How to Change Headlights

Discover how to replace car headlights.

Replace headlights that are burned out or dim with brighter, LED headlights that increase visibility.

If you can change a light bulb in your house, you’re on your way to knowing how to replace headlights on your vehicle. Knowing how to install LED headlights and when to replace headlights are straightforward maintenance items that are great for both the seasoned pro and beginner DIYer.


Headlight bulbs on older vehicles may be a sealed unit, consisting of a lighting filament, reflector, and lens, while headlight bulbs in newer vehicles are replaceable bulbs that twist out. Once you know which type is in your vehicle, the steps to replace headlights aren't complex, so you're in luck there. We recommend replacing headlights regularly, especially since new headlight bulbs technology, such as that found in LED bulbs, shines more light down the road and off to the sides, improving your sight and giving you more time to react to potential hazards.

Pro Tip: Replace both headlights at the same time for improved visibility, and because when one headlight bulb fails, the other usually isn't far behind.

 

What You’ll Need for a Headlight Lens Replacement

 

Difficulty

Good for beginners – A DIYer will be able to complete the project


Estimated Time Required

1 hour

 

Step-by-Step Guide to Changing Your Car Headlights

Consult your owner’s manual or check under the hood at the back of the headlights to determine if your vehicle has the older style, sealed headlights or newer headlights with replaceable bulbs. (image: back of headlights, under hood) If you have questions about which headlights you have or which bulbs to use, ask a Team Member at your local Advance Auto Parts.

 

Removing Replaceable Headlight Bulbs

  1. If your vehicle has removable headlight bulbs, remove the protective shield from the back of the headlight assembly (if there is one), then turn and loosen the plastic harness containing the bulb.
  2. Slide the plastic harness and headlight bulb from the headlight assembly’s back.
  3. Remove the clip that holds the bulb in the headlight assembly, and carefully remove the headlight from the harness.
  4. Wearing a cotton glove, carefully insert the new bulb into the harness.
  5. Reinstall the clip that secures the bulb in the harness and push the harness into the back of the headlight. Twist it into place so it locks.
  6. Turn on the headlights to make sure they're working.

Pro Tip: The glove prevents oil from your skin getting on the new headlight and causing premature failure.

 

Changing Sealed Beam Headlights

  1. Remove any frames, mounting screws, and/or plates that hold the headlight in place, but don’t remove the aiming screws that enable headlight adjustments.
  2. Remove the headlight and then the wiring socket from the rear of the headlight assembly. To do so, pull the socket off of the sealed beam lamp.
  3. Plug the wiring into the new sealed beam assembly, then place it into the mounting bracket and secure with screws previously removed. Re-attach trim.
  4. Turn on the headlights to make sure they're working.

You're done replacing car headlights! Don't forget to make sure your headlights are aligned properly before you hit the road.