C3 Shark Tank

everything you need to know

Headlight Actuator Repair


Start the job by removing the right and left grille sections and screws.


Actuate the headlamps so they are partially open. Then remove the long spring on either side of the pivot link pin.


Disconnect the two vacuum hoses attached to the actuator. Remove the cotter pin and slide the pivot pin out of the actuator rod.


Remove the four nuts that hold the actuator in place. Also remove the inner support rod. Now carefully work the actuator out through the grille opening. You may not think it will fit through, but it will. Just keep turning the actuator until it fits through the opening.

Note: When you do this, make sure the hood is closed. You do not want to scratch it with the back of the headlight actuator.


With the actuator on your work bench, start by removing the pivot pin receiver. Hold the shaft firmly in place below the threads and twist the receiver nut off. It is a good idea to count the number of turns to remove the receiver nut. That way you will be able to return it to the same place on the actuator rod.


Carefully remove the rod dust shield because these are presently not available and you will have to reuse them. Clean them in a mild detergent and then put some kind of rubber preservative on them to keep them supple.


Carefully remove the actuator front seal retaining ring, which is held in place by three very small prongs. Use a small screwdriver to open the prongs so the ring can be removed from from the actuator seal lip.

Important Note: Only open the prongs up enough to remove the ring from the seal lip. These prongs are very fragile and they cannot be opened and closed repeatedly. One or two times will be all that they can withstand.


Once the lip seal prongs are opened, the front actuator seal can be removed.


Here is the culprit. This tear caused the one headlight not to open. We also discovered the other seal had a hole as well, which is why it was slow to open.


Clean the actuator front seal lip with something like 3M’s General Purpose Adhesive Cleaner No. 08984. This will let the rubber seal tightly against the actuator lip.


Install the front actuator seal over the rod and onto the actuator seal lip. A small amount of spray silicone on the rubber seal will ease installation. Carefully tuck it into place using a small screwdriver.


Replace the actuator seal retaining ring. Use a pair of needle nose pliers to re-crimp the prongs back into place. After the ring is in place, reinstall the pivot pin nut onto the actuator rod. (You did remember how many turns it originally had, right?) Then replace the actuators and reassemble the headlight assemblies in reverse of the disassembly procedures.


While we were at it, we replaced all of the headlight door vacuum hoses & Ts. Zip Products’ set is color coded just like the originals. A vacuum diagram is supplied with each kit for easy replacement of hoses.


It is also a good idea to replace the vacuum reserve check valve air filter. We felt since we were replacing all of the hoses, this should also be replaced.


Before we replaced the headlight doors, we installed two high and two low beam halogen lights. The difference from the original bulbs to halogen bulbs was unbelievable. If you are still using the old seal beam headlights, I highly recommend changing to halogen bulbs.


Here is the finished project. Both headlight assemblies work like they originally did and our Corvette stopped winking at us.