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08 Platinum Escalade, 08 CTS, 01 TransAm WS6, 07 SolsticeGXP
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478 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys,

I brought in my car because I am getting some pretty annoying condensation in my headlights.

I got it back from the dealer, and in the rain yesterday, sure enough, there was no change. The dealer told me it's normal, and there is a TSB on this saying it's normal after a high-pressure wash, etc.

I did not wash my car with a high-pressure washer, and it wasn't even raining that badly.

This is what my headlights looked like afterward. Is this truly normal? I am a member of AlldataDIY and I don't see any TSB on this. I have to bring the car back next week for other repairs.

Before I escalate this to the GM District Manager, I hope to get some opinions, thoughts, and experiences from you guys, so that I can bring it with me to the garage next week.

Is this by design, or is there an issue here?

I look forward to your observations!

Thanks,

Mike
 

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2017 CTS-V
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1,670 Posts
Mine definitely doesn't look like that even after high pressure washes. Not normal in my opinion.
 

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2008 CTS Blackallac, FE3, Fully loaded
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317 Posts
No I have never had that. I never do a high pressure wash, that is bad for the paint (in my opinion). Anyways, I live in Arizona too, so it must be the dry heat.
 

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2008 Black Cherry CTS4 - FE2, J55
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205 Posts
I live in New England and it's been raining on and off here for what seems like weeks and mine have never looked like that.

-Mark
 

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2009 CTS DI AWD FE2 CRYSTAL RED TINTCOAT/LIGHT TITANIUM
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295 Posts
That is absolutely NOT normal and indicates either a break in the seal or a seal not properly installed. I would demand that both headlight assemblies be replaced. Eventually it will get worse and begin to damage components within the assemby itself. Of course, by then your CTS may be out of warranty and you will be stuck with the replacement cost which is probably why your dealer gave you the TSB B.S. I would also, if possible, find another dealer as yours is either ignorant or outright lying.
Also, high pressure car washes have been around for many years and will not dislodge lighting seals if they are properly installed in the first place. Were that the case, car mfgs. would be going broke replacing light assemblies up the wazoo! :mad:
Then again, they're already broke, so... :cookoo:
 

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2009 CTS
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19 Posts
Just go to the dealer and demand they replace it. If they still don't then go to another GM dealer and tell them of the situation - I am sure at least one of them will be in their right mind. Make sure you replace it before your warranty runs out!
 

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09 CTS DI FE3
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416 Posts
I'm going to have to disagree with everyone else. I occasionally get this but not from washing. It's usually if I cover the car over night and it's humid. The humid air works into the headlights and condenses. After I take the cover off it airs out and evaporates in a few minutes. There's a vent on the back of all headlights that allow this stuff to vent out.
 

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2009 CTS DI AWD FE2 CRYSTAL RED TINTCOAT/LIGHT TITANIUM
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295 Posts
I'm going to have to disagree with everyone else. I occasionally get this but not from washing. It's usually if I cover the car over night and it's humid. The humid air works into the headlights and condenses. After I take the cover off it airs out and evaporates in a few minutes. There's a vent on the back of all headlights that allow this stuff to vent out.
That's not correct; the 'vent' is there to allow heat from the light only to escape. There should be no communication whatsoever between the whole assembly and the outside environment. See below...

All about headlight repair, restoration and cleaning

Now, beside the fact that worn or cloudy headlights need to be either replaced or restored as they are a major night time driving issue, there are a few other items to look at or that you may notice need fixing. On older cars and badly worn headlights there may be water inside the lens. In some cases it can be so bad the lens looks like a fish bowl – full of water. This can also happen on brand new lenses from a bump or similar as the seal around the lens may have become compromised and will let moisture in (evidence of this is condensation inside the lens). Condensation in the headlights due to hairline cracks and bad seals is much more common in newer vehicles. If there is water or condensation inside it must first be removed before any other repairs can be effective. This is accomplished by using a small drill bit and drilling a small hole in the bottom of the headlight assembly. It is easiest to remove the lens first and make sure the hole goes all the way into the headlight chamber. Do this in the grey headlight assembly, not the frontal clear plastic so the hole will later be hidden. A key tip is to wrap the drill bit with tape to the desired depth so you don’t protrude too far into the lens or make too big of a hole.

Allow the water and condensation to completely drain over a few days. It is a good idea to place the headlight assembly next to either a dehumidifier or air conditioner vent or duct as that will further remove and extract moisture from the headlight. Reseal the hole with silicone seal (at all automotive stores – do not use super glue or other glues as they will will crack and leak and then you will have the same problem all over again). It’s also a good idea to check the whole seal that attaches the outer globe to the headlight assembly – remember, if it looks iffy then coat and reseal it(especially on Ford, GM and Dodge headlights as these tend to leak very early - reseal it if necessary). Then reinstall.
 

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08 White Diamond CTS DI RWD FE2 all options
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2,541 Posts
I do not thnk it is normal. And to be honest I have never had something similar on any of my cars.
As other stated, condensation (read moisture) is bad for internals. I would ask the dealer to show you the TSB and then ask for the lamp replacement. If you do nothing it cannot be good for lamp assemblies in a longterm....
 

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2010 CTS-4 3.6 & 2008 SRX-4 V6
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950 Posts
That's not correct; the 'vent' is there to allow heat from the light only to escape. There should be no communication whatsoever between the whole assembly and the outside environment. See below...

All about headlight repair, restoration and cleaning

Now, beside the fact that worn or cloudy headlights need to be either replaced or restored as they are a major night time driving issue, there are a few other items to look at or that you may notice need fixing. On older cars and badly worn headlights there may be water inside the lens. In some cases it can be so bad the lens looks like a fish bowl – full of water. This can also happen on brand new lenses from a bump or similar as the seal around the lens may have become compromised and will let moisture in (evidence of this is condensation inside the lens). Condensation in the headlights due to hairline cracks and bad seals is much more common in newer vehicles. If there is water or condensation inside it must first be removed before any other repairs can be effective. This is accomplished by using a small drill bit and drilling a small hole in the bottom of the headlight assembly. It is easiest to remove the lens first and make sure the hole goes all the way into the headlight chamber. Do this in the grey headlight assembly, not the frontal clear plastic so the hole will later be hidden. A key tip is to wrap the drill bit with tape to the desired depth so you don’t protrude too far into the lens or make too big of a hole.

Allow the water and condensation to completely drain over a few days. It is a good idea to place the headlight assembly next to either a dehumidifier or air conditioner vent or duct as that will further remove and extract moisture from the headlight. Reseal the hole with silicone seal (at all automotive stores – do not use super glue or other glues as they will will crack and leak and then you will have the same problem all over again). It’s also a good idea to check the whole seal that attaches the outer globe to the headlight assembly – remember, if it looks iffy then coat and reseal it(especially on Ford, GM and Dodge headlights as these tend to leak very early - reseal it if necessary). Then reinstall.
Great post - thanks.
 

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CTS '08
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215 Posts
No, this is not normal. On another note, I hate when the dealers say something like this is normal and act like you are the crazy one for thinking it is abnormal. Had the same issue with my squeaky brakes. They look me dead in the eye and say its normal for a 45k luxury car to squeak.
 

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08 Platinum Escalade, 08 CTS, 01 TransAm WS6, 07 SolsticeGXP
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478 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Hi guys,
Thanks for all the input so far.
Yes, I know. It's been time to change dealers for a while. This Caddy dealer is three minutes from my house, though. :(
In any case, here is the TSB, and a note from the Chev dealer from where I bought the car. My salesguy is great, by the way. Super helpful.

Here:
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I have included a service bulletin for GM vehicles (including your 2008 CTS). They are correct....even if they replace the headlamp, the new one will likely have the same problem in times of high humidity. This condition is not caused by a water leak, but by high humidity. We often drill a tiny hole on the inside of the lens to release the humidity. GM would probably not approve, but it does solve the problem. If the problem persists even in times of low humidity, maybe there is a more serious problem (but I doubt it). It usually will not affect your visibility as the heat from the bulb will evaporate the water. Let me know what they say.

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#01-08-42-001G: Exterior Lamp Condensation and Replacement Guidelines - (May 4, 2009)
Subject:
Exterior Lamp Condensation and Replacement Guidelines
Models:
1993-2010 GM Passenger Cars and Trucks (including Saturn)
2003-2010 HUMMER H2
2006-2010 HUMMER H3
2005-2009 Saab 9-7X

________________________________________
This bulletin is being revised to add the 2010 model year. Please discard Corporate Bulletin Number 01-08-42-001F (Section 08 -- Body & Accessories).
________________________________________
The following information is being provided to better define the causes of condensation in exterior lamps and includes guidelines for determining the difference between a lamp with a normal atmospheric condition (condensation) and a lamp with a water leak.
Some exterior lamps, such as cornering, turn signal, backup, headlamps or tail lamps may exhibit very small droplets of water, a fine mist or white fog (condensation) on the inside of the lamp lens. This may be more noticeable on lamps with "multi-lens" designs and may be normal during certain weather conditions.
Condensation occurs when the air inside the lamp assembly, through atmospheric changes, reaches the "dew point


When this takes place, the moisture in the air within the lamp assembly condenses, creating a fine mist or white fog on the inside surface of the lamp lens.
Most exterior lamps on General Motors vehicles use a vented design and feature a replaceable bulb assembly. They are designed to remove any accumulated moisture vapor by expelling it through a vent system. The vent system operates at all times, however, it is most effective when the lamps are ON or when the vehicle is in motion. Depending on the size, shape and location of the lamp on the vehicle, and the atmospheric conditions occurring, the amount of time required to clear the lamp may vary from 2 to 6 hours.
Completely sealed headlamp assemblies (sealed beams) are still used on a limited number of models being manufactured today. These lamps require the replacement of the complete lamp assembly if a bulb filament burns out.

Condensation

2006 TrailBlazer Shown



A Fine Mist or White Fog on the Inside Surface of the Lamp Lens Occurring After a Period of High Humidity
• May be located primarily in the lens corners (near the vents) and SHOULD NOT cover more than half the lens surface.
• The condition should clear of moisture when the vehicle is parked in a dry environment, or when the vehicle is driven with the lights ON.
• A comparison of the equivalent lamp on the opposing side of the vehicle indicates a SIMILAR performance.
If the above conditions are noted, the customer should be advised that replacement of a lamp assembly may not correct this condition.




Numerous & Various Size Drops of Water Collecting on the Inside Surface of the Lamp Lens After the Vehicle Has Been Exposed to Rain or a Car Washing Environment
• A condition that covers more than half the surface of the lamp lens.
• An accumulation of water in the bottom of the lamp assembly.
• A condition that WON'T clear when the vehicle is parked in a dry environment, or when the vehicle is driven with the lights ON.
• A comparison of the equivalent lamp on the opposing side of the vehicle indicates a different performance.
Any of the above conditions would indicate the need to service the lens or lamp assembly.
========


Interesting......
 

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2008 CTS 3.6L DI RWD, GMPP new engine 11/2013
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2,092 Posts
"I have included a service bulletin for GM vehicles (including your 2008 CTS). They are correct....even if they replace the headlamp, the new one will likely have the same problem in times of high humidity. This condition is not caused by a water leak, but by high humidity. We often drill a tiny hole on the inside of the lens to release the humidity. GM would probably not approve, but it does solve the problem. If the problem persists even in times of low humidity, maybe there is a more serious problem (but I doubt it). It usually will not affect your visibility as the heat from the bulb will evaporate the water. Let me know what they say."

Michael 514, the note from your salesman is dead on target. I have not asked my dealer to drill vent holes, as the occasional (high-humidity) condensation harmlessly comes and goes without leaving a trace.
 

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2017 ATS-V Sedan, Vector Blue/Black, 6MT
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I can't believe that the humidity is worse in Montreal than it is in Atlanta at the peak of summer, or south Florida, where one's sunglasses will fog over. I've never seen this happen except when the seal has been broken, and usually on older cars. If this were truly normal, we should be seeing this all the time, but we don't. This would be unacceptable for me.
 

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2010 CTS-4 3.6 & 2008 SRX-4 V6
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I can't believe that the humidity is worse in Montreal than it is in Atlanta at the peak of summer, or south Florida, where one's sunglasses will fog over. I've never seen this happen except when the seal has been broken, and usually on older cars. If this were truly normal, we should be seeing this all the time, but we don't. This would be unacceptable for me.
I live in Ottawa (a couple of hours away from Montreal) and it gets quite humid here in the summers. 90%+ humidity isn't unusual at all. In fact, it's 90% out there right this minute.

That being said, I've been to Atlanta at the height of summer and have also been to the orient in the rainy season and Montreal's humidity is nothing like that - but those places lack the cool overnight temps that makes our dew such a treat...:cookoo:

Oddly, though, my CTS' lenses are crystal clear. Of course, it is garage-parked about 98% of the time it's not on the road.
 

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2019 CTS
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Here on the west coast of Florida, mine did this during the days of early spring when the overnight temps were lower than the daytime temps. As the bulletin says, they cleared up with in minutes once I drove the car even a short distance.
 
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