If you’re driving at night, a pair of headlights is essential to make sure you reach your destination safely. Losing even one bulb makes it harder for you to see — and harder for other people to see you, which puts everyone on the road at risk. Plus, if a cop spots you with a burned-out headlight, you’re looking at a hefty ticket.
You don’t need to have a mechanic change your headlights if one burns out. Here are some quick and easy-to-follow tips to help you install a new one yourself.
Always Wear Gloves
Headlight bulbs reach high temperatures when in use. Anything that causes them to superheat in a single spot — skin oils, dirt, grease or anything else that might come into contact with the bulb glass during the installation process — can cause it to burn out prematurely. Keep your bulb in its package until you’ve taken the old one out and are ready to install it. Wear gloves and keep anything from touching the surface of the bulb. If you do touch it with bare skin, make sure you clean it off with some rubbing alcohol before you install it.
Make Sure You Have the Right Bulb
Before you start taking things apart, make sure you have the right bulb. You can find the correct version in your owner’s manual, and the crew at your local auto parts store can look it up for you as long as you know the year, make and model of your car. Most automotive bulbs are going to be HID or halogen. If you want to opt for an upgrade that will last you longer, you can replace the standard HID or halogen bulbs with LEDs that glow brighter, last longer and don’t get as hot.
Replace the Headlight
Now that you’ve got your gloves and your replacement bulb, the next step is to disconnect your current headlight. You’ll want to do this before you remove the bulb in most cases unless you’re instructed to do otherwise by your owner’s manual. Get a good look at the plug and make sure it doesn’t have a tab or a release before you start pulling on it.
Once the bulb is disconnected, you’ll need to release whatever is holding it in place. This could be anything from a threaded lock to a pressure clasp, depending on your make and model. From there, all you need to do is remove the old bulb, put on a fresh pair of gloves and install the new one in reverse order.
You may run into some cars that make it more difficult, such as those that leave you very little room to work unless you remove the battery. In most cases, though, replacing your headlight is a piece of cake.
Always Replace Headlights in Pairs
As a final bit of advice, we leave you with this — always replace your headlights in pairs. If you only replace one, they’re unevenly bright, and it can make it more difficult for you to see in the dark or when the weather is foul.
Don’t leave your burned-out headlights for another day. This quick and easy repair is something you can complete at home for a fraction of the cost.
Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington