Ghost Bulbs? Used Dialectric Grease and Now Bulbs Shorting Out

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May 24, 2019
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Well, I had dried out my bulb assemblies for my front side marker and turn signal lights both left and right front on the Lesabre. After cleaning out the sockets, I added Dialectric grease to socket and end of bulb because I thought it would help repel moisture in the future. I am noticing that the bulbs will last for a few uses (say 3 drives) and then one or more bulb on each side stops working. When I take out the bulbs, the filaments are intact. Is it possible that the grease is causing the 2 metal connections in the bulb base to short and thus making a problem for myself? Or could it be something else? The fuse is fine. When the bulbs are first put in, they shine and blink just fine. Right and left turn signals as well as Emergency flashers all work Is it possible that the bulbs, as they heat up, are softening the grease and that is a factor? Using the correct bulbs (Sylvania LL 194's and 3057's). Crawling under the car in zero temps for the 4th time is getting a wee bit old. Sigh......
 

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Well, I had dried out my bulb assemblies for my front side marker and turn signal lights both left and right front on the Lesabre.
You have a Buick LeSabre. The last year Buick made the LeSabre was in 2005. It’s highly likely that you need to replace the entire lamp unit.
 
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Dielectric grease is non-conductive so that itself is not your issue.

What was the need to 'dry out your bulb assemblies'?

Sylvania LL's are, in my experience, garbage. Choose a different name brand like GE or Wagner and see if they help.
 
Joined
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Dielectric grease will definitely not cause a short like you describe.

You might check the sockets/connectors that the bulbs fit into. I've seen the wires work their way out the back end of the connector over many years of an owner repeatedly pulling on the wires instead of pulling on the connector.
 
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Yes those bulbs are nothing to write home about, and you might have a bad batch.

Check the metal contacts in the sockets for signs of corrosion or overheating. Replace sockets if they are bad. When a 3057 has a bad contact it also tends to melt the plastic base of the bulb so the wire sinks into the plastic. Then you also need a new bulb.

Plug bulb in and turn on then before putting back together wiggle on the bulb to make sure the contact is solid.
 
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I've witnessed others force a wad of dielectric grease into a light connector then seat the new bulb, only to have it not work at all.

The pressure of the grease bent the contacts away from each other.

In some cases there was contact, but over such a small portion the contacts got so hot that they melted into the surrounding plastic and contact was lost. After cleaning they then needed to be pried from the recesses they melted into the plastic.

Make sure not to get any grease on the glass of the bulbs themselves.
 
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I had the exact same issue on the mother in law's LeSabre with water getting into the housings. You need to make sure you've cleaned all the green crusties out of the bulb sockets or replace them altogether. Also, I make it a rule to always replace the bulbs whenever I have a lamp assembly apart (except headlights).
 
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All of the above.
A thin coat of dielectric grease. Resistance goes down as well as heat. Bulb life increases.
Remove socket corrosion. Don't just "wad" a socket, as above. That's lazy, uninvolved and very telling.
Plus, the wedge base designs in the OP are not "hearty".

I'm glad car makers' underhood plug designs seem to seal well. There's never any crud in those.

A Camaro buff LIT UP upon hearing I completely cleaned, greased and replaced ALL the body lamps in an '01 T top.
So much so I'd wager he was familiar with bad sockets.
He had no qualm with an ugly, conspicuous, yellowed rear lens repair. My dependable, clear "wonder epoxy" must've aged.
It did keep the water out.
 

BlueOvalFitter

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I use dielectric grease on almost every electrical connection and bulb install. I also put it on my battery posts and cable ends. I only buy it in big tubes.
DG.jpeg
 

LowMilesLesabre

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Well, went back under the car today and decided to try again with bulb 3057. Upon inspection, again, the bulb looks fine and under a magnifier, the filaments inside appear just fine. What I DID notice is that I needed more than rubbing alcohol to clean the socket contact points. I went in and sanded the socket contacts. Also important was that I had noticed that taking out and putting in the bulbs seemed a bit too 'easy' in that I'm used to this type of bulb socket to offer a bit more resistance than I was getting. I pinched the contacts a bit closer with small needle nose pliers, cleaned the contacts after sanding and inserted a new bulb. Drove around and was not able to loosen it.. NOTE: this bulb hangs down in it's mounting within the side marker lens. After inspecting the wires to the socket which appear just fine, my latest theory is that the socket had lost it's grip tension on the bulb so we will see what happens moving forward. The high today was a balmy 30 F , but its going to drop again this week to 10 F for the high and 0 F for the low. I am not a fan of wintertime outdoor car maintenance, but figured I had better get while the getting was good today. And sunshine gave me extra light to see. Fingers crossed (y)
 
Joined
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Well, I had dried out my bulb assemblies for my front side marker and turn signal lights both left and right front on the Lesabre. After cleaning out the sockets, I added Dialectric grease to socket and end of bulb because I thought it would help repel moisture in the future. I am noticing that the bulbs will last for a few uses (say 3 drives) and then one or more bulb on each side stops working. When I take out the bulbs, the filaments are intact. Is it possible that the grease is causing the 2 metal connections in the bulb base to short and thus making a problem for myself? Or could it be something else? The fuse is fine. When the bulbs are first put in, they shine and blink just fine. Right and left turn signals as well as Emergency flashers all work Is it possible that the bulbs, as they heat up, are softening the grease and that is a factor? Using the correct bulbs (Sylvania LL 194's and 3057's). Crawling under the car in zero temps for the 4th time is getting a wee bit old. Sigh......
I did the same on the tail light bulbs on my 2008 Jeep, I just spread a light film on the bulb contact wires.
I've been fighting them ever since. I have to pull them out every few weeks and reinstall them to make them work again.
I've tried cleaning the sockets and bulb bases with contact cleaner but it doesn't help.
 

LowMilesLesabre

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May 24, 2019
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Upon further inspection! Well, I dove back under the car (after shoveling a spot for myself in the snow), and took a little sand paper to rough up the socket contacts. (Garnet Sandpaper, NOT aluminum oxide type) and then cleaned with rubbing alcohol. Last but not least, I seemed to recall that when replacing rear turn signal light bulbs last fall, removing the old bulbs and inserting new ones required a bit more force that these up front that have been a thorn in my side. So, I used some small needle nose pliers and pinched the socket contacts a little more towards each other to make for a more snug fit. Sure enough, they have (fingers crossed) continued to work just fine so far. I am beginning to thing this was at least part of the issue because none of the bulbs I had to take out were burned out. Filaments still look good in all of them. Well, we shall see, but for now, I'd like it to at least continue working until the Spring thaw :rolleyes:
 
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