Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: How Can I Clean a Dirty Light Socket on My Car

asked by on

How can I clean a dirty light socket on my car?

Cleaning a light socket would depend on what type of dirt, corrosion, or rust the socket was contaminated with. These damages will vary depending on the sockets location on your vehicle. Sockets can be in sealed or semi sealed lens assemblies, either one will protect the socket from dirt but if the lens is cracked or the seals are dried out then dirt can enter.

Also, sockets will accumulate corrosion due to water intrusion or damaged or loose connections of the bulb to the socket contacts. This can occur especially on the rear of a vehicle that tows a boat or a vehicle that has cracked a lens after backing up into another object. This can also happen with the headlights or other marker bulbs such as license plate lights or side marker for your vehicle as they are more likely to be exposed to the elements daily. If you have a four wheel drive and go off roading or ford streams this also will put the sockets to the challenge.

So the way to clean a dirty light socket will vary based on the location and the type of dirt or corrosion. You should always isolate the circuit before attempting the repair. Sometimes this will require the removal of a fuse or the need to disconnect the battery. This prevents any possible short circuit damage while making the repair.

The socket can be cleaned with an electrical spray contact cleaner, compressed air and a small wire brush designed for socket cleaning. Once the bulb is removed you should check the integrity of the actual socket. If the socket is deformed due to heat or deteriorated or the contacts are burned or eroding then the assembly should be replaced. The proper repair for replacement is to cut the wires and solder the new wires in place using heat shrink tubing to provide a factory quality seal of the wires. Replacement sockets are available from the dealer or most aftermarket automotive suppliers. Note that in some applications a grease is applied to the socket and bulb. This dielectric grease is there to protect and insulate the connections. It can also be purchased and applied to the socket after cleaning.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Airbag light indicates passenger sensor problem

The sensor for a passenger sitting in this seat is a common failure item yes. The unit is pretty expensive and the fabric of the seat cushion must be removed to access and replace this component unless a new and...

Q: Turn signals not flashing

Hi there, It's not very uncommon for both tail lights to fail at the same time. However, the water or condensation inside the tail lamp may indicate a larger problem. If you replace the light bulbs it could cause an...

Q: No headlights and high beam indicator light on

Hello. There is not enough information to definitively say what the issue is. Do the headlights not work when they are on normally, or on high beams? If this is the case, the issue is likely pertaining to the power...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...