Q. I have a late-model Chevy Silverado, and I’m replacing the halogen headlight bulbs every couple
of months. I’ve tried all brands of bulbs, I’ve checked my charging voltage, and I use gloves to install
the bulbs. Do you have any idea what could be causing them to burn out so quickly?

(Image/Steve Baur)

A. With all the obvious culprits out of the way, here are a few scenarios that can dramatically shorten the life of your headlight bulbs: Vibration from rough terrain, potholes, or even a loose headlamp housing (usually due to missing or broken mounting hardware) can stress the filament.

If your vehicle is regularly used off-road, upgrading to LED bulbs may be a better solution, as they can handle increased vibration.

Another thing to consider is that corrosion on the terminals creates electrical resistance that results in voltage loss at the bulb and increases heat at the wiring connections. Enough heat will melt a plastic connector, exposing the wiring to the elements. Inspect your headlight bulb terminals for signs of pitting or corrosion and check the plastic connectors for melting and damaged seals.

If you suspect any issues with the headlight connectors, replace the pigtails with a new set using heat shrink connectors to seal the wires, and be sure to lightly apply dielectric grease to all connections.

Don’t assume a bulb is clean out of the package, either. It’s a good idea to wipe the bulb with alcohol and add a thin layer of dielectric grease to the connector seal and O-ring. This will ease installation and promote a good seal, which is especially important for vehicles exposed to road salt.

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Author: Dave Matthews

Dave Matthews was a mechanic for the U.S. Army, a Ford dealership, and served for many years as a fleet mechanic for construction companies. Now a technical content producer at Summit Racing, Dave has spent decades working on everything from military vehicles to high performance race machines.