How to Deal with a Broken Headlight

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By Jim Pullman

When you lose one of your headlights, you will have a hard time traveling at night. Some of the headlight related issues include a minor accident damaging the lens or a bulb burning out. In some instances, the entire housing or reflector may be claimed by a road accident.

Traveling in a car that has only one headlight is somewhat risky. Also, there is the risk of being nabbed by the authorities. Since some of the repair shops have slightly inflated prices, you may be wondering about how you can restore headlights. You can handle the situation by yourself, and you will save a significant amount of money in the process. At the end of it all, you will also have some sense of accomplishment. Here is a guide on how you can deal with a broken headlight:

How to Replace the Headlight Bulb

It is easy to change the headlight bulb. The bulb is held either by a rotating bayonet-style retainer or thin wire clips. The headlight bulb can be easily unplugged from the thin wire clips, and you can place a working bulb in the process. To change the headlight bulb, you must first look into the specific bulb type that you need. First, you should check the owner’s manual since it will offer subtle guidance.

If you cannot find the manual, but you are conversant with all the details about your specific car model, you can consult the individuals working at the auto-parts store. On the other hand, you can carry the bad headlight bulb since it will serve as a point of reference.

How to Extract the Bulb

To gain access to the bulb, you should open the hood and remove the lamp connections present at the back of the housing. Some vehicles provide a service space through rotating or small hinged panels present in the front wheel wells.

There are some tricky models whereby you may have to remove the splash shields or the washer-fluid bottles so that you can change the headlight. As a result, you should ensure you have a pair of latex gloves, a screwdriver- flat-beaded, a flashlight, needle-nose pliers, and a box of sockets.

As for the circular sealed-beam or the old-school square headlamps, they are large and different. They are also easy to replace.

What You Should Know About New Bulbs

When replacing the headlights, it is advisable to avoid touching the new bulb’s glass; it may be contaminated by the natural oil present on the skin. Also, the dirt on your skin may reduce the bulb’s lifespan. It is advisable to use dielectric grease. During the replacement process, make sure you can distinguish between the smaller retaining screws and the headlamp-beam adjustment screws.

Replacing the Headlight’s Housing

If the lamp’s lens is cloudy, broken, or the housing has been damaged, you may have to replace the whole headlight unit, and it is commonly referred to as the housing. The molded housing is usually clipped to the front end of the metal radiator support. At the back end, you will find the wiring-harness connections, and they must be removed.

It is advisable to purchase a repair manual or look for YouTube tutorials to guide you on how to replace the headlight’s housing. In some instances, replacing the headlight housing may require you to remove the entire bumper or other car parts. In this case, you will have to use sophisticated hand tools.

The cost of a new housing is relatively high since you will have to purchase a new lens. The main advantage is that the headlight bulbs can be replaced easily compared to the entire headlight housing.

After installing the headlight replacement, you can test whether the replaced bulbs are working first. If they are working well, you can go ahead and ensure that the car parts that you had removed earlier are put back appropriately. Also, the headlights should be aimed. You can pass by a repair shop, and they will assist with the aiming process.

Final Thoughts

When replacing the headlights, make sure you have looked for a clean workspace that may have natural light; the main focus is on looking for an area with good lighting. As you replace the headlights, you should be patient since the process is time-consuming, and it may take at least two hours. Nonetheless, the process of dealing with a broken headlight may seem simple.

About the Author:

Jim Pulman has extensive knowledge and experience in Home Building, Construction, and Design. He writes articles in his free time and partners with content creators to share his expertise with the online community.