Problem found with Hella LED conversion headlights.

7173Mustangs.com

Help Support 7173Mustangs.com:

Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
Well guys, I was just at a funeral for one of our classic car group members who passed away last week from a massive heart attack. As a group, we wanted to honor him by having our classics parked along the route to the cemetery as the procession passed. What we didn't plan on was a sudden massive thunder storm that took down trees, limbs and electric power poles.
I'll not bore you with the details, but the end result was I now have water and vapor inside my Hella headlights. I figure it got in from water dripping on the LED lights and then running into the headlight globes. So, just wondering if anyone else using Hella globes has had this problem? I'm thinking the fix will be some sort of cover shield over the LEDS so water can't get in. I know, don't drive in the rain, but around here, it's not IF it's going to rain, but when.
I just thought I'd throw this out there as a warning to others. I'll likely update as and when I come up with a fix/cure.
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
Update: I stripped the light down, drained a gallon of water from each light, blew them out with compressed air and now letting the sit to dry out completely, The LED's themselves also had water in and around the bulbs, so they need to dry out. What I also found is although there is an O ring that goes between the LED body and adaptor that fits the Hella globe (if that makes any sense), it's a useless as a screen door in a submarine.
I think I need two things, a better O ring and a shield fitted over the top of the bulbs.
I'll update again later with some pics.
 

Sheriff41

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 5, 2019
Messages
437
Reaction score
225
Location
Texas
My Car
72 Mustang Q-code
Thanks for documenting this. I'll be interested in responses and any potential solutions.
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
Might be worth contacting Hella about this.
The Hella globes themselves, I don't think are the problem. With the LED's, there is an insert that fits the Hella globes. That insert does not seal and maybe the root cause of water getting in. This has been revealed after closer inspection.
Our cars of course, were designed to use sealed beam headlights. The headlight area is totally open to whatever water gets in under or through the hood (edges) and would not affect sealed beam lights, but these are a different kettle of fish.
Before I put these back in, I'll change the O rings for some slightly thicker ones I have and look at constructing shields that in future, will deflect any water from the LED's. Of course, driving these cars in the rain is not desirable, but alas sometimes necessary.
 

autonomousbronco

If it ain't broke, fix it until it is.
7173 Mustang Supporter Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2018
Messages
39
Reaction score
16
Location
CA
My Car
'72 Mach 1. 351C, 4 Speed Toploader w/ Hurst Shifter, 9'' Rear End (3.9). Power windows, rear defroster.
Firstly, I'm sorry for the loss of your club member, and offer my condolences. Regarding your Mustang, there's a trick that I've used successfully in the past with other electronics. You'll want to open them up/dissassemble to increase ventilation as much as possible. Go to your big box store of choice and purchase a large clear bin, foam adhesive tape (that'll form a better seal between the lid/base) and a large desiccant pack to place in the bin (optional, is an electronic humidistat from online as they're only $5 or less). Take your head light globes and other electronics (LED bulbs) and place in said bins until you see a change in humidity and/or two-three weeks. It's got me through in prior "oops" moments when items have taken an inadvertent dunk. Best of luck, and again sorry for your loss.
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
Firstly, I'm sorry for the loss of your club member, and offer my condolences. Regarding your Mustang, there's a trick that I've used successfully in the past with other electronics. You'll want to open them up/dissassemble to increase ventilation as much as possible. Go to your big box store of choice and purchase a large clear bin, foam adhesive tape (that'll form a better seal between the lid/base) and a large desiccant pack to place in the bin (optional, is an electronic humidistat from online as they're only $5 or less). Take your head light globes and other electronics (LED bulbs) and place in said bins until you see a change in humidity and/or two-three weeks. It's got me through in prior "oops" moments when items have taken an inadvertent dunk. Best of luck, and again sorry for your loss.
Thank you for your condolences on the loss of a good friend. Bill was a "character" who we will miss.
As for the tips on drying out electronic parts, that's a good suggestion and something I'm sure I and others will benefit from in future.
For my situation, I simply drained out the water, blew the parts with compressed air and let them air dry for 24 hours before putting the lights back together. Last night I was out with the car on a cool evening after dark and the lights were fine, no condensation, so all good.
It's quite a mystery how the water got in as the LED adaptor/insert is shielded by the headlight buckets, leaning me towards the O ring on the LED not sealing sufficiently. I replaced them with a thicker O ring, but I'm hesitant to "test" them. Making a shield of some sort is still on the list of things to do, but as I never intentionally take the car out in the rain, It's not a high priority.
Here are a couple of pics that might help explain. 3rd pic shows new thicker O ring.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_2016.JPG
    IMG_2016.JPG
    1.1 MB · Views: 6
  • IMG_2022.JPG
    IMG_2022.JPG
    864.1 KB · Views: 6
  • IMG_2023.JPG
    IMG_2023.JPG
    771.9 KB · Views: 6
  • IMG_2015.JPG
    IMG_2015.JPG
    1.1 MB · Views: 5
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
Update:
Finally today, I finished my first attempt at a shield. What I did was to construct a vacuum form and then vacuum form a shield using 1/16" ABS. The result does need a bit of refining as expected, after all, I did this totally free hand and by eye. I could have made it about a1/4" wider per side. That way, it's 1 piece to do both sides. The reason for making it a 1/4" wider would be to insure it covers the LED driver and plug socket.
The little "vacuum former" I constructed some time ago for another "project" and never got around to finishing that, so it was used for this job. With a little tweaking, I know I can get a better result.
Here are some pics of what I came up with, although yet to be tested, I see no reason it won't do the job. To fit it, I utilized the top headlight adjuster screw, which is 1/4-28 thread. MAKE SURE to hold the screw with a screwdriver while tightening the nut!!! I didn't, now I have to re-set my left side light. Ooops!
Any thoughts on improvements?
 

Attachments

  • 20220802_143940.jpg
    20220802_143940.jpg
    3.4 MB · Views: 0
  • 20220802_143803.jpg
    20220802_143803.jpg
    4.4 MB · Views: 0
  • 20220802_145650.jpg
    20220802_145650.jpg
    3.7 MB · Views: 0
  • 20220802_145913.jpg
    20220802_145913.jpg
    3.6 MB · Views: 0
  • 20220802_155345.jpg
    20220802_155345.jpg
    5 MB · Views: 0
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
Sorry to hear this Geoff, especially since I'm the one that recommended them to everyone. Yikes! Living in Arizona my car doesn't see rain, so I've not had the problem.
Hey Chris, not your fault at all. The lights work fantastic. It's the way Ford designed the cars with zero seal between the hood and the fenders. They are the ones who never considered the effects of rain...... on anything!
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
Latest update:
Well, one step forward, one step back. Today I water tested the "shield" with a hose head on sprinkle over the top of the hood and fender to replicate rain.
Clearly I overlooked the one area where water can still get in and it did, red arrow. I will remake the form with more overlap at the top front edge. The first form was basically just a try out anyway, development was expected as is typical.
Anyway, once I get this remade and buy some more ABS, I'll update again.
There was one other thought and that was to drill a 3/16" hole at the very bottom of the Hella globe. This will work as a drain, but I'm not sure about letting humidity in and fogging up the inside. If it does, I'll silicone the hole closed. I also painted the edge of the bare steel (drill hole).
The one positive was the thicker "O" ring I added to the bulb seemed to stop that from leaking when I tested that separately.
The concept is there, the refinement is yet to proven.

EDIT:
well I guess that was one step forward and TWO steps back. While putting the globe back in after drying it again, I noticed another area where water can and will get in and run down into the globe's adaptor socket, then into the globe itself. The headlight bucket's top adjuster screw bracket is pierced and formed as one piece out of the bucket, leaving a large hole. This is where water can easily enter. This means that the shield idea may not be to total answer, but I'm sure I can fix it.
I had thought about just sealing the adaptor in with RTV, but I also realize the there must be venting because even LED's create heat. That is not the answer either.
 

Attachments

  • 20220802_155345.1.jpg
    20220802_155345.1.jpg
    2.9 MB · Views: 1
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
damn I have these lights too. I need to check this out.
Still working on it John, See latest pic with green arrow. That is the bracket hole for the adjuster screw and where I think the most water is getting in.
It's a work in progress, but I'll figure something out I'm sure. After all, this is sort of what I did for 35+ years.
 

Attachments

  • 20220802_155345.2.jpg
    20220802_155345.2.jpg
    2.9 MB · Views: 0
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
Today I ordered a couple of rubber seal that are supposed to fit the H4 headlights and 9003 type LED's. I have no idea if they'll actually work on our cars, but for about 20 bucks US, worth a look.
The Hella's come with Halogen bulbs and rubber seals, but unfortunately will not work for the LED's. That actually is what got me thinking about using rubber seal rather than vac forming a shield. I'm still progressing with the shield idea as I think it is possible it may need both to keep water out, but let the headlights "breathe".
I found an interesting article on Hella's website about the need for venting. It won't link, so you'll have to look it up. "Best tricks to combat headlight condensation"
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
Today's update;
I got some more ABS plastic, so decided to change the form and try again. This time I added a total top piece that covers the entire open area where I believed most of the water was getting in.
The result was it looks like the problem may be solved. No rain of course, but a good wetting from the hose showed no sign of water in the globes. I did not do it yet, but I still need to reprove this, take the bulbs out and thoroughly check for water in the LED's and globes.
The rubber seals I ordered won't be here for a couple more days, so that will be the next test. As said, I have no idea if they will fit into our headlight bucket, so I'll post on that later. In the mean time, I call it a success, for now anyway.
Once I have got this to the point where I can make multiple pieces, I may offer them for sale if anyone is interested. They will be in pairs as one side of each needs to be trimmed to fit under the fender. See pics. On mine, I found the left side was different to the right and needed more trimming to get it to clear and fit. Not hard to do, but necessary.
Arrows are the right side where more needed to be trimmed away to clear the fender piece, green arrow.
 

Attachments

  • 20220811_141524.jpg
    20220811_141524.jpg
    1.8 MB · Views: 0
  • 20220811_141536.1.jpg
    20220811_141536.1.jpg
    3.1 MB · Views: 0
  • 20220811_145635.jpg
    20220811_145635.jpg
    2.1 MB · Views: 0
  • 20220811_145648 (2).jpg
    20220811_145648 (2).jpg
    2.8 MB · Views: 0
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
Well guys, this is what you've all been waiting for. My final test results.
Today, the rubber seal arrived and I'm afraid the result was very disappointing. Now, to be fair, these might work in a different situation, but unfortunately not on our cars due to the fact that water can and does enter from the front and top of the H4 globes due to a large hole in the bucket part.
I suppose if a person wanted to, these could be sealed with RTV, but not this person.
So what I did was to remove the LED and it's driver, take out the Hella globe (on one side only), fit the rubber seal, install the LED, the reinsert the headlight into the bucket. That done, time for the water test, but the result was a globe full of water. This is the one I had drilled a hole in, so the water just ran out. Proved that worked at least.
I looked at other possibilities and make sure this was a bust. After removing the seal and reinstalling the headlight, I reinstalled my vacuum formed shield, pored a cup of water al over it an not a single drop got in to the light.
This to me, has proven the shield is the simplest answer to my problem. To be fair once again, there may be better rubber seals on the market, but this was the only one I saw to fit the H4 (Hella) headlight and the 9003 LED that I am using.
Here are some pics of the seals and fitment. First pic is the seals, second pic show one fitting through the bucket opening. Third pic is the seal over the globe and the LED installed. Forth pic is the ABS shield for the left side.
I'd be very interested if anyone has info on other rubber seal that might do the job.
 

Attachments

  • 20220812_165644.jpg
    20220812_165644.jpg
    5.1 MB · Views: 0
  • 20220812_165900.jpg
    20220812_165900.jpg
    2 MB · Views: 0
  • 20220812_171245.jpg
    20220812_171245.jpg
    3.5 MB · Views: 0
  • 20220812_165702.jpg
    20220812_165702.jpg
    2.6 MB · Views: 0
Top