Lighting Tip

Recently we found a 2000 Ford F150 Supercab for my grandson Jackson. Overall the truck is in decent shape, runs well and has the normal wear, dents and dings associated with the mileage on it. The previous owner supplied us all the repair records that he had and it appears that maintenance and repairs have been handled when the need arose.

Like any used vehicle, we found a few things that we wanted to correct and hopefully make it a bit better. We cleaned up the truck, wiping a couple of decades of dirt, lint and who knows what out of the interior and gave it a wash job. Some elbow grease and Mother’s Mag Wheel polish restored a good look to the stock rims. Inside the interior we found that the cup holder was no longer playing nicely and it appears to be a normal problem with this line of trucks. The tension spring at the back of the cup holder is only held in place with a couple of melted plastic rivets. They eventually break, the spring falls down and the cup holder refuses to work. We found the spring laying on the bottom lip of the dash, drilled a couple of 1/8″ holes and riveted it back in place with aluminum rivets. Works just like new now. We found that the electric outside mirror switch had failed too. A new switch was popped in place and another issue was resolved. One more thing we found was that the driver’s door window was making some interesting sounds as it went up and down – especially down. Even after taking it apart, we were never positive about why it made the sound. Anyway, a new window motor and track assembly took care of the problem.

Next on our list is the point of this story – lighting, as in headlights. As you can see from the picture, like most 20+ year old units they have seen better days.

Now, obviously we don’t won’t to spend crazy money for parts left and right but headlights are important and especially ones that you actually use. It’s best to be able to see down the road and for someone to see you coming. We decided on some units from Rockauto Parts. They weren’t the most expensive ones that they had but they looked good when they showed up and they will do a good job for us.

But here’s the tip and to be honest no matter how much you spend on replacement headlamps or tail lamps you can do this to them. One of the bigger problems with aftermarket headlamps is that they commonly get moisture in them a lot easier than your OEM units. Although over time, the OEM units will suffer from this problem too. The actual problem is where the clear part of the plastic mates with the rest of the light housing. When they are manufactured, there is a glue that is used to put the assembly together – it’s basically crazy glue or Cyanoacrylate. If enough of it is used the odds are that there won’t be any leaks or holes in the seam where moisture can enter the light assembly. But, if there’s not enough used or the work is a little sloppy then that could lead to a problem down the road. So what I do is a little bit of preventative care. The first step is to take some masking tape and go along each side of the seam between the clear plastic and the rest of the housing.

What you want to end up with is a space between the pieces of tape on each side of the seam of about an 1/8″ or so, it doesn’t have to be exact, but you want to make sure that the seam is totally exposed. Now here’s the tricky part – if you’re married or have a girlfriend it’s probably going to be easier but what you need now is some clear fingernail polish – preferably a quick-drying version. If that resource doesn’t work out for you, then you’ll just have to go a store and visit the make-up counter. I understand thatthis can be very unnerving for most of us, but you have to have it to complete your mission. And remember if they have a fast-drying version, that’s the one you want.

Once you have the clear polish, you can take and paint the seam with it all the way around the headlamp, you want a minimum of two coats and three is better. Allow each coat to dry completely before starting on the next coat. Once you’re done, let things sit for a good hour or so, it should be thoroughly dry by then and you can remove the tape.

As you can see from my photo above that you can’t even tell that you put polish on them, but adding the polish to the seam will help prevent getting moisture for years and years to come.

Lastly, if you have a decent set of headlamps and they have gotten some moisture in them, you can save them. It’s bit of work but noting to bad. You’ll have to remove the headlamps and you should clean them off good just to keep any debris from getting into the lamp openings as you will need to remove the lamps. You will also need a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Pour out any water moisture that has accumulated in the lamp housing. Pour a bit of alcohol into the lamp unit, swish it around and then pour it out. Try to get as much out as possible, then position the headlamp to let any remaining alcohol evaporate from the lamp holes. Alcohol has an attraction to water and usually the water will evaporate with the alcohol. You may need to repeat this several times depending on how much moisture was in the headlamp. Once you have the headlamps “dried out” you can perform the clear polish trick but look for any major separation in the headlamp unit parts. If the separation is large, you might need to fill the seam. In this case a gel-type Cyanoacrylate will work best and then you can seal them.

I hope you enjoyed this little tip and please share with your friends. Next up for the Truck is a new sound system and speakers installation. We have a couple of good tips for that installation to get the very best out of your new system.