How to change a headlight bulb

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Don’t be the cause of playing paddle. Make sure your headlights are always working properly. Fortunately, they are quite easy to change. Here’s how!

See us all Autoblog Ranched Video of more tips on how to diagnose, fix and repair a car from professional dealer Larry Kosila. While you’re at it, watch a video series of Larry’s other car cleaning and maintenance Autoblog Details!

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Instructions (video transcript):

[00:00:00] [Narrator] Driving with the headlights off is not only unsafe, it is illegal. Replacing headlight bulbs is easier than you think. Here are the tools you will need. Replacement bulbs, flathead screwdrivers, and gloves. I’m Larry Kosilla, pro-detailer and trainer for the last 15 years, but when there’s what’s under the hood, I’m that student. Follow me because experts teach me to diagnose, fix and modify cars on Autoblog’s Ranched. There are different types of headlights and headlight bulbs.

[00:00:30] Type one is called a single ray, which means a bulb conducts both high and low rays. Type 2 uses two separate bulbs for the lower beam and the upper beam. The three types are called bi-xenon HID, which are focused, super bright and self leveling. The new technology is LED, which is expensive, but has a virtually unlimited lifetime. – I remember my dad changing the headlights on his old pickup truck. Remove a few screws, and the whole thing will come out. – These were called seal beams, Larry.

[00:01:00] Prior to 1984, all U.S. Spec vehicles had a sealed beam. You replace the whole glass unit with a new one, but with modern headlights, most of them, you simply replace a small bulb. It’s really easy. – [Narrator] In modern cars, with daytime running lights and automatic headlights, your lower beams are often used, which means a shorter lifespan. So it is important to know how to change your headlights. Before you begin, check out your owner’s manual for the right space replacement bulbs for your Mac, model and car of the year.

[00:01:30] Visit your auto parts store and manually look at the book part number located on the light bulb isle or ask an employee to search their computer database. Before you pick the right bulb, make sure the package is not bent or damaged, as the bulb has a good chance of being dropped or torn beforehand. Either way, find a crisp, clean package to reduce the chances of bad bulbs. Open the hood and secure the hood stand, as you will be working behind the headlight assembly.

[00:02:00] Some headlight connectors have metal clips. If you have clips, you may need a screwdriver to open them. Others may have a moisture coating, like here. Roll the cover by hand and wipe completely. Some moisture covers are flexible rubber that may require a flathead screwdriver to start the corner and the rest you can get your hands on. Next, remove the bulb and connector assembly from the housing by twisting and pulling outwards. Now remove the bulb from the connector, but do not pull or twist the glass.

[00:02:30] Pull from base or lower housing. You may need to move it a bit to unplug it from the connector. Similarly, when removing new bulbs from the package, avoid touching the glass. Oil from your finger can block high heat emissions and cause the bulb to burn out prematurely. Only touch the plastic base or use gloves. If you accidentally touch the bulb, use isopropyl alcohol to clean the oil before installation. Next, insert the new bulb into the connector, but tap it gently to avoid bending the connector’s ends. Once it seats smoothly, give it a good push.

[00:03:00] Carefully install the new bulb in the headlight housing while trying to avoid the plastic side. Once inserted, twist the connector to lock in a light assembly. Then, reinstall the moisture cover and check to make sure the light is working properly. It is a good idea to replace the bulbs in pairs. If one side blows away, there is a good chance the other side is not too far behind. Not only is driving smart with a headlight, but replacing your bulb is pretty easy

[00:03:30] And if you upgrade to bright bulbs, it will help you look better for your night drives. For more videos on car repair, visit autoblog.com/wrenched. I am Larry Kosilla from ammonyc.com. As always, thanks for visiting.

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