Headlight doors open and closes sometimes when the drivers door is shut

115

Asked by Nov 18, 2012 at 12:24 PM about the 2000 Pontiac Firebird

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

2000 Firebird Trans Am, occasionally when the drivers door is shut the headlights will open and close with a grinding noise. The alarm is not set when the car is home and it has done it here so it does not have anything to do with the alarm. Any thought?

44 Answers

31,075

Maybe the car is giving you a wink good night ;^) lol. But on a serious note are you concerned about the noise or the fact that they are opening and closing on their own?

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
115

The opening and closing. I am concerned they could close at night when needed besides the fact they should not be doing this. I am guessing there is a intermittion short or open in the electricl circurt for the lights.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
455

There is a double sided plastic gear inside your headlight motor and when that starts to go out you will hear the infamous noise you are describing. This will get worse and eventually your headlight will stop coming up at all. The good news is that you can actually flip that gear fairly easy if it hasn't been flipped before or you can buy a brass or aluminum gear to replace your plastic gear, they are about 85 bucks for a set. In time they are worth it trust me. Check out this website for more info... www.projecttransam.com good luck!!!

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
115

Thank you but again I am concerned about the lights opening and closing by themselves when the driver door is shut. This car only has about 48K miles on it and is rarely driven at night, but if needed I do not want to take a chance on the headlights acting up. I just thought maybe someone else had seen this problem before. Thanks, Andy

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
31,075

Is the headlight switch and interior light switch in one or are they separated?

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
115

Wow, just got a email from the admin: Editorial comment: Thanks for uploading, but your image description includes inappropriate language. Your image has been removed. Take care, The CarGurus Team Sorry if the picture of my dog that likes to ride in his Vette and wear his Doggles offended someone.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
1,495

This is a common problem on Firebirds with the flip up headlights. When the gears start to strip out, they will do this. Closing or opening a door, locking the doors with the remote, etc. While it is possible your problems are the result of something else, the most probable cause is stripped gears.

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.
115

I would never have thought gears would have caused that but it sounds like replacing them is my best shot. Thank you Samuel

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
31,075

Stripped gears won't cause the doors to open and close. Stripped gears will prevent the doors from opening and closing, and the will do as you said click. The clicking is the gear missing a tooth, if a tooth is missed then the doors don't open. But whatever.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
1,495

Actually, John, what happens is there are stops external to the motor that stop the light assembly when it is raising or lowering. What happens is the motor turns but since the gears are stripped, it doesn't move the assembly far enough. After moving for too long without encountering an external stop, it reverses its movement and will return to the opposite position. Go look around on ls1tech.com and become enlightened, grasshopper.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
1,495

Okay, jackwagon, I'll go tell everyone who had this problem and fixed it by replacing the gears or motors they're wrong, courtesy of you and your infinite wisdom about the GM F-Body that exceeds my own and so many others. After all, it isn't like we own one or work on one regularly or spend several days out of the week on a forum dedicated to them...

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
31,075

Like I said the bad gear causes a noise and a NO OPEN issue.... this guys issue is the fact that not only are the headlights OPENING but they are OPENING on their own. All by them selves, they ARE opening, AT_82collectors has already said he doesn't give a rats a$$ about the noise, the problem is that the car is doing its own thing. The gear fixes loud grinding and the fact that the lights don't open. His f***ing lights open. Something is opening his lights when the drivers door is opened and closed. """"" Thank you but again I am concerned about the lights opening and closing by themselves when the driver door is shut."""""" Are his exact words.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
31,075

And when I say open and close I mean open and close. Not attempt to open then fall back shut when the gear slips

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
1,495

And I'm telling you that stripped gears will cause these symptoms, dingbat. Did I say the gears slipped caused the lights to not open? NO! I said that the gears slip, the motor doesn't move the assembly, and then it returns the assembly to its previous position. If you didn't make assumptions, you could figure out that the original position could be open and then the light doesn't close fully, so it goes back to being open. And before you open your piehole again, I will say this: I have seen several threads started in the forum where the lights opened and closed on their own! and when the gears were replaced, the problem was solved.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
31,075

Symptoms are door gets shut and the light opens then closes. A stripped gear will not cause the lights to fully open then close when the drivers door is shut. Stripped gears cause the lights to come up then fall back down repeatedly.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
455

@ John --- this is untrue. The stripped gears cause the motor to compensate .... IE..... REVERSING THE GEAR ROTATION. Hence Open when should be closed..... Do you even work on F bodies ? Very well versed in gens 1,2 & 3. considering I was the first to scream "stripped gears" I will stand with Sam. PS just cuz someone ask a question does not mean you have the correct answer ... but you always seem to have one. Are you ASE ? If not STFU

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
115

I have not had access to the car since I was told of this issue by my wife. It is her car and is parked at a airport until Saturday. She did tell me today that the grinding noise and the problem with the lights opening and closing on their own started at the same time. This leads me to think the gear is the cause of the problem. I will certainly post the results next week when I replace the gears. Could someone please post a source on the gears? Thank you for the help, Andy

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
1,495

Here are your options for the gears: 1. Open the motor up and reverse the gear. The gear has splines all the way around but the motor only uses half of those gears. Then just make sure to seal the motor well and make sure the gear is engaged tightly. This is the cheapest option. 2. You can buy replacement motors with a lifetime warranty. This is the most expensive option, but if it ever happens again, you just pull the motor off, get it swapped, and put the new motor in. 3. Replace the gear. The best option I've found for this is: http://www.hawksthirdgenparts.com/products/Headlight-Repair-Kit%252d-93%252d2002-Firebird-Trans-Am-Formula-%28also-2004%252d05-Corvettes%29.html Costs $45 per repair kit but comes with a brass gear and reinforcements for the motor.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
31,075

The drivers door shutting is causing the lights to open then close on their own. That means the lights are being given power and ground when the door closes. Bad gears dont create power. I have been working on f-bodies since I was 14 and the first gens don't have flip up lights. Anyone in the automotive industry knows that. Not only did I finish the automotive half and get ASE certified but I also got my associates degree. That degree was handed to me exactly 15 months from the day I graduated high school. Regardless of whether the gears cause reverse rotation or not why are the motors being activated when the door is closed and why did they open activate once?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
31,075

Not to mention this is a 4th Gen not a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
115

Regardless of if the root cause of the lights opening and closing is the gears or not the grinding noise tells me the gears need to be replaced. Hopefully this does correct the main problem, opening and closing. Samuel I am not into cheap. I want the easiest and most reliable answer. When you say replace the motors is that the entire assembly? I like plug and play when possible. Andy

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
455

@ John -----Good for you ! Not only do 1st Gen Camaro and 2nd Gen Camaro's flip up lights retard.

455

1968

455

1969 You see what you know is school.... My first A Body 1970 Chevelle in 1978 ! Please do not lead folks astray with bogus bullshit.

455

Your school cert has no bearing on real life activities . All I am saying if you dont know ----- then dont comment. Above you will see FLIP up LIGHTS on 1st & 2nd Gens...... so you are wrong about that.....get a life bro.

31,075

Where is the second Gen pics? 67-69 are all first gens, those lights come on only RS equipped models, and the only thing that flipped was a door. Congrats you are capable of driving a car. Bottom line is the motors are getting electricity when the door gets shut and plastic gears don't create electricity. Not to mention the fact that the gears coincidentally going bad at the exact moment as each other causing both lights to do this without giving any prior sign. Even if the gears are bad why are the motors getting power to open then close? You still haven't answered that pope. Where is this magical electricity coming from?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
31,075

You tell me to say nothing unless I'm ASE cert and after showing I am in fact certified you say it means nothing. Get your head checked.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
455

Your the expert ! Answer the question, not criticize everyone else's post. Your answers Technically sound impressive, But the actual help you have given is missing. Not sayin I am a better wrench (yes I am) than you, just sayin if you dont know then SHHHHHhhhhh. Acting like a child with a inferiority complex (refering to the profile pic) Lets just wait for the car to come back from the airport. Sam seems to be the most versed in this subject and should take the lead on the resolution.. JMO

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
1,495

John, the fact that you're ASE certified doesn't mean shit right now. Is it impressive? Yes. Does it make you any less wrong? No. Does it mean you know everything about every car? Hell no. I bet you don't know how to pull the engine codes off of a 95 Camaro/Firebird, just as one example. Quit acting like a child. Is it so infuriating that you could be wrong about something related to a car? If it is, just take your immature insecurity elsewhere while we try to help this gentleman fix the problem with his wife's car instead of just opening your mouth and inserting your foot.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
1,495

Here's a decent instructional video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV61KdPPBDM

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
31,075

Reread the guys issue, the drivers door got shut and the lights opened. He stated twice he doesn't care about the noise, you guys keep saying its the gears. The gears are causing noise yes agreed but the plastic gears are not giving power to the lights when the drivers door closes. All I'm asking for is proof as to how I'm wrong. Where is the power coming from? The drivers door shutting activated the lights. Bad gear, good gear, no gear the lights got power. I never disputed the gear being bad the only thing I disputed was the gear causing the lights to open then close on the doors closing. My friend has 2 95s both 3.4 both black one standard with t-tops and the other auto. I pull codes with an actron cp9145 code scanner. What, do you want me to mention how GM used obd 2 plugs on the 95s and a hand full of 94s? I don't post answers on questions if I don't know. If I answer a question its because I know the answer or I make it a point that my answer may not be correct. Check my previous posts if you don't believe me.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
31,075

It was his wife's car before the divorce

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
31,075

She knocked the front air dam off and it overheated.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
31,075

She decided that instead of waiting and calling for help she drove it home from the mall that was 40 miles away and ruined the motor.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
1,495

Impressive. I had to explain the concept of the OBD 1.5 to my local Chevy Dealership's Head Tech. But that's neither here nor there. Okay, let's see if you understand it like this. There are bump stops. When the control arm contacts that bump stop, the motor stops moving. When the gears are stripped, the motor turns, and turns, and turns, but the control arm doesn't hit the bump stop. After it turns for a certain period of time without hitting that bump stop, the motor reverses direction to avoid burning out the motor. It's like a garage door? Do you have an automated on? Go turn it on to close then stick your head under it. It'll try to close but when it can't, it reverses direction so the motor doesn't burn out. Same concept! Get it now?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
455

@John - " All I'm asking for is proof as to how I'm wrong. " In this type of forum, YOU have to prove yourself CORRECT, not the other way around. NOW YOU READ AND TRY TO UNDERSTAND Plastic gear teeth are actually worn away in the center. This is what causes the "ratcheting" and vibrating effect when the headlight reaches the closed position and in some cases, the fully raised position. What happens is the motor continues to turn (even though the plastic gear is not) and therefore the sensing circuit still "thinks" the headlight is moving in the up or down direction. <<< Really not that hard to understand ! PS. After 12 years in the Corps and fighting in 2 wars, I could really give a flyin F*%$ what you think about my Looks, Rings and yes I may be old, but I would still Gut you like a frikin PIG. You got a lot of growin up to do. Maybe you should "Give it a wink goodnight" and call it a day before you make yourself look any worse. Below is my Current F-Body.

115

I was mis-informed, it is not only when the door is closed as I was told and I stated here. It happens when the igntion has been turned on ans then back off and the door is open and shut. There is a big time grinding noise which I am sure the gear should correct. Results to come. Sorry I stated the wrong information.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

It sure seems "grown up" to threaten someone's live on an internet forum over a freaking CAR ISSUE. Get over yourself, dude. 12 years Corps and vet status don't make you invincible. All you need to do is talk trash to any long-term trained fighter used to CQC and your Corps training will not matter.

I had the same exact problem with my 2000 pontiac firebird trans am and once i changed the gears it fixed the noise and the issue with opening door and light coming on.

I have a 2002 Trans Am and this just started happening to me. When I lock the car (or unlock) with the remote, the headlights cycle up and then back down and I get that same grinding noise as stated above. Why would the lights cycle? That seems really odd.. .normally the fog lights would blink when locking/unlocking, but nothing NORMALLY happens with the main lights... Additionally, my display on my radio no longer shows up so I was thinking possibly it's the interior light switch going bad, but after reading through all the good and bad comments above, now I don't know...

Ok, I read all the rants yesterday and opted to give Michael and Samuel's ideas a go. That youtube link did the trick! Took me about an hour as I was trying to be careful around the paint (my allen wrench was a tick too short) to raise the light, take off the cowling, and arm, rotate the motor 180, and put it all back together. I'll be danged if that didn't fix my issue! Seems like a totally random fix, but it worked like a charm and cost me nothing but my time. Thanks to those who weren't complete tool bags on this thread!!

I Just came across this thread while researching electrical problems with Trans Ams. It's two years old, and probably not being monitored by either Samuel or John anymore, but after reading their comments, I had to speak up. Neither Michael nor Samuel address the issue of why the light doors would suddenly power up when the driver's side door is closed. They only discuss the motor running on when the gear is stripped. John is right: plastic gears don't supply power to the headlight motors, and only become an issue once the motors are powered up. The real question is, why is closing the driver's door opening the circuit to the headlight motors? And, yes, it is the height of hypocrisy to tell John that his points aren't valid because he isn't ASE certified, and then, when he provides proof that he is, state that ASE certification isn't important. Such "logic" could only come from someone who isn't intelligent enough to recognize the issue being discussed, even after it's been explained several times. And shame on you Michael, for acting like a baby and threatening a man from the safety of an Internet forum. You are a disgrace to your profession and to your service.

The real answer here, is that the electrical module that controls the headlights' operation is always checking to make sure the headlights are in the correct position. As soon as you turn the key, hit lock or unlock on the key fob or open a door for example the car applies electric to the motors to be sure they are in fact closed or open. When the gear strips out the motor doesn't contact the stops and is therefore unsure of the orientation of the light and may open or close them in an attempt to correct their positioning. The stripped gear is ultimately the problem, the electrical signal is always present and is just unnoticed in a properly working mechanism.

10

Hey guys i have a question.? they fixed my dash on my trans am. and i also bought a new control to open and close the door. after they finish with the dash. and took the car home i notice when i lock the car the headlight will pop up. Does it have to do with the dash or the control? i also hear the noise yall where talking about.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

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