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How to Change a Headlight

Dadand was contacted by Sylvania and asked to review their new Sylvania SilverStar ULTRA bulbs. They must have ESP because I was just telling Emily how I feel like my headlights were dimming (which is a real thing by the way). Anyway, what better way to put together a quick tutorial on how to change your headlights. It takes like 10 minutes.

Let me start off by telling you there are like three basic installation styles:

  1. Unscrew type: this is where the bulb itself turns and clicks into the headlight housing (this is what I have and what I’ll be showing).
  2. Clip type: this is if your car has a retaining clip holding the bulb into the housing.
  3. Retaining ring type: this is where the bulb is held into the headlight housing by a separate ring that unscrews or unclips.

What you might need:

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • A clean rag or napkin or paper towel.

You only need this stuff if there are other parts of the car in the way. The 2010 Subaru Impreza only has a couple things in the way so I needed the screwdrivers.

Get the right bulb for your car.

There are plenty of online headlight product finders around. Every car parts place has a product finder and there’s a Sylvania specific product finder on their site as well (links at the bottom). There are also different bulbs for high-beam and low-beam in most cars, so get the right one. They have different sockets so you can’t really put the wrong one in the wrong place.

Now the easy part. Changing the bulbs.

Just make it easy on yourself and open the package of bulbs first. Cut them along the bottom or cut the whole plastic thing off so they can sit like a little cradle on your engine somewhere within reach. Some people will tell you to wear gloves but I don’t really have a bunch of disposal surgical gloves lying around like Dexter or something so I just have a napkin around (then I use it to wipe the dipstick when I check the oil…might as well since you’re under there anyway).

Replace a headlight - Sylvania SilverStar Ultra



OK, now examine the headlight area. Look for what you might have to remove or unscrew and move out of the way. For my 2010 Subaru Impreza Sport, I had the washer fluid bottle neck in the way on one side and an air scoop in the way on the other side. Now look and figure out how to remove that crap and get it out of the way. It’s usually a clip or a plastic rivet or something.

Replace a headlight - Sylvania SilverStar Ultra


Once I got that bottle neck out of the way I can see the headlight protective housing cap. Those usually come off with like a 1/4 turn of 1/2 turn to the left.

LOOK. There’s an arrow that indicates the top. Good for putting it on later.

Replace a headlight - Sylvania SilverStar Ultra


As soon as that comes off you’ll see the back of the bulb socket. That also comes off with probably less than a 1/4 turn. Make sure no little rubber gaskets or anything stay behind and stick to the housing (like mine did) or you’ll be frustrated as hell trying to figure out why you can’t put the new bulb back in.

Replace a headlight – Sylvania SilverStar Ultra


Next just pinch whatever type of release your car has and the bulb will unplug. Grab your new bulb with a napkin (or if you’re a freak and have gloves around just grab your bulb) and plug it back in.

Replace a headlight – Sylvania SilverStar Ultra

Now just get the bulb back into the housing by starting it turned to the left to fit the little metal dog ear things on the bulbs into the slots on the housing and pushing it in while turning to the right. Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out. Replace the protective housing cap (the thing with the arrow on it) and you’re done with that side.

The other side was slightly trickier because there were TWO plastic screws to remove and the air intake manifold scoop. On the Impreza, after you loosen the plastic screws you have to work the whole thing out. It has a little neck that is just shoved into the air filter housing. It pulls out pretty easily. Putting it back in is a little bit or a wrestling match but no big deal.

Replace a headlight – Sylvania SilverStar Ultra

Do the same steps as you did on the other side, get the scoop back on, and BLAM, you’re done. Hopefully you’re significant other will be impressed and compliment you on your manliness, or womanliness if you’re a woman. Now, while you finish your coffee (or beer) you can tinker around under the hood checking fluids, topping things off, getting all the tree helicopter things out of the crevices.


The night before I made the switch I took a picture of my headlights with the stock headlamps (photo on top). The night after I made the switch I took a second picture. I can honestly say I saw a difference. The light was much whiter and covered more area. The below pictures have no filter or alterations. Judge for yourself.

Replace a headlight - Sylvania SilverStar Ultra


So that’s it really. You just changed your bulbs in 10 minutes.

Overview of all Sylvania Automotive products here.

Read more about the Sylvania SilverStar ULTRA here.


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