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One headlight dim - 85 Vanagon
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boulderdave
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:44 am    Post subject: One headlight dim - 85 Vanagon Reply with quote

I've replaced the bulb, yet one headlight on my 1985 Vanagon is very dim, the other is normal. I haven't performed any modifications tot he headlights (i.e. upgrade kit, etc.)... I'm thinking maybe ground wire? Would the ground wire for each bulb run back to the relay/fusebox, or does it split some where else?

thanks for any help,
Dave
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danfromsyr
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

usually one dim headlight is the ground.
the grounds run into the van and terminate in the ground star up behind the fuse box,
many people just add a splice (treated for corrosion) to the headlight ground wire and add a local ground to each light right out behind the grill.
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boulderdave
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks Dan! I'll give it a try and will post back what I find.
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thatvwbusguy
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before you do anything else, spin each of the fuses back and forth a few times in the spring tabs that hold them in. This will help to ensure that they are making contact with clean metal and not sitting in a badly oxidized connection point that could limit current flow. The low beam fuses are #3 and #4, so pay extra special attention to them.

In stock configuration, the headlight ground wires are connected to the grounding trees above the fuse block with 1/4" female disconnect terminals. The headlight grounds will be a pair of wires crimped into a single connector.

To verify that you have the right wires, you will have to turn the headlights on and pull the grounds one at a time (they are all brown) until the lights go out, or test them using the continuity setting on your multimeter. The ground terminals are often badly oxidized and corroded to the point of breaking into small pieces when they are removed after 30 years of service.

Once you locate the headlight grounds, cut off the stock terminal and crimp a new one onto each individual wire (as long as you have a spare spot or two on the grounding trees).

As an alternative, you can ground the headlights closer to the bulbs using a #10 ring terminal connected to one of the factory headlight bucket mounting screws.

To do this, cut the brown wires back to a point where they will easily reach one of the headlight bucket mounting screws and crimp on a #10 ring terminal. Clean the area that the ground will be attached to until the metal is shiny. For best results, a toothed lock washer between the terminal and the headlight bucket will help to ensure a good ground. Once the screws are tightened, coat the connection in dielectric grease or liquid electrical tape.
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danfromsyr
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What That VW Bus guy said... I missed where you said 85 and then having the early cylinder fuses..

but to add a little more make sure you inspect the connections inside your headlight socket/plug.. i've seen them scorched from heat caused by a lousey ground path..
and Ground Star R&R is dutiful preventative maintenance anyways
might be time to add a set of relays while you're in this deep anyways..
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bluebus86
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On my 1986 van the ground to the headlights are daisy chained together, so that all the head lamp current form all filiments end up running thru one wire to the body. I added a separate ground wire to each lamp, and that helped voltages to the lights. Adding relays is a wise thing to do, the headlamp switch cant take the lamp current very well, and given years of use can fail, or give large drops.

the old fuses do get bad, they corrode, and that causes high resistance, clean the ends (or best buy new) and also clean the spring clips that hold them, also bend the clip to give more tension to the fuses, if the clip is discolored form heat (cuased by corroded or loose connection at fuse) then the brass will be discolored, if that happens often the springiness of the clips is lost (annealed out by the excess heat) in which case you need to replace that clip or fuse panel. once springiness is lost, new fuses will not be held tight anymore, and you will get even more over heating.
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boulderdave
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for all the great information. It ended up just being the connector on the bulb. Good as new now! (perhaps I'll do relays this spring)
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