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Time Needed: 30 minutes to an hour, Difficulty: Beginner, Cost: $30-150 for pair

Burned-out headlights are causing violence across America. Each night, as the sun settles behind the horizon and the last glimpse of warm light disappears like The Office on Netflix, somebody flicks the headlight dial to see only one side of the road illuminated. Some nefarious young child then sees this one-eyed car monster, calls PERDIDDLE, and wacks the sibling in the other seat.

The concerned editors at Car Bibles are staunchly against child violence, so we want to eliminate every bad bulb on the road, one car at a time. It shouldn’t be hard, luckily, because headlights are super each to change. We’ll show you how below.

The Safety Brief

Safety is the first priority when preparing for any job, so make sure you have the right protection and take the proper precautions. For this job, you’ll need mechanic gloves, safety glasses, and probably a flashlight

The Tools and Parts You Need

Changing your headlight is a fairly simple job that doesn’t always require tools, but certain cars demand parts removal to access your headlight bulbs. You might need a screwdriver set, a socket set, or pliers

The Tips For Headlight Installation

  • Always replace your headlights in pairs.
  • Never touch the bulb of your new headlight with your bare fingers.
  • Be extremely careful with the new bulbs not to hit them against anything or drop them.
  • Never pull headlights out by the wires, use the base.

The Job: How To Replace a Headlight

Read your owner’s manual to learn exactly what clips and/or parts will need to be removed, then get started.

  1. Park the car, turn it off, and turn off your lights. Let the engine cool down.
  2. Pop the hood and locate the bulb you need to replace. It should be right behind the absence of light while looking at the front of the vehicle.
  3. Remove any parts such as the air intake assembly or battery to create clear access to the back of the bulb.
  4. Unplug the wiring harness from the headlight bulb.
  5. Remove any headlight housing covers, if necessary.
  6. Remove any clips that are holding the bulb in place. You might need a flathead or pliers.
  7. Rotate the bulb to free it from its housing and pull it straight back and out. 
  8. With gloves on (don’t touch the bulb with your fingers!), remove the new bulb from its packaging, slowly place the headlight into position, and rotate the bulb to lock it into place.
  9. Put the holding clip back into place, if necessary.
  10. Quickly plug your light in and test to see if it works.
  11. Reattach any headlight housing, if necessary, and bolt any removed parts back into place.
  12. Repeat on the other side, and you’re all set!

The Car Bibles Glossary of Headlight Terms

Welcome to Bible School!

Halogen

Tungsten-halogen bulbs use glowing filaments to create light and have been the most common type of headlight bulb in consumer vehicles for years. HID and LED headlights have slowly been adopted in place of halogen lamps. 

HID

HID stands for High Intensity Discharge. HID lights create light with an electrical arc inside of a gas chamber. HID lights are known for their extremely bright light.

LED

LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode. They use no gas, use less energy, and are designed to last a long time.

The Questionnaire

Car Bibles answers all your burning questions!

Q: Can You Replace Your Own Headlight?

A: Absolutely, and we recommend it. There’s no point in paying for something this easy.

Q: How Often Should I Replace My Headlights?

A: When one goes out.

Q: Should You Replace Both Headlights?

A: Yes! It’s a best practice to replace both headlights even when only one headlight is out. If one went out, it’s likely the other one will fail somewhat soon, and two-packs are cheaper than one-packs. Replacing both ensures you have consistent light and brightness across the road. 

However, if you’re pinching pennies, there’s technically nothing wrong with only replacing one.

Q: Can I Drive With One Headlight Out?

A: It’s possible to do, but we recommend replacing your headlights as soon as one goes out. A down headlight is a safety hazard.

Q: Do Autozone, Advance Auto Parts, or Pep Boys Replace Headlights?

A: Although it is not a listed service, you might be able to find a friendly retail professional to help walk you through the process, if it’s not busy.

The Headlight Replacement Video Tutorial

The Parts To Buy

You’re going to need headlight bulbs. Whether you buy halogen, HID, or LED is up to you.

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