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August 09, 2014


Since "changing the temperature sensor on my 2004 Subaru" has come to be the 5th most popular post, I thought showing you how to change the headlamps would be of interest. The lenses are plastic and over time become milky and opaque. This appears to be a common occurrence for most new cars, as the bulb itself is no longer external and made of glass, but rather is a high intensity bulb within an enclosure.

The first step was cost feasibility. The suggestion that cleaners are available to restore the original appearance of a plastic lamp. The cost for a new lamp alone without replacing the housing?

I headed over to and looked up replacement lights. Wow, for $40 each, new headlamp enclosures with bulbs. I order one for each side. Here is my car with the new sitting on top of the old:

The new ones are an exact replica of the originals.

There are three screws holding the lamps in place, as well as three electrical connectors.

One screw is a sharpie in that its pointed. The other two in the front are more like bolts.

Images of where the bolts are located:

Remove those and the three electrical connectors and you have this - note how dull and opaque the old lamp is:

Putting the new lamp assembly into place requires a small amount of finesse.  It's actually simple... first plug in the two outside electrical connectors. You'll plug the inner one in last. Then slide the outside edge of the lamp inward as if along a track. That will leave you with the inside edge of the lamp caught against a metal-post, which with a little finagling you will get past.

The result... brand new front headlamps! Total cost around $80. Total time? 1/2 hour or less.


  1. Looks like you may have found an additional Internet calling Bob as a car repair guru.

    I use to have a small Volvo and the headlight bulbs were always burning out. I had a friend who was an old guy mechanic and he would joke that I did not need a mechanic to help change bulb (the passenger side was the problem because you had to remove stuff to get at it), but someone with the hand size of a 5 year old do even access the area to install it.

  2. Hi Slam...

    Yeah cars and chickens, lol!

    My car - the head-lights are easy - the bulbs? That's another story. The bulbs came with the new lamps, but if I want to change just the bulb I have to remove a back cover, unscrew 3 screws to get the bulb out. A friend's car has really cloudy lamps, but to replace his we have to dig, into the book and probably remove a lot of stuff.

    Never know what new talents a blogger has until they try. Thanks for the comment.