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Water damaged headlights

MrMarky

New member
Location
Boston
Car(s)
VW GTI mK7 Autobahn
Hi everyone,
Two days ago, we had some pretty severe Heavy rain while I was driving and I was forced to cross a segment of road that flash flooding. The water was much deeper than I thought it was, but the car made it through and everything seems to be fine except my headlights are full of water and not functioning properly at all. I currently have what appears to be normal functioning daytime running lights, with the passenger side curbs light on (constantly) and no low beam lamps. The high beams on both sides are not functioning at all, and the driving side curb light doesn’t come on when the directional is used however both turn signals seem to be working fine.

I bought the car with after market headlamps and honestly I don’t know what kind they are.i am only getting one error message saying the system isn’t working properly.

I’m about to take the headlamps out to investigate further but wanted see if anyone suggest how to approach this or had any similar experiences?
Thanns
 

jimlloyd40

Autocross Champion
Location
Phoenix
Car(s)
2018 SE DSG
Welcome to the forum. Moral of the story is don't drive through flooded roads. That must have been really deep to fill the headlights with water. You're lucky the car didn't stall.
 

Elcheapo Loco

New member
Location
CA
First step would be to remove both headlight housings from the car. Remove all bulbs and inspect. Then drain/dry the housings, probably put them in the oven with low heat to remove all moisture. If it's aftermarket you are very likely dealing with HIDs so you will have to check the ballasts as well. I believe most HID ballasts are water proof but you never know.
 

Jose_Gti

Ready to race!
Location
Philadelphia
The headlights should have drains, check if they are operational, take out the headlight unit, the bulbs and leave it to dry under the sun.
 

MrMarky

New member
Location
Boston
Car(s)
VW GTI mK7 Autobahn
Thanks for the replies. Since I wrote that, I removed the headlights from the car and took them apart and dried them off using a hairdryer, but the more I looked the more I realized that this was a bigger problem than I thought, and also much more that I was willing/capable of fixing on my own. Especially after I found corroded circuit boards and waterlogged ballasts, and did some more research on the things that could be damaged in addition to the headlights. So I called my insurance agency and had it towed to the dealership for a complete evaluation. It was a no brainer once I looked into the cost of repairing the headlamps alone. I haven’t heard back from the dealership yet, but I’m very anxious to hear what they say.
 

MrMarky

New member
Location
Boston
Car(s)
VW GTI mK7 Autobahn
The headlights should have drains, check if they are operational, take out the headlight unit, the bulbs and leave it to dry under the sun.
The drains were not clogged not from what I could see. The problem was who ever installed the after market lights replaces something, which I think was a ballast, and the new one didn't fit like the old one and they just slathered it with some kind of silicone but didn’t actuallly seal the gap underneath. Also those “drains” I believe are more like vents and designed to let condensation escape but not actually drain a completely full headlamp. If that much water goes in there, I don’t see how air could get in to let the water out. Maybe they sealed it too much on the top? I don’t know.
 

MrMarky

New member
Location
Boston
Car(s)
VW GTI mK7 Autobahn
Welcome to the forum. Moral of the story is don't drive through flooded roads. That must have been really deep to fill the headlights with water. You're lucky the car didn't stall.
Thanks! It’s great to have so many other enthusiasts as a resource! Trust me, if I had a choice I wouldn’t have gone thru the water but it was the only way out and it was getting deeper and deeper by the second. Had I delayed any longer the damages would have definitely been much worst. Besides, haven’t you seen those old VW adds where they drive the Beetle into the lake and boast about how airtight it is?
 

cb1111

Newbie
Location
Virginia, USA
The drains were not clogged not from what I could see. The problem was who ever installed the after market lights replaces something, which I think was a ballast, and the new one didn't fit like the old one and they just slathered it with some kind of silicone but didn’t actuallly seal the gap underneath. Also those “drains” I believe are more like vents and designed to let condensation escape but not actually drain a completely full headlamp. If that much water goes in there, I don’t see how air could get in to let the water out. Maybe they sealed it too much on the top? I don’t know.
There are no "drains" for water. As you said, the housings are intended to vent condensation.

This also illustrates the problem with aftermarket installs. If you're lucky, the dealership will rip out all of that aftermarket crap and put OE back in. You might want to consider trading the car in once it is fixed - assuming the insurance company doesn't total it.
 

JC_451

Autocross Newbie
Location
NJ
Car(s)
2017 GTI Sport
You should have caulked the wagon and floated it across the river.

If you try to ford when you should have caulked you're gonna have a bad time.
 
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