changing headlights

How To Replace Your Car Lights

An essential component to assuring the safety of a vehicle is to have properly functioning taillights and headlights. Car lights, akin to most lights, will dim over time. Though not required, it is recommended to replace the set of taillights and/ or set of headlights at the same time. The reason being, if one light in the set is dim or fails, it is highly likely the other is not far behind. Treating headlights and/ or taillights as a unit eliminates one more thing to think about in making sure a vehicle is operating safely. Depending on the type of vehicle and the particular model, replacing taillights and/ or headlights may be accomplished without the help of a mechanic. The vehicle owner’s manual will provide information regarding the type of replacement bulbs needed, which can quickly provide insight as to whether or not an individual may require additional help in replacing his or her car lights. 

Taillight Replacement

Replacing taillights can be an easy process, depending on the make and model of the vehicle. In order to replace taillights an individual must have access to the taillight light bulbs. This can be accomplished by pulling back the fabric or panel in the trunk or tailgate. Some vehicles will require access via the outside assembly. In these situations the individual can remove the assembly by removing the screws or bolts (keep them in a safe place so as to not misplace them). Information regarding the exact method for accessing taillights will be listed in the owner’s vehicle service manual. Once the back of the taillight lens is accessible, replacing the taillight light bulbs can be accomplished by following the steps below:

  1. Gently pull out the tail lamp assembly, enough to disengage it from the vehicle. 
  2. Turn the bulb socket to the left to release it from the assembly.
  3. Pull the light bulb out.
  4. Put in new light bulb.
  5. Guide the new light bulb back into the assembly.
  6. Turn the bulb socket to the right to secure it.
  7. Reattach the assembly to the vehicle.
  8. Tighten any screws and/ or bolds to assure it is secure.
  9. Repeat process on the second side of the vehicle’s taillights.
  10. Turn on the taillights to test them and make sure they are working properly.

It is important to make sure the replacement light bulbs are compatible with the vehicle. The lifespan of traditional, incandescent taillight light bulbs is typically between five or six years. LED taillight light bulbs have an expected lifespan of twelve or more years. Taillights should be regularly monitored and thoroughly checked every one to two years. If there is any concern regarding successfully completing this maintenance repair, do not hesitate contacting a mechanic. 

Headlight Replacement

Newer vehicles have replaceable twist out headlight bulbs, which are a much easier and straightforward maintenance repair than older vehicles. The process to replace headlights in newer vehicles is fairly simple and can be accomplished through following the steps below:

  1. Remove any protective shield from the back of the headlight assembly.
  2. Loosen the plastic harness containing the light bulb by turning it.
  3. Slide out the headlight bulb and the plastic harness.
  4. Remove the clip that holds the light bulb in the headlight assembly.
  5. Remove the headlight from the harness.
  6. Carefully insert the replacement light bulb into the new harness.
  7. Reinstall the clip that holds the light bulb in the harness.
  8. Put the harness back into the back of the headlight.
  9. Twist it into place until it locks.
  10.  Turn on the headlights to test them and make sure they are working properly.
  11.  Repeat process on second side of the vehicle’s headlights.

Headlight bulbs in older vehicles may be a sealed unit comprised of a lens, reflectors, and lighting filament. Depending on an individual’s mechanical knowledge, replacing the headlights of an older vehicle may be a maintenance repair that should be completed by a mechanic. It is best to replace headlights as frequently as is recommended in the owner’s vehicle manual to avoid them burning out. 

Further Information

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