Car Advice

How to change a car headlight globe

Changing a car headlight globe is a simple DIY job that anyone can tackle.

IF YOU DON’T drive at night much, or perhaps if you have radar vision, you might not notice you’ve got a blown headlight. And you don’t have to drive at night to appreciate the importance of working headlights, as they’re a safety aid in hazardous conditions too.

So it pays to do a quick check and make sure that all lights and indicators are in good working order: turn them on, walk around the front of the car and have a look.

Begin the light checking procedure by putting on your park lights followed by low beam and high beam lights. If you’ve got someone handy or a reflective wall, also check the rear of the vehicle and make sure the brake lights, indicators and reverse lights are working. They should all be on and have an even spread, if not then it’s time to buy a suitable globe and get to work. Don’t worry, it’s a quick job that will only take between 5 and 15 minutes.

For this tutorial, we used a Ford Fiesta ST. But not all headlight globe replacements are exactly the same (for instance, with a Skoda Octavia, you have to swing out the entire headlight unit), so always refer to your owner’s manual.

Remember – your headlights are important for the safety of passengers in your car and other drivers on the road, so don’t rush and take your time to make sure the job is done right.

A quick note on choosing the correct wattage and colour globe.

You should always refer to the owner’s manual or globe guide in your automotive store to ensure the correct globe is used. Choosing the wrong globe can be both illegal and hazardous.

The colour of headlights is rated in Kelvin (K). Lower numbers are around 3200K and have a yellowish tint while higher numbers run around 4200K with a more blueish hue. It is illegal to fit any light with a Kelvin rating higher than 4200K. The brightness of a headlight is related to its wattage (W), with a higher wattage light providing more light.

Most lights are typically around 60W and it is important to adhere strictly to the manufacturer’s guideline when choosing the correct wattage; a higher wattage globe than recommended may draw too much current from the wiring harness and, as the wiring is not thick enough to carry the increased current, it can melt and short the circuit, leaving you without any headlights while driving. Too high a wattage can also be blinding to oncoming traffic.

In short, always refer to the owner’s manual or, if in doubt, ask at an auto store for help.

Tools and equipment:

  • Protective gloves
  • Replacement globe(s)

How to replace a headlight globe

Remove the old globe: Open the bonnet and locate the rear of the affected light where there will be one or more covers for the light globes. Remove the cover that provides access to the globe you need to replace. Once the cover has been removed there will be direct access to the cradle that holds the globe. It will twist out or have a pinch clip holding it. Take note of how it secures itself to the headlight assembly, as you will need to reverse this process later when it goes back on. Take your time and don’t exert too much pressure on any parts. Once the cradle is out the globe can be removed.

 

Put in the new globe: Halogen bulbs generate high amounts of heat and can blow if there are any residual oils on the glass, so now is the time to put on gloves that will provide protection from the oils in your hand making contact with the new light globe.

Always handle the new globe by its base and never the bulb. Remove the globe from its packaging and place it into the cradle, it should pop into place and not feel loose. With the globe firmly seated, place the cradle back into the headlight assembly in reverse order of how it came out. It’s important the cradle feels tight and not loose once back in place.

With everything secured, the cover can be put back on. Try to make sure that no dust or dirt falls into the headlight assembly. If it does, simply vacuum out before putting the cover back on.

 

Check the lights, again: With everything back in place it’s time to check the lights are working. It’s possible a different light than the one replaced was moved, so check all lights before taking off. With everything working you’re ready to hit the road.

How to change a headlight globe explained

Remember: Always choose bulbs that meet the manufacturer’s recommendation. This can be found in the owner’s manual or in-store. Never touch a glass bulb, and try to wear protection such as a glove to prevent blowing the bulb. And check your lights are in good working order regularly.

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Alex Rae

Alex Rae