While all cars are different, most modern car’s headlight bulbs can be changed in just a few minutes without tools. To show you the process, we swapped a high-beam bulb on a 2003 Chevy Silverado 1500 truck. While you don’t need any tools, you do need to know a couple of precautions before you change a headlight bulb.
Halogen bulbs burn very hot. The number one reason for premature failure of a halogen headlight bulb is oil staining. The glass on a halogen bulb must absolutely be perfectly clean. Just one fingerprint can cause the bulb to burn out. Sometimes it is instant, and sometimes it can last a few weeks, but touching the glass with your bare hands will always cause the light burn out quicker. To keep this from happening when you change a headlight bulb, you should wear a pair of vinyl or latex gloves and to avoid touching the glass of the bulb. You should be able to do this without much issue, but some cars don’t have removable headlight lenses, and you have to work blind. Just take care to protect the bulb from any kind of oil and you should be good to go.
We picked up a set of bulbs from our local NAPA store and then got to work. The Chevy truck has a removable headlamp housing. There is a flip-up lever on the center of the housing that locks it into position. This gets lifted up and slid out of the plastic latch.
Next, the entire housing pulls out of the car.
It may look like you need a special Torx screwdriver, but you don’t. Just twist the bulb and remove it from the housing. Don’t forget to unclip the terminals.
The new bulbs come with a foam sleeve over the glass. Wait until the last second to remove it. Note the disposable gloves.
You can connect the wire terminal before or after you install the bulb, your choice. We attached it before.
Then the bulb was inserted into the housing and rotated clockwise to lock it place.
The housing then gets re-installed into the car. There are two slots in the bottom of the inner bracket, these can be tricky to line up sometimes. Be patient. It will go back in place, just hold your tongue the right way!
The last step is to slide the retainer pin lever back into the latch and lock it down.
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 How to change a headlight bulb, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
A life-long gearhead, Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 4 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced.