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Headlight Actuator Question


Active member
Jan 25, 2015
SE Missouri
1979 L82 Corvette Green
Working on a new-to-me '79 with low miles but uncertain history.

I'm 100% certain that the actuators have been removed before but do not know if they are original or repaired.

The main seal on the operator side of both of the actuators was sucked into the body of the actuator. Both that main seal and the accordion cover seal are soft and subtle. Replacing the seal into position (even without the retainer) finds it holding 30" of vacuum indefinitely. The closing side also holds vacuum.

Headlamp doors VERY stiff operation with springs removed--after LOTS of penetrating spray free moving and snap nicely into locked open position. I suspect much better after an overnight soak and some lithium lubricant.

Now the question:

Should I replace the actuators?
After getting everything cleaned and lubricated I tried the actuators--one sucked the front seal into the body on the 2nd opening and the other now showed a very slow leak in the main diaphragm.

Ordered replacements--about the first time I've ever bought non-OEM when such is available but the price difference was extreme. It surprised me a bit that the operating arms on mine didn't stick straight out of the body when retracted. Given the minor chips and scratches on the hood I'm almost certain that they were forced into place without removing the hood. (I know that removing the hood isn't technically necessary but it sure made my life easier! I haven't replaced and realigned it yet though ;)

I was disappointed that one of the new operators had a significant leak in the main diaphragm. It's being replaced in kind but if there's another problem I'll pony up for OEM.
Upon purchase both headlamps opened and closed (but the right was quite slow). Then the right stopped opening, next the left.

When I removed the actuators BOTH had the front seal sucked into the actuator body. I tested with about 20" mercury vacuum on the bench; both seemed OK after replacement. Car seems to get about 15" mercury vacuum max (just idling in the garage) and it sucked one of the front seals in almost immediately.

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