Fitting a New Bulb
Before you can figure out how to replace a headlight bulb, you will need to know what kind of bulb you have by checking your handbook. Changing halogen lights is relatively easy and the good news is that they are the most commonly used variety. Changing older-style lamps can be a slightly more frustrating process, and you will need a screwdriver to do that, but it is still something that is well in the realms of being DIY.
To determine what kind of bulb you will need, remove the broken bulb and take a close look at it. Each bulb type has quite a distinctive design, so it should be easy to tell them apart. You can also look in the owners’ manual for your car. This will have a list of the part numbers for common user-serviceable parts, including all the bulbs.
Note that if you decide to buy a slightly different type of bulb for a broken headlight, you will need to put exactly the same bulb type in the other headlight as well. This is because different bulbs do produce slightly different colours and intensities of light, and you could distract other road users if you use different bulbs for the same purpose.
Changing a Modern Car’s Headlight Bulb
You don’t need any fancy tools to change the bulbs on a modern vehicle. Before you start you should always consult your vehicle’s handbook to ensure that changing your bulb can be done yourself. If it is possible, you should:
- Open the engine compartment’s bonnet.
- Locate the back of the headlight and identify the broken bulb.
- Remove that bulb, then fit the replacement.
Whilst it may sound simple, access to the headlight can be limited and retaining clips can be awkward, so keep this in mind before you attempt to change your own bulbs. Your car owner’s manual will show you where the headlight bulbs are located. Sometimes it can take a little looking around, since the bulbs will often be positioned adjacent to other small parts.
Changing an Older Car’s Headlight Bulb
Replacing an older car’s headlight bulb can be a little more time consuming, since you may need to disconnect the frame that holds the lamp into the bracket before you can do anything else.
You will need a screwdriver to work on an older vehicle. Remove the screws which connect the headlamp frame to the bracket inside the car. Take care to unscrew only the connecting screws – not the screws that adjust the lamp. Once you have loosened the connector, you can remove the headlamp:
- Pull the socket away from the frame slowly and carefully.
- Remove the headlight from the bracelet in the socket. To do this, either push down on the plastic lever to release the catch, or gently pull on the metal clip until it comes off in your hand. Once the clips and catches are free, the bulb should simply come straight out. If it does not, rotate it slightly and try again.
- Pick up the replacement bulb using a tissue or a clean cloth. Try not to touch the bulb with your fingers, since the oils from your skin could actually cause the bulb to burn out more quickly. Whenever possible, handle the base of the bulb instead of the glass.
- Place a new lamp in the socket, taking care to ensure that it is positioned the right way around. The lamp will have a slight curve to it, which you can use to check the orientation.
- Connect the wire socket to the new headlight.
- Put the headlight into the frame.
- Put the frame against the headlight bracket, and then screw it back into place.
- Check that the lights work, and are adjusted correctly.
- If you are concerned that the positioning of the new lights might be off, have them checked professionally before you need to drive at night.