Though some car maintenance tasks may require the assistance of a licensed professional, one of the best ways to save money on your car is to replace a headlight or taillight yourself. In just a few easy steps, you can avoid hundreds of dollars of mechanical fees and prevent further car lighting issues.
There aren’t any particularly special tools you will need to replace your headlight. The main items you need are:
- Safety Glasses: Because you are dealing with glass, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Screwdriver: Especially if you have an older vehicle, you may need a screwdriver to hold parts together.
- Glass Cleaner or Alcohol Wipes: Touching the surface of a light may cause permanent damage. Wipes are not necessary but may be helpful to prevent scratching or dust.
- Vehicle Owner’s Manual: This item is the most necessary, as it can reveal which bulb needs to be replaced and provide further instructions on how to switch out your headlight or taillight.
In addition to these tools, it’s also important that you do not buy a too powerful bulb or one that will not fit in the headlight socket to avoid problems.
Step One: Determine Which Light Is Broken
First, you will need to determine which light is the problem. You can do this by popping your front hood or trunk with the lights on.
Step Two: Remove the Headlight or Taillight
After you determine which light bulb you need to replace, you will need to remove the power connector from the back of the light and remove the dust cover. Both may require some twisting to release.
Some older models may also have a clip or bulb retainer that holds the light into place. To remove, simply pull back on the clip or pinch the two opposite ends to release. The instructions for removing the clip may also usually be found in the vehicle’s owner manual.
Step Three: Turning the Pigtail
Once you remove both covers, you will have to turn the pigtail out in order to pull out the bulb. Do not tug the bulb by the glass or it may shatter and cause internal damage to your headlight/taillight covers. Instead, wriggle the light gently until it releases from the pigtail.
Step Four: Replace the Bulb
Align the socket of the bulb with the sockets of the pigtail, avoiding touching the glass. If you do touch the glass, use some glass cleaning wipes to remove fingerprints or dust. It is vital that you ensure that the sockets of the light are aligned with the sockets of the pigtail or the bulb will not work. After you plug in the light, twist slightly to ensure that it is locked into place.
Step Five: Protecting the Bulb
Simply replace the clip, cover, and dust protector in the reverse order of their removal. Then turn on your headlight or taillight to ensure they are working properly. After testing the bulb, you should be all set!