Most car lighting issues are due to a burned out light bulb or a bad fuse. If your car's problem is one of those two failures, you likely can fix it yourself. Here are the steps to troubleshoot an auto light problem and repair it quickly.
Fuses and Bulbs Work Together to Light the Way
Each light in your car is connected to a fuse, The fuse protects the car and battery from being damaged should there be a short in the wiring. If a pair of lights work together, such as the headlights and taillights, one fuse controls both lights. To determine if the light problem is a fuse or a bulb, use these simple rules:
- If only one of a pair of lights is not working, it's likely a burned out bulb.
- If both lights in a pair of lights are not working, it's likely a burned out fuse.
- If a light is out in single light systems, such as the dome light or trunk light, replace the fuse first, as it is the easiest repair.
Replacing a Bad Fuse
- Locate the section in the car's owner's manual which lists what fuses control which lights.
- Locate the fuse panel for the car. It is often in the glove compartment or on the driver's side of the dashboard.
- Remove the cover from the fuse panel.
- Find the fuse that corresponds in the manual to the light which is not working.
- Pull the fuse straight out of the panel to remove it.
- Find the spare fuse, which is normally attached to the cover or in a separate section of the fuse panel.
- Push the new fuse into the slot from which the bad fuse was removed.
- Replace the cover over the fuse panel.
- As soon as you can, buy a replacement fuse from the auto parts store so you'll have a spare should you need it in the future.
Replacing a Bad Bulb
The first step is to have the auto repair shop find the right replacement bulb. Once you have it home, follow these steps to change most of the bulbs in a pair of bulbs (e.g., headlight, brake light):
- Locate the bulb to be changed either at the front of the engine compartment or at the back of the trunk.
- Push the connector holding the bulb in slightly as you turn it counterclockwise.
- Pull the connector and bulb out of the assembly.
- If the bulb has a flat base, pull the bulb straight out of the connector.
- If the bulb has a round base, push it in slightly as you turn it counterclockwise.
- To insert the new bulb, push it straight into the connector if it has a flat base.
- If the bulb has a round base, push it in as you turn it clockwise until you feel it click into place.
- Replace the connector and bulb into the assembly, push it in slightly and turn it clockwise until you feel it click into place.
If you have any of the following problems, you'll need to go to an car repair shop and have the mechanics repair the light for you.
- The bulb or connector is corroded and won't come out.
- The wires on the back of the connector are frayed or broken.
- You've changed the fuses and bulbs in a pair of lights and they still don't work. This could be due to a bad wiring harness which directs all of the wires through the car. The auto shop will have to analyze the wiring harness and may have to replace it entirely.