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Bulbs and Fuses

Every car has them but a lot of people don't understand how much they mean for safety and how easy they are to replace.
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One of the simplest things to fix on your car is your lights. How many times have you seen a car with only one headlight or a tail or brake light burnt out? Yet it is so easy to replace them I wonder why more people don't do it. The fact is that driving with a burnt out light could get you a ticket. And with many towns and cities raising traffic fines to help fill their coffers, it is wise to make sure this one simple thing is taken care of. I know one night I was pulled over for having a burnt out tail light. I had spare bulbs in my glove box and replaced it right then and there. The Officer still gave me a ticket that cost me $35.00.

Usually all you need to repair a light is a Phillips screwdriver and a new bulb. Let's start with the headlights

Headlight Bulbs

Most modern cars use a bulb for the headlights and these are very easy to replace. All makes use the same system with little variation. Below you see the typical headlight bulb setup. You have the bulb and a retainer that holds the bulb in and the connector. To replace this bulb, you simply unplug the connector, turn the retainer counterclockwise and remove it. Then just pull the headlight bulb out. With this type of bulb you must be careful not to touch the new bulb by the glass envelope. The natural oils from your skin will create a hot spot on the bulb and will shorten the life of the bulb and could, potentially, cause the bulb to explode when it is on.


Typical Headlight bulb setup

When you pull the old bulb out, note the orientation of the bulb. There is a key that will allow the bulb to go in one way only. Install the new bulb the same way as the old one. Once the bulb is in, replace the retainer and plug in the connector. This is a five-minute job that anyone can do and it could save you a lot of money in fines and prevent an accident.

The other type of headlight is called a Sealed Beam headlight. This is a large bulb that is also the lens. There are two types of sealed beam headlights, standard light and halogen. They come in a round or rectangular shape. The standard and halogen bulbs should not be mixed on any one system although you can upgrade a standard system to halogen simply by replacing the bulbs. There are two and four headlight systems. Again, these lights are the same for all makes and models with few variations.

On a two-headlight system there are three terminals on the headlight, one is a ground, one is for low beam and one for high beam. These are dual filament bulbs and it is very possible one filament will burn out, usually the low beam filament and the other to be good. To replace these all you need is a Phillips or a #15 Torx screwdriver.

First remove the bezel around the headlights, there are usually four screws holding it on. Then with a round bulb there is a retaining ring with three small screws. Loosen these screws and rotate the ring counterclockwise and remove the ring. Remove the bulb and unplug the connector. There are three lugs on the bulb and three matching slots in the headlight frame. Be sure to match these up when you install the new bulb. This insures the bulb is in properly and that the lens on the face of the bulb properly illuminates the road. Now it's just a simple matter of replacing the retaining ring and bezel.

If you have rectangular headlights, the procedure is the same, except there are four screws on the retainer, two on the top and two on the bottom. Simply remove the four screws and replace the bulb.

In a four-headlight system the low beam lights (usually the outside lights) are the same as the two-light system. The inside lights (usually the high beams) have only two terminals and only come on when the high beams are used. The procedure for replacing these bulbs is the same as in a two-headlight system.

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» Part 1       » Part 2       » Part 3

Additional Information provided courtesy of
ALLDATAdiy.com and Warranty Direct
© 2000-2007 Vincent T. Ciulla

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