How To Change A Car Headlight

July 11, 2019

It can be a little nerve-wracking when one of your headlights goes out. You see less while driving at night, other drivers are less likely to notice your car when changing lanes, and you risk getting a citation from a local officer. No one looks forward to the bill of getting your headlight changed at a dealership or auto shop, not to mention it’s tough to find time during the work week to even be able to drop your car off for a few hours or the whole day. Fortunately, you can take matters into your own hands by changing your own car headlight. By ordering parts online and setting aside a bit of time in the day, you can fix up your half-lit vehicle at a fraction of the price and and not waste time at an auto shop.

Items You Will Need

  • New headlight bulb
  • Flashlight
  • Gloves
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers

How To Access Your Headlight Bulb

Before you can replace your car headlight, you need to know how to access your headlight bulb and determine what kind of bulb you’ll need to replace it. Most vehicles have a halogen high-intensity-discharge (HID) or light-emitting-diode (LED) bulbs, which is information that can be found in your car’s manual. 

Once you’ve identified the type of bulb you need and have ordered it online, you can finally access your headlight holder. You can do this by opening up the hood and checking near the front of the vehicle. The bulb holder is generally a power connector that has three power wires leading to the bulb. This is where you’ll be doing most of the hard work, so grab your tools!

HID Headlight Bulb

LED Headlight Bulb

How To Remove Your Headlight Bulb

The first step is to find your VIN and then purchase your replacement parts. With replacement bulb(s) and tools on hand, it’s time to remove the damaged or dead headlight bulb. 

Depending on your vehicle type, the power wires connected to the plug base of the headlight are usually secured by a metal clip, plastic clasp, or screw-on cap. 

For A Metal Clip - You’ll just need to pull the clip up (with the help of the flat-headed screwdriver, if need be) while you pull the plug out. 

For A Plastic Clasp - You should see a lever you’ll push down on it while pulling the plug out. 

For A Screw-on Cap - This can be taken off by twisting it off counter-clockwise, using the needle-nose pliers if it’s screwed on too tightly. 

Once you have detached the power wires, you can remove the back of the headlight holder and pull or twist out the old bulb. And thus the hardest part is over!

Changing A Headlight

How To Install Your Headlight Bulb

When installing your headlight bulb be sure to be wearing your gloves. You don’t want to touch the glass of the new bulb, as any oils from your skin could result in early-failure of the bulb. It’s also recommended to wipe down the replacement headlight bulb with an alcohol wipe before you install it, to ensure there’s nothing contaminating your product. 

Now, still with gloved hands, 

  1. place the headlight bulb back into the base plug of the holder. 
    • None of the bulb’s rubber gasket should be viewable once you are finished. 
  2. To finish things up, place the back of the headlight holder back on and re-secure it with whatever measures you used to take it off. 
  3. Plug the power wires back in and close up your hood. Start your car and test your bright new headlights, and don’t forget to high-five yourself for taking care of auto business on your own.

Self-Taught Car Mechanic

Back in the day, only dealerships knew how to fix your car when it made weird noises or a light turned on. However, thanks to the internet and sheer perseverance, many people nowadays are taking matters into their own hands, buying parts online and learning how to fix up their vehicles on their own. This is great because it not only saves you lots of time and money, but it’s also a valuable skill to have in case you are in an emergency situation with no professional help available. Make the most out of today’s self-taught culture and learn how to fix up your car with simply ordering parts online and keeping a toolbox handy!