1968-1982 Corvette Headlight Actuator Removal & Seal Replacement

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Posted September 26, 2012 by Zip Corvette in Corvette Technical Articles
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We’ve all seen this scenario. You spot a nice-looking C3 Corvette tooling down the road, but, oops, it’s daytime and both of the headlights are popped up. Or even worse, the Corvette is looking cock-eyed with one light up and the other in the down position. As you know by the number of Corvettes you see on the road with headlights open, it’s a common C3 malady. 

If your C3 Corvette has this problem and you take it to your neighborhood garage, they usually want to replace the headlight actuator, if not both, saying that they cannot be fixed or rebuilt. In many cases, that’s simply not true because often it’s just the seals inside the actuator that go bad. Zip Corvette Parts can set you up with their complete overhaul kit that replaces the vacuum hoses, check valve, and system filter, plus it also includes two new actuator seals. You get it all for the price of just one actuator.

With the 1968-1982 Corvette vacuum headlight system, this can be an all-to-common problem. But many owners don’t realize that it is usually a very cheap fix that can be done in a few hours in the driveway. The hardest part is getting the headlight actuators out of the car. After that, the replacement of the seals is quick and easy.

Click on the images for expanded views – it’s much easier on the eyes. 
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Step 1

01: Start by removing the front grill. You will also need to unplug the turn signal.
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Step 2

02: Next, remove the two springs from the link rod clevis pivot pin.
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Step 3

03: Here the springs have been unhooked from the clevis pivot pin.
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Step 4

04: Now remove the clevis pivot pin.
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Step 5

05: Next, remove the two bolts that retain the headlight actuator.
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Step 6

06: We found it necessary to remove the braces in front of the actuator to aid its removal.
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Step 7

07: There is a brace on each side and we had to remove both of them after we tried to wiggle the actuator every which way possible to get it out. But once we removed these simple braces, the actuators fell right out.
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Step 8

08: This is what the actuator looks like after removal.
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Step 9

09: Use vise grips or a clamp to hold the actuator shaft while unscrewing the clevis. You might need to use some penetrating solution to cut through the years of grime. Then pop off the seal retaining ring that holds the seal in place.
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Step 10

10: You can see the condition of our failed seal. It was split all the way up.
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Step 11

11: The little note that came with the seals said to carefully thread the new seal on so no damage is caused to the o-ring on the inside of the seal.
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Step 12

12: We also used some WD-40 to aid the threading of the new seal onto the actuator shaft.
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Step 13

13: After tapping the seal onto the actuator, finish by sliding it until the o-ring seats into the groove around the shaft. Then push it in and fit the new seal into the groove on the actuator housing. Replace the retaining ring, dust boot, and clevis, and you’re done with the actuator rebuild. Now simply reinstall into the housing by reversing the removal instructions.
Pop Goes the Headlights: 1968-1982 Headlight Actuator Removal & Seal Replacement

Text and images by Mark Potter

Source: Zip Corvette Parts
8067 Fast Lane | Mechanicsville, VA 23111 | (800) 962-9632


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