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Changing Your Headlight Bulb

If you forget to periodically check your headlights, there’s a fleet of black-and-white cruisers who will gladly do it for you. Unfortunately they charge quite a bit, and that’s if you don’t have to show up in court with a picture of your car with both lights on to prove that you fixed it. So go ahead and take a peak at the front of your car. If you’re lazy you can wait until you’re behind a big trailer and check them from your driver’s seat. If you have a bulb out, you can pay the guy at the oil change shop to care of it. But that’s not you! You do things yourself, so go ahead and make it happen! This procedure covers most halogen headlight systems with bulbs loaded into the back of the lens. If your car has sealed beam headlights, this won’t help.

** To find out what type of bulbs your vehicle needs, check your Owner’s Manual or do a Google search!

What you’ll need:

Usually no tools at all!

Locate the Bulb Holder:

With the hood propped safely open, look around to the back of the headlight and locate the bulb holder. It will have three wires coming out of a plug that is shaped like a trapezoid.

Remove the Wiring Harness:

The three wires are attached to a plug that is at the base of the headlight itself. This plug will be held in by a plastic catch, a metal clip, or in some cases a screw cap.

For a plastic catch:

you’ll see a little lever sticking up at the top of the plug. Press this down with your thumb while you pull firmy but gently on the plug. It should slide off.

For a metal clip:

just pull up and away and it will come off in your hand. Try not to drop it, when these things hit the pavement the clips are like stick-bugs in the woods, hard to see.

For a screw cap:

simply unscrew it by turning it counter-clockwise (the old righty-tighty/lefty-loosey might get confusing since you are doing the reacharound.)

Remove the Old Bulb:

With the wiring out of the way, you should be able to pull the bulb out by holding onto the base (the thing that the plug was in). In some cases, you may have to rotate the bulb slightly for it to release, but this is rare these days.

Put the New Bulb in Place:

Before you take the new bulb out of the packaging, grab a tissue or a clean rag. If the oils on your skin get on the glass bulb, it can burn out prematurely, in some cases the same day. If you must touch the glass, do so with the tissue. You shouldn’t have to.

Holding the bulb’s plug end, stick it into the back of the headlight. Be sure to visually confirm that it’s all the way in. You can tell because it will be lined up evenly and none of the bulb’s rubber gasket will be showing.

Plug the wiring back in and re-secure the bulb. Test it now. If you see a white bulb come on now it’ll be a lot better than seeing your favorite blue-and-red bulbs in the rear view mirror later. You’re finished! And the road to Automotive Empowerment continues…