Changing the bulbs of car headlights is one of those tasks that, though simple in theory, always turns out to be more difficult than expected. The good news is that a few helpful tips are all it takes to remove the mystery from this operation. If you have a dead headlight bulb that needs to be replaced, read on. This article will walk you through the process in four simple steps.
Step 1: Locating The Bulb Holder
Headlight bulbs are always accessed from below the hood, so begin by securely propping your hood open. You may find it helpful to attach a clip lamp to help illuminate the area. Next, locate the bulb holder by narrowing your search to the area directly behind the headlight. The bulb holder can be identified by the presence of three wires feeding into it.
Step 2: Removing The Harness
These three wires connect to a part of the bulb holder known as the wiring harness. In order to gain access to the bulb, you will first need to remove this harness. There are three different ways that the wiring harness may be secured in place, depending on the type of car you have:
- a button
- a clip
- a screwcap
Check the top of the harness. If you see a small plastic button, simply hold it down while wiggling the harness free. If you see a small metal clip, pull this outward in order to loosen the harness. Finally, if you don't see either of these things, your harness is likely held in place by a screwcap. Gently unscrew it in a counter-clockwise direction until it comes loose.
Step 3: Detaching The Bad Bulb
In certain styles of headlight holders, the bulb is designed to pull free along with the wiring harness. In that case, all you have to do is carefully remove the bulb from its plug. Take note that certain bulb styles require you to rotate the bulb slightly in order to unlock it before it can be unplugged.
Other wiring harnesses are designed so that when they are removed, they automatically unplug themselves from the bulb. In that case, the bulb remains in its housing. To remove it, simply grab the base of the bulb and pull it out. You may need to use a pair of needle nose pliers if the bulb is set too deep within the housing to reach with your fingers.
Step 4: Install The New Bulb
Getting your fresh headlight bulb installed is as simple as repeating the steps you've just taken in a backwards order. The trickiest thing here is not the installation itself, but ensuring that your replacement bulb is of the correct style. If you're not sure about the part number of your specific bulb, simply take the bad one with you to the auto supply store.