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2014 Kia SX Turbo
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Everyone,

I was on my second set of tail lights after the dealer replaced the originals under warranty for moisture and some LEDs being out.
Unfortunately, water started getting into my driver side tail light again after a couple years, but I am well past my warranty period now so I would have had to buy the assembly myself.
I decided to at least try getting as much water out as I could and just deal with it to save the money. I was actually able to completely dry it out which goes against everything I have read being possible about these tail lights. I thought I'd share my process for anyone having the same issue.

I took the outer driver side tail light off the car with the 3 nuts in the trunk, took the halogen bulb out, and then shook as much water out of the housing as possible.
Once it was as empty as I could get it, I put it in a cardboard box and let a hair dryer run on medium heat blowing into the box until the heat completely dried out all the moisture.
I had the top of the box as closed as I could get it and then stuck the blow dryer through a small opening on the top so the inside could get pretty hot. Below is a picture of my stupid setup.
I then used clear silicon I got from Walmart for a few bucks to completely seal around the outside of the housing and then reassembled everything.

It's supposed to rain tomorrow so I will see if the silicon fixes it, but regardless, it seems like a pretty easy fix to get the water out. I had a lot of moisture all the way down the tail light housing and I always saw that the only fix was to get a new housing, but using a hairdryer and a box seemed to do the trick with very little effort. As long as the seal I made holds, it is 100x cheaper than buying a new tail light. I can provide an update after it rains tomorrow with extra pics of how they look on the car with the silicon.

Just thought I would share my experience in case anyone else was thinking about spending a ton of cash on new tail lights because of water leaking in. It really is much easier than it sounds.

248457
 

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Necessity is the mother of all invention!

I'm assuming the LEDs are all still working on the 2nd set of lights if you're drying them out, right? Do you have any pictures of the sealing you did? Mine were replaced, under warranty. But it's really funny, you won't believe how many people with these style of lights are driving around with part of the LED strip out. It's extremely common, so much so that there is a TSB out for their repair.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
All of the LEDs still work on this set I dried out. I was worried that if I let the water and moisture sit for too long, it might damage those too. I already have them back on the car, but I should be able to get a picture of the top seal by opening the trunk. It is currently raining pretty hard where I'm at now, so this is also a good time to see if more water gets in after all this work. I will post an update with more pictures later today once the rain stops.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I just went outside after a large downpour soaked my car and I can confirm that there is no new water or moisture inside the tail lights right now. Looks like the silicon I applied is doing its job, but time will tell to see how it holds up.
Just to give some context, I use the silicon to fill in the edge of the red plastic and the black plastic of the assembly. This is where I assumed water would sit and wear away the original seals. After drying the entire housing in my makeshift oven, I completely sealed around this edge and smoothed it out with a bunch of cotton swabs to make it flush.
You will notice there is a big mess of silicon on the top of the housing, under the trunk too. This was an attempt to also seal the very small line that runs across the entire top of the housing. I doubt that water was getting in there, but I wanted to just cover all my bases just in case. I made a complete mess of it and I will likely end up removing it from that part of the assembly or sanding/wearing it down and painting it black so it is less noticeable. With the trunk open it looks like garbage, but with it close, it isn't super noticeable unless looking straight down into the gap in my picture.
Filling in the edge like I first described is likely all that needs to be done and that alone would be virtually invisible.

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Tesla Model X P100D
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Wow very nice work and creative too!

Was that you that had reached out to us about buying new LED tails the other day?

Glad to see you were able to get all of the water out of there like that.

Hopefully the silicone seal holds and it doesn't happen again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Haha yes that was me. I was thinking I was going to end just buying new ones and throwing them in myself because of how easy it was, but I thought I would try fixing these first and it seemed to work. I am honestly surprised it did.
 

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Haha yes that was me. I was thinking I was going to end just buying new ones and throwing them in myself because of how easy it was, but I thought I would try fixing these first and it seemed to work. I am honestly surprised it did.
That's awesome, in the end you saved a ton of money and were able to fix it on your own, nice!
 

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Maybe you can lay down a strip of black plastic over the silicon, to conceal it? Add some more silicon to make it stick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I think it might be worth just reapplying it to that top area if I really want it there. The reason it looks so bad is because I used the excess from my cotton swabs to just dab across that area. It dries so fast that it was difficult to get it entirely smoothed out. That's why it looks so lumpy. If it was applied smoothly straight out of the tube, it probably wouldn't looks that bad. I'll leave it for now and reapply it or try to correct it if it just really starts to drive me crazy. I haven't been doing too much driving lately since I've been working from home, so I might try to ignore it for a while.
 

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Very nice! A couple other ideas in case anyone else is trying this. I don't know what the relative effectiveness would be but here goes:
  • If you have a clothes dryer with a shoe rack, that would also work similarly to what you did. Basically blows around hot dry air. The shoe rack would keep it still.
  • You could try leaving it in the oven at a relatively low temperature. As long as the temperature was well below the melting point of any of the plastics/adhesives, it should be fine (no different than the heat from a hair dryer).
  • You could try putting it in a box with either rice or a dessicant. You can buy silica gel in bulk and reuse it by drying it in an oven. I have a bunch of silica gel that I use for long-term storage of some things.
 

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I just went outside after a large downpour soaked my car and I can confirm that there is no new water or moisture inside the tail lights right now.
Happy to hear you stopped the leak.

If it starts leaking again, I want to recommend you clean all the old silicone off and use a silicone windshield sealer. It's the same thing you used, but it's thinner type of silicone and comes in a small tube. Carefully level up your taillight assembly, and apply a small bead of silicone around the light. Let it cure for 6-8 hours, or until pretty hard and rubbery. Should be ready to go. It's more clear than the thick silicone and cures a tad harder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the tip! If I remove the silicone from the top of the tail light assembly, I'll probably just leave it off. I'm not sure I need it. But I will say that the gap between the 2 plastics where the actual seal is in my pictures is actually quite large. The big bear size I used was to adequately fill it in so water couldn't get around it. You can't really tell it's there since it lays verys monthly under the lip of the red plastic part of the housing.
I would imagine that using something thinner or smaller would make it difficult to properly fill the gap? Just my thoughts
 
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