How to Change Your Own Headlights

While some car maintenance tasks require a skilled professional, other jobs are easy to DIY. If you’re wondering how to change a headlight, you’ve come to the right place. Follow this simple guide to brighten your path in no time. You should be able to complete this project in about 30 minutes.

Gather Your Equipment

You’ll need the specific make and model of light bulb for your vehicle. You can check your car’s owner’s manual or ask the clerk at your local auto shop to run a VIN lookupon your car to find the right type of bulb. If you’re really not sure what type of bulb you need, bring the old bulb to the shop for reference. In addition to the new bulb, make sure you have a Phillips screwdriver and tissues or alcohol wipes.

While some cars make it easy with rotating or hinged panels that provide access to the headlights, other models necessitate removal of fluid bottles, air cleaner housings and/or splash shields to get to the bulb. If you suspect your vehicle may pose an issue, gather a flat-bladed screwdriver, a pair of gloves, a box of sockets, a flashlight, and needle-nose pliers.

Locate and Disconnect the Headlight

Most vehicles require you to go through the compartment that holds the engine to access your bulb. Modern cars usually have either light-emitting-diode or halogen high-intensity discharge bulbs. These models have either rotating retainers or thin metal clips.

Open the hood and look for the bulb holder. You’ll see three wires running from the power connector. Remove those wires from the headlight plug.

Some older cars have a protective plastic casing around the headlight. Remove that part first by loosening the connection and sliding it off.

For sealed beam headlights, remove all frames, plates and mounting screws around the bulb. However, do not remove the aiming screws that let you adjust the beam.

Take the Old Bulb Out

Hold onto the base of the bulb and rotate it gently to loosen it from the headlight holder. Then, take off the back of the holder and remove the bulb. For a sealed beam headlight, you’ll have to unplug the bulb from the back of the assembly.

Put the New Bulb in Place

Keep your new bulb clear by wearing gloves or using tissues to shield it from oils on your skin. These oils can also limit your new bulb’s lifespan. You can also use an alcohol wipe to clean it before installation.

Place the bulb into the plug’s base so that the rubber gasket is completely covered. Finally, plug in the wires and replace the headlight holder. Turn on the headlights to make sure the new bulb works before you head out on the road.

For sealed beam headlights, place the new bulb into the mounting apparatus. Replace the frame and screws before testing the new bulb.

Even if only one of your headlights is out, you may want to replace both headlights together since they probably have a similar lifespan. While this project is appropriate for beginners, leave more complex vehicle needs to the professionals who are trained to keep your car in optimal condition.

Leave a Comment