Any car must have functioning headlights to be driven safely, but they occasionally fail. When the front of your car becomes dark, knowing how to change a headlight and what to check for will help you quickly fix the issue.
How to check if the headlight bulb is out
Simple observation is the first step in identifying the source of a headlight problem. Turn on your headlights to check if there is only one out-of-order light at first. According to Emilio Zullo, owner and mechanic of E & L Automotive in Ossining, New York, if one goes out 90% of the time, a simple bulb replacement will turn the light back on. If you don’t have an extra bulb on hand or are in the middle of the road when you notice a problem with your headlights, you can pull over and try tapping the light with your fist to see if it turns on.
If it doesn’t turn on, the filament has burnt out, according to Zullo. The filament gets shaken when you strike it, and if this makes contact, it truly lights up. He continues, this can at least help you get to a location where you can get the light fixed.
Step by step to remove headlight from the socket
For more detailed instructions on replacing the headlight in your specific car and which headlight bulb to buy, consult your owner’s handbook.
Step 1: Turn off your car’s engine
Turn off your car engine and remove the keys from the ignition to safeguard your safety.
Step 2: Open the engine compartment
Locate the headlight holder towards the front of your car by lifting the hood.
Step 3: Unplug the power cords for the headlight bulbs
The base of the lightbulb typically has three wires connecting to it. Press the clip or cap to keep them in place while disconnecting the power cords.
Step 4: Unscrew the headlight bulb
Every car is unique, you can get right to the bulb, but with some cars, you can’t. Sometimes you must remove the inner fender to reach behind it because the battery or air filter housing is in the way.
Step 5: Screw in the new headlight bulb
Without touching the bulb’s glass, carefully screw in the new bulb. If you do, the oil and grime on your hands could cause the bulb to burst once it heats up. Close your car’s bonnet. After installing the new bulb, your headlights should work perfectly again, allowing you to enjoy driving your automobile day or night. Most of the time, changing a headlight is simple, and you don’t need to drive your car to the mechanic.
What you should do if your new headlight bulb doesn’t work
Ultimately, you must examine the fuses and the wiring if you change a bulb, and it still doesn’t work. If power is going to the fuses but not your light, you have a wiring issue. A wire may have broken, been pinched, or something along those lines.
If you recently replaced a halogen bulb, you should also think about if the replacement bulb was compatible with your plug. Modern halogen lights produce a lot of heat, and some auto parts stores provide over-the-counter brighter or colorful replacements that are advertised as better for visibility but produce more heat. The factory-installed OEM plug can’t manage this extra wattage, so that’s what happens. When it starts to melt, a poor connection occurs, and the light goes off. At that point, you can’t even install a new bulb; you must replace the entire light socket.
Why do car headlights burn out
- Old age
Age is the main cause of a burned-out light. You might not realize that one of your headlights is out while you’re driving, and since the other one is the same age, that one might go bad, too, within weeks. The issue becomes startlingly obvious suddenly.
- Extreme temperatures
In addition to getting older, headlights can potentially burn out from intense cold or heat. The very fragile filament in a lightbulb can be affected by temperature variations.
Oxidation of the plastic casing in modern halogen bulbs can dim lighting by making the material appear white or yellowish. This lessens the light’s intensity, making it harder for motorists to see the dark road ahead. In that situation, you would have to make use of a headlight restoration wipe to get rid of the oxidation on your car’s headlight lenses.
- Bulb housing has cracks
Halogen bulbs can’t tolerate moisture; thus, they can burn out if there are any housing cracks. So, you could put a fresh bulb in there, which will blow out within a day or two due to the humidity and the dampness. Additionally, these bulbs must not be touched with your fingers; if you are installing them, you must use rubber gloves because the salt from your sweat will burn out the bulb.
Always have a backup plan in place in case your headlight fails while you’re traveling. When you’re on the road, be sure to drive safely.