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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 98 prefacelift E320.

Driving in foggy conditions the other night, I noticed the driver side headlight was shining upwards toward centre of car and more or less middle of windscreen making it difficult to see anything because of reflection off fog.

I read in manual how to adjust and thought - great design!

Went to do it, and no matter how many times I turned the up/down adjustment, the level bubble stayed where it was.

Opened back cover of light and removed plastic cap behind adjustment gear. I could see it turning, but must assume it was not driving the shaft that goes forward to move the headlight assembly.

I assume something has broken. Any suggestions or ideas on how to fix this?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I had a look at some of those links. Some seem to be talking about some sort of remote headlight levelling. I am pretty sure I don't have that on my car.

Just the standard NA headlights with manual adjustment knobs and mini spirit level above the lights. Turn the inner screw to level and adjust the outer one for aiming.

The one side inner levelling screw does nothing. Presume something is broken on inside. Gear turns, but must be disconnected from shaft.

We are leaving on long road trip in about 2 weeks. May leave as is or get dealer to fix because it sub zero here at present!
 

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The headlights come out pretty easily on the pre-facelift, and from your description it sounds like it's fallen loose from the mechanism (from how the headlight is "aimed").

So long as you can stay relatively warm and dry, pop the thing out and if necessary, compare it to the other side, then you'll see what needs to be fixed. At the least, I'd bet you can find a way to secure it for your trip and finish the repair later. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The headlights come out pretty easily on the pre-facelift, and from your description it sounds like it's fallen loose from the mechanism (from how the headlight is "aimed").

So long as you can stay relatively warm and dry, pop the thing out and if necessary, compare it to the other side, then you'll see what needs to be fixed. At the least, I'd bet you can find a way to secure it for your trip and finish the repair later. ;)
Tried to find info on WIS, but no luck.

If I get a warmer day, might try headlight removal and see what gives. I can drive with it as-is - luckily that light shines away from oncoming cars, albeit kinda high. I didn't know I had the problem until I drove in fog!
 

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Check whether reflector is flopping around

Remove the black plastic cover allowing access to the lowbeam headlight bulb. Grab the back of bulb's electrical connector, and gently move it up and down. If I remember correctly, the whole reflector rides a gimbal-like mechanism, with spring tension trying to aim it upward, and the aiming adjustment that counteracts the spring. Try to aim it downward (gently). If it's like mine, you'll be able to aim it down, but when you let go, it will aim up again.

Using a mirror, I was finally able to see that the ball & socket inside the housing had separated. And, as described in my other article, I was unable to snap the ball & socket back together without removing the headlamp assembly, and separating the front lens from the back housing (what a pain). (Be careful separating the two halves, it took an hour of gentle pursuasion).

If you disassemble the lens / housing, be VERY careful about the surface of the reflector. Even the slightest touch will disturb its reflective properties. DO NOT try to clean it with a cloth. Probably best to leave it alone, even if it's imperfect.

Incidentally, the plastic electrical connector to the lowbeam was largely melted. Part # 2108200013, available at parts.com for $3.97 plus shipping. It comes with 6" wires that you splice / solder onto the old wires.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Remove the black plastic cover allowing access to the lowbeam headlight bulb. Grab the back of bulb's electrical connector, and gently move it up and down. If I remember correctly, the whole reflector rides a gimbal-like mechanism, with spring tension trying to aim it upward, and the aiming adjustment that counteracts the spring. Try to aim it downward (gently). If it's like mine, you'll be able to aim it down, but when you let go, it will aim up again.

Using a mirror, I was finally able to see that the ball & socket inside the housing had separated. And, as described in my other article, I was unable to snap the ball & socket back together without removing the headlamp assembly, and separating the front lens from the back housing (what a pain). (Be careful separating the two halves, it took an hour of gentle pursuasion).
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I did have the back cover off earlier today. What I could see, was that there was a vertical shaft going down into a white cylindrical plastic housing. There is a cap on the back of the housing (complicated shape as if it must have some other function). Inside, there is a face gear and I presume a smaller gear that I could not see that meshes with the face gear. When the adjuster is turned, it turns the face gear. I could not see very well, but it looked like there was a shaft extending forward from the face gear housing. Does that attach to the ball&socket you describe?

I looked on EPC and found no replaceable parts. WIS does not seem to cover the system we have.

Found this pic. The cap is black on this one. Gears are inside grey housing behing black cap. But what I can't see is what the face gear connects to.
 

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i may be able to get you photos over the long weekend. i believe i have a
sacrificial headlight assembly on the bench. i've had an OE assembly dismantled
a few years ago but my memory isn't able to recall what you need
 

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There is a thread and video link in the stickies for removing the headlamps in the pre-facelift model...did you check them?
 

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Yes, I think you're on the right track.

Mine looks different from your picture. I have the facelift. If yours looks like the one in the picture, then you might be in luck. I couldn't access the internals because mine only has two fairly-large round twist-off caps (one for each bulb) instead of the entire back being removable like the one in the picture. So I couldn't see inside very well, and couldn't fit my hand inside to reconnect the ball and socket.

IF yours looks like the picture, and if your ball & socket are simply disconnected, then you should be able to get your hands in there to snap them back together. Conversely, if yours is like mine (limited access), I can only say that I wasn't able to find a way to hold the reflector steady while pushing forward on the shaft / ball to snap it back into the socket. It sure SEEMED like I should have been able to do it, but I just couldn't get the leverage and the angle. Ultimately, I conceded, removed the headlamp assy entirely (which is easier to do on the pre-facelift), and split the clear lens from the back housing...and finally I was able to reconnect the ball & socket.

The gears effectively operate a turnbuckle type of mechanism, so when the gears turn in either direction, the turnbuckle either extends the shaft (with the ball on the front end of it) forward or retracts. The ball mounts into the socket on the backside of the reflector. I cannot see them in your picture, but if you have the one in the picture, then at least you should be able to see inside, and get your hands in there to work.

I forget the details, but if you remove the round black twist-cap shown in your picture (between the bulbs), you'll see the gears. NOTE: Be careful, I vaguely recall that if you remove the black twist-cap and yank it, it'll pull the ball out of the socket! ... which you DON'T want to do (assuming it hasn't already happened). I'm assuming that's what happened to mine before I bought it. Anyway, the face gear has a square hole in the middle, and a square shaft that goes thru that hole...the square shaft is the turnbuckle with a threaded rod screwed into it with the ball on the other end of the threads.

And yes, the WIS doesn't show any of this. If the headlamp assy breaks, they expect you to buy a new one.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yes, I think you're on the right track.
Hope this helps.
Thanks Mr Gadget - That is a great help.

And Check Codes, I will have a look at the video before removing the headlight (If thats what I need to do), although I did note some brief instructions in another thread.

And Raymond - anything you can find will be helpful.

Its a little warmer here today, so will go have another look.
 

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If you don't solve it by Monday- I have old headlights somewhere in my garage and can take a good picture of the gears.
It is finally getting warmer in California as well. I am getting tired of temperatures in 50's plus morning frost.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Thanks for everyone's help.

As it is, it took me about 15min to actually fix the problem once I understood how it worked!

I will add some pictures to this post soon, but what I was missing, was that ball joint that Mr Gadget spoke of, is actually part of the plastic cap that I mentioned earlier. Someone at some point must have removed that cap and in doing so, could not help but disconnect the ball joint. I snapped it back together and voilá - adjustment worked again!

Others may find this of some help.

Car - 1998 E320 with OE manually adjustable headlights.

Step 1 - Remove back cover of light same as you would to change bulb.

Step 2 - Reach in to where adjustment rod attaches to reflector and pull back - If you can pull that connector back easily, then ball joint under center cap has become disconnected.

Step 3 - Note the orientation of the white or black cap located between the two sets of headlights. Then remove (1/4 turn). This will expose facegear and you may see square drive shaft and ball

If you look at the cap, you will see it has an integral ball socket

Step 4 - Once again reach in and pull back the reflector connector. The square shaft and plastic ball will now come fully through the facegear centre hole. Pull it as far as you can, then snap the cap onto the ball.

Step 5 - Replace cap (rotate until slots line up, then 1/4 turn locks it)

Step 6 - Page 119 of the owners manual has full alignment instructions. But for a start, turn adjustment knob above light until spirit level bubble is centred. (I may be wrong but CW and CCW may be reversed or perhaps it's just me! To find out, try the other light and see which direction the bubble moves for CW/CCW.
 

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i may be able to get you photos over the long weekend. i believe i have a
sacrificial headlight assembly on the bench. i've had an OE assembly dismantled
a few years ago but my memory isn't able to recall what you need
btw, raymond, Thanks for your advise, I swapped two facelift headlamp lenses, quite hard, I used a 1600w hair dryer... and a small knife to cut the glue.:D
 

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Discussion Starter #16
To end this job, I found that a nearby strip mall had a decorative block wall that I could use to check the light. Just measured which mortar joints were at correct width & height. As it was, already having set the spirit level at center, I didn't have to make any other adjustments. But nice to confirm I won't be blinding anyone.
 
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