Even though vehicle headlights are designed to withstand vagaries of the weather such as temperature, humidity and vibrations, they still need to be replaced on a regular basis.
You can either swap the headlights at home or have them replaced by an authorised mechanic.
Remember that the headlights are part of safe driving. Replace any blown out headlight the moment you discover that they’re not working adequately.
How to Remove a Blown Out Headlight
1. Pop the hood
For you to access the headlight from the back, you will need to open the hood. Find the relay switch of the huddle and then pull to release it back so that you can open the hood.
If you are unsure of where the safety light of the hood is located, you need to refer to the owner’s manual of the vehicle.
2. Detach the battery
The battery of your car is the source of energy for all the circuits in the engine. Before you start working on any electrical wiring of the vehicle, you should always disconnect the battery.
Find the battery inside the hood of your car, and then loosen it using a socket wrench on the negative terminal.
When the nut on the negative terminal is loose, you can pull up the terminal cable and stick it to the side of the battery to prevent it from coming into contact with the terminal.
The negative terminal is indicated with either the word “Neg” or the minus (-) symbol. To disconnect the battery from the electrical system of the vehicle, you don’t need to unplug its positive terminal.
3. Remove plastic trims to access the headlight
In most modern vehicles, the engine and all the other components are covered using a plastic trim.
For you to access the headlight, you need to carefully remove the plastic clips that hold and fasten the trims in place. They are brittle and can crack or break. Be careful.
If you accidentally break the clips, you can buy replacements at your local auto parts store or on eBay.
Before you replace anything on your car, refer to the owner’s manual for the correct parts. The manual will provide instructions on how you can access the broken headlight.
4. Unplug the pigtail wire
At the back of the headlight, there is a plastic release clip that holds the wire pigtail to the headlight.
Press down on the plastic clamp and maintain the pressure until you can release the clip backwards to disconnect it.
Don’t pull the wires that go into the headlight as you might accidentally remove them or disconnect them from the pigtail wire.
Check the pigtail inside for any signs of damage, burning or melting as this can become an issue with the entire electrical system of the vehicle.
5. Twist and pull backwards the headlight to remove it
To remove the headlight from the pigtail, all you need is to rotate it and pull it backwards in a clockwise direction to release it from there plastic housing.
To remove the bulb, slide it backwards from the plastic housing.
In some vehicle models, the headlight will be on a plastic housing and will, therefore, need to be pulled out to be replaced.
Again, refer to the servicing manual of your car if you’re finding it tough to access the headlight to replace it.
How to Install a New Bulb onto a Headlight
1. Buy the replacement bulb
Retail automotive parts stores stock most make, model and manufacturer’s headlight bulbs.
Before you buy the bulb, you will need to provide the details of your vehicle such as the year of manufacture, the make of the car and the model so that the clerk at the store can give you the right replacement bulbs.
As a best practice, you will need to replace both bulbs of the headlights to ensure they produce the same level of brightness.
To make it easier to purchase the headlight bulb, check the bulb part number from the vehicle manufacturer’s website.
2. Don’t touch the bulb after you remove it from packaging
When removing the bulb from its packaging, ensure that you handle it from its base and avoid touching the glass of the bulb. Most modern bulbs can easily be damaged.
Wear some gloves to avoid touching the bulb.
3. Wipe the bulb with rubbing alcohol
If you accidentally touch the headlight bulb, pour some rubbing alcohol on a rag and wipe the bulb clean. This will remove any oily stains on the surface of the glass of the bulb and therefore prolong the bulb’s life.
To avoid touching the bulb again, handle it using a cloth or cotton gloves..
4. Place the bulb into the headlight housing
If the bulb has a plastic assembly, slide it into the housing. You can then insert the bulb and the plastic assembly into the headlight housing by twisting the bulb clockwise to lock it in place.
Just like the bulb in the house, you just need to rotate the bulb a quarter turn for it to be fastened securely in place. Do not bang on other components inside the bulb.
5. Reconnect the wire pigtail
Click the pigtail wire at the back side of the bulb making sure that it is evenly connected. If the pigtail wire has been connected properly, you will get an audible click as the plastics lodge into each other.
Sometimes the pigtail is dirty and will need to be cleaned using electrical component cleaner.
Electrical cleaner is available at most electronic stores or auto parts stores.
6. Replace the trim plastics you removed
If you needed to remove any trims that covered the engine and other components in the hood of your vehicle, replace them in the reverse order so that the ones that overlap with each other will be placed properly.
Once you have replaced the trims, reconnect the batteries and turn on the new headlights to make sure they are working.
Repeat the process if you need to replace both headlights.
If at any point of fixing the blown headlights you get stuck, contact your local mechanic.
By using smart technology such as GOFAR, you will have an app that alerts when your car has a problem and explains common faults in plain English.