Changing Honda Civic Headlights

How to change Honda Civic headlights and bulbs!

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Changing both your Honda Civic headlights and your Honda Civic headlight bulbs is actually a very simple, easy process. Occasionally it can be a hassle, if your bulb housing is blocked by your power steering unit and the rubber gaskets are grimed on thoroughly, but generally it is a very simple endeavor. It normally takes me about 5 minutes to change a Honda Civic headlight bulb, with the help of needle-nose pliers or a pair of tweezers. Keeping functional headlights and bulbs on your Honda Civic (especially on a Honda Civic) will help keep you away from those nasty tickets for having a busted headlight, which will consequently add step points to your insurance.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Easy
TOOLS REQUIRED: Ratchet set and/or wrench set, tweezers or needle-nose pliers, new Honda Civic headlights or bulbs

We'll go over how to change the bulbs in your Honda Civic headlights first.


Step One:
Pop your hood and locate the plugs behind the Civic's headlights. Depending on the generation of your Honda Civic, it may have one or two bulb plugs for high and low beams. Sometimes this can be tedious due to the location of the plugs; on older generations, the windshield washer reservoir can be hindering your progress, or the power steering unit on EK Civic body styles. Squeeze the clips on the side of these plugs and pull it to remove from the Civic headlights assembly.

Step Two: Again, depending on the year of your Honda Civic, the headlights will have either a plastic or rubber gasket which needs to be removed before you can access the actual bulb. On older Civics, it is usually a plastic gasket which requires you to twist-off counter-clockwise. The rubber gaskets on the newer Honda Civic headlights can be pulled right off and pushed back into place fairly easily. Take these gaskets off.

Step Three: You should now be able to see two or three prongs where the plug was. This is the actual light bulb. In order to remove the bulb, there is a metal key that is clipped in behind the bulb, keeping it in the proper stance and location. This is where tweezers or needle-nose pliers come in handy. Remove those keys and extract the bulb carefully. Do not misplace this key, as it is a pain in the ass to find a replacement, and you'll be hard pressed to get your Honda Civic headlights to work properly. It is normal to feel a bit of resistance as you pry the old bulb away from the headlight housing, as there is a slight vacuum that helps keep the bulb in place and water/debris out when the process is finished.
If you are planning on removing your Honda Civic headlights, skip the next three steps and refer to them later after you have read and reviewed the process below on removing the headlight housing.
Step Four: Insert the new bulb where the old one was. DO NOT touch the glass part of the bulb; handle the bulb solely with the metal backing. Fingers and body parts are oily and when you turn the bulbs on after touching them, they can shatter (it has happened to me before). Make sure the prongs match the location of the previous bulb to ensure proper fitting.

Step Five: Connect the key to the hooks it came from. These hooks are on the Civics headlight housing if you didn't already notice that from step three. Depending on weather or not you can actually see what you're doing (sometimes there are objects in the way), you'll have to fiddle with these keys for a bit to get them to snap in. Usually it's just a simple snap in and push. Make sure the bulb is secured properly.

Step Six: Re-attach the plastic/rubber gasket onto the headlight housing and plug in the bulbs. Repeat these steps for the other headlight. Make sure your lights work properly before driving away. At a 20 foot distance, the bulb's line of illumination should be about 1.5 feet off the ground.
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Illustrated process of replacing a Honda Civic headlight bulb

Now it's time to learn how to change your Honda Civic headlights.

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Changing the actual Honda Civic headlights is a bit more time consuming than changing the bulbs themselves. It's still extremely easy to do, but be aware of raising frustrations when attempting to reach the two bolts on the side of the Civic headlights. They can be a pain.

Step One: Locate the four bolts holding the Honda Civic headlight in place. The exact locations vary depending on the year of the Civic, but they are generally in the same vicinity. There should be two bolts that mount directly onto top via the radiator support, and two side bolts. The outer side bolt can usually be accessed through the wheel well by poking around with a wrench or ratchet. The inner side bolt is a pain to reach in a lot of instances, and sometimes the removal of the front bumper is required. No worries though, since the wrench/ratchet size is the same for both the Honda Civic headlights and the front bumper. The picture on the left points to the locations of these bolts. Use a 14 mm ratchet or wrench and remove these 4 bolts. I usually start with the two tough ones first, the side bolts.

Step Two: Once the bolts are removed, carefully wiggle the headlight out of its resting position. Make sure you've disconnected the bulb plugs before you remove the headlights. Use care when handling the headlights; if you smack the housing too roughly on a surface, it can crack or de-seal causing future condensation to produce inside the headlight housing, which is another pain to have to deal with.

Step Three: Carefully install your new Honda Civic headlights where the old ones were. I recommend fastening one of the top bolts and leaving a bit of movement and then re-attaching the side bolts. This will ensure optimal alignment when you fit everything back together. Once the two side bolts are in, fasten and tighten both of the upper bolts. Repeat these steps for the other Honda Civic headlight.