The Average Cost for Replacing a Headlight Bulb Is $5-$132 Depending on If You Go to the Mechanic or DIY.
This price range is based on national averages for all vehicles and does not factor in taxes, fees, or your particular make and model. For a more accurate estimate based on your make, model, and location, use the RepairPal Fair Price Estimator.
Cost at the Mechanic: $47-$132
This job should take your mechanic less than an hour to complete, but you should be prepared to pay an hour’s rate. The cost of parts largely depends on the type of bulb you’re installing in your vehicle. A basic halogen bulb costs around $5-10. LED bulbs are more expensive but longer-lasting.
Cost to DIY:
If you’re willing to put in the time, you can save yourself a good amount of money by doing this job yourself. It will take longer to do it than a mechanic when it’s your first time, but it will be faster and easier in the future once you have experience. Replacing a headlight bulb usually takes few, if any tools.
However, depending on the make and model of your vehicle, the job can get surprisingly complicated. Particularly in modern cars, you may need to remove unrelated components just to reach the bulbs. You should also keep in mind that there are many different types of bulbs for different models. Refer to your owner’s manual to learn exactly what bulbs are correct for your particular vehicle.
What Is a Headlight Bulb?
Like the light bulbs in your home, the headlight bulb lights up the road at night, as well as makes you more visible to other drivers while the sun is still up. There are several types of headlights your vehicle might be equipped with, but their jobs are all the same. The light from the headlight bulb is reflected off of a series of mirrors to aim it directly at the road ahead.
It’s important to note that in addition to different makes and models using different types of headlight bulbs, sometimes different trim levels for the same model will not use the same type. For instance, your model’s entry-level trim may come standard with halogen headlights that are replaced with more powerful Xenon headlights (also called high-intensity discharge headlights) or LED headlights at a higher trim level.
The type of headlight that you’re using for your replacement can drastically change the cost and labor time of this job. LED lights last longer than other types of headlight bulbs, but they are often much more expensive than a halogen headlight bulb.
What Does a Headlight Bulb Replacement Include?
On average, a headlight bulb replacement should take your mechanic less than an hour to complete. This time depends largely on the type of headlight bulbs your vehicle calls for, and how easy or difficult it is to access the bulb. If one bulb has failed, it’s a good idea to replace both of them at the same time, since the remaining one is near the end of its lifespan as well. Headlight bulbs often come in two-packs to make this easy, as well as cheaper than buying two individual bulbs.
This may be a good time to have the headlight lens restored as well. You can purchase a headlight restoration kit and do this yourself if you’re replacing your own headlight bulbs. You can also ask your mechanic to do it for you.
Something you should be aware of is that if you’re using LED lights, you may not be able to simply replace bulbs as they burn out. Most models will require you to purchase an entire headlight assembly, which can substantially increase the cost of replacing your headlight bulbs. These can sometimes reach prices over $1,000.
What Happens If You Don’t Replace Your Headlight Bulb?
The obvious answer is that you won’t be able to see at night anymore. Less obvious is that you won’t be as visible on the road in daylight conditions, particularly in low visibility conditions such as rain, fog, or snow. Some states require you to turn on your headlights if you’re using your windshield wipers, regardless of the time of day. Having a headlight out will make you less visible than you should be.
One of the most common reasons people get pulled over by law enforcement at night is for driving with a headlight out. At best, you’ll get delayed and receive a warning, but you can also get a ticket and fine for this violation as well. To avoid these problems, you should check your headlights and taillights at least once a month to ensure that your vehicle is still safe and legal.
How Often to Replace Your Headlight Bulbs
Despite their limited life, headlight bulbs are not mentioned on the manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule. Typically, you simply replace it when it burns out. It’s best to replace both at the same time, even if one is still working because the remaining bulb is likely near the end of its life as well.
If you’re using a conventional halogen headlight, you may get anywhere from 450 to 1,000 hours of operating time out of it. Using high-intensity discharge headlights might get you anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 hours of use before you have to replace them. LED bulbs last even longer.
Always refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual to learn what type of headlight bulbs your vehicle can use and find directions for how you might go about replacing them.
Common Symptoms You Need To Replace Your Headlight Bulb
Be on the lookout for these symptoms to help you decide when it’s time to replace your headlight bulbs:
- Your headlight doesn’t shine anymore.
- Your headlights are dimmer than they used to be.
- Your headlights shine a different color than normal.
Related Maintenance Services
The following services are commonly performed with headlight bulb replacements:
- Headlight lens restoration
- Headlight assembly replacement
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