If you have a flickering light in the car or a light goes out while driving, it's likely to be a problem that you can resolve. With some simple instructions, you can troubleshoot most of your car's lighting problems. Here is how to tackle any of your automotive lighting issues.

It's Likely a Fuse or a Bulb

Each of the lights in your car is connected to a fuse. The fuse prevents a shock or fire hazard should there be a short in the wiring or a power surge. If the fuse fails, then the light will go out. If the problem is not a fuse, then it's likely to be a burned out bulb. Both are easy for you to replace.

Your car has two types of lights:

  • those that come as a pair (e.g., headlights, taillights)
  • those that are single (e.g., glove box light, dome light)

To begin your troubleshooting efforts, there are some simple rules to guide you:

  • If both lights in a pair of lights are not working, it's likely a fuse.
  • If one light in a pair is not working, it's likely the bulb.
  • A single light can fail because of a fuse or bulb, but it's easiest to try a new fuse first.

Changing a Fuse

  1. Find the owner's manual for the car and the section that lists all of the fuses.
  2. Locate the fuse panel in the car. This is often in the glove box or on the side of the dashboard on the driver's side.
  3. Remove the cover of the fuse panel. Spare fuses may be located on the cover or in a separate section of the fuse panel.
  4. Find the fuse associated with the light that isn't working by referring to the chart in the manual. Most fuse panels use a numbering scheme to organize the fuses.
  5. Replace the fuse with a spare.
  6. Replace the fuse panel cover.
  7. Get a replacement for the spare fuse that you used at an auto parts shop as soon as you can so you'll have it should you need one again.

Changing Light Bulbs

Many of the light pairs are built into light assemblies that contain many lights. Examples are the headlight assembly and taillight assembly. To change a bulb, you'll need to find the right assembly that has the burned out bulb.

  1. Visit an auto parts store and have them help you find the right replacement bulb.
  2. Locate the light assembly that contains the burned out bulb.
  3. Access the bulb and connector from within the engine compartment, for the lights in the front, or from within the trunk, for lights at the rear.
  4. While pushing the connector in slightly, turn the connector counterclockwise.
  5. Pull out the connector and bulb.
  6. Remove the bulb as follows:
    • For a bulb with a flat base, pull it straight out of the connector.
    • For a bulb with a round base, push it in slightly while twisting the bulb counterclockwise.
  7. Replace the bulb by reversing these steps for the round or flat base.
  8. Replace the connector into the light assembly by pushing it in slightly while turning it clockwise until you feel it click into place.

Problems You May Encounter

You may need to take your car into an auto repair shop if you have any of the following problems.

  • The bulb is broken and can't be removed safely.
  • Corrosion prevents you from removing the old bulb.
  • You can't reach the bulb in the engine compartment or trunk.
  • You've changed the bulb and fuse and the light still doesn't work. This could be the result of a wiring problem, and the auto shop will need to track it down for you.

For more information, contact a local North York auto shop.

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