If your headlights keep going out, the assembly is cracked, or you keep blowing fuses it might be time for a new assembly.
Depending on your vehicle, you may even have to replace the assembly to replace the light completely.
When you do, the average cost of headlight assembly replacement is $250-$1,000. That normally includes anywhere from $75-$400 for the assembly itself. The rest is labor, because removing a headlight assembly can take up to 5 hours. However, on average it will take about 2.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of headlight assembly replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
How Much Does Headlight Assembly Replacement Cost?*
The largest part of replacing a headlight assembly is the cost of labor. Therefore, the cost of the job will heavily depend on factors like how much your technician charges.
You’ll also have to consider your specific vehicle and how much time it takes to access and remove the assembly.
For example, the following chart details price estimates across popular vehicles.
|Vehicle||Headlight Assembly||Labor Cost|
|Tesla Model 3||$279.99-$1640.99||$280-$670|
|Chevy Silverado 1500||$49.99-$1232||$90-$286|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (July 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.Please select a valid form
Headlight Assembly Replacement Cost Factors
In most cases, the most important cost factor in replacing a headlight assembly is how much work it takes to get the original assembly out.
That can vary significantly from vehicle to vehicle, simply because of how frames and exterior paneling fit onto your vehicle.
Make and Model
The make and model of your vehicle influence almost every aspect of costs related to your replacement headlight assembly.
For example, the cost and availability of OEM parts. Even if you choose aftermarket parts, your vehicle will influence the cost of the headlight assembly.
For example, you can get a Ford F150 assembly starting from around $30 but if you want the same thing for a Tesla, it starts at $279.
Your vehicle will also influence how much labor you need to disassemble the existing assembly and take it out.
In some vehicles, removing the headlight assembly is a matter of removing a few bolts from under and over the lamp and then pulling it out. In others, you’ll have to remove the front paneling on your vehicle.
That can change the work from about an hour to well over 4 for the full job.
Brand of Part
In most cases, you’ll have the option to choose either original equipment manufacturer or aftermarket parts. Here, there are pros and cons of each.
For example, with the OEM part, you know that the fit is perfect so you’re most likely to get a watertight seal. On the other hand, you could pay over four times as much for an OEM part.
Aftermarket parts can be sold as performance parts as well. You might get upgrades, different types of lights, etc.
In addition, you can choose from universal parts which are made to fit as many vehicles as possible and “made to fit” parts, which are as close to the original as possible.
Type of Headlight
Modern headlight assemblies typically house your headlights, fog lights, and signal lights.
You may even have separate daytime running lights in the assembly. In other cases, your headlight assembly may only hold the headlight.
Therefore, costs can vary significantly depending on what type of assembly you have.
Your mechanic’s hourly rate will always be one of the largest determining factors of replacing a headlight assembly.
However, that isn’t always the case. For example, you could buy a high-end replacement part and your mechanic may only take an hour to replace the light.
In most cases, you’ll pay around $150 for the headlight assembly and about $200 for labor. Therefore, labor normally costs more than the light itself.
Here, you can expect to pay an average of about $80 per hour for headlight assembly. That ranges from $15-$210+ depending on where you’re located and what kind of shop you go to.Please select a valid form
5 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Headlight Assembly
The most common reason to replace your headlight assembly is that it’s broken or physically damaged.
However, you might want to replace it for a number of other reasons. That includes that you might simply want better lights or a different type of light.
1. Visibly Broken Assembly
If your headlight assembly is cracked or damaged, it will cause the wiring to corrode. Eventually, you’ll lose the bulb or have a short.
When that happens, you’ll have to take the assembly or the bulb out anyway, at which point it’s generally best to replace the assembly.
In addition, if your headlight glass or cover is scratched to the point of obscuring light, you definitely want a new assembly as well.
2. Headlights Aren’t Working
If your headlight doesn’t work or stops working intermittently, the wiring and the fixture are likely culprits. However, you often can’t replace these without replacing the full headlight assembly.
While you may be able to replace a wiring harness by taking the assembly out, the wiring doesn’t usually corrode or damage unless something has gone wrong with the assembly itself.
3. Switching or Engagement Issues
If you’re having issues switching between light modes, your lights don’t stay engaged, etc., it may be time to replace the assembly.
Here, the issue might also be with the relay or with the switch itself. On the other hand, you may not be able to replace either without replacing the headlight assembly.
4. Issues with Light Intensity
If your lights are staying low or very high, are increasingly dimming or brightening as you drive, or otherwise sticking at an intensity you did not set them at, the assembly may be the culprit.
Here, the issue may be the switch, the relay, or the controls. You may want to have everything checked before spending money on a replacement. However, the issue is very often solvable by replacing the assembly.
5. Flickering or Fading Lights
If your lights flicker or fade as you drive, it may mean that you have a power issue. However, it may also mean the assembly is bad, that the fixture is corroded, or that the wiring harness is loose.
Here, it’s important to check everything before taking apart your lights, as a simple power (battery, alternator, etc.) check could save you the work.Please select a valid form
How to Replace Your Headlight Assembly: 14 Steps
Replacing the headlight assembly in most cars is relatively easy. However, it may require taking off the front paneling around your grill. That can require significant care to avoid breaking the fiberglass.
On the other hand, many can be replaced by simply undoing bolts from the top of the headlight assembly, making the job relatively quick and easy.
Alternatively, if you have a Ford Fusion, you’ll actually have to drop the front bumper to take the full assembly out. That’s also true for other cars like Tesla as well. However, the bumper does simply bolt out.
Things You’ll Need:
- Wrench set
- Ratchet and socket set
- Screwdriver set
- Replacement headlight assembly
Replacing Your Headlight
- Park your car and turn off the engine. Take the key out of the ignition. Then, unplug the battery from the negative terminal.
- Assess what you have to remove to access the headlights, e.g. the bumper, the cover panels, or even covers under the hood. Take them off.
- Here, you’ll normally have to start by using a small flat screwdriver to pry up cover panels. Then unbolt or unscrew the covers and pull them off.
- If you’re unbolting the front bumper, you can simply unbolt it directly from the frame and drop it to the ground.
- Unbolt the top bracket on the headlight. Normally it’s visible when you open the hood. You may want to apply penetrating fluid or similar.
- If you have a second bracket, it’s normally located towards the center of the vehicle, next to the radiator, unbolt that as well.
- If you have a bottom bracket, slide under the car and unbolt that.
- Push the headlight assembly out.
- Use this access point to unbolt or unscrew any new brackets you’ve uncovered.
- Use a small screwdriver to unclip the wiring harness.
- Carefully pull the assembly free.
- Check the assembly and make sure it’s in good condition.
- Attach the new headlight and slide it into place.
- Then, reassemble everything in the opposite order.
You may want to test your headlight as soon as you plug the wiring harness in. Here, you’ll want to plug the battery back in, turn the vehicle on and check if the headlight works.
In some vehicles, you’ll have to calibrate new electronics.
If you still have questions about replacing your headlight assembly, these answers should help.
How long does it take to replace a headlight assembly?
In most cases, you can expect to spend 1-3 hours per headlight. On average, you’ll spend about an hour on the job, on each side. If you have to drop the bumper, it will take longer, because taking that off and putting it back on can take an hour by itself.
In addition, if you have to remove the front paneling, you will spend significantly more time on the job. That’s especially true as you’ll want to be careful, so you don’t break the panels.
Can you replace a headlight assembly?
Yes. Every vehicle has replaceable headlight assemblies. However, you may not be able to replace “just” the headlight bulb or “just” the headlight assembly.
It’s very common to have to replace the full light assembly, which houses all of the lights on the front of your car.
Why are headlight assemblies so expensive?
Headlight assemblies are designed to be watertight, to fit perfectly into a small space, and to house as many lights as possible without overheating. This engineering means manufacturing costs are high.
However, you can often save money by choosing aftermarket products rather than buying OEM.
Replacing your headlight assembly can be expensive. In fact, the average cost of replacing a headlight assembly is around $350. That normally includes the part and about 2 hours of labor. However, rates can be significantly higher, especially if you have a vehicle without cheap headlight options.Please select a valid form