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: How do I turn on or turn off the illuminated entry?

The illuminated entry system is a light system that helps light up your car when it is unlocked. When the illuminated entry is turned on, the courtesy lights help you enter your vehicle easily when you’re in the dark. The...

Q: Right Blinker not working

If one bulb does not light up, the blinker will not blink as fast as it did or it will not blink at all, then turn on the left blinker to see all the bulbs that light up and then...

Q: Legal HID halogen lighting

I reset my lights so they go lower and I measured it and actually took it to a place that has a measuring device and they said that is totally legal. So I’m not worried about it. If you got...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
P2103 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle Actuator Control Motor Circuit High
P2103 means there is a fault with the throttle actuator control motor circuit, likely due to a defective electrical component or part.