Who Killed the Sealed Beam Headlamp?

I would say changing a V6 timing belt is easier than changing all 3 timing chains on a V6.

GM’s LY7 V6, which was used on MANY GM vehicles for several years, has had SIGNIFICANT problems with their timing chains. And that engine uses 3 chains. And there are plenty of other engines out there that use 3 chains.

Even Mercedes had trouble with timing chains. The 3.8l V-8 in the 380SL was initially equipped with single-row chains, which proved to be unreliable to the extent that they were retrofitted with two-row chains.

It’s the interference problem that needs to be slammed and not the rubber bands. Properly placed dimples in piston tops would eliminate engine damage when there is a failure in the valve train. But then some of the rubber band timing belts are so difficult to access and replace that the DIYer just ignores the manufacturer’s advice and drives 'till it breaks and then cries over spilled milk. I just don’t understand why the Ford Pinto engine was never well liked. It was used in so many vehicles, most recently the Ranger and the timing belt was a simple job while a belt failure would only result in the engine going dead.

I wouldn’t mind timing belts if they were as easy to replace as the serpentine belt but you have to disassemble half the engine to get to some of them. A scheduled maintenance item should be easier to access IMO.

I have to revise my visualization of the car assembly line. I used to say that at the start of the line was a single hook with a heater core on it and they built the rest of the car around it. Now I believe there are two hooks…the other has the timing belt :wink:

I’ll take the plastic headlights myself. Polishing them back to as new condition costs about $10. I use Mequiars kit myself. Replacing the entire sealed beam headlight seems very wasteful as opposed to only replacing the bulb. Ymmv


LED headlights have been in the assessment and approval process of the D.O.T for some time now. If they’re not already legal, they soon will be. But they’ll still be put behind polycarbonate lighting units. The plastic modules allow design freedom and the technology to mold them has progressed to where they are less expensive to the manufacturer than the old way.

I agree with you on the superiority of sealed beam lighting, and in that I don’t believe the average person realizes how much light is lost when the fogging develops. It’s exactly like cataracts for your headlights. I also agree that the restoration kits can only do so much. I personally prefer using regular polishing compound (I’ve tried both) using a wet sponge on a variable speed drill.

It seems strange that headlights started out as bulbs behind glass lenses, progressed to seal beam lights that incorporated both the bulbs and the lenses as one, and are now back to bulbs behind lenses. Only now the lenses are plastic.

I just replaced the headlights on my Mustang (housing, headlight bulbs, and turn signal bulbs) Total cost was $115 for headlights and two new turn signal bulbs, only took 5 minutes total to remove the old ones and install the new ones.

While it is nice to be able to cheaply replace the headlights, I haven’t had the problems with the new style. When I wax the cars I use plastic polish on all of the lights and I’ve never had a hazing problem. I really haven’t had a problem with chipping or sandblasting either and I like the new styling. Hazing I think is more a problem of lack of maintenance than anything.

I just changed my lighting units (I messed one up trying to modify it) and both sides ran me about $200. New bulbs cost about $50 (for the high extra bright incandescent ones).


my colleague at work regularly uses that regular polishing compound on yellowed lenses.

They initially look very good.

However, when the car comes back in 6 months for its next scheduled service, it looks like its old yellowed self. You can’t even tell that the guy did anything at all.

I used the Sylvania headlight restoration kit on my car several months ago. Followed the instructions. To the tee. They still look good.

Luckily my 03 lenses are still clear, and a pair of bulbs is less than $30 and easy to replace. Cheaper than previous posts for sure! Halogen, I think halogen as you are not supposed to touch them, but recall a previous post of a honda for a $200 repair bill for new headlights.

You can make the old yellow plastic headlights like new as I did:
Take them out of the car.
Wash the lenses with dish washing detergent and plenty of water.
Sandpaper 400-600-1000 wet.
Let them dry.
Spray paint them with clear coat.
Best if it is the bodyshop clear coat, but the one in tin can will do.
They look very good for several years.


My colleague doesn’t spray the clear coat

That is why his polished lenses look like . . . . in no time flat

I asked him why he even bothers if it doesn’t make any difference in the long run.

He just looked at me and said “Huh”

Its just that the lenses almost seem to start degrading immediately, Would putting clear film over the lenses help I wonder? Whats the trick, no exposure to uv light?

When a car is new a composite lamp is a marvel, cant be beat, but I swear after 3 years you would be better with a sealed beam. My old camaro never had these issues.

Personally, I prefer the old 5 X 7 rectangular glass, halogen sealed beams. They’re durable, cheap, easy to install, and polishing is never needed.
While in Wal Mart this evening I noted those things are on sale for 8 bucks and change apiece. Less than 20 bucks tax and all gets both sides.

Polishing composites is not always an answer. Some reflectors dull and there is hardly any way to get around that problem.

Style over function is the norm.

My protocol works great for restoring the modules, however like everyone who feels styling should not compromise function I’d prefer sealed beam.

What I’d actually like to see is glass lenses over chromed reflectors with replacable modern bulbs. But I’ll never see that again. Too expensive to manufacture.

TSMB - that was the ‘hot’ setup some years ago, Cibie ‘BOBI’ I believe:

"What I’d actually like to see is glass lenses over chromed reflectors with replacable modern bulbs. But I’ll never see that again. Too expensive to manufacture. "

I’d sooner pay extra for a car with glass-front headlights than HID lamps.

I’d rather circle “1964 Jaguar XKE”. The first of the breed had glass headlight covers, I like the link, though. It provides a lot of good information.

But guys . . . if you want a vehicle with sealed beams, that leaves two choices

Older car

Big commercial trucks (they can still be had with sealed beams of all shapes)