Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Don't Waste Your Money On Light Bulb Grease

    Have you ever needed to change a light bulb in your car? You probably went to the local auto parts store and asked for a new bulb, then watched as they hassle you into buying useless light bulb grease. Do you really need it? Will it help? Will it hurt? Do you have the extra cash? These questions came up and turned into a loud argument at the local auto parts store with my friend refusing to be taken for a fool.
    It all started when my friend from work had a taillight bulb out. Since I do all the maintenance to his 2007 Camry he asked me for advice. It took me literally twenty seconds to ask him to pop his trunk and remove the bulb. Then I sent him to the auto store and said, "Get one of these. Two if you can afford them. And don't get the grease, you don't need it. It should cost you about four dollars.". He took me on my word and proceeded to the store where he got into an all out verbal confrontation with the clerk.
    He called me and said they didn't have a single pack. He was tight on money and wanted to know if there was another store closer with single packages of bulbs. Regrettably the other store was about four miles away and simply wasn't worth the trip. Then I heard the argument. Apparently the clerk thought no one in their right mind would sell single package tail lights. He is wrong. Plenty of stores do. Also without my friend knowing he tried to slip in the useless light bulb grease for two dollars more. A few unfriendly words later and the clerk was strong on his opinion I was an idiot for telling my friend not to buy the grease. This is Memphis. My friend very forcefully told him where he could go and how to get there.
    Anyhow this story happens all over the country and don't let it happen to you. You do not need any light bulb grease, it will cause harm in the long run. The main purpose behind light bulb grease is to prevent corrosion on the current bulb and ease replacement for future bulbs. The problem about shoving a gel substance into an electric socket is that with time is becomes thick and causes problems. I've changed many bulb sockets because of the grease thickening and shorting out the terminals within the socket. This may only be a fifteen dollar fix to replace the harness, but it may cost consumers one hundred dollars to have their vehicle replaced at a dealership.
    Light bulbs go out about every two years in the real world with driving habits of the modern busy person. Corrosion is not a problem in this scenario. With properly sealed light fixtures corrosion should never be an issue. Therefore you can rest assured if you don't use the grease then you won't have corrosion problems because there is generally never a corrosion issue. I have seen it before, but only in leaky fixtures where water is continuously in the area. Light bulbs are also very easy to remove without needing additional help by the lubricant grease. If you need help changing a light bulb strength wise then I don't think you need to be changing a light bulb. Never the less you can still know the process and not become one of the millions of consumers who buy needless items because someone says they need it.
    To make a long story short, do not buy light bulb grease and put it on taillights, headlights, or any other light bulb in your vehicle. It will cause harm in the long run and just waste two dollars you could use on something else in your life. Don't let the clerk at the auto parts store pressure you into buying the light bulb grease that you don't need. This is just my opinion though.


  1. I have a turn signal that gets moisture for some reason (probably when I wash the car, moisture accumulates on it). I have two options, buy a better socket that does not let in moisture, or spend a bit of money on the grease. Choice is totally up to the consumer, though, and no one should be "pressured" into buying it if they think they don't need it.

  2. Thanks for making this post. I moved from Europe to the USA and before coming here I never heard about light bulb grease in my life. Nobody in Europe is using it and nobody has any issues with light bulbs in their cars. Here, every car parts store is trying to sell you one, and convince you that it's necessary.

    Also, I didn't know 30$ halogen headlight existed. Previously I was buying bulb spare kits with one piece of each bulb for the car between 5-10$. Check it out: http://www.amazon.de/UNIVERSAL-ERSATZLAMPE-KIT-H1-SICHERUNGEN/dp/B007BE4XQU/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1451449202&sr=8-4&keywords=spare+bulb+kit Very weird not to find such a combo here.

  3. Automobile manufacturers use grease on the light bulb connections to prevent corrosion. You of course can choose to use it or not. Do expect more corrosion related issues if you don’t use it, especially if you plan to keep the vehicle a long time.

  4. Your not actually supposed to put it on the contacts..if you do that of course your going to cause more issues. Your supposed to put it around the entrance to the housing and around the rubber silicone. And it will prevent moisture from getting in the the bulb thus preventing corrosion

  5. Finally I’ve found your blog, awesome way of explaining each and everything really.

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  6. Sorry, I disagree with our assessment. Bulb grease is essential to installing bulbs on several fronts: the connection of the bulb to the socket is an electronic friction connection which will oxidize rapidly through the electrolysis process of electrons moving across the connection. Bulb grease encompasses the connection and seals it in the grease so no air is introduced into the gap or water or other contaminants. If you look at any new car bulb connections, you will see it in there as well... They are not fools to allow their bulbs to loose connectivity by oxidized connectors or worse, a fire through a gap formed by oxidized connections to burn the socket or worse the surrounding components or the car. Leaving it out when replacing bulbs is just not responsible to your car, or your investment. I would even go farther and state that you should put it on bulbs in your home as well, but for different reasoning though. The grease lubes the bulb bases on the E37 bulbs to make them not seize as well as eliminating oxidation as well. When you get a gap in any electronics, the result is carbonization and arcing. Keeping the connection away from the 21% oxygen in our air nearly eliminates that possibility. Anyone with LED or pocket-fluorescent bulbs know the hassles of the fragile bases getting stuck in the e37 sockets and those bulbs are somewhat expensive so this is a good way of protecting such an investment and making the bulb connections safer and more reliable.

    Someone needs to have a background in electronics to know that this is a crucial point in connecting any electronic items... not only bulbs, but any friction connection for electronics to avoid oxidation, bi-metal electrolysis, gap arching, and other negative aspects of physical connections like bulbs represent.

    Its not just a bunch of hype, and I think you need to be careful making such statements on something of this level of importance.

    1. I totally agree! I have examples at my counter for the "Why do I need..." bunch. "Do you want to SEE why you need this? Here ya go." It IS important and we DO encourage people to purchase it. Why? The same person that refuses to use bulb grease is going to bring the bulb back, complaining that "it's already blown....it has to be defective!" Nope...It's not defective buddy, it's blown again because it wasn't installed properly and moisture got in there....look at the corrosion."

  7. I have learnt various good stuff right here, and I’m sure everyone will get advantage of it.

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  8. This is completely false. The grease in question is dielectric grease (bulb grease) which is used for, in this case, automotive light bulb sockets. This grease is a nonconductive insulating lubricant. It is intended to be used to lubricate the rubber parts such as o-rings and gaskets of sockets, and to help insulate the contacts from from moisture which causes corrosion and oxidation. All contacts will corrode or oxide, even when only exposed to air (due to moisture in the air) even if it is not exposed to water or weather. Almost all automotive manufacturers use it in every single electric socket because of this. It is made from silicone because it is nonconductive and water proof and has a mid to high melting point. (FOR NOTE: Vaseline can be used, but has a low melting point, which causes it to melt out of socket at about 100 degrees.) It also does not brake down rubber or plastics while lubricating them. It does not impede electric current flow and prevents arcing and shorting across the terminals contacts because it is nonconductive.
    If you ever pulled a bulb out and the contacts were NOT shiny or were crusty, this is corrosion or oxidation. If the bulb was stuck due to galling, this could be lack of lubrication. That is what this grease helps prevent.
    Does it cause issuses? NO, it does not.
    Does it prevent problems? YES, it does.
    Do you HAVE to use it? NO.
    Should you use it? Absolutely, YES.
    Reasons, the minimal cost of it supercedes the cost of the damage caused by not using it, and it is easy to use. It is a preventive measure not a requirement.
    To say it not needed is absolutely false, because electricly speaking it is needed.
    To say it causes problems due to thickening is also false, as it does not cause galling or siezing (actully it prevents these) but not using it can. EVEN IN ITS THICKEST STATE!
    Are the problems he's describing from another product or material? Possibly.
    Are they caused by dielectric grease? No.
    The real question is why he doesn't ever use it and would try to sway someone else from using it. Perhaps, he has no understanding of automotive electronics or perhaps he just a "lazy mechanic" who doesn't understand or care about preventive maintenance or just "shortcuts". I don't honestly know, as I don't know him personally, but I do know he is wrong in his comments.
    But what do I know, I'm only an electro/mechanical technician with years of history in automotive and heavy equipment electronics.
    Just my two cents, lol