Last month we talked about how important it is to have your car’s exterior lights correctly adjusted. Being visible, but not blinding, is crucial for your safety and the safety of other road users.
One of the main reasons headlights and rear lights are badly adjusted is because the bulbs have been fitted incorrectly. Today, we will walk you through how to fit a car exterior light bulb correctly.
Where To Start To Fit A Car Exterior Light Bulb Correctly
Needless to say, all cars have slightly different configurations and lamp types. First of all you should dig out your vehicle’s manual to see how you access the exterior light housing for your car.
Then check the type of lamp required for your car model.
Some car exterior light bulbs should only be changed at the garage. Specifically, if your vehicle uses Xenon bulbs, please don’t try to change the lamps at home! This type of car lamp holds a charge and can give you a shock if not handled correctly.
Please note: if your car was not originally fitted with Xenon exterior lights, then it is not advisable to retrofit this type of exterior light system. It will invariably cause your car to fail it’s MOT.
Other modern cars with full LED systems require the whole exterior light unit to be replaced. This is because the individual LED lights are not available. Once again this is a job for your trusted local garage.
Most other types of car lamp can be replaced fairly easily. It’s fiddly job, and you need to pay attention to the orientation of the lamp, but it’s definitely doable.
How To Fit A Car Tail Light Bulb Correctly
You’ve done a walk around examination of your vehicle and noticed that one of the tail lights is either dimmer than the other or, worse, not working at all. So you’re going to replace the lamp based on the bulb recommended in your car manual.
Most rear tail light bulbs will look something like this:
When replacing the lamp for your car tail light you will need to pay close attention to the placement of the two lugs on either side of the bulb’s metal casing. As you can see from the image above, the lug on the left is slightly lower than the one on the right.
When you’re fitting the new bulb, these lugs should fit smoothly into the rear light housing without having to be forced. If you force the lamp into the housing, it will go, but will cause the rear light to illuminate incorrectly.
What does this mean? What should happen is that the rear light gets brighter when you apply the brakes. If you have forced the bulb into the housing with the lugs the wrong way round, then the brighter brake light will be permanently on instead of the slightly dimmer rear running light. Then, when you apply the brake, there will be no difference in luminosity and therefore no warning for vehicles behind you that you are slowing down.
How To Fit A Car Headlight Bulb Correctly
Once again, the crucial part of correctly fitting a new headlamp is the orientation of the lugs on the bulb. There are three key things to note when correctly fitting a new headlight lamp:
- Never force the lamp into the housing.
- Make sure the lugs are matched to the right size hole in the headlight housing.
- Make sure the lamp is flush and straight in its housing.
If the lamp is fitted at an angle, the beam pattern will be incorrect. This will cause your vehicle to badly dazzle oncoming drivers which is very very dangerous for everyone on the road.
Below are the two most common headlight lamps currently in use: the H4 and the H7. Check your vehicle’s manual to find out which one you need for your car make and model.
How To Replace Other Exterior Lamps On Your Car
On cars without Xenon or LED casements, the other exterior lights are much more straightforward to replace. They don’t tend to have any particular orientation and can simply be slotted into the housing. Don’t forget to check your manual to make sure you get the correct lamp for your vehicle and model number.
Need Help Or Advice About Replacing A Car Exterior Lamp?
Maybe you have a Xenon light in your vehicle or a full LED system that needs replacing. Perhaps you need some help figuring out which lamps are right for your vehicle and model number. Don’t worry, we can help!