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Headlamp Replacement Tips FAQs

For years, headlamp replacement has been one of those services that most drivers could do for themselves. With recent changes in federal regulations, many automotive manufacturers have enhanced headlights to improve the appearance and aerodynamics of their vehicles. Many newer replacement bulbs are either halogen or another type of high intensity bulb that requires caution during replacement procedure. That means that many DIYs can no longer replace their own headlamp bulbs.

With contemporary car body styles, many headlamp replacement procedures involve partial removal of front bumpers to access the headlamp assembly for replacement. This requires tools and knowledge beyond the average vehicle owner. Along with body style changes, many daytime running lights are now LED assemblies that are replaced as a unit rather than a single bulb.

Removed headlamp ChevroletThere are still a few manufacturers whose vehicle design allows a careful car owner easy access for replacing bulbs. Simple removal of two pins means the lamp assembly can be pulling forward to reach and replace the bulb. Caution is urged, however, since oil from skin of a bare hand touching the bulb surface can shorten its life.

How do I know bulb is correct for my car?
Auto parts stores may list two or three types of headlamp bulbs for your car or truck. Always check your owner’s manual first to see if a bulb number is listed that you can give to the parts counter person. There are times when two bulb options are listed for headlamp replacement in your vehicle. At that point, you may need more information before you can decide which bulb to purchase.

One option is to remove the old bulb and take it with you so the bulb number can be read off the bulb itself. Be aware that if someone previously installed the wrong bulb, you will be making the same mistake.

A failsafe option is to contact a dealership parts department for your vehicle’s manufacturer, give them your vehicle VIN number, and ask if they can look up and provide you with the exact replacement bulb number.

Why are headlamp replacement services at my repair shop so expensive?
As mentioned earlier, the body style changes to many vehicles have turned what used to be a 10 minutes task into a two hours procedure. Also, headlamp bulbs used to cost $5 to $10.00. Today’s expensive halogen or other “high intensity” bulbs can cost as much as $15 to $35.00. Some vehicles have super high intensity bulbs in electronic modules that can run $70.00 or more.

Do I need to install the expensive factory type bulbs or will a cheaper one work just as well?
In some vehicles you can install a less expensive bulb that may be made outside the US. If that bulb burns out quicker than the factory bulb, you may not end up saving money as replacement is needed more often.

More importantly, however, is how the bulb works in your car. Many new cars have bulb-monitoring systems that turn on a dash warning light when a bulb is out. These systems are designed to function correctly when the bulb complies with very strict set of standards. A headlamp replacement using a lower cost bulb that fails to meet manufacturer standards can prevent the monitoring system from functioning properly.

If you don’t feel confident you can do headlamp replacement yourself on your vehicle, the qualified auto repair professionals at Tune Tech Downtown can get the job done for you, and done right.

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