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Monday, 12 November 2012

How to fit a car headlamp bulb.

Now is the time when we need the lights on our car or van to work the most.

With dark mornings, grey and miserable days and dark when we are leaving work to go home.

How often do we actually check that our car lights work, twice a year? Just before the MOT and when it gets serviced.

For some drivers I would say less than that. I am an MOT tester and on many occasions I fail a car within the first 5 minutes of testing a vehicle. No not because I am mean or because I make any extra money failing cars, it is because most vehicles have either a side light bulb out, a stop lamp bulb not working, an orange indicator bulb that has turned white or a headlamp aim that is either too high or low or is of an incorrect image.

I have seen many times when a car headlamp bulb has been fitted incorrectly, for example not fitting flush with the bulb holder making it shine at an angle, with the upper tag not being fitted vertically allowing it to sit correctly and upside down.

This will cause your headlamp to have a poor image reducing the distance of visibility for you. This will make it harder to see wildlife or pedestrians in the road.


Fitting a car headlamp bulb can be quite tricky, I know Halfords fit most lights for £5 or something, But if you did want to fit it yourself.

Here are a few pointers to help.

  • Get a small torch so you can get into the back of the headlamp., a large 2 million candle power torch might be great for walking the dog but you will not be able to get close enough to see what you need to do.
  • Get a small hand mirror, an old interior car mirror, a spare door mirror glass or a make up mirror, just something that you can get close enough to see the retaining clip on the back of the car headlamp.
  • Before you carry out a bulb change pay particular attention to how the retaining clip holds the bulb in place, use your torch and mirror, also how the bulb is located. There are usually three different types of bulbs, two bulbs have three tags and the single tag points up, and the third choice has a straight edge on a circular bulb.
  • Remove the bulb keeping it up the correct way to make it easier to go back in, check against the new bulb to be fitted, to ensure it is of the same type.
  • Carefully hold the bulb by the electrical contacts, avoiding the glass itself. Then fit the headlamp bulb back into the hole the correct way up to ensure it fits flat against the holder.
  • Put the retaining clip back in place to hold the bulb securely, the torch and mirror might come in handy again, connect the wires back on, put the bulb cover back on and test.

Now you can feel a little more at ease knowing that you can see and be seen.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the walk though on this one, you have made it really easy to follow and simplistic but do you have any links to video's? I might be easier with a video to back it up, I am about to change my car light bulbs I have a 2004 ford KA.