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How to Replace Headlight Bulbs on a Saab 9-3

Updated February 21, 2017

Headlights are required safety equipment for night driving, so it's not legal in most places to drive with one burnt out. The headlights on a Saab 9-3 are a closed one-piece lamp that protects the bulb from weather and other elements, yet that doesn't save a bulb from burning out. Headlight replacement is costly for these lamps, but Saab dealers, auto service shops and auto parts stores sell bulbs to fit a Saab for reasonable prices.

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Buy a replacement bulb. A 1999 Saab 9-3 takes a P 43t-38 with a 60/55 wattage rating. Check the owner's manual for bulb specifications for your model year 9-3. Bulb makers use their own codes for bulb sizes. You may need the assistance of an auto service representative or auto parts store clerk to find the correct bulb code for one of the available products. Parts dealers can access data bases to find parts using the model, make and year of the car. Have that information handy when shopping for a headlight bulb.

Turn the motor off and be sure the ignition key is off. This protects your hands from moving engine parts and protects the new bulb from short circuiting as you plug it in.

Raise the bonnet. Saab covers the rear access to the headlight assembly with a cap. Twist it counterclockwise and pull it off toward the rear of the car.

Release the holding clip behind the block at the rear of the headlamp bucket. Push down on the clip to release it and swing it down toward the rear.

Grab the socket from behind and gently pull it to the rear. Pull the bulb, or what's left of it, out through the back of the lamp bucket.

Unplug the old bulb from its socket. Hold the socket in one hand and carefully pull the base of the bulb away from the socket with the other. Take care to not cut your hands on the ruptured bulb or exposed filaments. Discard the worn bulb.

Install the new bulb. Put on clean work gloves, or have the clean cloth handy before opening the package. Do not let the new bulb contact your skin. The oils from your hands or fingers will cause the bulb to shatter when it comes on and heats up. Grab the bulb with a glove or a cloth and plug the three prongs at the base into the socket.

Reassemble the headlight casing. Put the socket back into the hole in back of the lamp- bulb first. Line up the three tabs to fit through the slots in the hole. Bring the clamp back up into its place and clip it secure. Put the cap over the back by lining up its three tabs with the slots on the opening. Push the cap in firmly and turn it slightly clockwise.

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Things You'll Need

  • Clean cotton work gloves or a clean cloth

About the Author

Jonra Springs began writing in 1989. He writes fiction for children and adults and draws on experiences in education, insurance, construction, aviation mechanics and entertainment to create content for various websites. Springs studied liberal arts and computer science at the College of Charleston and Trident Technical College.

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