Angie’s Blog

Because I Can

Quick fix for a broken headlamp adjustment screw

I just got an email about fixing an entire headlamp assembly with an emphasis on what to do about missing or broken adjustment screws.

A long time ago I hit a bird while driving. This very unlucky bird just so happened to aim for my headlight and hit it. The impact broke the small, threaded plastic piece that the lower adjustment screw threads into. Without this piece, your headlight bulb will “roll” up into your Mustang “skull” like a like a dead person and will be impossible to adjust. Since my Mustang is so poor at night driving (driver error?) and this was the driver headlamp that had been accosted, I wanted it fixed quick. My solution? a Molly Bolt.

Original configuration vs. Molly Bolt, aka Wall anchor

Yes, a Molly Bolt. A wall anchor is a good place to start because of it’s design and intended use. The small threaded plastic piece that holds your adjustment screw is similar to a grommet in that it sits in a hole and has “flared” or “thicker” material that holds it in place. The difficulty is that a grommet is neither threaded or of rigid plastic so it won’t work in this case. Replacing this piece, as far as I know, would be extremely difficult because it is rigid plastic and can’t be contorted to fit in the hole (refer to my awesome pictures for clarification). A wall anchor is meant just for the purpose of placing in a hole cut into thin material (drywall, sheet metal, something where both sides of the material will be touched by the anchor).

As for choosing which wall anchor to use, I chose the Molly Bolt because it most resembled the original piece but if you find something better that fits, go for it. I found one of the larger Molly Bolts to work best because not only is the screw longer but the end product of the anchor will be larger, making it a better fit for the hole and less likely to rattle around or pull loose.

When installing the Molly Bolt, you’ll notice that you have to “deploy” the anchor slightly before placing it in the hole because there’s not enough room behind the Mustang’s Body (more body, perhaps?) to fit the entire length of the anchor. Once you have it loosely sitting in the hole, go ahead and tighten it until the anchor is firmly anchored inside the hole. At this point I’d strongly suggest a washer for the bolt head because the bolt head will be smaller then the original adjustment screw. I’d also suggest finding a longer screw now that you have the anchor in place (bigger= longer, not thicker) so that you have a wider range of adjustment.

Final product

Also, do not JB weld the anchor in place. As it is, it’s easy to remove with needle-nose pliers by bending the anchor to all hell and then shoving it through the hole and watch it fall out from a magic secret place underneath your Mustang. If you JB weld this, you can not only clog your precious anchor threads but make it darn hard to remove if you need to.

Molly bolts

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