Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for mechanics and DIY enthusiast owners of cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Every 6-8 months, one of the headlight bulbs on my 2002 Ford Escape burns out. I used to replace just the one but usually the other would go within a couple of months. Now, I just replace them both.

I'm not buying the expensive lights that, according to the packaging, don't last as long. Even if I were, 6-8 months of life seems really short.

Could there be another cause?

share|improve this question
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Could be you. I've heard from several sources that when installing light bulbs you should not touch the glass at all. When you touch the glass, any dirt/grease from your fingers will end up on the glass and will cause the bulb to run hotter than usual. This might cause premature failure.

Don't know how much of this is accurate or even if it's true but whenever I handle light bulbs I've always followed this advice.

Otherwise, the only thing I'd suggest is to check voltages to make sure light bulbs are not receiving more volts than what they are designed for.

UPDATE: So I got curious and did a little googling. Apparently, this is not a myth at all. Can't touch the glass. Just one of may examples:

share|improve this answer
Yeah, touching the glass on a halogen or xenon bulb is a big no-no. – Josh Sandlin Jan 10 '12 at 1:52

Check you power lines voltage at range of revs, it could be that your voltage stabilizer is malfunctioning and given higher voltage than it should.

I had similar case with my Skoda, the lights (cockpit, headlights and everything else) would glow lighter the more revs motor did. It was noticeable to the eye at night. Lightbulbs are sensitive to voltage and will burn out early. In my case replacement voltage regulator solved the problem.

share|improve this answer

If you have water in the headlight housing, or getting into the connectors, this will cause the bulbs to fail prematurely. Also, if the headlights are not mounted securely the bulbs may be subject to more vibration than normal, shortening their life.

share|improve this answer

My 2002 Ford Escape 'eats' drivers side bulbs. Turns out the connector to the bulb is making poor contact. When the bulb 'burns out', odds are if I wiggle the connector, it starts working again. That means its a bad connector. Eventually, I'll replace it. But I do recommend electrical contact lubricant to keep the next one from corroding.


share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.