2010 Headlight bulb burnout - bad seal?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by E.B., Feb 21, 2014.

  1. E.B.

    E.B. Junior Member

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    The passenger side headlight bulb (halogen) has burned out in my Prius 3 times in the last 6 mos. I'm replacing it with Sylvania H11, but when the last bulb went out after just a few weeks, I took in to my mechanic. The old bulb had some corrosion on it and there was moisture inside the lens and the shop owner suspected a bad seal was allowing rain to get in and said I may need to replace the assembly. (Considering we're in an extreme drought here in CA, it must be the carwashes!)
    The car has never been in a collision and there are no visible cracks in the glass, but we haven't taken the whole thing out yet. Roughly 58,000 mi on the car.
    Anyone else have this problem and if so, what have you done to resolve it? Best source for replacement headlight assembly?
    I called Toyota Corp who gave me the standard line about no recalls or owner assistance programs, but since I'm past warranty I'm a tad resentful at having to pay $$. The bulbs ain't cheap, either.
    Thanks for any insights and suggestions.
     
  2. Paradox

    Paradox Prius Enthusiast / Moderator
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    Moved from technical to maintenance, troubleshooting and care
     
  3. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    The only question I'd ask, is are you replacing the bulb yourself? Or is a mechanic or somebody else doing it for you?
    It is highly recommended by all manufacturers that the bulb be kept as clean as possible and not be handled by bare hands. Wearing gloves when replacing in suppose to be standard procedure.

    I recently was in my local major auto parts department, and a young woman was ahead of me buying a headlight bulb and I overheard her conversation. She was complaining about the evidently short life of the bulbs. The kid behind the counter said the bulb had a warranty..and blah, blah, blah...

    Well after I made my purchase, I was walking out to my car, and watched the "kid" install the bulb. He simply ripped it from the package and bare handed the whole operation.

    It suddenly became clear to me why the poor woman was having her bulbs burn out prematurely.

    If that is NOT the case, then I'd actually look for evidence of moisture in the enclosure. If it's getting in, you should be able to see it. Even after a car wash. Also should be able to determine where. If it's a bad seal...that seal should be replaceable without having to replace the whole assembly.

    Also is it only one side? Or are both sides burning out?

    My first step, would be to make sure the bulb was being handled correctly during installation.
    My second step would be a thorough visual examination of the headlight assembly and seals...You should be able to see cracks or even wear on a seal.

    Before I went to the expense and potential problem of replacing the whole assembly, I'd want to determine that actually IS the cause of the premature bulb burn out and that I had no easier, cheaper remedy.
     
  4. E.B.

    E.B. Junior Member

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    Hi - thanks for your response.
    I've replaced one (also replaced the driver's side bulb myself with no problems), dealership replaced one, another tech replaced one. I didn't use gloves but did not touch the bulb. Dealer and tech both used gloves (well, I ASSUME the dealer did, I watched the tech).
    Last bulb burned out in about 3 weeks, the one before that lasted a couple of months. There is visible moisture inside the lens, but I'll take your advice and ensure that a thorough inspection is done prior to my purchasing a replacement assembly. I don't know if I'm the one to do it, though. Right now it's got some blue tape all around it to keep water out. Looks absolutely delightful - so classy.
     
  5. epoch_time

    epoch_time Member

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    Gen III Prius run higher voltage than gen II (14.8 com paired to 13.8) and Sylvania bulbs are known for short life. The brighter the bulb the shorter its life
    Therefore stay with the recommended wattage.
    I recommend using Toyota bulb's. If Toyota is smart they will sell 14 volt bulbs for long life.
     
  6. zhenya

    zhenya Active Member

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    The car's electrical system determines the voltage, not the bulb. You are absolutely correct that the more voltage the shorter life the bulb will have though. You can get long-life bulbs that trade overall intensity for a longer life, but I think your mechanic is on the right path if there is corrosion on the bulb and moisture in the lens.
     
  7. The Critic

    The Critic Resident Critic

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    There's a TSB for this condition, and someone has uploaded a copy of it. The TSB fix involves replacing the wiring harness. It is #0204-12
     
  8. gary sciascia

    gary sciascia New Member

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    I have replaced 7 Sylvania h11-su2 since I bought the car 10 months ago in feb of 2014.
    Skin oil and any type of dirt for that matter raises the bulb surface temperature so i'm very careful to keep the bulb surface clean.
    I used to leave the light switch on all the time as the headlights have the auto off feature so it would kind of work out to be daytime
    running lights. I figured maybe the voltage spiked on vehicle startup causing the bulb filament to burnout , didn't make a difference.
    I have to look up the TSB 0204-12 as suggested in the previous post. I'll get back to you on my results.
     
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