Headlights on a gray car. Working headlights are essential for every vehicle on the road.

Tips for Changing Headlights on New Cars

Changing headlights is part of maintaining your car. While it’s usually a job you can do yourself in the driveway, not all headlights are the same, especially in newer cars where there can be a lot packed into a small space. Here are a few tips for changing the headlight bulbs in your car, truck or SUV.

Headlight bulb

Don’t Wait for Bulbs to Burn Out

Sometimes you don’t even realize a headlight is burned out until someone tells you, but there are warning signs to look for when it’s time to change headlights. If a bulb flickers or looks dim, that’s a clear sign it’s on its way out.

In the interest of safety, replace your headlight bulbs if you notice they’re not quite working anymore. It’s a good idea to replace both at the same time because if one goes, then the other is likely not far behind.

Buy the Right Bulb

The first step in changing headlights is making sure you have the right bulbs. Break out the owner’s manual to find exactly which ones to buy, and then head to your local auto store. If you don’t see the bulb you want, ask the experts for help to find the right one.

Don’t Touch the Bulb

When you’re changing headlights, never touch the bulb. Headlights run at high temperatures and the natural oils on your fingers can cause problems once those bulbs get hot. Use a rag or cotton gloves when you’re handling the bulb to ensure it’s free of fingerprints.

To help keep them clean, don’t open the package until you’re ready to install the bulbs. If you do touch the bulb, all is not lost. Simply wipe it down with a bit of rubbing alcohol to remove the grease before you install the bulb in your car.

Accessing the Headlights

Pop the hood and take a good look inside the engine compartment behind your headlights. There’s likely a protective shield that needs to be removed to reveal the actual headlight. Once the shield is taken away, you’ll see a harness with the headlight bulb, which should then be released from any clips.

Insert the new bulb, taking care not to touch it with your fingers, and then set everything back in place. Check to make sure the headlights work, and you’re good to go. It’s that easy.

When Space Is Tight

Space is at a premium in many engine compartments, so other components may need to be removed before you can get to the headlights. Consult the owner’s manual again, which will guide you through the process. If you do everything in the right order, you’ll have new headlights installed in no time.

Check out all the headlights, vision and safety products available on NAPA online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about changing headlights, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

about author

Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

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