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I've read that the W126 tail light design was self cleaning. What does that mean and how does it passively work to self clean itself?
 

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1986 420SEL/1995 E300D/4 BMW’s/2 Vanagon’s
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Also, the deep grooves still allow light through if there is snow build up on the outside.
 

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W-1-2-3 Go!
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The grooves act as channels so air passing through will effectively "clean" them and keep the lights visible. This was a design that started in the older models.

Same principle holds true with the front turn signal lenses.
 

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'91 300SEL, '91 560SEC
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As said by MBeige, the aerodynamic flow keeps around 50% of the taillights clean and visible during bad weather.
 

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1987 W201 190E 2.6
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As said by MBeige, the aerodynamic flow keeps around 50% of the taillights clean and visible during bad weather.
Yep, very clever design. Since dirt and snow would only get trapped on the protruding part of the taillight, the inner part would remain clean. Obviously the Mercs of today,even though technologically very advanced, don`t have the innovations of yesteryear....
 

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1974 450 SEL Champagne Beige Metallic(Sold); 1986 560 SEL Champagne Metallic
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Another design feature I noticed on my W116, was the channels around the windows and how they controlled the flow of rain water. I could be freeway driving in clear weather and then drive into some pouring rain. If I kept a continuous forward speed, my entire back glass and side glass and mirrors would not even get wet! The tiny "gutters" designed into the trim really worked to control the flow of water around the glass and preserve visibility! Fantastic engineering and attention to detail! Cheers, Ron
 

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When cruising at about 80mph in even heavy rain, I barely have to use the wipers, and I can still have the window halfway down for a comfortable cigarette without getting wet. Classic German engineering.
 
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