Replacing Headlights and Taillights


If a headlight burns out, it is usually not necessary to replace the entire headlight assembly. If the lamp has burned out, you can simply replace it.

Warning: Many headlights today are halogen-gas filled. These bulbs are under pressure and can shatter if the bulb is dropped or scratched. Always wear proper eye protection when working with halogen-gas filled bulbs, and handle the bulbs carefully, grasping only the base whenever possible. Oil from your skin can cause halogen-gas filled bulbs to overheat and fail prematurely. Therefore do not touch the surface of the bulb. If you touch the surface accidentally, clean it off with rubbing alcohol.

To replace a headlight lamp, open the hood and access the bulb and electrical connector, which is located behind the headlight assembly. To disconnect the electrical connector from the headlight assembly, depress the locking tab and pulling down on the connector. Remove the bulb from the headlight assembly by turning it one-quarter turn counterclockwise and pulling it out.

To install a new bulb, align the tabs on the headlight-mounting flange with the grooves in the mounting base. Then reconnect the electrical connector.

If your headlight assembly is cracked, broken, or missing completely, it is necessary to replace the entire headlamp assembly.

To replace the headlight assembly, first remove the old one. Open the hood and locate the assembly. Disconnect the electrical connector from the headlight bulb by depressing the locking tab and pulling down on the connector.

To detach the headlight assembly, unfasten the screws or bolts that secure the headlamp assembly to the vehicle. Installing the new headlamp assembly is the reverse of removal.

It is necessary to adjust the headlights after you have installed a new headlight assembly. You must have this done by a professional at a suitably-equipped vehicle repair facility. However, most vehicle repair manuals provide instructions on how to temporarily adjust your new headlight assembly so you can see the road and avoid blinding oncoming drivers. Buy an up-to-date repair manual at most auto parts stores or borrow one from your local library. It is also possible to join a repair service online and obtain the same information.

To replace a taillight, open the trunk or liftgate. Access the bulb (you may have to pull out an access panel to do this). Rotate the bulb counterclockwise to remove it from the taillight assembly. To remove the taillight from its socket, push the taillight into the socket, then rotate it one-eighth turn counterclockwise and pull it out. When installing a new bulb, align the locator pins on the side of the bulb with the slots in the socket, insert the bulb, and push it into the socket and rotate it one-eighth turn. Reinstall the socket back into the taillight assembly using the reverse procedure as installing.