Expensive light bulb change

On a recent trip to my mechanic for an oil change I heard a story of a man who had to have a light bulb change in one of his headlights. The dealer wanted $800 because the bumper had to be dropped to get at the bulb. My mechanic did it for half the price. But we are in the market for a new car and don’t want this to happen to us. How do we know how easy or hard it is to get at lightbulbs should they burn out. We want to avoid this horrible expense in a new car. Thanks

That is some story. The factory labor guide shows 6 minutes of labor to replace a headlight bulb and 42 minutes to replace the headlamp assembly, removing the front bumper cover takes about 10 minutes. Your owners manual show how to replace the halogen headlight bulbs but recommend taking the vehicle to a professional for HID bulb replacement.

This doesn’t seem like a vehicle problem, the next time you need a light bulb replaced or any other repair, shop around.

There has to be more to this story. What vehicle is this that had a $800.00 charge for a bulb ( I suspect it was for more than a bulb ) .
As for avoiding a problem such as this just look under the hood and ask how hard it is to replace a bulb.

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So when you look at cars while shopping, pop the hoods and see how accessible the headlight bulbs are. I do.

The story you’ve told sounds embellished, but I did have a pickup truck that officially required dropping the front bumper and removing the grill to change the headlight bulbs. I developed a work-around, but a dealer would have followed the official procedure. Probably.

Not mentioned is the type of headlamp and make of car. Some cars make a real job of changing the bulb or housing and some bulbs fall into the godawful expensive category.

Consider the HID bulbs on my LIncoln. New ones can’t be had. The only option is used ones on eBay and those often sell for 200-300 dollars.
Some years ago I heard the story of a guy who bought his daughter a Mark VIII for a school car. Not long after the right front lamp failed. The cost at the dealer who just happened to have one remaining was 2400 dollars. He was questioning whether or not to scrap the car because of a lamp.

One can’t fault the dealer because the dealer was probably getting stuck for well over a grand on that part.

The vehicle description was removed from the title; 2006 Toyota Sienna.

I think the title 2006 Sienna was for the OP’s vehicle. Not the one that required the 800.00 charge . I doubt if we will ever really know.

Non the less the tale of the $800 light bulb change was effective in selling a $400 bulb replacement. This may be a reason some people trust independents over dealers, $400 sounds like a bargain for such a repair however removing bumper covers if really necessary is somewhat a routine at the dealer, no reason to charge for hours of labor.

Likewise, I found a low mileage MARK VIII LSC for sale, but stumbled across the headlight issue I did not make the purchase.

There have been several discussions on this board about the need to remove the grille and front bumper (and/or bumper cover) to replace headlight bulbs, or bulb replacement costs in the $600 to $800 range.

At that point you’re better off converting the headlights over to halogen bulbs.

Unfortunately FoDaddy, bulbs are the least of the problems when it comes to the Mark VIII headlamps. The biggest issue is the housing which was apparently made of the cheapest, most worthless plastic in the history of automotive manufacturing. Thanks Sylvania…

The housings burn from bulb heat leading to the adjuster mounts cracking off and the reflective surface burning orange, then black, and then cracks. This leads to what could be called “Candlelight Glow” from the lamps and the inability to see more than 2 car lengths at night. The lamps will totally wash out at night under the glow from one street lamp.

No one on the planet manufactures a replacement housing and one can easily see on the ones listed on eBay that they’re also burned to some degree. I’m very close to the point where I will only be able to drive the Mark during daylight hours. Pathetic.

The website www.repairpal.com might be helpful for the OP. For example it says the cost to replace a headlight on a 2015 Lexus RX450h is about $260, 64% of that is the part itself. A bit less for the same job on a Mercedes SLK 350, but appx the same breakdown parts/labor. About $100 for a 2015 Corolla, 50/50 parts labor breakdown. A 2016 Sienna, about $245. It doesn’t list the price for a 1992 Corolla – my car – but I’ve done it, and I know the 9004 bulb it uses costs about $2, and takes no more than 5 minutes to replace. I invest the savings in pizza :slight_smile:

There were some Lexus models a few years ago that had very expensive to replace headlamps as I recall, in the $1000+ range, and they got a lot of notice here at the time. The manufacturer’s may have decided to change their designs so the job isn’t as expensive even on those high end cars. In my surfing at repair pal, I couldn’t find a car that a headlight replacement would cost more than $400, and that was a 2015 Porsche 911.

Thinking maybe pizza for dinner tonight …

George, are those costs for headlights, which could be the housing, or bulbs?

You would replace a headlamp if the vehicle were in a crash, most of the repairs involve replacing the headlight bulb, no where near $1000.

“headlight” replacement I believe is the term they used. If you search for “headlamp” ass’y, that’s the whole thing. That part costs $45 on my 92 Corolla. $2 for the bulb, $45 for the ass’y. On my truck the bulb and the headlamp assy’s is the same thing. cost: $5

I checked, it’s listed as ‘headlight bulb’, so those $$ are right.

The sad thing? Most are no better, vision wise, than plain halogen bulbs.

HID bulbs are much brighter than halogen bulbs and last twice as long, I rarely have to replace them before 100,000 miles. Customers aren’t going to pay $60,000 for vehicles that have adequate or acceptable halogen headlights like those in an old Corolla.

Best case, yes, but Consumer Reports tested a number of them, found no major difference.

Lexus LS600 headlight bulb replacement: $314 to $535. I wonder why the big variation?

I could take my gf to Alice Water’s 5 star restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley with the savings my 92 Corolla yields on headlight bulb replacements compared to the LS600. Of course we’d pull up to the front door in a 92 Corolla … lol …