How to Replace Headlight Bulbs on a Subaru

Updated February 21, 2017

Replacing your headlight bulbs is something many car owners can go years without doing, but when the situation arises on a long nighttime drive, it is not something that can be put off for later. With a little preparation, any Subaru owner can easily change his own headlight bulbs and be back on the road in a few minutes.

Purchase a pair of the correct replacement headlight bulbs for your Subaru's make and model. Check your owner's manual if you are unsure which type you need. If you have further trouble, you can visit your local auto-parts store, and they can look up your car in their system. Keep the replacement bulbs in your glove compartment in case of an emergency.

Open your owner's manual to the section that deals with headlight replacement, and review to be sure you understand your vehicle's configuration. Open the bonnet and be sure you have adequate lighting on the engine components.

Unclip the air intake fasteners on the driver's side just behind the headlight. You may need to use a screwdriver. Remove the air intake and set it aside or slide it over if possible. If working on the passenger side headlamp, remove or move the washer tank if necessary, depending on your model.

Rotate the bulb cover counterclockwise and detach it from the headlight assembly. Remove the lighting unit for the particular bulb that must be replaced. Twist the old bulb out of its socket and replace it with the new bulb.

Test the new headlight to make sure it works before replacing any parts removed previously. Replace all engine parts to their original positions and close the bonnet.


Many packages recommend changing both bulbs (right and left) if one goes out, but car experts disregard that advice, as your other headlight bulb could last for many more years.


Always do under-the-hood maintenance with the engine off and the key removed to avoid an electrical shock.

Things You'll Need

  • Replacement headlight bulbs
  • Screwdriver
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About the Author

Nat Fondell has been writing professionally since 2006. A former editor of the "North Park University Press," his work has appeared at scientific conferences and online, covering health, business and home repair. Fondell holds dual Bachelors of Arts degrees in journalism and history from North Park University and received pre-medical certification at Dominican University.