How to change headlights
Got a headlight bulb out or you just want to see better at night? AutoZone has got you covered.
When you're shopping for bulbs check with an AutoZoner at the front counter. Make sure the bulbs you're getting are going to fit your vehicle or you can go to AutoZone.com or follow the AutoZone app.
When you're selecting for bulbs your vehicle, think about:
- Throw distance or how far you can see down the road. One of the most important aspects for seeing better at night is looking ahead, being able to see twists and turns or obstacles in the road. Seeing farther gives you the chance to react more quickly in the dark.
- Color temperature. Some bulbs feature a warmer white, while some feature a cooler white. A cooler white will give you greater contrast and clarity - especially on reflective surfaces like road markings or road lines.
- Bulb life, or how long a bulb lasts.
Benefits of different bulbs
- Sylvania Basics are the longest lasting bulbs on the shelf and they'll closely match what came in your vehicle from the factory.
- XtraVision bulbs are rated for more down road vision and longer throw distance.
- Silverstar bulbs pair more down road vision with a cooler whiter light color.
- Silverstar Ultra gives the same Silverstar white light with the farthest down road field of vision of any Sylvania bulb.
- ZXE are incredibly powerful halogen bulbs that give the look and feel of an HID or LED system with no conversion kit and no worries about the bulbs being street legal.
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How to install headlight bulbs
You want to protect your hands and face with safety gloves and goggles during this installation. You'll be holding sensitive bulbs and potentially reaching into some tight spots, so make sure you're protected.
Replace both bulbs (recommended)
If you're replacing one bulb, it's a good idea to replace them both. It'll save you time later and ensure you're looking at even lighting on the road.
Identify the high and low beam placement
Most vehicles have a separate bulb for the high beam and the low beam, but some vehicles use one bulb for both. If your vehicle has two bulbs, the low beam bulb is usually on the outside, and the high beam is usually on the inside. Test this or check a repair guide to be sure on your vehicle.
Gain access to the lights (this varies)
This is where you'll run into the most variance. Some headlights are stored in removable, easy-to-access assemblies that usually come out after removing a few screws.Take those out, and you can lay the headlight assembly onto the fascia to reach the bulbs. Example of this at 2:06 in the video on the top of the page.
Other bulbs can only be accessed by going through the wheel well. You may need some tools to pull the wheel arch back to get to the bulb, remove and replace it, and then reinstall the wheel well cover. Example of this at 3:40 in the video
Some casings don't remove easily, but, with the hood up, you can reach behind the casing and access the bulb. It's not always so easy, though. Occasionally you will have to remove something, in the video it's an air filter housing but in other vehicles it may be a coolant reservoir or a battery, to get to one or more of the bulbs. If that's the case, just remove what you need to, change the bulb, and put back what you removed. Example of this install at 6:21 in the video.
Remove the plug by releasing the clip
When you're removing the plug for the bulb, a pocket screw driver helps to release the clip. These can be stiff sometimes, especially if it's an older vehicle.
Remove the old bulb
Simply grab the bulb casing and turn it counter-clockwise. When the tabs line up, you can pull it straight out.
Identify the correct high and low beam bulbs
If your vehicle uses different bulbs for the high and low beam, they may have different part numbers. The higher number is usually the low beam. If you forget that, an AutoZoner can help you figure out which is which.
Install the new bulb
To install the bulb, line up the tabs turn clockwise about a quarter turn until you hear a click. Install these one at a time so you don't get confused as to whether you're replacing a high or low beam.
Install on both sides
Even if one of the lights is still working. It's always a good idea to replace bulbs in pairs for maximum safety and visibility.
Test the headlights
With your bulbs installed, turn the headlights on and cycle through the high and low beams to make sure everything is working properly.
The bulbs you find at AutoZone fit more than 90% of the vehicles on the road, giving you great options for safety and style. Using one of the techniques above, installing new bulbs you can do this yourself. Just remember to replace both bulbs so you have even lighting on the road.
Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on AutoZone.com and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.
Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.
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