How to Replace the Headlight Bulbs (HID & Halogen)
2004-2009 Toyota Prius
Here's my take on headlight bulb replacement. I have the HID bulbs but I'll point out the halogen differences as the job is nearly the same. If your Prius is still in warranty or even slightly out of warranty check into the HID headlight class action settlement, you may be able to get the replacement covered. For those who are out of warranty like me or have halogen bulbs read on. This is really a simple job (actually the first job I did on my Prius), it doesn't take long and you'll save a ton of money doing this job yourself.
Now I replaced my HID bulbs and not 5000 miles after installation the same one started doing the whole fade out thing where turning the lights on and off would bring it back on for a bit. I did some research and decided to give ballast (ECU) replacement a shot. That was ultimately the fix for me but you will probably want to try this first. It's also important to note that the factory repair manual says you need to remove the front bumper and headlight assembly to replace these bulbs (this is where all the outragous labor charges come into play) - not necessary as shown here and on many other sites, references below!
- Thin flat-head screwdriver
- HID bulbs: Maxlux D4R Bulbs 4300k is OEM color, I got the Maxlux 5000k ones for a bit brighter white that I like but they also have 6000k and 8000k which is more blue (a dropdown list will get you to the color you want). The Maxlux bulbs come as a pair so they are half the cost of a single OEM Philips D4R bulb. I've been running the Maxlux bulbs for 14,000+ miles over the last 15 months and they are still working perfectly (installed when I put in a replacement ballast). The first pair I tried came from ebay and they were definitely "cheap," the Maxlux ones are not.
- Halogen bulbs: 9003/HB2 halogen bulbs
- Nitrile gloves (so you don't accidentally get finger oils on the bulbs and ruin them)
2) Remove the fuse cover by pushing on the tab shown by the blue arrow and lifting up. This will give you the needed extra inch of workspace.
3) Remove the headlight socket cover. Here's where HID vs halogen is going to be different. I have the HID bulbs so I have this plastic piece. HID: rotate the socket cover counter-clockwise so the (broken) tab is close to the line on the housing. This was very difficult for me since one of my tabs had previously broken so I didn't have much leverage. It is also difficult due to a large O-ring that seals this housing up. Mine obviously hadn't been opened for a while and it took some force but I got it eventually. Halogen: Instead of this plastic piece you will have a rubber cover. You first have to unplug the wiring harness to the bulb and then rotate counter-clockwise and remove it.
4) HID only step: Remove the wiring connector by rotating counter-clockwise and it will come off. Halogen: The wiring connector was removed in step 3.
5) HID: Push on each of the wire clips by the blue arrows (see next photo for exact spot) and move it outward and the holder will now be released, make sure to hold to plastic base of the bulb. Halogen: Push the one wire holder on the right in, up and it will release the bulb, hold the plastic base of the bulb.
6) Use a finger to rotate the wire holder down (for HID) or over (for halogen), continue holding the plastic base of the bulb with your other fingers. Once the wire is out of the way pull the bulb straight back and out, try not to touch anything.
On the left is my cheap ebay bulb, on the right is the Phillips one that had "died." Note that the plastic base has several notches, the bulbs only go in one way. The halogen bulbs have 3 prongs on the bottom of them and look very different, you can see that from the product link above or the link in step 3 to Hobbit's site.
7) Install the new bulb. I found that it was easiest to actually look from this direction as I guided the bulb in from the engine bay. Align the notches are reattach the wire clip from step 5.
8) Passenger side. Use a thin flat-head screwdriver to pop up this plastic holder and remove it. You can then pull out the plastic tube below.
9) I actually unclipped the connector circled in red and lifted the windshield washer reservoir up and back a bit for some extra room, you may be able to bypass this step. You can then remove the headlight socket cover as in step 3.
10) Undo the wire holder and remove the bulb and replace it, same as steps 4-7.
11) Before putting things completely back together test the new bulbs after you've hooked all the wiring connections back up. I did all this without removing the battery and got no trouble codes or errors. Shown in this pic are 6000k ebay bulbs. They didn't last that long but I think my problem was ultimately a dying ballast. I will have a tutorial for that in the near future. If they light up just put everything back together reverse of removal. You just saved at least $100!
- Longstanding HID bulb replacement discussion on PriusChat.com. This is actually the first thing I found when researching the bulb fading out issue I was experiencing and I am thankful for all the info, that thread was my starting point for this tutorial. There are some good descriptions on there as well as dealer replacement costs.
- Not all HID bulbs are create equal on PriusChat.com. From someone who knows way more about HID bulbs than I do! However, I stand by the Maxlux bulbs and will buy them again, he recommends the OEM ones.
- Halogen headlight bulb replacement by Hobbit (towards the bottom of the page you can see the rubber cover. Note that he removes much more than is needed but he was doing other maitenance which is why. My tutorial is the quick method.
- How to change the HID headlights on Wikihow.com.
- How to change a Prius headlight bulb on Wikihow.com.
- Changing a HID bulb in less than 3 minutes video courtesy of Luscious Garage. Seriously, thank you Carolyn, I watched this video like 3 times and it helped me create this. You are awesome!
- Changing the headlight bulbs video. A bit jittery but it is a great supplement.
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