As all C4 owners know, it's not a statement of "if," it's a question of "when" are your headlight actuators going to stop functioning. And what's the cause normally? It almost always seems to be stripped plastic gears. Yep, when GM made the switch from vacuum-assisted to electric-powered, they decided to save a few bucks and use nylon in an area that sees nightly use. Between heat, jarring forces, and daily wear, it's not long before the cog teeth inside the actuator housing begin to break. It's a known fact. And sometimes it doesn't take that long, judging by the warranty horror stories floating around which proclaim, "GM replaced my gears four times in a year!" With all this trouble caused by a simple plastic part, you'd think GM would come up with an alternative. Not so.
It wasn't all that long ago that the C5 was introduced. The pop-ups in the newest Corvette offering (not counting the C6 which uses fixed lighting) were roughly of the same internal configuration as the C4s-right down to the gears. Vette Magazine's Editor Bob's '00 was not about to be on the receiving end of such problems, as Bob himself had already experienced with his '99 WS6 1LE Firebird which uses the same parts as the C5. After several warranty replacements (left side only--go figure!), he had been left with a bad taste in his mouth. And who wouldn't? But while GM was still caring for the Firebird at the time of the problems, Bob's Pewter Metallic coupe has long since run its course on such paperwork.
Left with what Bob viewed as a ticking time bomb, preventative maintenance was needed. But what can you replace the gears with? The exact same ones? The answer is a simple and strong, "No." Thanks to Rodney Dickman, you can now upgrade your C5's parts with these Brass Headlight Gear kits available for the '97-99 and '00-04 models. The advantages are numerous, and all it takes is a couple hours of your time to replace, or prevent, failing parts. Once you're finished, I bet you'll have to replace your Vette before one of these gears fails. How easy is the install? Well, with the right tools, it's a do-it-yourself situation. Just how DIY? Very-although you're going to spend more time realigning the headlight pods after you've finished than the actual install itself. It's a tight space, and there's not a lot of working room. So, let's get down to brass tacks (brass gears?) and show you how it's done.