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Drivers side headlight works only sometimes #4526330
09/26/17 02:13 AM
09/26/17 02:13 AM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 515
Fort Worth TX
TheKracken Offline OP
TheKracken  Offline OP
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 515
Fort Worth TX
Howdy all, I have 280k Miles on my 04 sienna awd limited and I am about to take a 2k mile move to texas from seattle.

Anyway, the drivers side headlight only seems to work sometimes... I replaced the bulb twice now so I don't think that is the issue...I am not sure how to check what else it could be. It for the most part will turn on but I think it might go out while driving? And sometimes but less often it just won't turn on the first time.

I appreciate if someone could help me figure this out. The bulbs are Halogens I think (the expensive bulbs)


2011 Prius 96k miles RLI 5w20
97 Toy T100 4x4: amsoil 0w20 242k Miles
04 Toy Sienna awd: Pennzoil 0w20 281k Miles
Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: TheKracken] #4526334
09/26/17 02:20 AM
09/26/17 02:20 AM
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 910
California
Kool1 Offline
Kool1  Offline
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 910
California
Your intermittent bulb issue is probably caused by an intermittent connection. I would start by turning on the light and wiggling wires until the light goes out. You can also check your grounds for the headlight. Clean all the grounds and make sure they are properly connected.

Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: TheKracken] #4526342
09/26/17 02:44 AM
09/26/17 02:44 AM
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 5,157
MA
Wolf359 Online content
Wolf359  Online Content
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 5,157
MA
Also those brighter bulbs tend to draw more current and in previous cars I had, people use to upgrade the wiring harness.

Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: TheKracken] #4526393
09/26/17 05:56 AM
09/26/17 05:56 AM
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 333
Alberta
tcp71 Offline
tcp71  Offline
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 333
Alberta
There could be a relay dedicated to that headlight that is sticking intermittently. Check relay descriptions in the manual for one that controls that headlight.


2016 F150 Eco: Edge 0w40
2005 Sienna 3.3: mobil 0w40 (varies)
Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: TheKracken] #4526410
09/26/17 06:40 AM
09/26/17 06:40 AM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,528
USA
mk378 Offline
mk378  Offline
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,528
USA
Halogen bulbs are the common inexpensive kind. The expensive bulbs that light up bright white are HID's.

HID headlights have a ballast unit for each bulb to convert from 12 volts to a high voltage that the bulb requires. These ballasts can become intermittent or fail entirely.

Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: TheKracken] #4526428
09/26/17 07:18 AM
09/26/17 07:18 AM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 1,480
Ontario, Canada
mightymousetech Offline
mightymousetech  Offline
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 1,480
Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: TheKracken

The bulbs are Halogens I think (the expensive bulbs)


Halgoens the "expensive bulb"? Uh, halogen are the cheap ones these days. Are they HID? An HID bulb usually runs about $100/bulb, as long as you are not buying a [censored] bulb.

When HIDs start having issues, only about a 50:50 chance of it being the bulb. The system is a lot more complex than that. Also, if you are not sure, be very careful, there is enough voltage in an HID system to kill you.


Mighty Mouse Tech
BMW Tech, Former Acura Tech
2010 Civic Si Castrol 0W40, Redline MTL
2013 BMW 135i M Sport Edition Castrol 0W40, Redline MTL
Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: mightymousetech] #4526490
09/26/17 08:54 AM
09/26/17 08:54 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 5,921
Illinois
SHOZ Offline
SHOZ  Offline
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 5,921
Illinois
Originally Posted By: mightymousetech
Originally Posted By: TheKracken

The bulbs are Halogens I think (the expensive bulbs)


Halgoens the "expensive bulb"? Uh, halogen are the cheap ones these days. Are they HID? An HID bulb usually runs about $100/bulb, as long as you are not buying a [censored] bulb.

When HIDs start having issues, only about a 50:50 chance of it being the bulb. The system is a lot more complex than that. Also, if you are not sure, be very careful, there is enough voltage in an HID system to kill you.
Usually HIDs will flicker if it's a voltage or connection issue. They change color if it's a bulb issue.

The high voltage is used when starting the bulb. Once the arc is established the voltage drops way off. But the starting voltage is much like a spark plug voltage/amperage.

I have 8 ballast for HIDs on my two cars. Never had an issue with a ballast in over 5 years. They are not expensive brands.


2008 Hyundai Accent 1.6L 5 sp manual hatchback
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Track 2L Turbo 6sp manual
Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: TheKracken] #4526525
09/26/17 09:30 AM
09/26/17 09:30 AM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 259
SE Michigan
MichiganMadMan Offline
MichiganMadMan  Offline
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 259
SE Michigan
I just chased down this issue on a 2009 car.

The ground wire or attachment was bad somewhere after the lamp. It would usually be normal intensity, but sometimes would be as dim as a candle and occasionally out completely. This usually happened more when it was hot underhood. Solution was to run a new ground wire from the lamp to the nearest body grounding point, I shined up the connections while I was in there. Works great now.


2015 Chevrolet Impala
2008 Subaru Impreza STI
2004 Suzuki Hayabusa
1987 Honda VFR700F2
2011 Jonsered 2188 Chainsaw-The Judge.
Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: TheKracken] #4526537
09/26/17 09:40 AM
09/26/17 09:40 AM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 119
North TEXAS
oldoak2000 Offline
oldoak2000  Offline
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 119
North TEXAS
Originally Posted By: TheKracken
Howdy all, I have 280k Miles on my 04 sienna awd limited and I am about to take a 2k mile move to texas from seattle.
Anyway, the drivers side headlight only seems to work sometimes... I replaced the bulb twice now so I don't think that is the issue...I am not sure how to check what else it could be. It for the most part will turn on but I think it might go out while driving? And sometimes but less often it just won't turn on the first time.
I appreciate if someone could help me figure this out. The bulbs are Halogens I think (the expensive bulbs)


Check wiring on that side, and check the FUSE for drivers-side HL (most vehicles have separate fuse for each side).

Problem could also be headlight On/Off switch -OR- HiBeam-LoBeam Switch(maybe integrated with turn-signal) . . .

Is it only the low-beam ?
I had similar problem on one vehicle that couldn't find the problem, and no time to further 'diagnose' so,
I setup a 'fix' with ( 12v relay + fuse + wire + splice connectors) like this: battery+ to fuse to relay contact; other contact to headlight low-beam.
Relay coil - one side to passenger low-beam wire, other to ground.
Wha-la - lowbeam 'FIXED'.

DO NOT 'go cheap' and try to 'direct connect' one side to the other - you'll likely blow fuses, overheat wiring, and burn-out switches/relays leaving you with NO headlights at all . . .

Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: TheKracken] #4526637
09/26/17 11:16 AM
09/26/17 11:16 AM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 515
Fort Worth TX
TheKracken Offline OP
TheKracken  Offline OP
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 515
Fort Worth TX
Sorry, yes they are the HID's. It is the low beam on the drivers side that only works sometimes. I will check fuses and see about checking ground wires and such but I am not very familiar with lighting systems.


2011 Prius 96k miles RLI 5w20
97 Toy T100 4x4: amsoil 0w20 242k Miles
04 Toy Sienna awd: Pennzoil 0w20 281k Miles
Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: TheKracken] #4526657
09/26/17 11:38 AM
09/26/17 11:38 AM
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 5,157
MA
Wolf359 Online content
Wolf359  Online Content
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 5,157
MA
Originally Posted By: TheKracken
Sorry, yes they are the HID's. It is the low beam on the drivers side that only works sometimes. I will check fuses and see about checking ground wires and such but I am not very familiar with lighting systems.


Jeez, that's a big difference. Factory or aftermarket? Who knows what the deal might be if they're aftermarket, but maybe the same possibility. They use a ballast so the ballast could be bad. Same with the bulb, those cheap aftermarket system use sub-par $10 HID bulbs when real ones go for $50-$100. They flicker and go out which the OEM ones don't. If they're factory and you got cheap bulbs from China/eBay that may also be your problem.

Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: TheKracken] #4526664
09/26/17 11:44 AM
09/26/17 11:44 AM
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 153
New Jersey
Ursatdx Offline
Ursatdx  Offline
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 153
New Jersey
If in fact they are HIDs it might be the headlight ECU or ballast.
Google "Toyota HID problems"
My Father's Avalon has issues with the HIDs.

Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: TheKracken] #4526727
09/26/17 01:10 PM
09/26/17 01:10 PM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 515
Fort Worth TX
TheKracken Offline OP
TheKracken  Offline OP
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 515
Fort Worth TX
It is all factory OEM and I didn't cheap out on the bulb. Not really sure how to check a ballast or ecu but I will try and figure it out laugh


2011 Prius 96k miles RLI 5w20
97 Toy T100 4x4: amsoil 0w20 242k Miles
04 Toy Sienna awd: Pennzoil 0w20 281k Miles
Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: TheKracken] #4526769
09/26/17 01:56 PM
09/26/17 01:56 PM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 1,480
Ontario, Canada
mightymousetech Offline
mightymousetech  Offline
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 1,480
Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: TheKracken
It is all factory OEM and I didn't cheap out on the bulb. Not really sure how to check a ballast or ecu but I will try and figure it out laugh


HID are usually pretty easy to diag, you have a complete set of good parts on the other side of the car. wink

Swap parts one by one until the other side has the problem, replace the last part swapped.

Just a reminder, never, ever, EVER turn the headlight on with it apart. 20,000 V is nothing to sneeze at.

Last edited by mightymousetech; 09/26/17 01:57 PM.

Mighty Mouse Tech
BMW Tech, Former Acura Tech
2010 Civic Si Castrol 0W40, Redline MTL
2013 BMW 135i M Sport Edition Castrol 0W40, Redline MTL
Re: Drivers side headlight works only sometimes [Re: mightymousetech] #4527034
09/26/17 07:25 PM
09/26/17 07:25 PM
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 5,157
MA
Wolf359 Online content
Wolf359  Online Content
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 5,157
MA
Originally Posted By: mightymousetech
Originally Posted By: TheKracken
It is all factory OEM and I didn't cheap out on the bulb. Not really sure how to check a ballast or ecu but I will try and figure it out laugh


HID are usually pretty easy to diag, you have a complete set of good parts on the other side of the car. wink

Swap parts one by one until the other side has the problem, replace the last part swapped.

Just a reminder, never, ever, EVER turn the headlight on with it apart. 20,000 V is nothing to sneeze at.


Yeah, that's pretty much it. Normally you swap the bulbs from one side to the other. If it follows, it's the bulb, if it does the same thing, it's the ballast. Bulb may have been fake. Amazon mixes their inventory with 3rd party sellers so even if you buy it from Amazon, you can get a fake bulb from one of their 3rd party sellers.


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