Headlight door motors are an electrical component that is found on vehicles equipped with retracting or “pop up” headlights. While headlights with retracting doors and motors are no longer common place among manufacturers, headlight door motors are still found on certain older vehicles found on the road. The motors are controlled by the driver and serve the purpose of mechanically extending and retracting the headlights. When the motors fail it can cause issues with opening and closing the headlight doors, which can prevent the headlights from providing proper illumination. Usually bad or failing headlight door motors will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a potential issue.
1. Headlight doors do not open
One of the most common symptoms of bad or failing headlight motors is headlights that do not open. If the headlight door motors fail, the headlights will not be able to extend and open. This will be an issue, as retracted headlights will not be able to provide suitable illumination for the driver. Some headlight motors can be manually extended by turning a knob, however any time they need to be opened or closed it will have to be done manually.
2. Headlight doors stuck open
Another symptom of a bad or failing headlight door motor is headlights doors that remain stuck open. If the headlight door motors fail when the headlights are extended or opened, they may remain stuck in the open position. Headlight doors that are stuck open may still be able to provide adequate lighting to drive at night, however they will require service to restore proper operation.
3. Headlight doors operate erratically and open or close on their own
Erratic headlight door operation is another sign of a possibly faulty headlight door motor. A bad or failing headlight door motor can cause the headlights to malfunction and behave erratically. The headlights may extend and retract on their own intermittently, which may interfere with their ability to provide light. Electrical issues can also produce similar symptoms so having the vehicle properly diagnosed is highly recommended.
4. Grinding noise
Another symptom of faulty headlight door motors is grinding noises from the motors. If the motors make any sort of grinding sounds when they are in use then that may be a sign that they may be damaged and need to be replaced. Usually motors that produce grinding noises will also have problems retracting and extending the headlights.
While headlight door motors are not found on the majority of road going vehicles, they are still a component that can fail and cause problems for the vehicles that they are equipped with them. If you suspect that your vehicle’s headlight door motors may be having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if the motors should be replaced.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Headlight Door Motor and was authored by Eduardo Ruelas.