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How to Replace a Headlight Bulb

Whether you're driving through the rain or on a dark road at night, it's important your car's headlights are always working. Just like the lights in your home, a headlight bulb burns out over time. Fortunately, changing it can be much easier than replacing some other parts on your car. Here are the necessary steps for replacing a headlight bulb in most new vehicles.

What You'll Need:

  • New headlight bulbThere are different types you can choose, including halogen, xenon or LED models.
  • Latex glovesThe latex gloves keep the natural oils on your hands from damaging the bulb.
  • Screwdriver or pliers - Check the headlight compartment's back cap to see if you need a Phillips or flathead screwdriver. Some require unfastening and fastening with a pair of pliers. 

Step 1: Find the Headlight Compartment

When you pop the hood, look for the area that houses the headlight. Most new vehicles have headlight compartments with power wires attached to the back panel.

Step 2: Detach the Wires and Unscrew the Panel

Remove the wires from the back panel. Use the screwdriver to unscrew the back panel. Some new vehicles might have a panel with a lever or metal clip. Back panels with a lever can be removed by pulling the panel while pressing down on the lever. If your car has a metal clip back panel, pull the clip up to pop it off.

Step 3: Remove the Old Bulb

Once you remove the back panel and wires, take out the old headlight bulb from its socket. Make sure to have a pair of latex gloves on while removing it. Since headlight bulbs are already made of a special, thin glass, they can break very easily after burning out.

Step 4: Carefully Handle the New Bulb and Screw it into the Socket

The natural oils on the skin of your hands can actually short out a new bulb before it is even installed.Your pair of latex gloves should remain on when you remove the new bulb from the package to prevent damage to the bulb. Remember to handle the replacement bulb from its surface while installing it. Hold the new headlight bulb from its base and screw into the open socket.


Step 5: Reconnect the Back Panel and Wires

Take the socket attached to the power wires and plug it back into the headlight compartment. Next, screw or pop the rear panel back into place.

Step 6: Test Out the Bulb

It's important to test out the new bulb before taking your car for a spin. Turn your headlights on to see if the bulb is working properly. If it's not, check the wiring or see if there is corrosion in the bulb's socket. Either one might be the actual problem.