Replacing Headlight Bulbs

Replacing headlight bulbs can be a different experience, depending on the type of car you own. The early models used a sealed bulb headlight that was self-contained. Later models use halogen singular bulbs that are placed in headlights with a plastic lens cover. Headlights on early models are all replaced the same way, but the technique varies when it comes to new models.

To replace the early model self-contained sealed beam headlights, face the headlight and look for three tiny Phillips screws in a retaining ring around the headlight. Simply remove these tiny screws, being careful not to lose them, and the retaining ring will come off. Lift the head light out and disconnect the electrical connector on the back of the headlight. Replace in reverse order of removal.

You can access the bulb on later model vehicles in the rear of the headlight, under the hood. In some cases, items may need to be removed to access the headlight. Generally the headlight on most domestic vehicles is held in with a plastic threaded retaining ring. The headlight electrical connector must be removed and then the plastic ring unscrewed, releasing the headlight bulb.

On many foreign vehicles, the bulb is held in by a wire spring mechanism. It is U-shaped and attached to one side of the housing by a hinge and is meant to push down on the bulb as it is squeezed and inserted into cutouts on the other side of the bulb.

A few tips for replacing these bulbs on late model vehicles: Do not touch the bulb itself--the oil in your hand does amazing things to reduce the life of the bulb. If you accidentally touch the bulb, wipe it clean with a clean soft cloth.

Many trucks have long L-shaped rods that can be seen at the top of both headlights under the hood. These are meant to aid in replacing the headlight bulbs. Pull the rods up and out and the whole headlight assembly comes out for ease of replacement.

The bulbs on the late model vehicles are all model-specific. The number of the bulb is needed to get the right replacement or ask the auto parts supplier to look it up.

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