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$80 to Replace a Headlight? Yeah, Right...

September 8, 2006

A while ago, I blogged about how frustratingly technologically complex today's automobiles have become, and how difficult it's become to make even relatively minor repairs.

Recently, a headlight lamp on my Audi A4 blew, and with much trepidation, I called my friendly thief of a dealer to inquire how much it would cost to replace. Since the car is off warranty (it has very low miles, so I figured "what could go wrong...)", I was told that the charge would be around $80.

$80 for a headlamp bulb replacement? Are they nuts?? The explanation is that some parts have to be removed in order to change the bulb, and that it can be a tricky procedure to "do it yourself."

Well, screw that! I found some handy, simple instructions on the Web, from similarly fed-up Audi owners who decided to tackle the repair themselves. In a nutshell, the repair took me all of 10 minutes, and cost just $12.95 for a new bulb.

My wish is that today's auto companies will someday start to realize that not all of their customers are complete idiots when it comes to making minor repairs on their cars, and that a good many of them actually like to work on them. Supporting the do-it-yourselfer may not help drive  the growth of service revenues, but it'll sure go a long way towards creating a fiercely loyal customer base that just might come back for a bevvy of performance enhancements and a new car when the time is right!


I've received a number of emails from people wanting to tackle this minor repair on their own, but are having trouble find instructions. So here's the skinny on changing the headlight bulbs on a 2002 Audi A4 (other year models may be similar but I'm not sure):

Here's what you'll need:

-- Extra long, flat-edged screwdriver
-- Replacement bulb (@$10-15 at an auto parts store) -- exact model number can be found in manual I believe or any self-respecting auto store will be able to look it up for you.
-- A hex (star-head shaped) screwdriver
-- bright flashlight

1. If you are changing the bulb on the passenger side, you first need to remove the air duct housing, since it gets in the way. Take out screws on top and squeeze/pull housing gently out of duct (easy to see how it fits together)
2. If changing driver's side, go to step 3
3. Remove 2 or 3 hex screws ontop of underhood lip that secures the top of the headlight assembly
4. Loosen but don't remove (2 turns at most) two screws at the base of the headlight assembly (way down inside the engine compartment) with the extra long screwdriver
5. Gently slide entire headlight assembly out so until you can reach the back of it
6. Release metal clip that holds headlight socket in place
7. Pull headlight socket free and remove bulb
8. Put in new bulb and slide socket back into assembly
9. Clip in place
10. Slide headlight assembly back into front end, making sure metal brackets are under base screws
11. Tighten base screws
12. Replace hex screws on top
13. Replace air duct housing (if you removed it)

And you're done! This took me all of  @10 minutes, working slowly and carefully

FYI, you can buy extra bright bulbs (they come in a two-pack for about $35), so if you want more light you may want to take this opportunity to upgrade them both.

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Comments to $80 to Replace a Headlight? Yeah, Right...

  1. RE: $80 to Replace a Headlight? Yeah, Right...
    B. Smithey :

    Instead of buying replacements you should try this website - Headlight restoration and cleaning kit -

  1. RE: $80 to Replace a Headlight? Yeah, Right...
    Melissa :

    I have the same problem! This is so frustrating! Do you remember where you found those instructions online? Thanks!

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