A Buying Guide to Getting a New Headlight Housing for your Car
Whether it is due to wear or a parking job gone wrong, broken headlight housing should be replaced as soon as possible. While a headlight may still function with a damaged housing, its integrity is already compromised and the headlight may pop out and dangle outside the car at any time. What's more, replacement headlight housings are not that hard to find in stores and online, so there is really no reason for you to put off changing that busted housing in your ride.
Once you have decided to buy replacement headlight housing on your car, here are some things you should know.
Halogen, xenon, or LED?
Before you purchase a headlight housing, you need to know whether your car uses halogen or xenon bulbs or LEDs in its headlights. Halogen bulbs are the most common and found in most cars, while xenon bulbs are becoming a frequent sight in newer models aside from being an aftermarket upgrade. LED headlights are the fanciest of the three and also starting to become popular. These three bulbs require different housings to accommodate their respective functions, so make sure to double check.
OEM vs. aftermarket
Another option that you will encounter when shopping for a headlight housing is that of OEM and aftermarket. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) headlight housings are supplied by the car manufacturer and are perfectly identical to the stock one in your car. This makes it a guaranteed exact fit, but the options are limited and are often expensive. Aftermarket housings, on the other hand, may not be as good in fit and quality as their OEM counterparts, but they are cheaper and offer more options in terms on design, color, and finish. It should also be noted that if your car has an aftermarket headlight bulb or assembly, you will need to purchase an aftermarket headlight housing.
One or two pairs?
Many manufacturers nowadays package headlight housings in pairs rather as a singular unit. This ensures that the headlight housings are identical in appearance and ensure aesthetic symmetry. What's more, if one housing is being replaced due to wear, chances are that the other housing is also worn to the point of needing replacement.
How to Replace the Headlight Housing
If the bulb is the heart of the headlight, the headlight housing is its skeleton. Usually made of ABS plastic, the headlight housing supports the entire body of the headlight assembly, giving it its distinctive shape and serving as a platform from which the headlight bulb, socket, header panel and other headlight components are mounted to. This is why once the housing is compromised by damage or wear, it has to be replaced as soon as possible.
The following is a step-by-step guide to replacing the headlight housing for the halogen headlight.
Difficulty level: Easy to Moderate
- Replacement headlight housing
- Phillips and flathead screwdriver
Step 1: Pop open the hood and disconnect the electrical wiring leading to the headlight. Make sure the ignition is off and the battery cables detached first before starting to prevent electric shock.
Step 2: Loosen the screws and the plastic retainers holding the headlight housing in place. Take care not to put too much force on the retainers as they can easily snap into several pieces.
Step 3: Pull out the entire headlight assembly. You may need to wriggle it a bit to free the entire unit from the car.
Step 4: Detach the headlight bulb socket and headlight bulb. Be careful not touch the bulb with your bare hands; use gloves or a clean piece of cloth to handle the bulb.
Step 5: Unbolt the header panel from the headlight housing. Check if the panel also needs replacing as well.
Step 6: Join the new housing with the header panel. Screw in the bulb onto the socket and insert it into the housing.
Step 7: Reconnect the wiring to the headlight housing. Make sure the right ends are connected.
Step 8: Once all the components are reinstalled, align the headlight. The headlight beam will be out of its proper alignment, so you will need to readjust it to its proper angle. You should also check if both headlight bulbs are illuminating at the same intensity.
Note: This installation guide only covers the standard halogen bulb-type headlight housing. Installation for headlight housings for xenon/HID bulbs and LEDs will require different steps.
Headlight Housing Buyer's Guide
- The headlight housing is a vital component of the headlamp assembly. It is the metal or thermoplastic bowl where other parts of the headlight are installed.
- The headlight housing carries all of the headlamp components such as the cables, reflectors, and headlight bulbs.
- It allows the assembly to be affixed onto the vehicle body.
- It works to protect internal lighting components from heat, water, and humidity.
- There are two types of headlight housing that you can choose for your vehicle: reflector and projector headlight housing.
- The cost of a replacement headlight housing will vary depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model. OE replacement headlight housings will typically cost you anywhere between $20 to $150.
Just like how eyes frame the human face, a vehicle’s headlights give its fascia a distinct character and personality. More than just being a prominent decorative feature, these automotive lights play a critical role in road safety. To better understand how it works and what it’s for, let’s take a closer look at one of its components—the headlight housing.
What is a headlight housing?
The headlight housing is a vital component of the headlamp assembly. It is the metal or thermoplastic bowl where other parts of the headlight such as the bulb and reflectors are installed. A pair of headlight housings are installed in the front of the vehicle, right above the bumpers and on either side of the grille.
What is the headlight housing for?
The headlight housing carries all of the headlamp components such as the cables, reflectors, and headlight bulbs. It allows the assembly to be affixed onto the vehicle body. As an enclosed case, it works to protect internal lighting components from heat, water, and humidity.
Types of headlight housing
There are two types of headlight housing that you can choose for your vehicle: reflector and projector headlight housing. Here are the main differences between the two.
Reflector headlight housing
Reflector headlight housings have been featured in vehicles since the invention of electric headlamps. Earlier versions of this housing were essentially steel bowls that reflected the light from the bulb installed at the center of the assembly. Older vehicles had sealed-beam headlight assemblies which required the replacement of the whole thing if the bulb gets busted.
By the 1980s, mirrors were installed around the headlight bulb to guide the light beam. Today, there are still vehicles that feature this type of headlight housing because they are generally less expensive to manufacture. They also take up less space in the vehicle compared to projector headlights.
Projector headlight housing
This type of headlight housing was originally used in luxury vehicles in the 1980s. Since then, it has become extremely common in all types of vehicles. The projector headlight housing is similar to a reflector headlight housing because it is also made up of a metal bowl with mirrors surrounding the headlight bulb.
The main difference between the two is that a projector headlight uses a lens that doubles as a magnifying glass. This makes it project a brighter light, rather than simply reflecting it. The design of this type of housing also allows you to have better control of the light beams, directing it forward and down, so that drivers of oncoming vehicles aren’t blinded by your headlights.
How much does an aftermarket headlight housing cost?
The cost of a replacement headlight housing will vary depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model. OE replacement headlight housings will typically cost you anywhere between $20 to $150. These are commonly sold individually, in sets of two, as part of a headlight assembly, or as part of a kit.
While it may be possible to do headlight housing repairs or replacements on your own, it is best to have a licensed mechanic do it for you. This way, you can rest assured that all parts are fitted correctly and that electrical components are functioning properly.
Signs that your headlight housing needs to be replaced
While some headlights are meant to last the entire lifespan of your vehicle, there are cases where replacement is necessary for your safety and other vehicles on the road. Have your car checked by a licensed mechanic as soon as you notice one or more of these signs of a bad headlight housing.
Busted or flickering bulbs on older vehicles
Older vehicles built before the 1980s may feature a sealed-beam headlight assembly which does not allow for the replacement of the bulb alone. Once the bulb starts malfunctioning, you will need to look for a replacement for the assembly which means you’ll need to replace your headlight housing as well.
One of the most obvious signs that you need to replace your vehicle’s headlight housing is collision damage. Due to its location at the front of your vehicle, it is fairly common for the headlights to be broken in a forward collision. It is a good idea to have your headlights checked by a licensed mechanic any time it is hit in a road accident, especially if looks and feels loose.
Condensation inside the headlights
Accumulated water and moisture can make your headlights look foggy and reduce its illumination. Modern headlights typically have built-in ventilation passages that allow moisture to escape and evaporate from inside the assembly. Any debris blocking these passages can cause excess moisture to fog up your lights. Worn out seals or a crack in the headlight housing may also cause this issue, which may require you to have this part replaced.
Why is headlight housing replacement important?
Your headlights are a critical safety feature of your vehicle. Functioning automotive lights allow you to illuminate the road ahead for safe navigation. It also alerts vehicles driving ahead of you of your presence. Together with your car’s turn signals, the headlight assembly allows you to communicate your movements to other drivers on the road so that you can safely switch lanes or cross intersections.
A damaged headlight housing can come loose while driving and pose a safety hazard on the road. Damage on this part may also affect the performance of the electrical components that it houses. To prevent your headlights from suddenly going out while you’re driving, it is best to have a licensed mechanic
To help narrow down your search for aftermarket headlight housing, you may use our website’s search filter. Simply plug in your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model to browse through applicable parts.