The One Trick That’s Guaranteed to Get Rid of Water in Your Headlights

Picture this: You’re speeding down a dark highway late at night, when suddenly, your headlights go out. You manage to pull over to the side of the road, take out your phone, and shine it on the front of your ride. And then you see it: Your floods are flooded with water. How did this happen?!

Whether it’s harsh sunlight or torrential rain, Florida weather can wreak havoc on your car — especially if it happens to be a Subaru or Mercedes-Benz.

The experienced technicians at Madhouse Garage have seen plenty of cars with faulty, weather-damaged headlights. The problem has to do with defective factory seals. In the Florida sun, the components that keep the elements out of the headlights can dry up or crack, allowing water to enter the compartment, sometimes as soon as the next rainstorm. Miami’s humid climate also means condensation can easily form inside a headlight with a bad seal, especially when the temperature drops at night.

“It’s a weather thing, it also happens in places with snow. Cold weather can also negatively affect the sealant,” says Federico “Fede” Paladini, founder of Madhouse.

The problem can vary depending on the age and make of your car. For Mercedes, later models have better filtration systems, meaning the problem is only severe if water isn’t draining at all. In newer Subaru models, however, which have a completely electronic lighting system, a small amount of water leaking in can cause headlights to stop working entirely — a major safety issue.

            

For these problems, many mechanics would prefer to just replace the broken headlight entirely, which could run the vehicle owner into the hundreds. Madhouse, however, prefers to try and fix the problem without replacing anything.

The solution involves opening the headlights, cleaning the affected parts, and re-sealing them. Occasionally, they can go a step further.

“We have our own trick here to clean the headlight from the inside without opening, make sure it’s 100 percent dry and residual again.”

Either way, the job is very delicate. The components inside the headlight housing can scratch very easily, so technicians must use ultra-pure, distilled water free of any minerals. Once cleaned, a little time is needed for the lights to dry properly – and to insure the car doesn’t get caught in the rain before that can happen.

“You have to wait for the sealant to dry, so for me, I prefer to take the car with me overnight,” Fede says. “If the client cannot leave the car here, then I’d give them specific instructions to please avoid water, but it’s very difficult here in Florida because it rains three times a day, it’s almost impossible.”

The difficulty level can also increase depending on the car. An average Subaru Outback, for example, has a very compact engine bay, meaning a mechanic has to remove the front wheel before they can remove the headlights. But if all goes well, Madhouse can have the car ready for pickup within 24 hours.