Why is there steam coming out of my headlights?

I see quite a bit of steam coming through my headlights when I inspect it at night after a drive up and down the main roads (80km/h). My coolant tank is half-full, doesn't appear to be any leaks, the radiator is new and was fixed up at a mechanic two months ago.

6 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Best Answer

    Your headlight is two parts, an outer shell and reflector, plus a bulb. There should never be water in there, and to prevent entry, the parts have seals, which can fail. Read on, please.

    The bulb generates quite a bit of heat, so the water you are getting inside the housing heats up when the light is "ON", and evaporates as the steam you see.

    It is not uncommon to get seal problems around the lamp that let water in, as noted, and that might require a trip to a dealership to get a new seal or replace the components, but there is a far more common reason for this problem and that is stone chips.

    It is now normal for the lens to be plastic and the plastic lens is subject to damage from stone chips. Even a very small stone hitting your lens at highway speed can easily cause a chip that goes past the surface and penetrates the lens, but remains unseen until you inspect it closely. Water then hitting the tiny hole can be forced through and into the headlight in a car wash and certainly at highway driving speeds.

    A simple, cheap, and very effective resolution for that problem is clear nail polish.

    It works equally well on plastic and glass lenses.

    Use the brush, and apply only as much as needed directly on the damaged area, but nowhere else. Even larger holes can be repaired this way. Once sealed, it will last for years ane even if does fail, another application will bring it right back.

    It is best to do this when the lamp has been on for some time (which allows the water to fully evaporate and escape) and then allowed to cool for at least a few minutes.


    I just re--read your query, and it appears that the steam is seen frequently, but you did not mention rain or car washing.

    If this is happening regularly and there has been neither rain nor wash done, then the problem has to be elsewhere, and the most probable place would be the cooling system

  • 8 years ago

    Modern headlights are not sealed (the kind that you plug the bulb into the back of them). Unlike older sealed beam Light, where the whole headlight was one big bulb. This means they have vents, air and moisture can get in there. What you're seeing is simple condensation evaporating from the heat of the lights.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    Ahh the good old headlight smoke!!!! I had a car that did the same thing, I drove it for 5 years and never did figure out where the smoke/steam was coming from.

  • gripp
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

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  • 8 years ago

    moisture is inside the headlights and the heat from the bulb is causing it to steam.

  • 8 years ago

    You should inspect your headlights for cracks, cause there might be some moisture inside.

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