Untight Headlamps

The untight headlights
prior to restauration

The manufacturer of the front lights is a company called 'Wagner' - which is fairly unknown in Germany and from which I have never heared before.
I have learned, that 'Wagner' is a very old and respectable supplier for autoparts in the USA - like 'Bosch' in Germany.

My car has completely different lights than US cars. In Germany so called 'Sealed Beam'-Systems are not legal and do not conform to German regulations. In addition european headlamps frontglasses differ a lot from US headlamps.

My car has conventional lamps with separate removeable bulbs, which sit in an enclosing case and where glass and the case with the mirror inside can also be disassembled. The headlights have no plastic glass like the US-lights. There are lenses and facettes in the glass with totally different patterns to confirm european regulations on asymetric driving light. There is a 15 degrees sector on the right of every glass which is used to improve the lighting of the right roadside for better visibility of i.e. pedestrians or any kind of obstacles. This asymetric light is generally used at least in Germany. And they have different bulbs, which give more light at all.

The problem with these headlights is of course a sealing problem - there is no seal between the frontglass and the inner case with the reflector. The glass and the case are fixed with six thin metal brackets which have not much compression. If they shake loose or rust they will break open and the seal itself isn't very tight from the beginning. An additional problem is created with the construction - because the light bulb is enclosed from the back with a round silicone type seal which prevents moist and dirt intruding from the engine compartment into the assembly - as well as preventing moist from evaporating and going out again. Bad construction - no ventilation.

Workaround: As reported from a former Chrysler mechanic, they used to drill two six Millimeter hole into the underside of the housing and one hole in each sidewall close to the top. The holes in the bottomside must be unsharpened with a larger drill from inside the housing to enable condensed water flow out. That will help for ventilation and prevent water from condensing on the mirror and front glass. Dave recommended to tighten the glass against the housing with silicone.

My experience: Haven't tried drilling holes in the assembly. I have disassembled the headlights and used removeable silicone (like this stuff used for tightening gearboxes) between glass and housing. Have done this right on the beginning of '96 summer holidays. It seems to help. After a dozen car-washes and several weeks of driving in heavy rain there is no trace of condensed moist inside the assembly.

The advantage of removeable silicone is, that you could disassemble it much easier if ever required. The normal silicone grows very hard and you need knifes and screwdrivers to get it open again.

Reports: Daniel Stern has european headlights on his Dodge Spirit and he wrote me:
"These new lamps I bought are definitely vented, and are part number 4576-404 and 4576-405".
So Chrysler must have used different parts.

Maybe my lamps are from an earlier stage of developement ...?


Last Update 30. January 1997
© 1997 by Peter H. Wendt