Do-it-yourself Headlight Maintenance

Headlamp Maintenance | New Smyrna Beach Automotive Service Center

For years it took patience and luck to remove all of the screws needed to change the headlight bulb in most cars. Unless you were a mechanic or at least mechanically inclined, you probably took your car into the nearest New Smyrna Beach or Port Orange shop to have the work done. The only real problem with doing this was that by the time all was said and done, this simple task ended up being quite expensive.

On the other hand, thanks to major changes in design, most of today’s vehicles use a single simple to replace headlight bulb that can be replaced in a few minutes. This is as long as you know how to do so or can follow these easy step by step instructions:

Changing Your Headlight Bulbs

Prepare for the task
Silly as it might seem your car’s engine and lights need to be turned off. You will also need to open the hood as all of today’s headlight bulbs are replaced from the inside instead of the outside of your engine compartment.
Remove the locking ring
Remove the wiring connector by lifting the locking tab and pulling the plug from the back of the bulb. The locking ring is removed by turning it a quarter to half turn counterclockwise and then pulling the ring off the headlight housing.
Remove and Install the Bulb
Simply pull the bulb out of the housing and compare it to the replacement. Bear in mind you should never touch the glass of the new bulb because the grease from your fingers can create hotspots on the glass and cause it to fail. Installation is simply the reverse of removal. Remember to test the finished installation to be sure your new headlight bulb works before it gets dark.

Cleaning Your Headlights

Today’s polycarbonate headlight lenses tend to become hazy or opaque over time, especially in the heat and salt air of summer days in Daytona Beach. Thankfully there is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to restore them to crystal clarity in less than an hour using some wet/dry sandpaper, a commercially available cleaning kit, and some past wax.

Mask It
Mask the paint all around the headlight you plan to clean to ensure it is properly protected when sanding. Remove any chrome or painted trim so that you do not damage it.
Polishing Compound
After thoroughly washing the lens you are working on, use the polishing compound from the kit and a microfiber or flannel cloth to buff the lens. You can also use an orbital buffer. It takes time and a lot of elbow grease but the lenses should eventually look new and shiny.
Sandpaper
If you find the lenses are heavily pitted or scratched, you can use 1000 and 1500 wet/dry sandpaper to smooth out the surface. Using 2000, 2500, and finally 3000 grit wet/dry paper sand the lenses until they are perfectly smooth and scratch free. Follow this with more compound polishing until your headlight lenses look like new.
Finish Up
To finish the job apply a high quality paste wax to seal out water, grit, and road grime and keep it from damaging the lenses for a while. You should reapply wax several times during the year, the best way to do this is wax them every time you wash your vehicle. Keeping your headlight lenses clean and clear will make driving at night far safer for you and everyone else on the road.

Written By: Jeremy Kiel