How to change Headlight Bulbs or Mini bulbs

How to change bulbs on your car or truck?

Changing headlight bulbs or mini bulbs on a car is pretty straightforward. Get ready and learn to do it now so you swap a bulb on the side of the road and drive safely.

Properly maintaining your bulbs or headlights is vital to the safe operation of your vehicle, as well as the safety of you, your passengers and other drivers on the road. Generally, most lighting problems are the result of burnt-out bulbs.

The instructions below will help you replace your burnt-out headlight bulb or mini bulb quickly and correctly. Although such replacements usually aren’t difficult, be sure to READ these instructions completely before you begin and refer to your owner’s manual to know the process that apply to your specific vehicle.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Duration: 5-10 minutes
  • How often: When lights dim or burn out

TOOLS YOU WILL NEED

  • A Phillips screwdriver
  • A slot-head screwdriver
  • A pair of pliers
  • A small wire brush
  • A rag or gloves
  • A flashlight

YOUR SAFETY FIRST

Proper maintenance and service procedures are vital to the safe, efficient operation of all motor vehicles, as well as to the safety of the person performing the work—you.

Whenever you’re working on your vehicle, we recommend that you follow these important safety rules:

  • Do have a first-aid kit handy.
  • Do be careful when working around hot or sharp objects.
  • Do follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all products.
  • Do use safety stands under the frame or drive-on-ramps if you must raise your vehicle.
  • Don’t run the engine without proper ventilation.

CHECK YOUR VEHICLE'S HEADLIGHT BULB LOCATION

Each vehicle is different and unless you fing the perfect YouTube video, your owner’s manual explains in detail which panel or cover will need to be removed. Being prepared is key!

OPEN THE HOOD

Locate the bulb and remove any covers or removable accessories to get maximum access to the bulb that needs to be replaced. Goal is to avoid tiny spots and get as much free movement as possible.

For lots of vehicles, it will be mandatory to remove or at least twist the fender well cover (under the fender) to access the low-beam or high-beam bulb. You will need to turn the wheel to get extra clearance before. If your vehicle has a rust-proofing  treatment, get ready with gloves to protect your hands.

REPLACE THE HEADLIGHT BULB

  • The vast majority of vehicles use a replaceable halogen bulb system. When it burns out, it can be removed from the back of the headlamp body and replaced.
  • To change a replaceable halogen bulb, gently remove the electrical connector from the back of the bulb. Remove any dust shield or cover that may protect the bulb from water. If a retainer ring is present, remove it. Without twisting the bulb, carefully pull it straight out of the socket. Handle the bulb by its plastic base only. DO NOT touch the glass part of the lamp. The bulb contains halogen gas under pressure and it may shatter if scratched or broken.
  • Line up the new bulb in the socket and push it in until the plastic mounting flange on the bulb touches the back of the socket. Reinstall the retaining ring, and reconnect the electrical connector to the back of the retaining ring.

REPLACE A MINI BULB, STOP LIGHT OR TURN SIGNAL BULB

Your vehicle uses many miniature bulbs. They’re used to light everything from the instrument panel and glove compartment to the turn signals and brake lights. When these bulbs burn out, you can usually see the broken filament inside the glass. Miniature bulbs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. CAUTION: Always be sure the switch in the circuit is OFF before replacing any bulb.

  • Three of the most common bulb styles are shown here:
      1. Single contact bayonet (A)
      2. Double contact bayonet (B)
      3. Wedge base (C)
  • To remove a single or double contact bayonet bulb from its socket, push in slightly and turn counterclockwise. For safety, use a rag or a glove to protect your hand in case the bulb breaks. If the bulb does break, use a pair of small pliers to remove the base from the socket.
  • To remove a wedge base bulb from its socket, no turning is necessary. Pull the bulb straight out of the socket. For safety, use a rag or glove to protect your hand in case the bulb breaks.
  • To insert a single contact bayonet bulb, place the base of the bulb in the socket. Make sure the index lug on the base is lined up with the slot in the socket. Then push in slightly and turn clockwise. For safety, use a rag or glove to protect you hand in case the bulb breaks.
  • To insert a double contact bayonet bulb, place the base of the bulb in the socket. Make sure both index lugs on the base are lined up with the slots in the socket. If the lugs are staggered, make sure the short lug is lined up with the short slot and the long lug is lined up with the long slot. Then push in slightly and turn clockwise. For safety, use a rag of glove to protect your hand in case the bulb breaks.
  • To insert a wedge base bulb, gently push the base straight into the socket. For safety, use a rag or a glove to protect your hand in case the bulb breaks.

KNOW MORE ABOUT BULB TYPES

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Quick tips

  • Follow these instructions carefully. Read and be sure you understand them before you begin.
  • Gather all your tools and supplies before you begin.
  • Allow plenty of time to do the job so you don't have to hurry.
  • Remember that these are general instructions. For more detailed instructions pertaining to your specific vehicle, consult an appropriate repair manual.
  • Safety is important whenever you're working around machinery. Beware of hot objects, sharp instruments and hazardous materials.
  • Don't substitute tools unless you're sure you won't compromise either your safety or the performance of your vehicle.
  • If you have any questions about repair and maintenance, contact your local NAPA Auto Parts store.
  • Find the nearest NAPA Auto Parts location.

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