The lenses are badly scratched, so the entire assembly needs to be replaced. The mechanic wanted to charge me about $200 to fix them (I’m thinking boat payment). Is this something I can fairly easily tackle myself instead? The only guide I’ve been able to find is a video of a 1997 Camry; is the headlight assembly similar to a Corolla? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Headlight assemblies are usually pretty easy to replace. You can get new ones from one of several vendors on Amazon for less than a hundred bucks a pair, and they come with all new bulbs and wiring harnesses. If you are more comfortable with a shop doing this work (if nothing more so you don’t have to deal with it), with standard markup and labor, $200 is very fair. If they are just being repaired rather than replaced, I would look into getting new ones instead.
If you have to ask, “can I do this myself,” the answer is probably, “no.”
If you could open the hood and ascertain what needed to be done you wouldn’t be asking us. You’d just go ahead and do it.
But you asked.
So I’m going to suggest you pay “the” mechanic (it should be “my” mechanic) and be happy you don’t have to do it yourself.
If you think it’s a boat payment, replace them yourself.
Pick up the Haynes manual for the car. It will probably show you a step by step sequence of screws or clips or brackets or thingamajiggers to pull out. Easy. If instead, it shows that Toyota made the job stupid hard, then pay the mechanic.
Its true that a Haynes manual is a good way to go largely b/c it will only cost you about $20 and then you’ll probably use it again for the next thing.
I would be wary of going out to the web to buy aftermarket headlamp assemblies. They are usually fine for fit/installation but often not very good quality. I bought one once from an online supplier b/c it was cheap. The quality of the rear reflector was so poor that it didn’t actually create much by way of a light beam. It just sort of sent out some hopelessly dispersed light. I sent it back. I did end up paying a bit more to get one from a different online supplier which was better but still not as good as the OEM. So if you do this, worry about the quality.
This is one reason why I really hate those fancy designer headlights. Back in the old days (just after electric replaced kerosene lamps the standard US lamps were cheap (a couple of dollars) and could be replaced with just one screwdriver in about 10 minutes. You could get E-code (a better European light pattern), but not today. Crummy lights and high prices are the norm. Why did we ever let the government change their regulations.
I agree that the best first step is to pick up a manual. Review the process for chaning the assembly out and see if you feel it’s within your capabilities.
How difficult it is varies widely from car to car, and an individual’s comfort level varies widely from person to person. In the case of my car the front bumper skin first needs to be removed. I feel comfortable doing that, but others might not. It’s a personal choice.