If your headlight is broken, flickering, or even causing the fuses to blow it may be time for a new one. On average, headlights last 500-1,000 hours – although with some luck you’ll never have to change them.
On the other hand, power surges, condensation, and damage to the housing can mean the end for even a brand new headlight.
When that happens, the average cost of replacing a headlight is $250-$1,000. Here, the light assembly will cost $75-$400 and the rest is labor. That’s because taking apart the assembly takes anywhere from 1-5 hours.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of headlight replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
How Much Does a Headlight Replacement Cost?*
In most cases, the cost of a headlight replacement depends on which parts you’re replacing. In addition, you’ll have to consider the cost of labor.
Here, just finding someone to replace a headlight assembly can be difficult, as you’ll likely have to go to a body shop rather than your mechanic.
The following chart covers the average costs of replacing the full headlight assembly for popular vehicles. However, chances are high that you’ll only have to replace the wiring or the bulb instead.
|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 (June 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
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Headlight Replacement Cost Factors
The cost of replacing your headlight will vary significantly depending on the headlight, the part you’re replacing, and the cost of labor.
For example, replacing a headlight might not mean replacing a bulb.
In addition, you might not go with the original headlight if replacing the housing. There are dozens of options and all of them impact costs.
Type of Headlight
There are several major types of headlights including LED, Xenon, and halogen. Of these, LEDs are normally the cheapest.
However, in most cases, if you’re replacing the headlight assembly, you’ll want to buy new headlights that match the old ones.
That’s especially true if you’re replacing just one headlight. You might not have options in which type of headlight you’re buying. However, the type in your car will significantly influence costs.
Similarly, the H designation on your bulbs will impact costs as well. H4 bulbs are the most common on old cars. This means they have two filaments, one for the high beams and one for the low beams.
On the other hand, you can also have H1, H3, H4, HB3, HB4, and many others.
You’ll have to buy an H designation based on the socket in your car because the fixtures are not interchangeable. However, H4 is normally the most expensive.
The cost of replacing headlights varies significantly based on the parts you need replaced.
For example, if you’re just replacing the headlight bulb, you can probably expect $10-$70 in costs and 30-60 minutes of labor.
If you’re replacing the glass or the headlight cover, parts will normally cost around $30-$100. You’ll pay about the same in labor.
Or, if you just have to replace wiring or a fuse, it could be even cheaper.
On the other hand, if you actually have to replace the full assembly, you’re probably looking at an average of $300 in costs per affected headlight.
If you buy an OEM or factory replacement headlight assembly, you’ll pay $350-$1200 per headlight (or more if you have a luxury car brand like a Lexus or a Corvette).
On the other hand, performance lights can cost even more. You might pay upwards of $1500 per headlight for a performance brand, even from a major aftermarket supplier like Kensington.
Aftermarket or made to fit headlight assemblies are normally a cheaper alternative to going OEM. Here, you can often get headlight assemblies for as little as $38.99.
However, as stated above, that does depend on performance and the headlight’s rating. Costs vary a great deal even for aftermarket parts.
Cost of Labor
Installing a new headlight can take anywhere from 1 to 5 hours depending on how the car is made.
For example, many cars allow you to simply unscrew the headlight assembly and insert the new one. Others require you to take the bumper off first.
So, costs of labor can vary. In addition, while you can expect to pay around $100 per hour for most mechanics, that rate can range from $15-$210+.
6 Signs Your Headlights Are Going Out
If your headlights are going out, you usually notice because the light isn’t working as it should.
That could mean the light is too bright, too dim, not turning on, flickering, or any of a number of other issues.
The following symptoms are good reasons to check your headlights and consider replacing the bulb, fuse, wiring, switch, or the assembly itself.
1. High Beams Don’t Stay Engaged
If your high beams keep switching off, it’s a good sign the headlight switch is going out. Depending on your vehicle, that could mean you have to replace the switch.
It may also mean the contacts are loose in the assembly. Alternatively, the filament on the high beam could be burning out.
The only way to know for sure is an inspection.
2. Headlights Don’t Work
If your headlight isn’t working, the problem could be the bulb, the wiring, the fuse, the fixture, or the switch. Normally, if both headlights go out, the issue is the wiring or the fuse.
However, if one light is out and the other works fine, it’s more likely to be the bulb, the fixture, or the wiring specifically on the headlight in question.
The issue could be a bad bulb, a corroded fixture, a loose bulb, or wiring that’s come loose.
3. Switching Between Modes Is Problematic
If you have trouble switching between headlight modes, you might want to inspect or get a diagnostics check.
Here, the issue is most likely the switch. However, there could be other issues as well.
Flickering headlights, especially if it’s just one, are a good sign that something is going wrong with the bulb or with the wiring.
Inspecting the housing to check for damage and loose wiring is a good first step. In addition, you should inspect the bulb and swap the bulb between headlights to be sure the lamp isn’t causing the issue.
5. Dim Lights / Bright Lights
If your lights are too dim or too bright, the electronics in the headlight assembly may be having an issue.
Headlight assemblies include a ballast. When it goes out, the light will be too dim, too bright, or will fluctuate between the two.
In addition, problems with the ballast could cause the headlights to burn out. So, if you replace dead bulbs and they start having issues again, the ballast could be the culprit.
However, dim lights could also be a power issue or a bad bulb.
6. Cracked or Broken Headlights
If the headlight assembly is visibly cracked or broken, it’s a good time to get a new one.
You might not be required to get a new headlight, however, leaving cracks allows condensation and water buildup. These will cause the bulb and electronics to have issues, which could cause the headlight to burn out or fuse shorts.
This also holds true if the lens is cloudy or scratched and it dims the light. Replacing the housing or the glass is a good solution.
10 Steps to Replacing a Headlight
In most cars, replacing the headlight assembly is about an hour of work. However, in others, it can take up to 5 hours.
You should always check your vehicle’s repair manual to see what’s involved in taking your car apart and changing the headlights.
For example, if you have a Ford Fusion, a Tesla Model 3, or a Toyota Camry, you’ll have to drop the front bumper to take the headlight housing out.
However, you can otherwise normally change headlights yourself without too much trouble.
The only important thing is that you take care with the assembly, the bumper, and with the fiberglass on your car, as they are generally easy to scratch and damage.
Things You’ll Need:
- Wrench, ratchet, and socket set
- Replacement headlight assembly matching your car
- Small flat screwdriver
Replacing Your Headlight:
- Open the hood of your car and unplug the battery from the negative terminal. Make sure your key is out of the ignition when you do, the car doors will probably auto lock.
- Consult your manual to see if you have to start by taking the bumper cover off or if you can just take the headlight out.
- If you have to take the bumper off, use a small flat screwdriver to take the cover off. Then, either use bolts to unbolt the bumper from the frame, or leave it as-is, based on whether you have to.
- Find the top bracket on the headlight, usually in the corner against the front of the vehicle or against the radiator housing. Unbolt it
- Find the clip or bolt on the other side and undo it.
- Pinch and remove the wiring harness clip. It’s a good time to inspect it for damage. Some headlights use a small screw tab attachment, so check before you pull the harness off.
- Find and undo the bottom brackets, either from inside the car or under the bumper. Some vehicles do not have bottom brackets.
- Check if there are small screws holding the housing in place on the outside of the car. You may have to use a small flat screwdriver to pry up the covers.
- Wriggle the assembly out of the vehicle. Headlights fit in tight so go slowly and carefully and don’t scratch your car.
- Replace the new assembly and reinstall everything in reverse order.
It’s always important to consult your repair manual, which will also tell you exactly where the brackets are to make them easier to find.
In most cases, if your headlights go out, you can replace a bulb, the switch, or wiring to solve the issue. If the housing is damaged or you’re having major issues, you might have to replace the full assembly. In this case, you can expect the total cost to range between $250 and $1500 for most vehicles. And, of course, you can do the work yourself to save the cost of labor.
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