HOW to replace a headlight

How to Replace a Headlight: NAPA Know How

For maximum driving safety, it is very important to keep a close eye on how your car lights are functioning. If a light goes out, follow these steps to replace it and continue driving safely. Soon you’ll know how to replace a headlight, even if you’ve never done it before.

Before replacing it, look in your owner’s manual to identify the type of headlamp your vehicle uses. In general, there are two kinds of headlamps—sealed beam and composite. Composite lights are found in newer models and contain special housing with a removable halogen or xenon bulb. Sealed beam lights are common in older cars.

Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 15 minutes
How often: When lights dim or burn out

Things you’ll need from your garage or your local NAPA AUTO PARTS Store:

Composite Headlamp Replacement (common in NEWER models)

Step 1

Turn the car lights on to find out which headlamp needs replacing. Once you have located the light, turn your car off completely.

Step 2

Locate the wiring harness attached to the back of the headlamp and remove it. Review your owner’s manual for additional assistance.

Step 3

Remove the bulb retainer by gently twisting and pulling it back.

Step 4

Pull the bulb straight out. Only handle the base of the bulb.

Step 5

Use a clean rag or wire brush to remove any corrosion in the connection area.

Step 6

Attach the new bulb and make sure the tabs are lining up properly. Reattach the retainer and confirm everything is locked in place.

Step 7

Reattach the wiring harness and test your headlamp to make sure it is working properly. If the light does not come on, double-check the wiring harness to ensure that it’s fully seated. If it’s still not working, there may be a fuse or electrical problem and you should contact your local NAPA AutoCare Center.

Now that you know how to replace a headlight, pass it on by helping a friend!

 

Sealed Beam Headlamp Replacement (common in OLDER models)

These headlamps come in a 2- or 4-light system and can be round or rectangular.

Step 1

Turn the car lights on to find out which headlamp needs replacing. Once you have located the light, turn your car off completely.

Step 2

Locate and remove the protective bezel (cover) and retaining ring that is screwed in and holds your headlamp securely in place. You may need a Phillips-head screwdriver or a special Torx tool to remove them. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations. If your screws are sticky, spray them with penetrating solvent. Hold the headlamp as you remove the screws to avoid shattering.

Step 3

Pull the wiring connector off the prongs on the back of the light. Clean the connector socket with electric contact cleaner and inspect its wires for wear.

Step 4

Push the prongs onto the new headlamp and place it back into place. Make sure that the headlamp is right side up.

Step 5

Replace the retaining ring and protective bezel.

Now that you know how to replace a headlight, pass it on by helping a friend!

Check out all the lighting parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to replace a headlight, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

about author

Nick Palermo

Nick Palermo is a freelance automotive writer and NAPA Know How blogger. Since becoming an auto news and reviews contributor at AutoTrader.com in 2011, he has broadened his coverage of the automotive industry to include topics like new car technology, antiques and classics, DIY maintenance and repair, industry news and motorsports. A committed advocate for automotive media professionals, Nick is a member of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association.

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