It's Lights Out for Me!

I have a recurring problems with exterior lights blowing out. I’ve had to replace bulbs in a turn signal light, brake light, headlight, and now another headlight-- all in the space of about a year. I’ve had a mechanic look it over but he couldn’t find a problem.

I notice when the engine is cold, the turn signal interior clicking is slower and speeds up as I accelerate. Once the engine is warmed up, that signal indicator clicks very rapidly, like when one bulb is blown.

Any ideas? I have to get the headlight fixed and am worried about how much this might cost if it’s something more than a little bulb.

Model year?
Odometer mileage?

It’s a 99 Subaru Legacy sedan, about 130,000 miles

One thing to check when the signal indicator clicks fast is the battery voltage. If it is above 14.9 volts DC suspect a problem with the alternator. Anytime, you are getting a lot of light burnouts check the battery/alternator voltage.

Hope that helps.

I also believe that over voltage is a possibility and should be checked. Most any auto parts store can do it and most will do it for free. High voltage or spikes of high voltage (spikes may be harder to verify) certainly will do it.

Something as simple as a loose wire can cause the spiking.

Are these halogen bulbs? Are you touching them with your bare skin?

I don’t know if they’re halogen bulbs. I don’t think so. (Aren’t those the new type of headlights you see? Very bright, different looking? I don’t have those) The mechanics or auto parts store guys helped me install them and I think they used their bare hands.

Thanks for your help everyone. I’ll get these things checked out.

Halogen bulbs are the traditional style that have been around for decades, but they are usually only found in a car’s headlights. They get very hot and the oils from your hands transfer to the bulb and cause hot spots which causes the bulb to fail more quickly (or so the story goes…) Because it’s not just your headlights having this problem, the problem most probably does not lie with touching the bulbs with bare skin (you can install halogen bulbs bare-handed, you just have to take care not to touch the glass).

I am also subscribing to the over-voltage theory, I’d say it’s almost definite. As was suggested, take it to a reputable mechanic and suggest that they check the charging system when the car is both cold and warm.

Josh has summed it up very well, and I have nothing to add beyond his excellent summary of the situation.

Along with checking the DC voltage of the charging system while the engine is running at around 2,000 RPM check to see if there is any AC voltage there also. There should be les than 0.1 volt.