I just wanted to follow up the post with the resolution. I’m not sure if this is important to you all, but I see that it’s an issue with Bimmers sometimes as well. I switched the bulbs from right to left. My passenger side light had been flickering off. When I switched the bulbs, the issue went to the driver’s side, which seemed to narrow down the issue to a bulb problem.
Both lights would sometimes flicker as a pre courser to the bulb shutting down. I replaced the Xenon bulbs with new ones, and so far, the problem is gone. I’m not sure why both bulbs flickered simultaneously as a pre courser to the bulb going out, but it did. This issue is also gone. I hope it helps someone because initially when I took the problem to mechanics I received estimates including the replacement of the entire light, which is around 1200-1300 bucks, or replacing the ballast which is a 400-600 dollar part, and one indy mechanic even told me they had to drop the bumper cover JUST to get to the light, which is really untrue.
Instead the resolution cost me 150 bucks.
Good to hear Martin, sometimes the easiest answer is the right one! And sadly, if one lacks the time and knowledge to seek that easy automotive solution, they’re gonna get hosed. Hosed for a normal wear item? How sad. So let’s consider more wear items that people tend to neglect:
- Fuses: they go bad over time, even when they look good at a casual glance. Even when tested with a voltmeter/continuity tester! Here’s one from my (LH high beam circuit) Sierra that looked okay at first…but when I shined light behind it…a new fuse and freshly cleaned ground wiring fixed a multitude of problems.
- Headlights: they are wear items. They can flicker (as you know well!) and dim over time. The dimming is so gradual that you’d never know, until you replace them. I’ve seen 2 year old vehicles need new headlights!
- Vacuum lines in particular, rubber parts in general: Anything that uses engine vacuum (less of a concern today) relies on tubing that gets cracked, brittle, gooey, leaky…so replace it. Lines connected to PCV systems can get gooey/leaky in just a few years…not decades.
- Tires: if they are dry rotted, their performance (especially in the wet) is kinda horrible. Depending on where you live/park, your tires could be history after 5 years, even with fantastic tread depth.
- Brake lines: after a decade, especially if you live in the rust belt, look at your brake lines to ensure they won’t go explodey from rusting.
- Wiring: lines get brittle-cracked-shorted, connectors get broken/loose and “Ghosts in the Machine” that are seemingly impossible to trace have a very simple solution: replacement.
- Weatherstripping (again rubber): however your car’s doors seal to the body, that stuff will shrink, split, etc. no longer making an air (or water!) tight seal. And don’t forget leaky sunroofs/moonroofs!
- Hinges and Latches: bushings (often brass?) inside door hinges can wear to the point that doors sag, especially on convertibles. Similarly, door latches wear, become misaligned, and make horrible squeaking sounds sometimes.
- Springs and Shocks: sounds logical, but how many people pony up the cash for these new parts after years of metal fatigue on coils and leaky/coagulated cartridges? Not nearly enough.
- Copper connections: similar to #6, if there’s an exposed connection on a printed circuit (probably less of a concern today) that can become oxidized…well, it will. I’ve repaired many a flaky module with a pink eraser (not white, they lack the “tooth” to make a clean cut) from the top of a pencil. It’s funny the things you learn from people on the Internet.
- Batteries, Alternators, Terminals+Cables : as cars get more complex, their thirst for fresh batteries shortens the lifespan of these wear items. Alternators age, even more so when trying to support a weak battery. And everything can go bad because your battery’s termainals+cables are crusty and corroded. The moment you hear your car “chugs” and labors at start up compared to a car with a new battery OR the moment the dashboard electrics goes bonkers for no apparent reason…well, that’s the moment you are officially warned of a simple but important charging problem.
Best and Brightest: fill in the gaps I left. And have a great weekend.
Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.