Changing Your Head and Tail Light Bulbs

1So today I’m going to show you how to change a head lamp bulb and a tail lamp bulb in your car. I’m going to walk you through the whole process. From removing the bulb from the vehicle, accessing the bulb, identifying what kind of bulb you’re going to need for replacements and then reinstalling to complete the job. Here’s what you’re going to need: Protective gloves, the specific bulbs to fit your vehicles application and a safe place to work. Be sure the vehicle you’re working on is off, in park with the emergency brake on, out of the sun, free of any traffic and since you’ll be working with the electrical system, having that key off or power disconnected from the device you’ll be working on is critical. Remember, most modern head lamps are pressurized; either halogen or xenon, so wearing protective gloves and handling them with protective gloves or a clean cloth is also a must.

2What you should first do is turn on the lights for the car to see which ones need replacing. On the example vehicle which is a 2004 BMW 3 series we need to replace the low beam head lamp.  Once we have figured out what kind of bulb we will need we can start taking out our blown light. Turn off the vehicle and open up your hood so we can access the back side of head lamp, its trim covers, and the plastic rings surrounding the headlamp opening for the bulb. When accessing the back trim of the headlamp you need to remember that they are often vehicle specific but you can often find directions on how to access the bulbs in your vehicles manual. On our example vehicle, there are two little grippers on the back side of the headlamp. Make sure you have your gloves on and grab with your thumb and forefinger then twist counter-clockwise. We then pull the socket directly out of the headlamp housing and there we have our left headlamp, low-beam bulb.

3Now we can remove the bulb from the socket. Again make sure you have your gloves on and grip the bulb with your thumb and forefinger then pull the bulb directly out of the socket. If you weren’t already sure you can look on the back of that bulb for some identifying marking that will tell you what kind of bulb you need to replace it with. With your new bulb reverse the removal directions and push down until the bulb has a firm seat. Now being careful not to contaminate the bulb by touching anything with it, insert it back into the headlamp housing in the same position, push in firmly and then twist the two couplers on the back and we are done.

4Now if you need a tail light bulb replaced then everything will be the same with safety. You will access it on the rear of the vehicle of course though. Each car is different so check your owner’s manual if it’s not obvious on how to get to the tail light bulb. Open the trunk and remove the trim and covering behind the tail lamp itself so you can access the back of the bulb or access the lens housing itself to remove the lens from the body of the vehicle. Here we remove a trim panel. There’s a small knob on the back side of the panel which we can twist by hand. After twisting that, we can remove the back side of the tail light and we then have access to all of the bulbs. Firmly grab the bulb in need of replacement. Push down a little bit and twist counter-clockwise to unlock it and pull it straight out. Again if you’re not sure what type of bulb you need, the markings will tell you on the back of the bulb. Reverse those directions to install the new bulb then put the back panel back in place and screw the knob back. You have just replaced a headlight bulb and a tail light bulb on your own.