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How to change a headlight bulb

Don’t get caught in the dark. We show you how to change your car’s headlamp and taillight bulbs.

Lights are obviously one of the biggest safety features on your car, so make sure your car is shining brightly. Here’s how to replace blown bulbs.

How to change a headlight bulb

Firstly, as it’s a safety item, check your handbook for the best procedure as the exact method varies from car to car.

Most headlight bulbs are accessible from under the bonnet. Locate the rear of the headlight cluster and remove any attachments, such as wires and plastics covers. Next take out the bulb, which will often be held in place with a clip. Replace it with the correct bulb - your owner's manual will help here.

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Slide the new bulb into the hole in the rear of the headlight unit, taking care not to touch the bulb’s glass, as grease from your fingers could blow the bulb. Once securely in place, reattach any clips, plastic covers or attaching leads.

All that’s left is to check the new bulb works, so start the car and check the light operates in its side light, dipped and main beam positions.

How to change a rear light bulb

If your rear lights have failed, it’s even easier. Open the boot and remove the interior trim around the light clusters. Take a look at your owner’s manual to find the best way of doing this.

Once removed, you’ll see a large plastic bulb holder that all of the rear light bulbs sit in. Release the holder to gain access to the bulbs.

The bulbs themselves are usually a bayonet type fitting, which means you’ll need to gently push in the bulb and twist it to remove. Once removed, look carefully at the wire filament inside. If the wire is broken, snapped, or there’s dark fogging inside the glass, it’s time for a replacement.

Get a replacement from your local main dealer or car spares shop, and reverse the process above to fit the new bulb. Alternatively, most will be able to fit it for you for a small fee.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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