How To Remove Headlight Lens

This is our guide on how to remove your car’s headlight lens. 

There are a couple different reasons why you might need to remove the headlight lens on your car. These range from maintenance and cleaning to replacement and troubleshooting of the headlight lens or the headlight bulb. 

And while the process of removing the headlight lens will differ from car to car, and manufacturer to manufacturer, it’s nothing you can’t do at home, with just a few simple tools. 

That said, we do recommend consulting the owner’s manual for your particular car to see exactly how the manufacturer recommends you remove the headlight lens. 

We’ve been testing and working on headlights for over a decade. So if you need help figuring out how to remove your car’s headlight lens, you came to the right place. 

Keep reading for more information on how to remove a headlight lens. 

Why You Might Need To Remove Headlight Lens

There are a couple different reasons why you might need to remove a headlight lens. 

Cleaning

It is possible that some dust, road grime, or other contaminants have gotten into your car’s headlight lens. These can severely decrease how effective the headlight is at illuminating the road ahead, and you might have to remove the headlight lens entirely to clean it. 

Moisture Removal

Much like contaminants, moisture from the air can also get into the headlight lens. This usually appears as condensation on the inner surface of the headlight lens, which diffuses light at weird angles, leading to poor visibility. 

While there are ways to remove moisture and condensation from a headlight without removing the headlight lens, if there is a lot of moisture buildup inside, removing the lens may be necessary. 

Headlight Bulb Replacement

Most modern headlights allow for plug and play installation of headlight bulbs, where you don’t have to remove the lens in order to replace the headlight bulb inside. However, some headlight assemblies, especially on older vehicles, need to be removed completely, headlight lens and all, in order to swap out the headlight bulbs. 

Headlight Lens Repair/Replacement

A cracked or damaged headlight lens is one of the most common ways for your car to get damaged in the event of a crash or accident. This is because headlight lenses are one of the most vulnerable parts of the car in a head-on collision or even a fender bender. 

Most of the time, if you want to repair a headlight lens, it needs to be removed from the car. Alternatively, if your headlight lens is beyond saving and needs to be replaced, the first step is to remove it. 

Cosmetic Changes

There are numerous cosmetic changes that might require the headlight lens to be removed. These include tinting the headlight lens, converting the headlights from reflectors to projectors and vice versa, or even removing the headlight so you can paint the bodywork around it. 

What You’ll Need

Removing the headlight lens from your car’s headlights is pretty simple and you only need a couple of tools. 

Heat Gun

Most modern headlight lenses are held onto the body of the headlight with very strong adhesive. To remove the headlight lens, you need to heat this adhesive so that it melts and makes it easier to separate the lens from the rest of the headlight assembly. 

This can also be substituted for a hair dryer, though we recommend using a heat gun since it has more adjustability for the temperature settings and speed. 

Flat Head Screwdrivers

You need two flat head screwdrivers, or something similar that you can slide into the narrow groove where the headlight lens connects with the rest of the headlight assembly. 

If you don’t have a couple screwdrivers on hand, you can use anything else that gives you a bit of leverage to separate the headlight lens from the headlight assembly. 

How To Remove The Headlight Lens

Step 1: Heat Up The Edges Of The Headlight Lens

The first step is to use the heat gun to heat up the adhesive holding the headlight lens to the rest of the headlight assembly. This adhesive goes all the way around the edges of the headlight, so you’ll need to go over all of it. 

Don’t put the heat gun too close to the headlight lens, as the extreme heat could melt the polycarbonate material. Evenly heat up the edges of the headlight lens until you feel the adhesive beneath start to give. 

Step 2: Wedge The Screw Driver Under The Lens

Now, wedge the flat end of a screwdriver between the headlight lens and the headlight body. You might have to spend a bit of time finding a spot where the adhesive is soft enough to let the screwdriver in. 

Be careful not to apply too much pressure when wedging the screwdriver under the headlight lens, as this could cause it to crack. 

Step 3: Work Your Way Around The Headlight Lens

Once you find a spot where the screwdriver goes in easily, start working your way around the edge of the headlight lens. 

As you go, you might have to use the heat gun to melt the adhesive more and make it easier to separate headlight lens from headlight body. The adhesive should be loose enough that the screwdriver can take apart the lens, but heat it more as needed. 

Step 4: Use A Second Screw Driver To Clear The Adhesive

It is also a good idea to use a second screwdriver to clear away adhesive while using the first one to hold the lens and body apart from each other. 

Here again, we have to warn against applying too much pressure, as the headlight lens and the body are prone to cracking or otherwise getting damaged. 

Once all of the adhesive has been cleared away, you can easily pull the headlight lens away from the headlight body and do whatever you need to do.

Things To Consider When Removing Headlight Lens

There are some things to keep in mind when removing a headlight lens. 

Perhaps most important of all is how you heat the adhesive. The headlight lens and the rest of the assembly are made of highly durable polycarbonate, but even this will deform or melt under too much heat. 

That is why we recommend using the heat gun at very low heat settings and speeds so that there is less chance of the material melting or getting damaged. In fact, that’s exactly what happened to the headlight lens we removed as an example for this guide!

Another thing to keep in mind is that on some cars, there might be screws or tabs holding the headlight lens to the rest of the body. These need to be removed first, otherwise the headlight lens won’t come off. 

Lastly, we think it is important to exercise caution when using screwdrivers to pry open the headlight lens. This is especially true if you intend on putting the headlight lens back on later. 

Applying too much pressure on the screwdrivers could easily crack or damage the headlight lens, making it unusable. 

Conclusion

Here, we learned that removing a headlight lens yourself at home is not only possible, but also fairly easy. In fact, you don’t even need that many special supplies. 

Still, there are some things to keep in mind when removing the headlight lens, as it is a sensitive process that requires a lot of care and attention.


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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.