I decided to put this together after seeing the question My
left/right headlight makes a terrible noise for about five seconds after it
lowers... whatís wrong? asked several times. So, if it sounds like the entire
front end of your car is about to explode for a few seconds when you turn your
lights off, read on and possibly save yourself some $$$ :) If youíve had your
car to the dealer for this problem, they probably told you the headlight motor
was bad and you needed a new one. Then, when they gave you the price, your mouth
fell to the floor and you turned around and walked out.
These little motors are not cheap. I believe they cost
around $200 EACH! What the dealers donít know (or maybe donít want you to know
:) is there is a very easy FREE fix for this problem that works 9 out of 10
times. You see, nothing is actually wrong with the motor itself... the problem
is a plastic gear inside of the housing has stripped. The really good news is
that only half of this plastic gear is being used! Yep, full travel of the
headlight from down to up then down again uses exactly 1/2 of the plastic
gear because the motor shaft only turns 180 degrees to raise the headlight then
turns the opposite direction (180 degrees again) to lower the light. There is a
very easy process that enables you to use the other side of the gear.
1. Start with the headlight in the down position. Remove the
plastic (or sometimes rubber) cover over the headlight motor assembly and use
the Manual Raise/Lower knob to raise the headlight to the full up position.
2. With the headlight fully raised, remove the four screws
holding the plastic trim piece that goes around the headlight. This is being
removed to provide for easier access later on. Two of them can be seen in the
picture to the left. The other two are on the opposite side.
3. Now that the trim piece has been removed, access to the
headlight motor shaft end nut will be easier. The next step is to remove the
motor shaft nut so that the headlight raise/lower arm can be pulled away from
the motor shaft. For now, only remove the nut.
4. With the nut removed, pull the raise/lower arm off the
motor shaft. Note: This will be easier if you have somebody to help you hold the
headlight up because it will not stay up by itself once this arm is pulled off
the shaft :) Youíll notice that the shaft is not perfectly round. It has two
flat spots. You need to look at how these flat spots on the shaft are
situated... one of the flat areas should be approx. facing the front of the car
and the other towards the rear.
5. This next part is important! You now need to, while
CLOSELY watching the motor shaft, rotate the raise/lower manual knob so the
motor shaft turns exactly 180 degrees (or half a revolution). Once you have
completed this, reattach the headlight raise lower arm. What you have just done
is made it so the actual motor gear will now be in contact with the *other* half
of the plastic gear. Sure, the teeth on the plastic gear are stripped, but they
are stripped on the now unused side of the gear :) Reattach the motor shaft nut
and manually lower the headlight with the manual raise/lower knob... do NOT go
too far! Stop lowering once the headlight gets about flush with the hood. It
will automatically align itself properly once it has been electrically raised
then lowered. Put everything together and you should now have a quiet
You could take everything apart, lift up the plastic gear,
rotate it 180 degrees, then reinsert the plastic gear to fix the problem. BUT, I
do believe the above method is just a little bit easier. If, for some reason the
above method failed, you could remove the cover on the gear housing and try to
manually position the plastic gear so only good teeth are being used. Use
epoxy to reattach the cover.
Yeah, this would be a bit of work but as a last ditch effort,
itís worth a shot! In this picture if you look closely you can see where a
portion of the plastic gear teeth are actually worn away in the center. This is
what causes the ratcheting and vibrating effect when the headlight reaches the
closed position and in some cases, the fully raised position.
What happens is the motor continues to turn (even though the plastic gear is
not) and therefore the sensing circuit still thinks the headlight is moving in
the up or down direction. Well, thatís it! I bet you didnít think I could go
into so much detail with a simple headlight motor, huh?