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Strange brown goo inside lamp housings!

I have a 1995 Chevy Cavalier with 242,000 miles (it runs great actually). I got it about 5 months ago. Many of the tail lamps didn’t work; turn signals, brake lights, back up lights. I checked the lamps and, indeed, some were burned out. But stranger was the presence of a brown goo inside the lamp housing sockets. It had the consistency of fudge, and smelled like crayons - sort of waxy. No, I didn’t taste it. I asked a salesperson at the local parts store about the goo, and he suggested someone put glue in the sockets to keep the bulbs from coming loose. It seemed somewhat plausible at the time. Anyway, I cleaned out the goo. I got most of it out with the tip of an X-Acto knife, and finished the job with solvent, cotton swabs, and pipe cleaners. Fortunately, the lamp housings snap off of the power lines in the car so I could take them inside to clean them out.

Fast forward 5 months to last week when my tail lights failed again. I checked the fuse first since I figured the lamps were not very old but the fuse was OK. I removed the tail lamps and there was the brown goo again! It mysteriously grew back! Most of the goo is in the back up light sockets. Some was in the turn signal light sockets, and both turn signal lamps were scorched at the base - black melted plastic. SO, does anyone have any idea why I am getting the brown goo?? I have some ideas: a) it’s deteriorating plastic building up, b) the electrical charge in the socket is ionizing something and attracting it (like metal plating), c) it’s moisture or water related, d) I am losing my freaking mind. ~ Tom

Do you live in a dusty area? I have experienced this exact situation on a vehicle that traveled to dusty areas and back to Washington. I suspect that dust is collecting in the sockets and when wet, forming clay. Think about ways to seal the sockets. I will probably use electrical tape.

Some people put dielectric grease in lamp sockets to prevent them from corroding,


It’s not strictly only corrosion that this dielectric grease prevents but also what is called “fretting”, which can get contacts fail even in absence of water

so, it’s a good idea to do, but looks like some people overdo it … way too much

it’s funny 11-years old thread got resurrected