Lights and headlights

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Hi All,
Two questions relating to my 2001 Hyundai Elantra:
1) A couple of bulbs have burned out on the instrument cluster. I'm having trouble replacing the two smaller lights that went out (fuel
gauge backlight and transmission gear indicator - drive): They're teenie tiny bulbs - 3/16" in diameter, about 1 millimeter smaller than a size 37 bulb. I could not get the 37 into the twist-lock socket. Is there some other size I should be looking for? I swear I spent an hour looking through hmaservice.com and could not find bulb size specifications for instrument panel bulbs.
2) I have had my left headlight burn out 3 times in about a year and a half. It's starting to be a noticeable cost. What might cause one headlight to burn out frequently?
Thanks! -Matthew
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1) Not all the cluster bulbs are the same. You should be able to source bulb and socket assemblies from the dealer. Expect to special order them.
2) -- cracks allowing water to intrude and contact the bulb -- touching the bulb glass during installation -- poor quality bulb
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My 2001 Elantra had the same problems, constantly burned out headlights and other bulbs, heard it was from an overcharging alternator. My daughter had an accident in the car, she was stopped for trafiic, and a SUV hit her from behind at 70MPH, drove her into the stopped car in front of her, big impact to the front also. Air bags did not deploy, none of them. The car had a history of airbag light being on, in the shop 7 times, said they finally fixed it, but I also heard this problem could also be an overcharging alternator affecting the airbag control unit.

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Too soon to tell yet, but I'm beginning to think it might be a loose contact to the bulb. I put some conductive greese on my contacts before plugging the bulb in as I noticed the contacts seemed a little loose last time I had a bulb go bad. So far so good, time will tell. BTW a bad alternator is not going to burn out the left headlight 3 times and leave the right headlight alone.
Dan

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It is possible for one side lamp to burn out more quickly than another side. If the length of the conductors to the lamps differ there will be different voltage drops in the cables leaving different voltages at the lamps. Particularly noticeable on older 6 volt systems because of higher currents. Once the rated voltage at tle lamp is exceeded there is a exponential drop in lamp life. An extra 1/2 volt will kill a lamp very quickly.See if you can get a voltmeter/multimeter to check lamp voltage and alternator output. Good luck John

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In principle I agree, but once you replace a burned out bulb, now you have an after-market bulb. Once you put those in, you may find yourself doing it frequently, especially if the alternator voltage is high.
In my world, I would just hope that the one on the other side doesn't burn out. OTOH, if it does, he should know quickly whether it is that problem or not, as now both bulbs will burn out with annoying frequency. It just doesn't seem to take much to burn out those H7's. Which might explain why they are quickly being phased out as models are being updated.

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My girlfriend has a 2004 Elantra with a similar problem. The stock headlights lasted about 3 years, then I replaced them with silverstars when one burned-out. One silverstar buned-out about 2 months later, and I thought it was a bad bulb. Wiothin a week, before we got around to replacing it, she was driving to work in the dark and the other side burned-out. Well, We replaced those with Sylvania Cool Blues (I have used the H2's with no problem on my Subaru). Those lasted about a year now and one has burned-out again.
The Hyundai dealer told her it was because the lights are always on, but I believe he was full of it because it doesn't have daytime running lamps, and even if it did, that would be the high-beams. Do they stay on when you turn off the car for a while though? I'll ask her, but she might not have noticed. Maybe the lower voltage in that case has a bad effect ?
I want to check the voltage like John suggested - can someone tell me what operating voltage I should look for? Can I just check at the battery terminals for alternator voltage, since the system voltage shouldn't be any higher downstram from that? I'm not all that familiar with the engine compartment layout in her car.
Jason
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hasoan wrote:

He IS full of it, as the headlights are only on if you turn them on.
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You can verify proper alternator output by measuring the voltage at the battery, should be in the 13.5 to 14.8 volt range or so. You can measure the voltage at the headlight bulbs, but that will be almost the same provided there is nothing wrong with the cars wiring, and that is the issue here...these cars are burning out a lot of H7 bulbs when there is nothing "wrong". I'm still sticking to the theory that the crimp connectors that the bulbs connect to get loose after a bulb replacement or two and that is causing problems (my bulbs are still working after using conductive greese on those connections), but another thought has come up: when you leave the headlights on all the time (as I and my wife do) perhaps a surge is going through the headlights when the car first starts, or perhaps a surge is generated when the car is turned off. I don't have the test equipment necessary to test this theory out. One way to do it would be to train yourself to always turn the lights off before stopping the car and then turn them on after you start...but its sooo much easier just to leave them on all the time...
Dan
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Dan K wrote:

True, the problem seems to be widespread on vehicles with no obvious electrical problems. My car runs great and there are no obvious voltage fluctuations. An unstable electrical system would likely wreak havoc on the computers in the car, too.

If you're referring to "dielectric grease", it's NON-conductive (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dielectric ). If the issue was conductivity, the grease would gain you nothing and possibly make the problem worse. This is a common misconception, probably due to the use of dielectric grease on connections as a corrosion inhibitor. In that role, it can reduce long-term degradation of electrical connections, but it still does not increase conductivity.

That's a reasonable possibility, but my own experience indicates that it may not be the problem.

I've tried that and it hasn't seemed to increase the life of the bulbs at all. Granted, my experimentation with this has be limited and not very scientific.
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I also had the same problems, see earlier post. On several occasions when a headlight would burn out, the check engine light would come on.

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Us wrote:

That seems pretty odd and may indicate a more serious problem. The only indication I've seen of burned out headlights is that it's darker in front of the car at night. ;-)
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1) I realize there are different sizes... The largest bulbs seem to be standard 168s, so I was hoping the smaller bulbs would be something standard too. Alas, a special order! That's a bummer.
2) a) no cracks, maybe a seal is worn? I'll have to look more closely next time it rains. b) I'm extremely careful to never touch the bulb c) I've always gotten sylvanias; I haven't seen anything that would indicate them being of inferior quality.

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Matthew Fedder wrote:

Elantras tend to eat headlight bulbs with 6 months being pretty typical life, depending on usage. I'm on my forth brand of bulbs and so far haven't found any that last longer than 6 months. It may just be something inherent in H7 bulbs.
The fact that only one of yours is burning out is likely to be coincidence. Next time, replace both of them with the same type and see what happens. I'll bet they both burn out in about the same time.
BTW Osram-Sylvania bulbs are nothing special these days, though I've heard that if you can find original Osram bulbs, they're better. Their Silverstar bulbs are nice and bright, but have the shortest lifespan of the bulbs I've tried so far. I've also tried PIAA, which were expensive and short-lived. I'm currently running Hella lamps, but they haven't hit the six month point yet, so I can't report on their durability compared to the others.
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> GUEST wrote: > Hi All, > > Two questions relating to my 2001 Hyundai Elantra: > > 1) A couple of bulbs have burned out on the instrument cluster. I'm > having trouble replacing the two smaller lights that went out (fuel > gauge backlight and transmission gear indicator - drive): They're > teenie tiny bulbs - 3/16" in diameter, about 1 millimeter smaller than > a size 37 bulb. I could not get the 37 into the twist-lock socket. Is > there some other size I should be looking for? I swear I spent an hour > looking through hmaservice.com and could not find bulb size > specifications for instrument panel bulbs. >
> 2) I have had my left headlight burn out 3 times in about a year and a > half. It's starting to be a noticeable cost. What might cause one > headlight to burn out frequently? > > Thanks! > -Matthew
Light bulbs should last many years in these cars. If they are exhibiting short life, there is a problem in the electrical system. Duh!
If the measured voltage seems to be in the correct range, it may be possible that voltage spikes are present and these are taking out the bulbs.
Has anyone tried putting a capacitor across the bulbs to see if it helped? Depending on the length of the voltage spike, the capacitor may help. I would guess around 50-100 microfarads would absorb a short spike or better yet also parallel a smaller capacitor, say 0.1-1 microfarad. Be sure to use a capacitor rated at least 25 volts DC.
This is just a thought but maybe worth a try. The battery will also help with the spikes.
Good Luck...Luke
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southluke wrote:

Do you own one? It's a common problem with these cars, but it may be more related to the H7 bulbs than to the cars themselves. My understanding is that Hyundai has switched to a different type of bulb in current models.

A few people on other forums have tried that and it hasn't helped.
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My 2001 Elantra burned out the following items:
Headlights 4 Transmission Sensors 2 Air Bag Control 2

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Wow, that's quite a coincidence -- my 2001 Elantra has also burned out 4 headlights (3 left, 1 right), two transmission sensors, and an O2 sensor, between 68k miles when I bought it and 118k.
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Us wrote:

The headlights don't surprise me at all, but the other items may indicate a significant electrical problem. Has anyone checked your alternator output?
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> GUEST wrote: > Hi All, > > Two questions relating to my 2001 Hyundai Elantra: > > 1) A couple of bulbs have burned out on the instrument cluster. I'm > having trouble replacing the two smaller lights that went out (fuel > gauge backlight and transmission gear indicator - drive): They're > teenie tiny bulbs - 3/16" in diameter, about 1 millimeter smaller than > a size 37 bulb. I could not get the 37 into the twist-lock socket. Is > there some other size I should be looking for? I swear I spent an hour > looking through hmaservice.com and could not find bulb size > specifications for instrument panel bulbs. >
> 2) I have had my left headlight burn out 3 times in about a year and a > half. It's starting to be a noticeable cost. What might cause one > headlight to burn out frequently? > > Thanks! > -Matthew
My 2002 Sonata has H7 bulbs and it has never burned one out and my wife burns them practically all the time. I suspect this bulb short life is another one of those Hyundai problems that they will never fix.
Have a couple of other things to try that I used to do when I designed incandescent lights into products. One thing that adds life is to reduce the thermal shock when first turned on. Installing a resistor in parallel with the light switch will cause the filament to warm up when the ignition switch is turned on. This reduces the thermal shock when the light switch is closed. I would try around 10 ohms, 30 watt resistor. On the Sonata, the lights change to parking lights when the ignition switch is off and the light switch is on. I am assuming the Elantra does the same thing.
Another trick I used to add life was adding a very small resistor in series with the lamp. A small reduction of voltage on the bulb will add many hours of life to the bulb. This value will be probably around 0.1 ohm, 2 watt. You will not notice dimming from this.
These may be a little work to install but may be worth the effort.
I still think the problem is caused by high voltage at the bulbs, either all the time or intermittently. This is the cause of the failures.
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