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How to Replace Your Headlight

Did one of your headlights recently burn out? Don’t delay headlight replacement! The longer you drive with only one working headlight, the more likely you are to be pulled over and ticketed. Plus, you risk the second headlight burning out, leaving you completely in the dark and unable to drive at all. Use this headlight replacement guide to restore nighttime driving visibility and roadway safety.

Is Headlight Replacement a DIY Job?

Newer cars use halogen headlights with bulbs that load into the back of the lens. Compared to older cars with sealed beam headlights, this newer configuration makes headlight replacement a fairly straightforward DIY task. It’s also possible to replace bulbs in older cars, but this guide is for newer model cars.

Get the Bulbs You Need

Assuming your headlight bulbs are the same age, one burned out light means the other is likely to go out soon, too. Save yourself a lot of hassle and replace both bulbs now, even though only one is burned out.

To find out what type of bulbs you need, check the vehicle owner’s manual. If you can’t find the information you need, simply ask the service clerk at the auto parts store you visit to purchase replacement bulbs. They should be able to find this information for you quickly. If you drive a mainstream vehicle, the store should have the bulbs you need in stock. Otherwise, you may need to order them in.

Gather Your Tools

You don’t need much to replace your headlight bulbs. Just make sure you have the correct bulbs, your vehicle’s service manual for any specific instructions, and any tools referenced in the service manual. Also keep a clean rag or paper towel nearby to avoid handling the replacement bulb with your bare hands.

Change the Headlight Bulb

Follow your service manual and these basic steps:

Locate the bulb holder

Pop the hood open and examine the back of the headlight to locate the bulb holder. Look for three wires originating from a trapezoid-shaped plug.

Remove the wiring harness and bulb

You must remove the plug from the base of the headlight to access the bulb. Depending on how the plug is attached, this involves pressing down on a plastic latch, pulling up on a metal clip or unscrewing a screw cap. Then pull the old bulb out by grasping the base and pulling it out firmly but gently.

Install the new bulb

Before you open the replacement bulb’s packaging, grab a clean rag or paper towel. Use this to grasp the bulb and prevent touching it with your bare hands. If the oils on your skin touch the bulb, the glass could overheat in that spot and burn out prematurely.

Holding the bulb on the plug end, insert it into the back of the headlight. You know it’s in all the way if everything is lined up and the bulb’s rubber gasket is hidden from view.

Test the replacement bulb

Plug the wiring back in and test the new bulb to make sure it works. If everything looks good, repeat the process on the second headlight and you’re good to go for the next few years!

Consider Headlight Restoration

Your new headlight bulbs may seem disappointingly dim if the acrylic lenses are foggy, scratched or yellowed. To help you get the most out of your replacement bulbs, consider seeking headlight restoration from Glass Doctor®. Our glass specialists will have your headlights shining brightly for improved nighttime visibility and roadway safety.

To learn more about our headlight restoration and repair services, please contact Glass Doctor today.