Since we're on the subject of f'd-up tail lights, anyone else have stock tail lights with interior heat damage? Mine are melted from the inside out, which is why I've been looking at getting new tail lights in the first place.
When I bought the car four years ago, I saw that there was some blistering on the top of the chrome ring around the red lens. It was pretty minor and I just attributed it to the age of the car. I think most of us have seen how plated plastics don't hold up very well, especially when exposed to extreme temperatures. I just accepted it as that and learned to live with it.
A year or so later, I decided to upgrade with Spyder tail lights. Lets just say that it didn't work out. So, I went back to the stock tail lights and added LED plug-ins. That was the first time I paid any real attention to the bulb reflector. Right away, I noticed that there was a "shadow" at the 12 o'clock position in the reflector. Since the LEDs are a bit taller than the standard bulb and the lamp holder sits at a slight angle, I thought that it was being caused by a minor but unavoidable misalignment. Better than it was so again, I learned to live with it.
Here we are a couple years later and I'm discovering that the blistered chrome finish wasn't from external heat but internal. It grabbed my attention when I got a new parking space at work where I now walk straight up behind the car everyday when I leave. I always remote-start the car to let the fluids circulate for a minute or two before I roll. As we all know, the tail lights are lit when remote started so I get to see exactly what they look like. Well, that "shadow" almost looked worse so I was starting to worry that the LEDs were burning the reflector. Yes, LEDs generally run much cooler than incans but these are REALLY bright and even LEDs, if bright enough, can get pretty damn hot.
To test my suspicion, I did a little experiment. Using an insulated metal container, I pulled the lamp holder from one tail light and with LED still plugged in, put it inside the container, covered the open top aluminum foil and used a meat thermometer to see how hot the LED got with the brake lights on. The LEDs maxed out at 209F degrees after 10 minutes of continuous full bright (brakes on). I then tried the standard bulbs. They went up to 280F degrees... after only 3 minutes! I did this at night in May so there was no external heat source to affect the results. Since my experiment, I've had the tail lights out for a closer look and found that the red lens and the interior housing are melted as well.
Looking at my findings, I could definitely see how there could be heat damage from the bulb. Those stock tails might have looked cool when they came out but not the greatest technical design. With clear lenses and black interior housing, they're practically solar panels. Thinking about those 95F degree days in August, sitting in rush hour traffic with my foot on the brake pedal 80% of the time. In that confined, unventilated space with the sun blasting it and the heat coming off the pavement, it probably got closer to 400F.
I'd be shocked if this wasn't a common problem among those of us in urban areas with summer temperatures exceeding 90F degrees. With these cars being made in Australia, you would think that they would have been designed to handle hot weather.
2009 G8 GT
Borla ExhaustJDM Astar: Exterior and Interior
Complete LED Conversion:
Opt7 FluxBeam Headlights