Well, my right front lamp has been buggered up for some time now.  Ever since an accident when they repaired (rather than replaced) the lens it has always been a bit "smoky".  I could use rubbing compound and reshoot the lens but given a few months the haze would return.  So it's time to replace the lens.

Rather than pay over $130 at the local dealership I decided to shop around for after market and came up with a solution for about $45 U.S. from Rigid Steel http://www.rigidsteel.com  That's not bad and I expected the replacement to be of possibly lower quality than stock.  I was not disappointed, it was lower quality.  These lamps are made by Crown Automotive Sales Company inc. http://www.crownautoparts.com  A wholesaler.  And I think I've spotted them for as low as $35.  It's all what you can afford.  Buymopar.com will sell the OEM for $86.06 and that will be the way I go next time.

Well, I'm going to install it anyway and see what the future holds.

The first problem I ran into was the connector for this lamp was not the same as the OEM version.

7 Sep 02 Update: I just checked out the left lamp and it has the same style connector as the replacement from RigidSteel.  Odd.  It's also a very close match right down to the lack of a heat shield above the bulb.  My supposition is DC changed the lamp design sometime durring the production run?

Factory (OEM) connector Replacement connector

Replacement Collar
As you can see, there is something off.  The factory connector will come off but will not fit the replacement.  So I contacted the folks at RigidSteel and they shipped me (at no charge) the proper connector rings.  That made me happier...

This just shows how cruddy the old lamp was.

Front Back

How do you get the lamp out?  Well... It's easy but it's also a bit of a nerve grinder.  First you get your fingers under the bottom inboard (toward grill) side then pull forward till it pops.  Then you do the same with the upper left hand side.  You will have to pull, these lamps are held in by snaps and they are stiff.

When installing be careful: Make sure the snaps are lined up or you will break them and have to swap with the old ones.  Don't ask.  I did and it was a royal pain in the butt to get the snap out of the old unit without destroying the lamp.  (I wanted to keep the old unit for a spare just in case this replacement is a sorry pos.)

Now for the things I noticed.

These lamps are cheaper than factory.
They are missing certain aspects
 - no lower drain
 - no metal heat shield above the lamp

And there is a definite difference in beam pattern as you can see below.   While this will produce more light out to the sides (a good thing in my books) it also lowers the overall height (a bad thing) as that will affect distance vision.  The mounting and lamp position was right on spec.  The beam center is where it should be but the pattern as you can see is significantly different.

Factory Light Pattern Replacement Light Pattern

copyleft 2002, DougW
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