How to change a headlight bulb | Autoblog Wrenched

·4 min read

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Don't end up causing a game of padiddle. Make sure your headlights are always functioning properly. Luckily, it's pretty easy to change them. Here's how!

Watch all of our Autoblog Wrenched videos for more tips on how to diagnose, fix, and modify cars from professional detailer Larry Kosilla. While you're at it, check out Larry's other car cleaning and maintenance video series Autoblog Details!

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Instructions (Video Transcript):

[00:00:00] [Narrator] Driving around with a headlight out is not just unsafe, it's illegal. Replacing a headlight bulb is easier than you think. Here are the tools you'll need. Replacement bulbs, flathead screwdriver, and gloves. I'm Larry Kosilla, pro-detailer and trainer for the last 15 years, but when it comes to what's under the hood, I'm the student. Follow me as experts teach me how to diagnose, fix, and modify cars on Autoblog's Wrenched. There are different types of headlights and headlight bulbs.

[00:00:30] Type one are called single beam, meaning one bulb handles both the high and low beams. Type two uses two separate bulbs for the low beam and the high beam. Type three are called the Bi-Xenon HIDs, which are focused, super bright, and self leveling. The newest technology is LED, which are expensive, but have practically unlimited life spans. - I remember my dad changing his headlights on his old pickup truck. Remove a few screws, and the whole thing would pop out. - Those were called seal beams, Larry.

[00:01:00] Back before 1984, all US spec cars had a seal beam. You replace the entire glass unit with a new one, but modern headlights, most of them, you just replace a little bulb. It's really easy. - [Narrator] On modern cars today, with daytime running lights and automatic headlights, your low beams tend to get used more often, which means a shorter life span. So knowing how to change your headlights is essential. Prior to starting, check your owner's manual for the correct spec replacement bulbs for your make, model, and year car.

[00:01:30] Visit your auto parts store and manually look up the part number in the book located in the light bulb aisle or ask an employee to search their computer database. Before you pick out the correct bulb, make sure the package is not bent or damaged, as there's a good chance the bulb might've been dropped or squished beforehand. Either way, find a crisp, clean package to minimize the chances of a bad bulb. Open the hood and secure the hood stand, as you'll be working on the backside of the headlight assembly.

[00:02:00] Some headlight connectors have metal clips. If you have clips, you might need a screwdriver to pop them open. Others may have a moisture cover, like this one here. Twist the cover by hand and completely remove it. Some moisture covers are a flexible rubber that may require a flathead screwdriver to start the corner, and the rest you can get by hand. Next, remove the bulb and connector assembly from the housing by twisting and pulling outwards. Now remove the bulb from the connector, but don't pull or twist the glass.

[00:02:30] Pull from the base or the lower housing. You might need to wiggle it a bit to unplug it from the connector. Likewise, when removing the new bulb from the package, avoid touching the glass. Oils from your finger can trap the high heat discharge and can cause the bulb to burn out prematurely. Only touch the plastic base or use gloves. If you happen to accidentally touch the bulb, use isopropyl alcohol to clean the oils prior to installation. Next, insert the new bulb into the connector, but do it gently to avoid bending the connector prongs. Once it seats itself smoothly, give it a good push.

[00:03:00] Carefully install the new bulb into the headlight housing while trying to avoid bumping the sides of the plastic. Once in, twist the connector to lock it in to the light assembly. Then, reinstall the moisture cover and check to make sure the light is working properly. It's a good idea to replace bulbs in pairs. If one side blew out, there's a good chance the other side is not far behind. Driving around with only one headlight is not smart, but replacing your bulbs is pretty easy

[00:03:30] and if you upgrade to brighter bulbs, it'll help you see better for your nighttime drives. For more how-to car repair videos, visit I'm Larry Kosilla from As always, thanks for watching.

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