How to Change a Headlight Bulb
A burned-out headlight compromises your night vision and is a safety hazard. Solving the problem may involve replacing a bulb or, in older cars, an entire sealed-beam unit. Most newer vehicles use replaceable bulbs, often halogen bulbs.
- Note: Always wear safety glasses when working with halogen bulbs, as they contain pressurized gas.
In our example vehicle, we replace a halogen bulb in the passenger-side headlight.
- Note: Replacing a bulb can usually be accomplished from the rear of the assembly without removing the lamp housing, but for purposes of our demonstration we remove the housing for easier access and a better view.
- Disconnect the cable from the negative battery terminal.
- To detach the headlamp assembly, use a screwdriver to loosen the front grille piece, then remove it.
- Use a nut driver or a socket wrench to loosen and remove the retaining bolt holding the headlamp mounting bracket.
- A second retaining bolt is located under the side parking-lamp housing. Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the parking-lamp assembly. Let the side lamp hang from the electrical connectors.
- Detach the headlamp housing by pulling it straight out and rotating it forward. In this headlamp, the bulb nearer the center is for the high beam; the one closer to the outside is for the low beam. We’re replacing only the low-beam bulb.
- Remove the retaining clip and disconnect the cable from the back of the bulb assembly. Rotate the bulb assembly counterclockwise, and remove it from the headlight housing.
- Important: Hold the replacement bulb by the plastic base, taking care not to touch the glass surface. Grease or fingerprints on a halogen-bulb surface can shorten its life. If you touch the bulb, clean it with rubbing alcohol.
- Insert the replacement bulb, and rotate it clockwise to seat it. Reattach the cable and the retaining clip. The steps to reinstall the lamp assembly are the reverse of those taken to remove it.
- Reattach the negative battery cable. Switch on the headlights to make sure they work.The process is similar for most newer vehicles that have headlights with replaceable bulbs. Although for this demonstration we detached the headlamp assembly, in most cases you can replace the bulb from behind the housing without detaching the entire unit.
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