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Subaru Headlight Out

One of my headlights has stopped working on my 1999 Subaru. Do I need to replace the entire headlight assembly or is it just a bulb? Approximately how much should it cost to fix? Thanks!
1999 Subaru Legacy sedan

Do You Have An Owner’s Manual ? It Should Walk You Through It. Don’t Touch The “Glass” Part Of The Bulb With Your Fingers. It Can Lead To Early Burn Out Of The New Bulb.


Check the owner’s manual. But, for a 1999 Subby, I don’t think you have HID, just run-of-the-mill 9007 bulbs. Just don’t touch the bulb glass with your bare hands when replacing them. The oils on your hand will shorten the bulb life. A pair of bulbs are $30. And, typically can be replaced without tools in a few minutes.

I don’t knowthe particulars for your car, but if you pop the hood and look from the inside at the headlights, you should be able to determine. Also, if you go to a retail auto parts store they can tell you. If you want to look for yourself, with the hood open look for a sort of long glass tube that looks like it can be removed from the inside of the headlight ass’y. If you see it, then it should prove relatively easy and inexpensive to replace. I had to do this on my early 90’s Corolla last year, and the bulb was $12 as I recall, and took about 5 minutes to replace. If you replace it yourself, make sure you get the right bulb for your car, and follow the instructions to the letter than come with the package. It’s critical not to touch the bulb with your hands. Wear latex gloves maybe.

Thanks for the quick and useful answers! Sounds easy.

Other than being damaged in an accident, why would the whole assembly need to be replaced? I think I had to get the other one done a few years ago to pass state inspection.

Which Side Is Out ?
High Beam Or Low Beam ?

You open the hood and replace the bulb from the back of the headlight assembly.

My information says that the passenger’s side requires removal of the air intake duct.

The driver’s side requires removal of the battery cover and tilting of the windshield washer tank filler neck.

Low beam bulbs require the removal of a little back cover over the bulb.

Look at the car and see if this information makes sense.

Disconnect the electrical connector first and then the bulb. Install the new bulb and then the connector.

If you’ve never done this it could be a little tricky. Some auto parts stores may give you a lesson or help with changing it.


The low beam is out for sure (don’t know if the high beam is). I’ll take a look at the thing tomorrow and let you know if I can’t figure it out. Thanks again.

You’re Welcome. Come On Back And Let Us Know.

The tricky part is probably a little flexible plastic tab that locks the wire connector to the bulb. The tab needs to be carefully lifted over a tiny lock (I sometimes use a baby screwdriver) while you gently pull the connector from the bulb, simultaneously. It pushes back into the new bulb without a problem.

Look at th base of the new bulb and you’ll see the tiny lock piece stinging out the side.


The trick to those locking connectors that CSA described is to push the connector IN and then push the little lever that unlocks the connector and pull it out. I had to break a few of these to figure out how not to.

NOTE: I don;t know if your headlights have these type of connectors, it’s just a general comment.

Subarus just have a three prong connector with a rubber boot over it. It just pulls out.
Oh, when you do replace it, put a little dab of dieletric grease in the connections to protect them (they sell it where you buy the headlight).
Not sure why it is so prevalent on Subarus but those connections get corroded easily. That causes them to have higher resistance and they eventually burn up. I’ve had to replace all connections on all our Subarus over time because of it.

Okay, well it took a couple days but I got it done. Didn’t need to remove the air intake duct, as my hands could squeeze around it. I don’t know what you meant by the “little back cover over the bulb” (common sense answer). The owner’s manual didn’t mention anything like that.

It took a bit of trying to get the electrical connector off but the hardest part was the metal spring clip. The manual didn’t show it well so I was trying to get the wrong end off. Parts store guy told me (sort of) it was the other end but I finally had to use needle nose pliers to get the piece off. Alas, the headlight works and I am relieved.

Thanks everyone for your help!