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My RV Exterior Light Maintenance: My Retro-Winnie 2

Updated on May 1, 2021
Don Bobbitt profile image

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life and he shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.

A New and an old Bad Headlight in my Winnebago

Winnebago Headlights, with a bad light on the left side. Figuring out that the headlight was bad was not a problem. I looked and this Sealed Beam headlight had water standing in it.
Winnebago Headlights, with a bad light on the left side. Figuring out that the headlight was bad was not a problem. I looked and this Sealed Beam headlight had water standing in it. | Source

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This article is the property of DON BOBBITT and All Rights are Reserved.

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Headlight Replacement Required

At one point. years ago, I purchased a nice '01 Winnebago Adventurer. It ha low mileage, and had been well kept by the original owner. But, I did need to perform some preventive maintenance on it in order to get it "up to snuff" as they say.

Once I had things functioning properly, I took my "new, old, Retro-Winnie on a shakedown trip, I drove during the daylight hours only, so I never got a chance to check the function of my headlights until we got to the campground we were to say at for a couple of weeks.

After we were set up in our Campsite in Virginia, I was able to do a "walk-around" of my Rig at night. I started the engine, and turned on my RV lights and then I went outside and performed a careful check of all of the exterior lights on my Winnie.

Happily, all of my exterior lights were working well and the lens covers were clean and unbroken; that is, except for my right side headlights. They were ON, but they very dim. I went back inside and turned the engine and lights OFF for the night knowing that I had a new job the next day.

The next morning, I took a flashlight outside and examined the two headlights. Even when turned OFF, the two lamps looked dull and not as brightly reflective as the two headlights on the left side that had worked well the night before.

I looked closer and the problem became obvious. Each of the lamps had about 1/4-inch of water inside them.

Old RV with Old Headlamps

Everyone has probably driven down the road at night and seen the variety of the brightness of headlights from one vehicle to another.Some of this difference is due to the wide variety of replaceable bulbs available for the different vehicles.

You can even purchase replacement bulbs that shine with different colors.

Because my Winnie was an older motorhome, it used what are called "sealed beam" headlights. That means that the lens assembly and the actual bulb are made in one piece and the unit is sealed against the weather.

Headlights in newer vehicles have a lens assembly and a replaceable "bulb" on the back side of the lens, that is typically accessible from the front engine compartment. For Diesel Pushers, without an engine compartment, they are often accessible from areas that have a removable cover for lamp replacement.

Anyway, I removed the old headlamps which just takes a Philips screwdriver and a little patience to perform. I took the bad ones up to m the closest automotive parts store and they cross-referenced the lamp with their inventory and sold me two new lamps, a low-beam, and a high-beam.

I installed one lamp and then I took a picture to demonstrate the difference between an old and a new headlamp, once the weather gets inside the lens and erodes the reflective material on the walls of the lens. See the attached picture!

And, within just a few minutes, I had all of my lights working properly.

Amber Replacement Lens

Bargman 34-59-012 Clearance/Side Marker Lights #59 Series Lens Only - Amber
Bargman 34-59-012 Clearance/Side Marker Lights #59 Series Lens Only - Amber
I don't know why, but I end up replacing one or another of the exterior lamp lens' in my motorhome every couple of years. This design has been a standard on RVs for decades, and I have used them successfully several times.
 

Exterior Lights and Safety on the Road

All RV owners need to understand that one of the most important things to inspect on their motorhome are the exterior lights.

Always keep thi in your mind when you are driving a big heavy motorhome on the road. These motorhomes and towed campers do not stop very easily; because when you hit the brake in your motorhome there is a lot of mass you are trying to bring to a halt. So at night, the driver needs to see as far down the road as possible to increase his chances of stopping safely.

To this end, a motorhome needs not only good brakes, but great headlights, brake lights, and running lights.

All of those marker lights on the top front and top rear of a motorhome, as well as those on the sides give the motorhome a better chance of not being hit by another vehicle, when your motorhome is well lit.

Motorhome Exterior Light Covers.

So whqt if you're on a county road and you hear a crunch as you pass under a tree hanging over the road. You keep on driving, but you know that sound was not good.

Later on you get to pull over and you check your motorhome and you see that you no have a cracked roof light lens.

It could be a side lens or a rear roof light lens or even a parking light on the front of your RV. It doesn't matter which one it was, the problems is you now need to replace the darn thing.

Well here are a couple of facts for the unknowing RV owner when he is looking for a replacement lens on his RV.

First of all, RV manufacturers do not manufacture any of the lenses that they use on their vehicles. It's a simple thing; really it turns out that it's just cheaper to use lenses manufactured by other companies.

Oh, if you or your mechanic calls their parts department, they will happily sell you a replacement, but it's going to be expensive, after they mark it up 100% or more over their purchasing and handling costs.

Buy Exterior Lights and Lenses from the original manufacturers.

But, if you check around and do a little research, you will find out that you can get these parts a lot cheaper from the original manufacturers.

Here are the most popular sources for pretty much ALL RV lenses:

Automotive Parts

Almost all Motorhomes use headlight and taillight assemblies form automotive manufacturers. If your motorhome is on a Ford chassis, then go to a Ford parts department and take the lens part number, or ven yetm, the whole broken assembly with you and they can find you the right part, and at a much lower price.

As to the others, you just need to snoop around on the web sites that provide answers to owners questions about RV problems and someone will probably be able to tell you which is the right replacement lens for you. My favorite site is the Forum on rv.net.

I know this works because a few years ago, I was backing my Camelot motorhome out of my driveway and I tapped my mailbox. When I looked , I had cracked my right rear taillight assembly lens.

Not knowing what to do, I got on the Forum at RV.net and asked for help from my fellow campers. The next day, I had an answer. A fellow in Arizona told me that the 2007 Camelot used the taillight assembly and lens that was originally on the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

I then questioned a service rep for Monaco about this and he admitted that it was true, that year they did use that manufacturers assembly.

I ordered one from my local Jeep dealer and had the lens in less than two weeks. And it was a perfect match, at far less than half the price that Monaco had given me.

Headlight Assemblies

Of course, the same is true for RV headlight assemblies. They also use those parts designed for other vehicles and what you might need to replace can be found out easily.

4-pack, T10 wedge base LED interior lamps

HQRP 4-Pack Side plug T10 Wedge Base 6 LEDs SMD LED Bulb Cool White for #194#168 Cruiser RV Fun Finder Travel Trailer RV Interior/Ceiling Lights Replacement plus HQRP Sun Meter
HQRP 4-Pack Side plug T10 Wedge Base 6 LEDs SMD LED Bulb Cool White for #194#168 Cruiser RV Fun Finder Travel Trailer RV Interior/Ceiling Lights Replacement plus HQRP Sun Meter
I started replacing my old incandescent RV lamps with LED versions several years ago, and I try to keep one of these sets available for when an old one goes bad.
 

RV Side Lights and Roof Lights

If you look closely, those yellow running lights on the side of your RV as well as on the front and rear roof lines of your motorhome all seem the same. And they are the same.

These are manufactured by several of the larger light manufacturers and the design of the base, lens and bulbs have been used for decades.

A quick search on stores such as Amazon and you will find dozens of varieties of these lights that are available for your purchase.

You can even upgrade your old dull lenses with more decorative shapes if you wish.

LED replacement lamps

Newer RVs utilize LED lamps instead of the old incandescent lamps.

And really, this is a good thing. An LED lamp is not only more efficient that its incandescent equivalent, it uses less current, is just as bright, and has a much, much longer life.

But, they are much more expensive than the old incandescent lamps, so shop carefully for the best price possible.

In the last several motorhomes I have owned, I have always replaced my incandescent bulbs with LED lamps when they go bad. But, I did it, grumbling the whole time over the price.

Click this site; Camping World LED Lamps, for a wide variety of LED replacement lamps.

In Summary

So, one of the things I had to work on whenI took my old Retro-Winnie on its maiden shakedown trip, was the headlights. And I am a safer driver now that I have the extra range of night vision I get from my new headlights.

Headlight Bulb Replacement Tips

Replacing and Caulking RV Marker Lights

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Don Bobbitt

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