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How To: Change Headlamp / Headlight bulb

Discussion in 'Knowledge Base Articles Discussion' started by usbseawolf2000, Oct 20, 2007.

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  1. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    How To: Change Halogen Headlamp / Headlight bulb

    A video comparison of 2006 Prius with X-Treme Power versus 2005 Prius with OEM bulbs.



    These pair of bulbs are availble at your local automotive stores for $40-$50 plus tax. I got a pair from powerbulbs.com for $47 shipped.


    Step By Step Instructions by Tideland Prius for Passenger side and Driver side Bulbs

    1. Remove all 6 clips holding down the front cover. The "screw" needs to be elevated relative to the ring in order to make removal easier

    2. Remove cover and set aside.

    3. Focus your attention to the passenger side of the car. You will see the vent that leads to the engine air filter box

    4. Locate the flathead button and use a flat blade screwdriver to lift it up. Once the button is up, you may remove the vent. It's up to you whether to leave the button pin there or not but just don't lose it!

    5. Start with the passenger side cause that's the easiest. Unplug the socket from the base of the bulb and set it somewhere where you can retrieve it later.

    6. Locate the rubber seal. Rotate it anti-clockwise. A few degrees is enough and it should come loose. Once loose, wiggle it to remove.

    7. Locate a spring lever/catch. This lever holds the bulb in place. On the passenger side, if you were to look at the headlight straight on from the outside, it would be ~ "NW" or the top left side. Important! When you locate the lever, MAKE A MENTAL NOTE OF HOW IT IS REMOVED AND REPLACED. It'll make it easier when you reverse the steps as you cannot really see the back of the headlights.

    8. For the passenger side, push the lever towards you and up. Once loose, swing it away. You might have to move it around a black wire (not sure what that wire is). Note the bulb will be loose at this point. At this point, you may attempt to put the lever back to get a feel of how far to push the lever towards you before you push down and let the lever catch. There is quite a bit of resistance.

    9. Once you're done, carefully remove the bulb. You may have to move it around wires and the lever.

    10. Replace the bulb with your new one. Again be careful when manoeuvring the bulb around the wires and the lever.

    11. Once the bulb is in the headlight housing, look from the outside and make sure it's set properly and firmly.

    12. Carefully replace the lever and make sure the bulb doesn't move out of place in the process.

    13. When the lever's back in place, find the bulb base and move it to confirm that the bulb doesn't move. Plug the socket back into the bulb and test that the bulb works.

    14. If everything's fine, then proceed to replace the rubber seal. This is the hard part and will probably take the longest time. Hint: you can put your finger through the rubber boot hole, guide it to the base of the bulb, and then push down. (Thanks to ScottY for that!)

    15. The rubber seal has to sit just right so that when you rotate it clockwise, it'll lock, otherwise, it'll just rotate and nothing will happen. The best way I've found is to grab hold of the seal around the edges with your hand. This way, when you put the seal back, you can get a feel of where the outer edges of the headlight housing is and where to seat the seal. Once you think it's in, rotate it and see if it locks. THere is no click or anything so as long as it doesn't move on its own AND you can access the base of the bulb with the socket, you're fine

    16. Replace the socket

    17. Do the same for the driver's side. This one is a bit harder because access is tight. You can remove the fuse box cover if you wish. The top part of the cover comes off easily. The bottom part with a single clip needs a bit of force.

    Video installation guide by usbseawolf2000 for the driver side:

    Edited by Tideland Prius:
    Click here for extra information on removing the fuse box as reported by Boo

    1 - Remove the Relay/Fuse box cover. Disconnect the headlamp wire. Twist counter-clockwise (unscrew motion) to remove the rubber boot.


    2 - A view of the removed rubber boot - A rear view of the bulb and how it is being held.


    3 - Unclip the lever holding the bulb.


    4 - How to position the H4 bulb inside the headlamp.


    Tips from kvdsr:

    1- "Clockwise" means different things depending on if you're looking at the rubber boot from the front or the back. I prefer to think that the boot works the same as a jar lid - which you turn left to remove, right to tighten.
    The two rectangular "ears" on the boot make excellent leverage points for your thumb and forefinger - as you pointed out on this most recent post.

    2- Once you have "unscrewed" the boot/jar lid a few inches to the left, it will stop moving. When it hits this "stop" point, it is in position to be lifted out. MAKE A MENTAL NOTE on the position that the ears are in at this stop point. When you reinstall the boot, position it so that the ears are at the stop point, and you should be able to push down on the boot till it bottoms out evenly. Tighten the boot to the right a few inches, and it will again reach a "stop" point. It is now locked in place.

    Attached Files:

    5 people like this.
  2. Boo

    Boo Boola Boola Member

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    For anyone interested, you can purchase Philips X-Treme Power Bulbs (for Prius it's size/type "9003 H4" or sometimes referred to only as "H4") at:

    * Some internet vendors -- e.g., PowerBulbs.com sells them for around $47 (w/discount coupon) delivered, plus they toss in two side bulbs for free. If you order them from PowerBulbs.com, try the 10% discount coupon code ZXRCX111, or if that number is no longer valid then search for another.

    * Some auto parts stores -- e.g., Strauss Auto (located in New York, New Jersey & Pennsylvania) normally sells them for around $50 + Tax; however, this week -- Oct. 26 - Nov. 3, 2007 -- they're on sale for around $40 + Tax.
    radio10 likes this.
  3. ScottY

    ScottY New Member

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    Dennis, thanks for the great instructions!! My driver side light bulb burnt out last night in 30 degree weather.

    One additional hint as I was doing the replacement. In step 14, you can put your finger through the rubber boot hole, guide it to the base of the bulb, and then push down.

    I used the OEM bulb and they are about $45 each. Next time, I'll look for a better replacement.
  4. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    I am glad to know that it helped you out.

    The original 17 steps are from Tideland Prius and my video does not cover everything (removing plastic cover with 6 clips, etc...).
  5. Boo

    Boo Boola Boola Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(ScottY @ Nov 24 2007, 03:32 PM) [snapback]543654[/snapback]</div>

    Wow, I didn't know that Toyota charged $45 for each OEM halogen bulb ... that's a lot of money!

    I hear that other PriusChatters get generic replacements from auto parts stores for around 2 for $15. But I haven't heard whether they last as long or are as bright as the Toyota OEMs.

    The Philips X-Treme Power Bulbs that usbseawolf2000, Tideland Prius and I have cost around 2 for $47. I highly recommend them. The increased brightness is just fantastic (see usbseawolf2000's video and photos) ... I think they may actually be 80% brighter than OEMs --- just as Philips claims. One thing though, none of us know how long they will last (I wish headlight bulb manufacturers were required to list the luminosity and life expectancy of their bulbs). In this regard, Tideland Prius will be the first to know because on TP's Canadian Prius, the headlights are constantly on because they also serve as daytime running lights.
  6. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(ScottY @ Nov 24 2007, 12:32 PM) [snapback]543654[/snapback]</div>

    Hint added to instructions.


    $45 each!?!?!? Wow that makes these Phillips ones even more inticing. Oye.
  7. ScottY

    ScottY New Member

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    Wow, ok. $47 for 2 and 80% brighter?!! I'll do more research next time, cause I feel like a fool.

    As for life span, the OEM lasted 2 and half yrs, which is not bad IMHO.
  8. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    I had no idea stock bulbs were that expensive.

    Not bad but again it depends on how often you run the lights.
    1 person likes this.
  9. Boo

    Boo Boola Boola Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(ScottY @ Nov 26 2007, 12:13 PM) [snapback]544284[/snapback]</div>

    Hey Scott,

    Don't feel foolish. It seems to me that headlights are one of the big unknowns ... like I said before, manufacturers really should be required to state headlight bulbs' lumenosity and life expectancy ... without that info, consumers are left with trial and error, guessing or anecdotal advice. Also, $45 a halogen bulb from Toyota isn't so bad when compared to the $340 Toyota charges for an HID bulb!!!

    In any event, thanks for the info on Toyota's pricing of the OEM headlight bulbs. Now we at least know the prices for a range of halogen headlight bulbs in the Prius 9003/H4/HB2 size:

    --- 2 for $90 for Toyota OEM halogen bulbs.

    --- 2 for $15 for generic or other name halogen bulbs from eBay, auto parts stores or mechanics (although I don't know the lumenosity or life expectancy of these bulbs).

    --- 2 for $47 for Philips X-Treme Power bulbs that are purportedly and seemingly 80% brighter than the Toyota OEMs (although I don't know the life expectancy of these bulbs, I do know that powerbulbs.com gave them 4 out of 5 stars for life expectancy).
  10. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(ScottY @ Nov 26 2007, 12:13 PM) [snapback]544284[/snapback]</div>

    It may be the dealer. Which dealer did you go to? I'll avoid them next time.
  11. ScottY

    ScottY New Member

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    Dennis, it was Sunrise Toyota located at 3984 Sunrise Hwy, Oakdale, NY 11769. I went to them because it was on the way to work.
  12. klskofn

    klskofn New Member

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    2002 Prius?

    Will this work as well on the 2002 Prius? I have replacement bulbs just haven't figured out how to change the bulb. Thank you.
  13. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    Well you have to see how the 02 Prius headlights are setup. I got the instructions off the owner's manual and then wrote up a more detailed version on the first page.


    So take a quick look at the owner's manual and that should help you get started!
  14. hobbit

    hobbit Senior Member

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    If it's any reassurance [or discouragement, dunno], those boots
    are pretty damn difficult to get to and wrangle, especially for
    folks with larger hands. At some point I'll have to replace
    some of these lamps and if I have time, I'll look for ways to make
    it easier and do a pictorial. I think last time I tool a look
    I removed a couple of the accessible bolts on the headlight unit
    and the half-inch raise thus gained actually helped quite a bit.
    The third bolt is buried under the plastic nose, unfortunately,
    but I think there's some semi-fast way to get to it which I
    don't actually know yet.
    .
    If these things had some kind of soft-start circuitry, even with
    an inefficient resistor dropped in the way just long enough to
    gently warm the filaments before slammin' 'em with full zoobs,
    they'd probably last a lot longer. Why do ya think that they
    often fail in COLD weather?? Thermal shock to the filament.
    There's a reason that theatrical lighting dimmers usually offer
    a preheat option. Speaking of expensive bulbs...
    .
    _H*
  15. klskofn

    klskofn New Member

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    2002

    tideland, I looked in the manual and there is nothing that I've found that involves helping change the headlights. I'm rather irritated with the whole thing. Thanks for your help. I know that the Chilton manual does not come out until February. hopefully i can find something before they go out.
  16. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    really? well that's annoying. I thought most Toyota manuals have the DIY section at the back. They cover the parking lights, headlights, taillights/brakelights and reverse lights and indicators.


    You could PM Frank Hudon. He has a Classic Prius and can help you out!

    Another alternative is PriusOnline or Yahoo! Prius Owners group. They have a good number of 1st gen Prius owners.
  17. wired

    wired wired

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    I have an 05, but happened to have an 04 manual laying around the house. I checked and on page 303 there is a section with illustrations on how to change the headlight bulb, although it shows right side only.
  18. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    It's the same manual. I have an 05 and I have an 04 PDF manual too.

    His is a 2002, it's a different model all together.
  19. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    Wow, what a surprise. My driver side bulb is dead. I made sure I did not touch the bulb when I installed it. I have about 5k miles with it in about 2 months.

    I'll give Philips a call tomorrow.
  20. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    Interesting. Mine are ok. I've been doing a lot of night driving (mostly early morning and evening esp. since the sun sets before 4! :eek: So any afternoon errands will be in the dark. So far so good.


    They'll probably just ask that you send it in for a replacement. It's been two months already?! wow.
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