How to Replace a Headlight on a Chrysler PT Cruiser

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Say the headlight just went out in your PT Cruiser. There's no bezel. You opened the hood to see if there was a way to move the headlight forward. You can't get your hands in behind it, even if you can see the wires going to the headlights. Then, you read the manual and it says something about taking the front tires off. To replace a headlight? While it will make the job a little easier for arm space, it will do little for the amount of room you're going to have for your hand. Be prepared for a few scratches and boo-boos, or let a certified mechanic do the job for you.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat-head screwdriver Floor jack Jack stand 1/2-inch drive breaking bar and 19mm, 1/2-inch drive socket Adjustable torque wrench set at 100 foot lbs.
  • Park the PT Cruiser on a flat, level, paved or concrete surface.

  • Open the hood to the PT Cruiser. If anything, it will allow daylight into the engine compartment and allow you to see a little better.

  • Break the lug nuts loose on the front tire of the same side as the burned-out headlight. Don't loosen them too much, and don't remove them. You can try to replace the headlight without removing the tire by turning it all the way inside, but you're most likely going to find that you'll need a little more arm room to remove the door panel in the wheel well.

  • Lift the Cruiser with the floor jack and place a jack stand under the rocker panel.

  • Remove the lug nuts and wheel.

  • Pry the tabs of the door panel in the front of the wheel well (directly behind the headlights), using a flat-head screwdriver. The panel tabs are hard rubber/plastic and more inclined to break during colder weather. The warmer it is, the more tenacious you can be about prying them out. Pry the outside one out first and work the screwdriver around the circumference of the panel to the inside tab.

  • Reach inside to remove the headlight. This is a good opportunity to get up and physically look at the headlights in the front of the Cruiser. The high beams are on the inside sockets; the low beams are on the outside sockets. Make sure when reaching in from behind that you're grabbing the right bulb for replacement. Turn the headlight 1/4 turn counter-clockwise and extract it from the headlight assembly. Even with the wheel removed for the Cruiser, you're going to have limited hand room through the door panel to the headlight. If you have large hands and arms, consider recruiting someone to help.

  • Unclip the headlight from the wire harness and discard it.

  • Insert the new headlight into the wire harness until the lock clips into place. Don't touch the glass light bulb of the new headlight. Only handle it from the plastic plug part.

  • Insert the new headlight into the headlight assembly and twist it 1/4 turn to the right until it locks into place. Test the headlight by turning the ignition key to the accessory position and turning on the headlights. Turn the key back to the "Off" position when you're done.

  • Reinstall the door panel. It's going to be as much of a pain to reinsert as it was coming off.

  • Replace the wheel and lug nuts. Tighten the lug nuts snugly and then lower the Cruiser to the ground. Re-torque the lug nuts in an alternate fashion, using the adjustable torque wrench and a 19mm socket.

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