger REALLY un-lucky and burn your car down.

If you are going to run high wattage headlights, you need a heavier duty plug that can take the heat. You also need to convert the headlight circut to run on relays with heavy gauge wire feeding them. The cars existing headlight circut will turn the relays on and off and thats it. And none of this is any good if it melts the actual housing of the headlight. I haven't tried it so I don't know.

This buisness about not using solder because of heat and making this fix here and there, etc is total non-sense and should be completely ignored. I had to read it over several times to make sure I was actually reading it right.

If you are going to connect two wires together, there are two ways to properly do so:

1. Solder & Heat Shink
2. But connector crimp splice with silicone (and heat shink to be really nice)

WIRE NUTS THAT YOU TWIST ENDS TOGETHER WITH (like for home wiring) ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR AUTOMOTIVE ELECTRICAL WORK. DO NOT USE THEM.

#12 Commuter

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 05:35 PM

The light output was pathetic on my OB. The lenses are cloudy. (No, I haven't tried sprucing them up... and I should.) It was like I was driving with only my DRL's on. Others with the first generation OB's have also complained.

I tried some blue no-name standard wattage bulbs. Maybe 5% better. :brolleye:

I tried PIAA super duper 60W bulbs that are suppose to be like 110W bulbs. Very expensive. Somewhat better light, but splotchy. I was ok with it until a bulb blew at 4 months. (I did eventually get a replacement... long story.) :(

I tried a wiring harness with 100W bulbs. Much better... but they didn't count on the DRL system in my Canadian OB. When I turned on the foglights, the headlights would switch from low beam to high beam! :banghead: Something to do with ground switching in the curcuitry I was told. The cheap no-name bulbs never lasted more than 7 weeks either. :-\

So... I was left with adding driving lights, or taking a chance on higher wattage bulbs. After 1.5 years of messing with all of this, I elected to do the latter. Yes, I know, it's not the safest thing. But then, driving on the road is not the safest thing either! I use the DRL setting during the day to reduce the heat / current draw.

Anyway, that's how I got to where I am. *shrug* The Eaglite bulbs I'm using have lasted a "long" time. They tell me that the hight xenon gas content helps them to run cooler than other makes of 100W bulbs. I know it's borderline. (Fingers crossed.)

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#13 Tiny Clark

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 06:34 AM

I suggested crimp type connectors because they are better than soldering wires. Don't think that just because the solder turns stranded wire into one solid piece, it will conduct better. Electrons travel on the outside of a conductor. This is why stranded wire is a better conductor than solid wire - more surface area.

Repairing wires on USAF airplanes is done with crimp splices, not by soldering the wires, per our tech manuals. I have been repairing avionics systems and wiring on airplanes for almost 30 years, so I think I may have SOME insight into wire repair. But then again, Subies don't fly, at least very far.

One of the reasons for using splices and not soldering is that when you tin a wire, there should be a tiny bit of wire left untinned next to the insulation. This allows the stranded wire to flex under vibration, which decreases the chance of breakage over time.

We also got away from using solder type connectors, because if there is an overcurrent problem, the wire can get hot enough to melt the lead/tin solder. If the wire gets hot enough to burn the insulation, it will probably get hot enough to at least weaken the solder joint, and yes, they can weaken.

There is also the "ease of maintenance" issue. But hey, by all means, if you really want to go to the trouble of dragging all the crap out to solder them, then properly clean them up go right ahead!

The major reason for this whole episode, which EdgeFire and OEppegarrd already stated, is that using a bulb that draws more current than the circuit was designed for is not real smart.

"What? Solder is not good for high temp? Are you kidding me?"
Not sure what this quote was supposed to mean, but no, it's not.

#14 99obw

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 07:05 AM

Originally posted by Tiny Clark
I suggested crimp type connectors because they are better than soldering wires. Don't think that just because the solder turns stranded wire into one solid piece, it will conduct better. Electrons travel on the outside of a conductor. This is why stranded wire is a better conductor than solid wire - more surface area.



Skin effect as you describe is only found with alternating current (AC). At higher frequencies the inductance of the wire "chokes" the current in the center of the conductor. The skin depth, or depth of the current that travels on the surface, is related to frequency and material. Using smaller conductors allows the skin depth to be near the center of the conductor such that all of the material efficently conducts. Not an issue with 12V DC. With the 400Hz power found in aircraft maybe it is an issue. I would guess a bigger reason for using stranded wire is it's physical flexibility.

Like has been said, in general putting in these higher wattage bulbs is stressing the system beyond what is was designed to do. I was simply trying to help with the splicing. :-\

#15 meep

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 11:55 AM

Echo 99OBW on the AC vs DC and surface effect of conduction. That's correct.

Personally, I've done both-- soldering and crimping. Done correctly, I've never had either fail, unless it's subject to vibration.

My solder joints in harsh environments tend to outlast crimped connections. I started soldering car wiring somewhere around age 10, so there's 20 years of experience.

I find that for audio connections and high current lines, like alternator mains, etc, that soldering tends to be less problematic.

IF it gets hot enough to melt solder, bigger problems exist. By the time it melts, the insulation has dripped/burned off the wire, so now you have a fire.... Never had any of this happen on mine (knocking on wood).

If a crimped connection isn't sealed properly, it will age, corrode, etc. If it is done properly, especially if it's not under the hood/exposed to water, salt, etc., it'll be fine also.

50/50-- crimps with pliers, shrink tubing, heat source, glue vs soldering iron, stand, solder, and tape...

Mike

#16 cookie

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 01:06 PM

and crimp for 40 plus years.
the solered and heat shrunk connection is hard to beat when used ina situation where the wire is exposed to salt.
But crimping and carefull protection with silicon can do a good job too..
When I started we did not have silicon and crimp connectors came in when I was a kid. They were considered God's gift to mechanics at the time. I have seen many of them fail from corrosion. But this is usually the mechanic's fault for not taking the time to seal them.
If this was my car I would probably fit drivng lights.
On the Jeep I just sold I made a mount and fitted them on the outside with a seperate relay and and another foot dimmer switch for control. I used used wire and connectors rated for twice the load, and used it for ten years without another thought.
By the way, my little brother has a dump truck up in Maine that I rewired in 1966 using soldered connections and has had no electrical failures since.
I used the Petersen's book on electrical work for automobiles at the time.
Now that heat shrink tubing is available things are only better.
I think it makes a vary professional looking job.

#17 frag

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 02:04 PM

Layman's comment.
I find crimping more difficult than soldering.
I have difficulty matching the wire gauge to the crimp to the crimp pliers. I feel most of the time that the connection is over or under crimped.
i Feel that soldering requires less skill and knowledge to do a good job.
My contribution to ELECTRICAL CONNECTIONS FOR DUMMIES.

#18 Commuter

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 05:18 PM

Layman's comment no. 2.

Not to dispute my esteem Canadian colleague Frag, but I find soldering more difficult than crimping! :eh:

It's many, many years ago that I messed around with soldering. I never did get the hang of it. As a Mechie dealing with electrical stuff, I find shoving a couple of wires into a connector and squeezing it to be rather simple. If sizing isn't quite right, you can strip a bit more wire and double some or all of it over. Just a little trick I picked up somewhere along the way. I give the wires a little tug and if they don't slip, good enough. If they do, well, tighten some more or grab another connector and start over.

Granted, most of my experience is with adding little accessories to the "inside" of the car, not out under the hood. The comments about sealing etc are definitely more important under the hood.

Interesting thread this has turned into... :burnout:

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#19 cookie

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 05:21 PM

works for us.

#20 Tiny Clark

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 02:25 AM

One more note on the crimping. You should be using a good crimper to prevent cutting the stranded wire. Using something like vice grips is not a good idea if the wire is going to be used to its maximum potential.

And one last thing on soldering wires to repair them, a CAUTION out of our wiring bible...

• Do not use solder to splice broken wires except
under emergency conditions and then repair
wires with correct solderless splices as soon as
possible.


:banghead:

#21 ChrisBaru

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 07:32 PM

Not sure if I should start a new thread or continue this one from 10 years ago.

 

I have a 1996 Subaru Legacy Wagon and my left headlamp harness keeps burning out (melting) but the right one seems to be OK. I checked with my service garage and they assure me that they have been using the specified 12V-60/55W HB2(H4) bulb. Any ideas?

 

Thanks;

Chris



#22 Olnick

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 09:38 PM

Hi Chrisbaru--welcome aboard. This was my experience a few years back:

 

http://www.ultimates...headlight +poof

 

Hope it helps a bit.  Good luck.



#23 Loyale 2.7 Turbo

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 09:58 PM

...In my experience I have seen the soldered connections hold up much better than crimp connectors.

 

That's very True, automotive wirings are better soldered together, and correctly isolated.

 

In my own experience, I Changed those Plastic sockets with Heat Proof Ceramic ones around more than a Decade ago, no problems nor melted sockets since then.

 

Look 'em here:

 

~► http://www.amazon.co...s/dp/B0097AA478

 

Kind Regards.






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