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How to change headlight bulbs

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Finally don’t cause a paddle game. Make sure your headlights are in good working order at all times. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to change them. Here’s how!

View all of us Autoblog Wrenched video for more tips on diagnosing, fixing, and modifying cars from expert detailer Larry Kosilla. While you’re at it, check out Larry’s other auto maintenance and cleaning video series Automatic log details!

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Instructions (Video Recording):

[00:00:00] [Narrator] Driving around without headlights is not only unsafe but also illegal. Replacing a headlight bulb is easier than you think. These are the tools you will need. Replacement bulb, flat head screwdriver and gloves. I’m Larry Kosilla, detail guru and coach for the past 15 years, but when it comes to what’s hidden, I’m a student. Follow me as the experts teach me how to diagnose, fix, and modify cars on Autoblog’s Wrenched. There are many types of headlights and headlight bulbs.

[00:00:30] Type one is called single beam, which means that one bulb handles both high and low beam. Type two uses two separate bulbs for low beam and high beam. The third type is called HID Bi-Xenon, which is in focus, super bright and self-balanced. The latest technology is LED, which is expensive but has practically unlimited lifespan. – I remember my dad changed the headlights on his old car pickup truck. Unscrew a few screws and the whole thing will pop out. – They’re called cluster seals, Larry.

[00:01:00] Back before 1984, all U.S. spec cars had seals. You replace the whole glass with a new one, but modern headlights, most of them, you just need to replace a little bulb. It’s really easy. – [Narrator] In today’s modern cars, with automatic daytime running lights and high beams, your low beams tend to be used more often, which means shorter lifespans. So knowing how to change headlights is essential. Before you get started, check your owner’s manual for the correct replacement bulbs to specification for your vehicle.

[00:01:30] Visit your auto parts store and manually look up the part number in the lamp aisle book, or ask the staff to search their computer database. Before you choose the right bulb, make sure the package is not bent or damaged, as the bulb has most likely been dropped or bulged before. Either way, find a clean and tidy package to minimize the chance of the bulb going bad. Open the hood and secure the hood bracket, as you will be working on the back of the headlight assembly.

[00:02:00] Some headlight connectors have metal clips. If you have clamps, you may need a screwdriver to open them. Others may have a moisture-resistant coating, like this one here. Twist the cover by hand and remove it completely. Some moisture-proof caps are a flexible rubber that may require a flat-head screwdriver for cornering and the rest you can pick up by hand. Next, remove the bulb and connector assembly from the housing by twisting and pulling outward. Now, remove the bulb from the connector, but do not pull or twist the glass.

[00:02:30] Pull from base or bottom case. You may need to rotate it a bit to get it out of the connector. Likewise, when taking a new bulb out of the package, avoid touching the glass. Oil from your fingers can retain high heat loss and can cause bulbs 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 a new bulb into the connector, but do so gently to avoid bending the connector’s prongs. Once it’s sitting comfortably, give it a good push.

[00:03:00] Carefully insert the new bulb into the headlight housing while trying to avoid hitting the edges of the plastic. Once in, screw the connector to lock it into the light assembly. Then, reinstall the moisture-proof cover and check to make sure the light is working properly. You should replace the bulbs in pairs. If one side breaks out, chances are the other doesn’t fall far behind. Driving around with just one headlight isn’t smart, but replacing your bulbs is pretty easy

[00:03:30] and if you upgrade to brighter bulbs, it will give you better visibility for your night driving. For more on how to do it repairs video, go to I’m Larry Kosilla from As always, thanks for watching.

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