Water (Condensation) in Headlamp - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 07-14-2013
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Water (Condensation) in Headlamp

Ever since I bought my '04 SLK320 three years ago, it has had a problem with condensation in the headlamp lens. I didn't worry about it much as I almost never take it out in the rain.

Recently, the car has been in the shop to fix a number of problems (putting the used car warranty to work!) such as a failed hydraulic roof pump, passenger seat cover came loose, passenger window fastener fell inside the door, faulty radio, leaky headlamps, replace the 10 year-old battery, and new tires/balance.

Despite the claim of the warranty company at the time I bought the policy that they cover all mechanical repairs, it turns out not to be true (surprise!). They only covered the hydraulic roof pump. They will cover the radio if it ever fails when it's in the shop.

Anyway, the local dealer did a good job on the pump replacement, window and seat repair, replacement battery, and they mounted & balanced TireRack (Continental ExtremeDW) tires I had shipped directly to them plus an alignment.

For the headlight repair, they quoted $1400 to replace both headlights. Instead, I opted to order the lens seals myself and do the repair. Total cost of parts + shipping was about $84.

Attached is a pdf detailing the headlamp lens seal replacement.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Headlamp Water Leak Repair.pdf (1.22 MB, 811 views)
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#2 Old 07-14-2013
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Great info, this will help a great deal of people here with the same issue. Thanks
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#3 Old 07-14-2013
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I'll make this a sticky, do you have a link for the seals?
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#4 Old 07-14-2013
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Source for headlamp seals

Quote:
Originally Posted by livefreeordie View Post
I'll make this a sticky, do you have a link for the seals?
I just googled "Mercedes OEM parts" and used www.genuinemercedesparts.com which is a dealer in Alpharetta, GA. Another dealer source from Annapolis, MD is www.getmercedesparts.com. There are a few more that pop up in google. Most of the dealership parts wholesalers have websites run by Trademotion, so the interface looks the same regardless of the dealer parts site chosen. It's the usual process of selecting the year, model, select ELECTRICAL, FRONT LAMPS, HEADLAMP COMPONENTS, LENS SEAL.

Don't confuse the lens seal with the gasket. The gasket is just the black rubber surround for the entire front face of the headlamp.

The parts list shows a left and right seal, but they are identical (same part number).

It might be worth ordering an extra lens spring or two if you are afraid of losing one while dismantling the lens assembly. They are also listed as left or right handed, but they are all the same part number.

MSRP $45, online price $36 + S&H. Each lens spring (clip) is $1.76.
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#5 Old 08-01-2013
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Previous owner (again)

The previous owner had taken teh lamps to bits, and had failed to fit the seal properly when reassembling. So the seal was not doing the job.
All I had to do was (carefully) split the headlight assembly, then straighten the seals (and clean them a bit) and reassemble.
I also checked the rear cover for the lamps, so that I know there is no (massive) source of water there.
Easy job!
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The headlights on the 170 & 171 are not designed to be sealed. There was a DTB back in 2004 about this:-

Quote:
DTB
Date:
December 30, 2004
Order No.:
P-B-82.10/419
Supersedes:
Group:
82
SUBJECT:
Model 170, 171, 203, 208, 209, 210, 211, 215, 220 and 230
Moisture in Headlamp(s)
Note: For Information Only!
If you receive customer reports in the above model vehicles moisture or water inside the headlamp(s), please offer the following explanations.
Surfaces fog up whenever they are cold and come in contact with warmer, humid air. An example of this is the mirror in the bathroom. It often fogs up after showering because it comes in contact with the warm humid air from the shower enclosure. The same thing occurs to the headlamps. Moisture or water on or around the engine evaporates and this vapor condenses on the coldest surface in the surrounding area. This is frequently the headlamps since they are frequently in contact with cold air or cold rain.
The headlamps have ventilation holes on the back. Without these holes, pressure would be produced when the headlamps are switched on damaging the headlamps.
A malfunctioning headlamp can be identified as follows. As a prerequisite, the headlamp(s) must be fogged up when the vehicle is brought into the workshop.
1. Is there a puddle of water inside the headlamp? If yes, the headlamp is malfunctioning and should be replaced.
2. Does the headlamp show signs of external damage? If yes, the headlamp is malfunctioning and must be replaced. This is not covered by warranty.
3. If there is only an appearance of moisture on the inside surfaces of the headlamp and there is no external damage, the headlamp is then okay. Note:
If the owner complains of fogging but the fogging is not present when the car is brought in, then this is normal and not an indication of any malfunction.
This bulletin has been created and maintained in accordance with MBUSA-SLP S423QH001, Document and Data Control, and
MBUSA-SLP S424HH001, Control of Quality Records.
© 2004 Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction or translation in whole
Mercedes-Benz Canada, Inc. or in part is not permitted without authorization from the
Dealer Workshop Services publisher. Printed in U.S.A.


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#7 Old 08-01-2013
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#8 Old 08-01-2013
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#9 Old 08-01-2013
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But when I had wet inside my headlight, it was as a result of a seal being misplaced.
And on other cars, when I get water in the lights, it is as a result of missing caps, and things.
So for the MB notice for brand new cars (assumed complete) then the explanation may be appropriate, but after 14 years of (potential) neglect, all sorts of things may be not quite as designed.
We are in the R170 section, not the R172 section, after all!
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#10 Old 08-02-2013
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condensation inside the headlights will cause an mot fail in the uk
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#11 Old 08-02-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woolly View Post
The headlights on the 170 & 171 are not designed to be sealed. There was a DTB back in 2004 about this:-
The R170 headlamps do have a seal (pictured in the pdf earlier). I am not implying sealing up the ventilation holes on the back of the headlamp. I did read the DTB before doing the repair and the large water droplets accumulating inside the lens were not what anyone would consider normal. The proposed Mercedes solution may work but is not practical on a daily basis and doesn't address the cause of the problem. The old seal had deteriorated to the point that water would leak past it and accumulate in the bottom of the housing where it would then evaporate and condense onto the lens. Since replacing the seals, I have washed the car and driven in the rain without any more evidence of water inside the headlamps.
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#12 Old 10-31-2013
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I've had to do both headlights. After more than 10 years, the rubber seals have hardened. I used silicone sealant between the seal, lens and assembly, and then a large silica gel bag inside the black bulb cover to remove the remaining moisture.
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#13 Old 11-01-2013
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one of mine got full of condensation every time I washed the car so I just cleaned the seals (both headlights) and re assembled with a light smear of rtv silicon (clear bathroom silicon) to both seals .no more condensation at all. I also gave both lenses and the reflectors a good clean inside while they were apart which has really freshened them up
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#14 Old 11-01-2013
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This is a very helpgul and informative post thx.

I had mine out int eh driving rain and wind last week and noticed alight condensation in one of the front lamps on my 171. Similar to others, I would nto normally choose to take my SLK out in the rain as she's my weekend/good weather ride, but it's good to know there is a DIY fix.

Cheers folks.
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#15 Old 11-01-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarrySLK280 View Post
This is a very helpgul and informative post thx.

I had mine out int eh driving rain and wind last week and noticed alight condensation in one of the front lamps on my 171. Similar to others, I would nto normally choose to take my SLK out in the rain as she's my weekend/good weather ride, but it's good to know there is a DIY fix.

Cheers folks.
Barry,
Note that this is the R170 thread; not to say that your R171 will not have similar capability, but do not immediately read across between threads, as ISTR it is not so easy with teh R171. (Can anyone correct this perception?)
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#16 Old 11-01-2013
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tolak View Post
Barry,
Note that this is the R170 thread; not to say that your R171 will not have similar capability, but do not immediately read across between threads, as ISTR it is not so easy with teh R171. (Can anyone correct this perception?)
Tanks for pointing that out Tolak. I will do a search within the 171 area of the forum.
Cheers.
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#17 Old 04-24-2014
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A slight amendment to instructions

I used these instructions which were very helpful. Sadly, my passenger side light had been repaired by a monkey, and they applied some kind of black sticky goop to the two prongs in the turn signal part . . . and hence, in the instructions it was impossible for me to stick the screw driver in the slot for the turn signal and push toward the windshield to pull out the turn signal component - it would not budge. I had to forcibly remove the entire assembly with the turn signal light still in the assembly. While I suspect the plastic piece that connects under the turn signal was already broken, it surely was when I finished with it.

I looked around on ebay for a replacement, but the people there seem to not know what they are doing or selling, and so I ended up just buying an entire new assembly from Amazon - it was only $70 bucks more than one of the used ones on ebay anyway. Fixed it all up. So, thx for this post - I have one amendment that at least for me was not clear but I figured it out.

In the instructions where it says to put the screwdriver in the hole behind the turn signal, and push toward the windshield to pop it out enough to pull the turn signal piece off . . . you also need to slightly and carefully push toward the side of the car where the headlight is, to disengage the lock/spring, then push the screwdriver toward the windshield.

I should have taken pictures - but I was anxious to get it back on and motoring . . . anyway, other than very slight clarification, these instructions are perfect.

Thanks again - mike
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#18 Old 10-17-2015
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Thank you

Your comprehensive DIY procedure and tips is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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#19 Old 12-03-2015
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Great post thanks, but can't seem to source the seals from UK.

Anyone know of a UK supplier or advise shipping costs from US?

Thanks
Paul
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#20 Old 12-03-2015
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With my car I just reused the old seals and placed clear sealant round them. Two years later both are still bone dry inside. Only trouble with UK cars is the purple pipe to adjust the height needs to be cut and rejoined
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