Changing a Headlight

Changing the Headlight in a Newer Model Vehicle

In the old days, replacing a headlight seemed to be as complicated as a root canal. The lamp had to be completely removed. Today, cars and trucks come with headlight bulbs that plug into the back of the headlight lens housing. If your headlight goes out, replacing the bulb is simple and takes very little time--but it is a critical part of car maintenance and your safety.

What Type of Bulb?

First, find out what type of bulb you need. It may be listed in the owner's manual for your vehicle.

If you cannot locate the correct bulb information, ask the service clerk at the auto parts store. They have reference material and can find this information for you quickly.

Tools to Change a Newer Headlight Bulb

You'll need a few supplies in order to change a single or both headlights on your vehicle. Remember, if you are using a different type bulb for a burned-out headlight, you must place that same type bulb in the working headlight.

Here's what you need:

  • The correct bulb for your vehicle's make, model and year.
  • Service manual for your vehicle's make, model and year.
  • Any tools required, as indicated in the service manual.

Changing the Newer Vehicle Headlight Bulb

Follow these steps to change the headlight bulb on your vehicle:

  1. Open the engine compartment hood.
  2. Locate the back of the headlight to determine the lamp and bulb type.
  3. Decide which bulb you need to replace.
  4. Purchase the correct bulb for your headlamp.
  5. Follow the directions in the service manual for the correct way to replace the bulb.

Changing the Headlight in an Older Model Vehicle

Older models are a bit trickier. First find the part number, which can usually be found as a raised impression on the front of the glass covering the headlamp. If it's not there, check the service manual, the owner's manual, or with the auto parts shop to buy the correct headlight.

Tools to Change an Older Headlight

To change out the whole headlight in an older vehicle:

  • Correct lamp for the vehicle's make and model.
  • Screwdriver to disconnect the frame holding the lamp in the bracket.

Changing the Older Vehicle Headlight

Follow these steps to change the headlight bulb on an older vehicle:

  1. Remove the screws that connect the headlamp frame to the bracket holding the headlamp. Make certain you turn only the screws that hold the lamp frame, not the adjusting screws.
  2. Disconnect the electrical connector in the back of the lamp by pulling the socket away from the headlamp with your hand.
  3. Remove the headlight from the bracelet area and discard it.
  4. Replace with the new headlight, making sure that it is positioned right side up.
  5. Plug the wire socket into the new headlight, which holding the headlight securely.
  6. Replace the headlight into the frame.
  7. Place the frame onto the headlight bracket.
  8. Reattach the screws to hold the frame and bracket in place.
  9. Do not adjust the setting screws for the direction the headlight shines.

If you suspect that the positioning of your new headlight may have been disturbed while you changed it, have it checked before you drive at night. Otherwise, you are ready to go.

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