How To Change Headlight Bulb

This is our guide on how to change a headlight bulb. 

If your current headlight bulb is giving you problems, or if you’re just in the mood for an upgrade, it might be time to change the headlight bulb. 

A new headlight bulb can bring a ton of benefits with it. You get brighter light output, better visibility for nighttime driving, and a more focused beam. 

The process for changing the headlight bulb will vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, the type of bulb you’re using, and a couple other factors. As such, this is a general guide on how to change a headlight bulb. 

We’ve been testing and working on headlight bulbs for over a decade. And if you’re not sure how to change the headlight bulb on your vehicle, you came to the right place. 

Keep reading for more information on how to change a headlight bulb. 

Signs You Need To Change Your Headlight Bulb

If you’re unsure whether your headlight bulb needs to be changed,  here are a couple signs that you need to do so. 

Flickering Beam

If your headlight beam keeps flickering, it might be because there is an issue with the wiring. It is also possible that there is a problem with the bulb itself which is causing it to flicker, requiring the bulb to be changed. 

Low Brightness Output

Low brightness output is another dead giveaway of a headlight bulb that needs to be replaced. 

The lower brightness will reduce visibility for nighttime driving, and also make your vehicle less noticeable at night. 

Both of these are serious safety risks and need to be addressed at the earliest to prevent any issues down the line. 

Blurry Beam Pattern

If the beam pattern of your headlights appears blurry, or if there are a lot of dark spots in your line of sight, then replacing the headlight bulb with a new one might be a good idea. 

What You’ll Need

Here’s a list of all the stuff you’ll need to change your headlight bulb. 

Gloves 

We highly recommend wearing gloves when handling headlight bulbs. This is because the glass on the headlight bulb is very sensitive to pressure and could easily break. 

Additionally, wearing gloves while handling headlight bulbs ensures you don’t leave any fingerprints on the glass, which could show up in the headlight beam and reduce the efficacy of the beam. 

Screwdriver

Some cars might require you to unscrew a housing or remove a part of the headlight assembly before you can change out the headlight bulb. 

Alternatively, we find that a flat-head screwdriver is great for popping open tabs or latches that might be keeping the headlight bulb in place. 

Vehicle Owner’s Manual

As we said at the top, this is meant to be a general guide on how to change a headlight bulb. The process will differ from one vehicle to the next, so you should consult your car’s owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website to find the exact way to change a headlight bulb. 

Replacement Headlight Bulb

This might seem obvious, but there are some things to keep in mind when finding a replacement headlight bulb for your car.

For one, make sure you get the right size and type of headlight bulb. If you aren’t familiar with the size or type of headlight bulb you need for your car, refer to the owner’s manual or the car manufacturer’s website. 

Additionally, when changing headlight bulbs, we recommend changing them in pairs. This ensures that one of the headlight bulbs won’t go out before the other, and you get consistent lifespan between the two bulbs. 

In fact, you will probably get a better price if you purchase two bulbs together. 

How To Change A Headlight Bulb

Now, let’s look at how you can go about changing a headlight bulb. 

Step 1: Turn Off The Car And The Headlights

Before you begin, it is important to make sure that the headlights are off and that your car’s engine is not running. While unlikely, you could get shocked by the car’s electrical system if the engine is running. 

Some professionals even recommend disconnecting the battery temporarily while changing out the headlight bulbs. 

Step 2: Find The Headlight Bulb Holder

Once you’ve ensured that neither the headlights nor the car’s engine are running, open up the hood and locate the headlight bulb holder. This is where the headlight bulbs slot into the headlight assembly. 

Step 3: Disconnect Any Wires

There will be a couple different wires leading from the headlight bulb to the car’s electrical system. Disconnect these before taking the headlight bulb out.

To disconnect the wires, you might have to unlatch some clips or take off some tabs that are holding the wires in place. If it is hard to get at these with just your fingers, use a screwdriver to unlatch them. 

Step 4: Pull Out The Old Bulb

Once all the clips/tabs have been opened and the wires have been disconnected, it’s time to pull out the old headlight bulb. Depending on the type of bulb and the make and model of your vehicle, the bulb might just come out, or you might have to twist it a bit to get it out. 

There may be some bodywork in the way, so you might have to reach around the back to remove the headlight bulb. 

Step 5: Insert The New Bulb

Now that the old bulb has been removed, it’s time to replace it with the new one. Here again, we have to remind you to be careful. 

The glass on the headlight bulb is quite prone to shattering, so you want to avoid banging it against anything. As you’re inserting the new bulb into the bulb holder, be careful not to let the bulb glass touch any of the engine parts or the car’s bodywork. 

We also urge you to wear gloves while handling the new headlight bulb to prevent smudges or fingerprints which can show up in the headlight beam. 

As you slot the new headlight bulb into the headlight assembly, twist and lock it in place. Reconnect the wires and close any tabs or clips so that the bulb stays in place. 

Step 6: Test The New Bulb

After you’ve changed out the headlight bulb, be sure to test it and see if it works as it should. Regardless of whether you swapped out just the low beam or the high beam bulb, test both to check if they work properly. 

Conclusion

So there you have it. That’s our guide on how to change a headlight bulb. The process for changing a headlight is different for different vehicles, makes, and models. 

However, the basic idea is pretty much the same. And with modern vehicles, the installation is pretty much plug and play and you don’t really need that many, if any tools at all. 

Still, the best way to figure out how to change your headlight bulbs is to refer to your car’s user manual and see how the manufacturer recommends you change the headlight bulb.


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Author

Richard Nickleson is the author and owner behind Headlight Reviews. He first started the site as a hobby to share his insights on car parts and specifically headlight bulbs, but it soon ballooned and now he writes on all topics surrounding headlights bulbs. If you've got a bulb question, contact Richard here.