Monday, August 18, 2008

Ford Focus Headlamp bulb change

Lots of people have had problems with this. Thanks to one generous contributor (found amongst this lot), I managed to Do It Myself this weekend.

This is my attempt at a photographic Haynes-style how to.


  • You do not need to take the front of the car off.
  • You do not need to take the battery out.
  • You do not need to take the wheel arch covers off.
  • You do not need to pay any mechanic to do it for you.
  • However, you do not want to be doing this on a hard shoulder in the rain with a snotty policeperson looking over your shoulder.
What do you need?
  • This how-to.
  • A small mirror (a make-up mirror is a good idea, but only if the missus doesn't mind getting it back covered in grease).
  • A 10mm spanner (wrench).
  • A flat-headed screwdriver (just in case)
  • The new bulb
  • Patience (allow an hour for both bulbs)
  • Absence of rain helps.
This worked for me on my 2003 Ford Focus Diesel (Mk1, find Mk2 instructions here). It may not work for you.
I have a left-hand drive car - so the fiddly side (where the battery is) is on the left.

  • Handling little fiddly things (bulbs, screws, tools) over a complicated engine with lots of deep dark holes is fraught with danger. The first time I tried this, I put the retaining screws in a 'safe' place, then promptly knocked one down with my head while trying to get the bulb out. That took me an extra hour - and immense stress - alternately squinting down into the bottom of the engine, and inserting the full length of my arm and fiddling around with my fingers to get it out. Short of turning the car upside down and shaking it, there's not much anyone can do for you if you lose something (and Murphy's law prevents it falling out the bottom). Moral: don't let anything (bulbs, screws) slip out of your hands, don't leave any tools lying on a handy bit of engine. Oh, and don't drop that fiddly little retaining spring either, because not only could it screw your engine up, but you will also probably have to buy a whole new headlight...
  • You will be taking the battery cover off. I hope you have seen enough films to know that placing a long metal tool (screwdriver, spanner) across the two terminals is NOT a good idea.
  • Don't touch the new bulb with your greasy fingers (but you knew that already). Oh, it's the see-through end you mustn't touch...
That said...

First step - make yourself some room
Remove the two self-tapping screws on top of the headlight unit (below). This will not be enough to remove the whole unit (there's another screw underneath), but it will give you a bit more finger space. (Put them there screws in a safe place!)

If you're on the battery side, you'll want to unclip the battery cover, and then wiggle it off (hint: there's a lug on the opposite side to the release clip).

Second step - get a look
Push down the clip that holds on the 'weather cover' (photo) - you can let it go as it won't fall in the engine.

The weather cover hinges up from the bottom - once you've opened it as far as it can go, you should be able to wiggle the cover out of the two lugholes that make it hinge. (You've got to peer down between the headlight unit and the metal strap - the following photo doesn't help much.) You can give it some welly.

Now you want to use that little mirror (don't drop that either!) to have a look what's going on. On the non-battery side, you may be able to just about see what's happening without the mirror. At this point, though it's a bit late, it may be a good idea to turn on your lights and just check exactly which of those bulbs you're supposed to be replacing.

You'll probably need to click on the photo to get a better look - you can just make out the retaining spring which is holding in the bulb. On one side of the car you have to push it up, on the other side down, to unclip it. Working out which one is which when looking in a mirror is not easy.

Third step - get the old bulb out
If you can wiggle the connector block off with the bulb in situ, things will be easier. I couldn't, so there is more detail in this section about how to extracate the 'bits'.

To unclip the retaining spring, I found the easiest way was to stand on the side of the car, facing the same way as the car, and use my thumb to do the unclipping.

On the non-battery side, I found that I could wiggle the bulb out of its hole, and then pull the connector through the retaining spring. At this point I could use my flat-headed screwdriver to gently (with the emphasis on gently) prise the two apart. Note that the bulb has a little black ring on the base - don't confuse that with the black connector.
Having said that, there's more chance of you knackering the bulb than the connector, so if the bulb is dead anyway, it doesn't matter.
Oh, and DON'T drop the bulb down into the engine...

To get the bulb out on the battery side, I had to resort to desperate measures - which means taking out the retaining spring. This is not too difficult, it's two ends are splayed out and slot into little holes to make a hinge. You just have to squeeze the ends together to get them out. Just don't drop the spring...

With the spring out, you can then do the prizing apart thing.

Here's what the retaining spring looks like

Fourth step - Put the new bulb in
If you had to take the spring out in the previous step, you're now going to have to put it back in. This shouldn't be too difficult, but be careful not to put the ends 'down' the hole as opposed to 'through' it (The left arrow in the photo below shows the problem - compare with the other end of the spring above it).

Did I say not to drop it?

Here's a view out through the hole where the bulb isn't.

If you are a smarty pants, you will have checked the orientation of the bulb when taking it out.
If not, check out the following photo (observant observers will observe that I did not follow my own advice about tools...).

An inspired tip from the forum I quoted earlier - practice clipping the bulb in using your naff bulb. That way if you get your greasy finger marks on it, it won't matter.
1. Put the bulb in the right way up - look through from the outside to check that it is seated correctly.
2. Swing the spring round and clip it in (using the thumb method described previously)
3. Plug the connector block in.

Fifth step - the reverse
As they say, putting it back together is the reverse of taking it apart. But just to be sure you don't forget anything.
Give that weather cover some welly and get those lugs back into their holes. Don't take no for an answer - you got it out, so it must go back in, right?
You'll know when it's fitted correctly, because you won't have to force it to close.
Pull the retaining clip back up.
Push the battery cover into the lughole, and push down till it clips on the other side.
Put the headlamp unit retaining self-tapping screws back in. (Tip: self-tapping means "don't screw them too tight"). Don't drop them.

At this point (or even earlier), you may want to check they actually work.

Hope that helps.


Anonymous Andrew in Ireland said...

You really saved my bacon on a cold October night my friend!
Truly the best walkthrough I've seen on the web for this odious task.
All the very best to you and yours.

31 October, 2008 00:32  
Blogger Benjol said...

Thanks for leaving a comment, my web logs tell me that lots of people are visiting the page, but you are the first to take the time to say so!

31 October, 2008 23:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey benjol - I spent 30 mins trying to get the retainer clip back in before I saw your blog, I'm gonna try tonight - great detail of the walkthrough.

13 November, 2008 19:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there - did it last night - two mins - better than the original 30! - Thanks

14 November, 2008 12:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here goes, need to do both sides, and had got the buld out on the driverr side and forgot which way was up.... this will help.

11 December, 2008 12:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

driver side done, looked at the passenger side, and walked away - too difficult

11 December, 2008 13:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Managed to do the passenger side with the battery cover in the way and with a broken finger on my left hand!
Did have to get a bit help putting the weather cover back on though.
Couldn't have done it without you. You are indeed a prince amongst men!!

14 December, 2008 19:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the info my friend! - I have a 2004 1.8TDCI (UK) car... the only thing that I found, was that (for me) it was by far easier for me to remove the Pas side headlight completely… I had to remove the grille and the engine cover (huge plastic one) to gain access to the last 10mm bolt that secured the headlight. Once you have seen what you are dealing with (by taking the one side of completely) I found the other (battery side) by far easier! – Why did Ford make those connectors and clips SO hard to access?! – GITS. Still, be careful as Benjol says, collect and keep safe your bolts, clips and screws...maybe use the other-halfs make-up bag (the same one that you got the mirror out of!!) ;oP

23 December, 2008 10:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent instructions. I have done it before but even so they were invaluable. I found I could change the bulb on the passenger side (2003 Focus) without removing the spring entirely. Hardest bit is getting the spring to disengage (upwards on my car) from its lug.

03 January, 2009 14:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just did mine on a 2003 American Focus. The key was using a mirror and flashlight. Once I was able to see in there, I was able to do it fairly easily without removing the headlight assembly or anything (no bolts removed at all).

06 January, 2009 15:49  
Blogger Zzubnik said...

I can't thank you enough for your blog. God bless you sir, and I wish you +1000 karma points.

07 January, 2009 16:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an excellent step by step guide........Hoorah I did it all by myself using this guide and guess what?? I am a WOMAN. Thanks again

17 January, 2009 15:21  
Anonymous Sebastian (Romania) said...

Tank you very much Benjol. Very detailed and clear.
Oance again thank's.

17 January, 2009 15:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like a complete Idiot I dropped the retaining clip ans cant get it back, is there anyway of getting a new one without buying a complete new headlights unit?

21 January, 2009 18:27  
Anonymous Omar said...

Thanks for this. I want to change my bulb to Xenon bulbs this weekend.

23 January, 2009 17:46  
Blogger Benjol said...

Well, bad luck for me, my wife noticed yesterday that the battery-side bulb has gone again. Despite me following recommended practice for the first time ever, and replacing both bulbs.

I actually came back here to re-read my own advice.

Many thanks to all the generous commenters here. Commiserations to anonymous who dropped the retaining spring, I could say I told you so, but that would be uncharitable...

23 January, 2009 22:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Thank you- I couldn't have done it without you. I had been working on it for 45 minutes and getting mor frustrated when I decided to google- you post came up and saved the day. I changed the bulb in less than 5 minutes.
Fred from Wisconsin

23 January, 2009 23:28  
Blogger BlubberBoy said...

You truly are the son of God. Following your instructions this took me just over half an hour, and most of that was spent trying to ge the wire clip back in...with cold the snow. Thank you.

02 February, 2009 10:49  
Anonymous Ian in Felixstowe (UK) said...

Had my Passenger side dipped beam bulb go on Sunday (UK model so that is battery side) on my 2003 1.8 Zetec. I had heard horror stories about changing the bulb on that side that involved removing the battery and/or the headlight unit. Being only mildly good with cars (oil, tyre pressure and some bulb changes are my limit) I didn't fancy this much. After a google search I came across your blog.
I have to say you are a life saver!! This took me 15 mins tops to do each side and the only tricky bits were the retaining clips (neither of which even needed removing for me!). Something that Halfords have refused to do for people, I did in 15 mins! I feel great and whats more, I think I could do that at the side of the road if need be. Thank you Ben, this guide has made it simple!

03 February, 2009 10:20  
Blogger rtcunliffe said...

this guide really helped me change my focus (UK 54 plate) headlamp bulb - it took me 1 hour 20 minutes though and involved a lot of patience. Now i've done it once though, i'm sure doing it next time won't be as bad.

cheers again!

08 February, 2009 15:55  
Anonymous Roki said...

This guide is spot on - can't thank you enough :)

I unclipped the front grill at the top on my 2002 1.8 Ghia which helped shimmy the light out a good inch and a half to get the weather cover off. After that it was plain sailing.

Upgraded all 4 lights in an hour. Full beam were a similar story with a wire clip but slightly easier to get at. Drivers side is a doddle!

14 February, 2009 14:54  
Anonymous Daniel in Bracknell (UK) said...

I've just followed these instructions to change the passenger-side dipped-beam bulb on my 2004 Ford Focus Flight 1.6 (UK model, so bulb is on battery side) and I have to say they are perfect! Everything in the guide was exactly as described and it took me just 20 minutes to remove and refit the bulb. The only difficulty I've found is replacing the weather cover - getting those lugs back in is a real challenge!

The colour photos in this guide were a real help and the tip about the mirror was inspired - better than any Haynes manual!

Many thanks, Benjol, for such a useful and accurate guide - you saved me having to pay to get it done, and I learnt something too!

15 February, 2009 00:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I was cleaning the snow off my car this morning, I noticed one of my headlights was out. I will tackle this job over the weekend with the help of your tutorial. Thanks for your efforts.

20 February, 2009 14:30  
Blogger [d3m0n] said...

Great guide. Between this and the overrated Haynes manual, I finally figured out how to replace the bulb.

Two tough points for me - removing weather cover, and removing wire block from back of bulb. In both cases the solution was to JUST PULL IT HARDER DAMMIT!

Anyway 1.5hrs later it was over.

Thank you for taking the trouble to create this.

25 February, 2009 00:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried for 40 minutes to get that damn retaining spring off! Thanks for the tips, I will try again tomorrow!

18 March, 2009 02:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just did the battery side on a 2006 SES, and it was a lot easier than what I saw here (15 min, no tools needed). Ford probably did a redesign since 2003.

24 March, 2009 15:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the walkthrough!
I was dreading doing this job especially after reading horror stories and extreme instructions on other forums..

With these instructions I was done in 20 mins and thats cos I even did the sidelights!

You sir are a star!

28 May, 2009 18:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You!
Instructions were perfect, couldn't have done it without you.
I really appreciate this thing called the internet and people like you who take time to contribute.

Eddie, Chicago Illinois

07 June, 2009 22:11  
Anonymous MysteeDawn said...

My spring looks different. it doesnt look hinged, it looks like a hex screw.. I think im going nuts.. lol. the wire harness is stuck below the spring, too, which isnt helping.. my focus is a 2000.. american. im bleeding and crying :-(

13 June, 2009 01:50  
Anonymous MysteeDawn said...

OMG... I LOVE YOU... i did it!! 5 min!! lovelovelove you!!!! <3<3<3

13 June, 2009 02:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanx for your info i replaced high beam an dipped beam an side lights with the new 50% brighter bulbs easy when you know how.
your instuctions were so easy to follow. thx from Roy in essex

23 July, 2009 02:21  
Blogger Ray said...

Best explanation and Pictorial on the Internet. Well Done!

01 August, 2009 13:49  
Anonymous richard blaine said...

Good show. Really appreciate the help!

05 August, 2009 15:03  
Blogger firestorm888 said...

Benjol - thanks SO MUCH, my friend. I've got the 2003 Focus SVT - your directions were CRUCIAL in having this go swiftly and easily, so thanks for the work in detailing them!

My workflow went like this to change the battery side low beam bulb: take off the light frame, the battery cover, the battery strap, unhook the battery terms, remove battery, remove bolted-on battery base, remove light assembly weather cover, removed light electronic backing, remove bulb, look at bulb, look at replacement bulb, RETURN TO #$%$^&* PARTS STORE - THE WEASEL THERE SOLD ME THE HI-BEAM BULB.

Har! Thanks again for the details - smoothly so far.

Best, Marko

23 August, 2009 20:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Day to you, at BBBB!
UnFreakin' Believable. And only for a headlamp. You are a good man Ben, Thank You

06 September, 2009 23:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

Nigel, Ireland

17 September, 2009 21:15  
Anonymous Mick Ambler said...

Hi ben. this is really A good guide.. 10 mins max. cheers. Mick SAVED £40.

Mick..Eest Sutton UK

08 October, 2009 18:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing an excellent guide. I like the photos and tips (especially about using a mirror). It saved me making a mess of the job.

09 October, 2009 15:50  
Anonymous Alastair said...

Hi Ben, thanks so much for this, you gave me the inspiration to do the same for the Mk2 Focus, I hope you don't mind.
Please take a look here:

I have to admit, I had a much easier time on the Mk2 than you did on the Mk1!

17 October, 2009 20:54  
Blogger Jarlath said...

Thanks for the excellent tips. I am an engineer but confront with this headlight on a dark evening is a nightmare. Not sure what fors were thinking of - should be easy. I am used to just unscrewing the bulb. As for the spring - it is really tough to see. Once you know what you are looking for - its easy. anyway nice photos I had enough problems just getting my hand in there.

01 November, 2009 19:14  
Anonymous Karl, Blyth, Northumberland said...

Much appreciated. The photo's made the difference. I'd tried to change it for an hour, then googled it and found your help page. 10 minutes later, passenger side bulb changed! Best tip you gave - a small mirror to locate the clip housing. Many, many thanks.

05 November, 2009 10:58  
Anonymous Outlet said...

Hello all! There's a much simpler way to do this: after taking out the weather cover, unplug the power connector from the bulb first - this way it will be very simple to unclip the retaining spring and then take out the light bulb. I managed to change that bulb in less than 2 minutes.

06 November, 2009 13:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Blog, ended up doing it working blind with a mirror, couldn't have worked out how to get the clip back without your fotos. Cheers

08 November, 2009 15:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep - still works OK

But much easier if you take the whole headlight assembly out - there is a third screw underneath but it's pretty obvious looking upwards from under car (even without ramps etc.) You also have to loosen one side of the grill - again pretty easy. Once the headlamp assembly is out you can see what is going on without the mirror/ working upside down mallarky.

Whoever signed off this bit of "design" at Fords should be condemned to perform this task at their local dealership for a couple of years! Pointlessly complicated and time consuming.

Top Marks to Ben for writing it all up.


29 November, 2009 13:45  
Anonymous Don Day said...

Thanks from Canada Ben.
You did a great job !

02 December, 2009 03:42  
Blogger Dad said...

Excellent very helpful,It's what the internet is all about.

04 December, 2009 22:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adding my thanks! I did this once before the hard way, learnt through trial and error what you've put together here and then forgot which way round bulbs went! This time I did nearly all of it (both bulbs) in 15 mins. It took me another 15 trying to get battery side weather cover back on. What a PITA!

06 December, 2009 16:19  
Anonymous Tony Milburn (UK) said...

Fantastic instructions and photos.

Just finished doing the side with the battery - passenger side in the UK, left hand side as you sit in the car. 20 minutes, taking my time. Key points for me :-
Only do it when you have time and light. Take off the battery cover, no need for anything else and I have huge hands. The mirror is essential. Practice the spring clip with the bulb out as well as with the old one in. One side you push in and up to open(battery side) the other side (according to other blogs)it's in and down but it's easy to check with the mirror. If you have strong, shortish finger nails you can develop a technique within 3 or 4 goes. Don't let the mirror and/or flashlight fall down in the engine - I had to use long kitchen tongs to get the mirror back!

18 December, 2009 14:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the photos. After fiddling cluelessly for 20-30 minutes on my GF's 1999 Focus without success I gave up. I searched Google and found this blog and had two new high performance bulbs fitted in under ten minutes. The photos of the spring clip made all the difference. Once I knew how to manipulate that the rest was easy. No need for tools and no need to remove the headlamps or the battery cover.

25 December, 2009 15:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the excellent photo & advice, job was simple after reading this! I would only add that once the long metal spring clip that holds the square plastic cover in place has been pushed downwards, the plastic cover should be rotated as far as possible (until it hits the battery tray)and then pushed downwards to disengage the two clips at the top.

31 December, 2009 13:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New Years day, freezing cold, after a read of this guide I did it in about 20 mins. No mirrors but I did need to remove rthe battery and it's cover.

Thanks again


01 January, 2010 15:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You only need two tools - The Internet to read this guide and a Mirror. My 2001 Focus had a different shaped spring retainer - it needed a pull towards the front of the car to release it then it pivoted down. Without the mirror I would not have been able to figure how to release the clip. Benjo - Many thanks for the very well presented guide. I changed the bulb in less than 5 minutes after reading this, compared to 30+ minutes of rummaging around 'blind'.

09 January, 2010 16:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben, you are a hero! I had a third headlight bulb go in less than a year. When the first one went, I was put off doing it myself by reading online and finding how awkward it was. Your blog shows perfectly how simply it can be done. Did it today myself in less than 20 mins and saved myself another UK£40 at the garage!

Thanks again!

09 January, 2010 23:51  
Anonymous Euan said...

Many many thanks - just done it during my lunch break!

11 January, 2010 14:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorted, took bout 15 mins but it's definately easier if you remove the battery on the pasengers side

07 February, 2010 12:40  
Blogger Steve said...

Brilliant. I had the battery side bulb in my 2004 UK Focus blow last year and gave up and went to the local garage where the guy loosened the grille, undid the headlamp bolts etc and replaced it for me (in the dark) and charged me 20 euros (I now live in Ireland) including the bulb - pretty good value!! Now bulb has gone again - and thanks to your blog I've just done it myself - took 30 minutes. Hardest parts were undoing the spring clip (did it without removing the clip), and putting the weather cover back on - need to use brute force and mirror. Thank you VERY much (although doubt I would tackle it at the side of the road in the dark)

14 February, 2010 15:19  
Anonymous Rob near Antwerp said...

These are great, reassuring instructions. I am almost looking forward to a practise run-through at the weekend ! (Found in response to a call from my daughter; fortunately she charmed the supermarket garage man to do it for her - for 6 Euro ...)

17 February, 2010 18:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! Pictures help!
I'll be using it tomorrow.

24 February, 2010 03:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

awesome guide many thanks

18 March, 2010 12:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read your "instructions", I surely hope you didn't have to take a course of some sort to parlay all of that dribble. "GET TO THE POINT!" Did you have to actually go to school to learn that trivial shit. You couldn't have been born that stupid,,you must have been taught!!!

19 March, 2010 03:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The person who posted all that rude shit should get his ass kicked. This fellow is just being flavorful in his description and aiming an attempt at humor at the reader via clever metaphors. So what? Insult him for taking his time and make a nifty guide?

Thanks by the way. I appreciated the detailed, clear, and close up pictures that made all the difference when I had to change this damn thing. Whatever happened to slipping in a bolt form the front? Anyhow...

Michael Patrick
Yuba City, California
Rock musician

28 April, 2010 05:38  
Anonymous Tim said...

Many thanks for this helpful information.

I didn't really check how to take anything apart, and found I had a bit of a battle to remove the bulb (still in its holder) from the retaining metal clip. In the struggle, I pulled off the clip - and without paying much attention put it back on - it turns out the wrong way around, but I didn't relise until much later...

I then spent a long time trying without success to put the bulb in whilst connected to the connector wires. As the clip was the wrong way around, even when after much fiddling I did put it in place it did not hold the bulb firmly.

Thankfully I came across this webpage, which showed the correct way for the clip - the bent points must be towards the front of the car, so they hold the bulb. Also - as you say - you must put the bulb in, then do the clip, then connect the wires. Don't connect the bulb first.

12 June, 2010 22:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic guide Benjol but I could have done with this 2 hours ago!!

Push down the clip that holds on the 'weather cover' - you can let it go as it won't fall in the engine.

--> oh yes it can!

Suggestions as to how to get the bugger out on a postcard to 'frustrated Hamburg'.


20 July, 2010 22:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is runtime errors on the mk2 intructions page. Don't let this blog die. :\

19 August, 2010 17:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also experienced problems with the MK2 page being unavailable(

Happily, I emailed the site admin address & Alastair responded within 5 mins to say the site is back up :-). Woo-hoo, many thanks!! Is anyone able to make a back-up / cached copy just in case??

29 September, 2010 11:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read other how-to's on replacing the headlight but still struggled with the retaining ring, read yours and had it changed in 30 seconds. The picture gave me a great visual on how it was all hooked together.

Thanks a ton! Shows even girls can do it!
~NJ in Wisconsin~

03 November, 2010 21:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for this post. It was very helpful.

04 November, 2010 12:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ben,
Thank you so much. Just completed the job in less than 10 mins. Don't know if it has been mentioned here or not but using your guidance, I firstly fitted the spring clip, (hinge it from the side opposite so that you need to push down then release to lock in place)then I fitted the bulb without the connection and then lastly, I fitted the connection. Simple process with a mirror as you suggested and boy do Ford need a good kicking. (i suppose thats how they screw us with labour charges when they have to fit the bulbs)
Best regards
Tim Butler

29 November, 2010 21:28  
Anonymous John said...

You are a hero. It has just taken me a very long time to replace my battery side light, but without this guide I would have been utterly stuffed - my Haynes manual was basically useless.

What nutter came up with the design of those light?


29 November, 2010 23:25  
Blogger donna said...

I`m a girl so I hope that you`ll excuse my ignorance. How do you unscrew self-tapping screws? There is no `slot`for a screw driver. I`ve google`d it but cannot find the answer. Thanks for your help. Donna from Vancouver

05 December, 2010 19:09  
Blogger donna said...

It`s okay - I figured it out! I`ve never heard of a spanner. Apparently it`s what we call a wrench. Dah! I can handle it from here on. Donna from Vancouver

05 December, 2010 19:24  
Blogger Benjol said...

@Donna, glad to have helped!

Maybe I should add wrench to the glossary :)

05 December, 2010 19:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great guide and completed two replacement lamps in about 40 mins.
Invaluable photos here,the mirror is essential !!

09 December, 2010 22:52  
Anonymous Jim in North Carolina said...

Thanks, Ben! That mirror trick saved me a ton of time!!!!

17 December, 2010 18:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, took 20 mins. Actually found it easier than the drivers side full beam! My mother in law had previously owned the car and taken it to the dealership for bulb changes. Fortunately the nice guy there seems to have snapped the lugs off the weather cover making it much easier to remove! Just goes to show - you could spend a fortune only to have someone who is less competent than you do the job!

04 January, 2011 17:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the step by step - not only did it save me the money some robbing mechanic would have charged me it also saved the lousy car from a Basil Fawlty type thrashing. It did take me a couple of hours (over two days, had to give up on day one due to bad light and skinned knuckles). An extra tip for anyone else unfortunate enough to have to undertake this - don't put the old bulb in one pocket and then absent mindedly put the new one in the other, you've got enough to be worrying about without bulb confusion into the bargain...

30 January, 2011 15:28  
Anonymous Roger - France said...

Hi Benjol
And another big THANK-YOU. The mirror trick was really a life saver. You saved my sanity.

14 February, 2011 18:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You so much!
Your instructions are great.
The picture of the clip really helped.

20 February, 2011 03:39  
Anonymous wes said...

Just followed these for my 03 focus (state side of the pond). A cd worked well for a mirror.


24 February, 2011 03:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks saved me. The picture of the clip is a lifesaver!

11 March, 2011 05:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The (American) Ford Focus 2001 Headlight Clip is different. The US Ford Focus 2003 Headlight clip is also different. (We have 4 of them in the extended family.)

The idea to use the mirror was what worked for me. Great clue!

Someone said that the owner's manual was worthless, that was an understatement. It was miss-leading. I think the owners manual was written to cover any possible clip configuration. I wonder if there was someone at Ford whose job was to change the #&^@%$! method for clipping the bulb in every year.

I just did this and took the battery out, just for the space and because it is a 4 minute job. Couldn't get the bulb out until I looked at it with a mirror.

Anyways: Thank you *so* much for this blog. You have done a service to humanity.


16 March, 2011 00:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks much; that photo of the wire is the key. Why do they need to make it so tricky?

I owe you one.

2000 Focus

03 April, 2011 18:46  
Blogger Gus said...

Thanks for the post Ben! I almost didn't think it was possible to get the bulbs out without pulling out the entire light housing, very glad i stumbled across your post.

06 August, 2011 08:21  
Anonymous Peter in Reading said...

The first time I attempted this I also had trouble removing the plastic weather cover especially on the battery side as there is not enough room to swing to cover open to disengage from the upper lugs. My tip is once you have managed to remove the cover, reduce the length of the lugs with a hacksaw before you replace. The cover will still hold in place but is much easier to remove/replace next time.

22 August, 2011 06:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just another big Thank You for this post, and especially the photos - they really helped. I've just finished changing main beam, low beam and sidelights on both sides of a 2002 (facelift) 1.8 TDDI. I found the passenger side far easier, despite the battery being in the way. I think that may be because the retaining clip seemed more intuitive on that side, but it may just have been luck. I found that the clips re-engaged more easily if you push down towards the centre of the clip rather than trying to push towards the ends of the clip. Anyway, thank you again for taking the trouble to post this guide - it has been incredibly useful. And, of course, what madness all of this design is.

30 August, 2011 15:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Benjol,
I would not be the best DIY person in the world (I have just managed to learn how to tie my own shoelaces - bye bye slip-ons). I had changed a bulb before with help - 03 Focus Diesel, and it took TIME.

Your help sheet allayed my fears and left me knowing what I should be doing. I'm always afraid of breaking things. My clip is a different shape and doesn't actually hold the bulb in perfectly (no, I did not put it in back to front) but it will do the job with the other paraphernalia holding it in.
Buckets of thanks to you,

01 October, 2011 17:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to post this info, came in very handy. Good karma is heading your way.

23 October, 2011 17:31  
Blogger David Donarumo said...

Just wanted to join the others in saying thanks. This process would have been very frustrating without this guide.

Due to your explanation, I was able to fiddle around with the retaining clip by feel alone to remove it and put it back with the replacement bulb in place. No tools needed!

Thanks again!

29 October, 2011 23:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent step by step

15 November, 2011 12:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks a great help.

My little tip when putting the weather guard back on put a little washing liquid on the lugs it will slot in much easier!!!

Mike Leeds England

24 November, 2011 13:32  
Blogger Ganvil said...

I replaced the bulb on drivers' side ( no battery in the way )and tried to remove the entire headlight unit ( 2003 Focus , UK model ) but couldn't find a 3rd screw next to the grill. It was loose on that side, but still attached to something on the OTHER side. Instead, I loosened the coolant reservoir and moved it out of the way without having to disconnect anything, which allowed me to see what is going on. Clip is tricky, thanks for your Blog, it was a HUGE help.

My tip for NOT touching the bulb - wear thin plastic/rubber gloves.

Thanks a lot Benjol!!!!

23 December, 2011 10:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your help. I loosened the battery and slid it sideways which helped.

29 December, 2011 17:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was really helpful, but I still decided it's impossible. I have no idea how I'm supposed to get my hand in there, and even if I got the bulb out, no idea how I'm supposed to get that damn hinge back. Oh well.

02 January, 2012 22:05  
Anonymous Projector Headlights said...

It's been a great help and the walkthrough is nice. Time to time and inch by inch I have been slowly following your instructions and it made my job easy.

06 January, 2012 05:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! It came in very handy. I changed my sister inlaw's headlight bulbs about 5 minutes ago and it went real quick thanks to your post.
I actually didnt even take anything apart to do it, i just popped the rubber cover off and used a mirror to work with it. Worked like a charm!

25 January, 2012 18:58  
Blogger Nicki Maclean said...

What a hero! Had given up yesterday trying to figure out how to change the bulb and was all set to go and admit failure to my garage til I read this blog :o) Didn't even have to take the clip off and I'm also a woman :0) Thank you very much, brilliant blog

05 February, 2012 13:32  
Anonymous Headlights said...

Great post. Very informative and interesting as well. Wish you have more updates with your blog. Thanks!

07 February, 2012 13:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your help, I still struggled with getting the lamp clip back but I was Garage-bound before I read your blog.

18 February, 2012 19:41  
Anonymous Bruce said...

Absolute life saver. thank-you

Turned what would have been an hour long knuckle grazing adventure into a five minute walk in the park.

27 February, 2012 16:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant! Thanks very much. The Haynes manual I read first of all doesn't have nearly enough detail - READ THIS GUIDE (above) FIRST!!! The suggestion to re-fit the bad bulb before trying the new shiney one is a good one. It's a bit fiddly so get used to the process first before completing it using the new bulb. T

17 March, 2012 16:54  
Anonymous Steve said...

Aside from actually being the greatest guide to executing this essential task....this was a funny read! You should write fiction for a living, the world needs a new Douglas Adams my friend...gracias for the instructions, I was in the dark, but now I can see hahaha....

28 March, 2012 23:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Benjol, you are a Prince amongst men. Thanks very much for posting this guide, even a cack handed bloke like me managed to do change the passenger side bulb in under 20 mins. Bookmarked!

07 April, 2012 16:04  
Blogger Nanny P said...

Many many thanks to you. hubby was turning various shades of purple when I came across your help guide. Very comprehensive and better than Haynes manual. Are you any good with Hoovers?

Nanny P from Scotland

01 May, 2012 19:07  
Blogger Benjol said...

@NannyP, thanks for your kind words. Sorry I can't help with hoovers!

01 May, 2012 21:12  
Anonymous James Calgary Alberta Canada said...

Thank you for taking the time to put together this walk through. I tried several months ago to change the bulb but after and hour or so gave up. Came accross this site and had it done in just over 15 minutes My proble was separating the the bulb from the socket. Ended up using a dental pick
Thanks again James

06 June, 2012 02:53  
Blogger Kevin said...

5* work! Thanks for your information about Ford Focus Headlights

10 July, 2012 15:16  
Blogger FFNandheels said...

Thanks for providing the missing peice of the technical jigsaw that makes what should be an easy job so hard!

08 September, 2012 11:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did the driver's side on an American 2003 Focus. I didn't have a mirror but I did have my digital camera.
I took a picture of the inside of the headlight unit using my camera and a flashlight (flash on the camera was too bright). I transferred the photo to my computer and blew it up. Once I figured out that middle contact on the bulb goes on the top, it was easy to figure out the spring clip. I did it without removing anything but the bulb and the weather guard.

10 September, 2012 05:16  
Anonymous garage equipment said...

Choose a lighting system that is compatible with the model and make of your vehicle. They can be quite costly, and in many cases, the parts aren't refundable. Some vehicles require just one bulb and others require multiple bulbs.

01 October, 2012 21:29  
Anonymous fog lights for cars said...

Just by changing the lighting system of the car you may give your car a better look and safe drive .Now days variety of HID lights are available in the market having different colors one could choose the suitable color .

17 October, 2012 08:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankyou, what a great solution. I thought I would take one last attempt at trying to replace the bulb and found your blog post after several attemps using not so good advice. The crux picture was the one using the mirror.
Much Appreciated.


05 November, 2012 10:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the Focus, but there is a special place in hell reserved for whoever designed this light fitting. Thanks very much!

25 November, 2012 16:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 52 plate (2002) UK Focus 1.8 Tdci only seems to have 1 lug hole for each weather cover despite there being 2 tabs. I was working entirely by feel as I had no mirror or torch but I'm pretty sure the outer tab has a hole and the inner tab doesn't.

The offside spring clip seemed to want to go on and off with a downwards push, whereas the nearside clip seemed to want an upwards push. Wasn't too sure about these but they seem to be holding ok.

Finally, I'm pretty sure these are Mk1 headlamps on a 2002 model, but Halfords listed the bulb as a 472. They turned out to be big ones whereas the dead bulb I removed was a 477. Beware if buying replacement bulbs from Halfords in case their bulb directory is wrong - although this could be my fault.

Despite reading instructions this still took me 30 mins to do both sides. Next time I will remove the lamp units so as to be absolutely certain that all the bits have gone back on properly.

Thanks for the reassuring pics of clips n things.

29 November, 2012 14:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent guide, I was going crazy until I found this walk through.

10 December, 2012 14:39  
Blogger Graham Marsh said...

Was seriously considering letting Halfords do this for £6.99 after reading various tales of terror, but did it myself in 20 minutes using this guide. The mirror is essential, don't think I'd have managed without. Yet another thumbs up for this blog!

23 December, 2012 16:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Millions of web pages with cute cat pictures, but this a single page that was actually helpful. Oh, sweet Heaven, thank you for this. Without it, I never would have figured out how the retaining clip released on my American Focus; the Owner's Manual was supremely unhelpful in that regard. (And have you thought about translating your instructions to Braille? Because to change a Focus light bulb without a small mirror, you're pretty much blind.)

06 January, 2013 01:08  
Blogger alastair seaman said...

V helpful - thanks. I took the whole unit out by removing the third screw from below - and one more screw at the end of the grill. Much easier to do when you can get full access.

12 January, 2013 21:09  
Anonymous Rev Pete said...

A life-saver. Brilliant photos. Although Halfords were very helpful they managed to supply the wrong bulb the first time. Still haven't got the black cover back on yet. May have to resort to parcel tape for that.

18 February, 2013 18:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

before replacing the black plastic rain cover, i sawed one of the locating lugs off, now it should be easier to get off/back on in the future!! what a mess around just to change a bulb, cheers Ford!!

21 April, 2013 17:35  
Anonymous wheel balancing machine said...

You have to know what your motivation to have certain headlights. Maybe it’s time to replace the old ones. Or you want a fresh look coming from the car.

08 June, 2013 17:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information.
It really helped.
I had accidentally removed the entire headlight bulb retaining clip and could not figure out which way to set it back in and the driver's side is completely out of line-of-sight.
Your pictures did the trick.

25 August, 2013 14:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guide was useful to know what to expect. Mirror is the most essential thing. I replaced both main bulbs and sidelights on a 1999 MK1 Diesel, RH Drive, TDDI in about an hour. I didn't need to remove the headlamps at all. I used an inspection mirror with integrated led light(£8 from Robert Dyas UK also available on internet). Highly recommended so you don't have to hold a mirror and a torch. Unclipped the wiring plug first, then spring clip. Mirror was very useful to study clip arrangement before attempting removal and to practice putting bulb in, using the the old bulb. Drivers side was more difficult because there are a couple of pipes in the way. Now i know how it's done it would probably only take about 15mins.

07 October, 2013 13:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article. Not an easy job to do. I was stuck with how to get the weather protector plate back on until I read your blog. Took me less than 2 minutes!!! Thank You. :-)

10 November, 2013 13:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously great article. I wish I'd found this page back in 2008 when I got my Focus. It took me a long time to get the knack of changing them. Brilliant instructions and pictures. Haynes would want to up their game to this level!

30 November, 2013 17:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just changed both bulbs in less than an hour thanks to you. Yours is the best guide to this odious task. Thankfully i didnt need to remove either spring, i just pulled the connector block through a little bit and job done.....thank you thank you.

12 January, 2014 11:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anyone living in York has the same problem go to Halfords on Foss Islands Road. I have just come back having had the front passenger side-light fitted on this problem headlight. The fitter just forcibly removed the cover, replaced the bulb and refitted the cover outside, in the dark, taking about 10 minutes. Total cost was a pack of 2x5w wedge bulbs @
£2.99, fitting £4. It was fitted by James. I was highly delighted.

04 February, 2014 21:31  
Anonymous Rik said...

swapped both dip beam bulbs for xenons, in half an hour. You are a star!

06 February, 2014 13:49  
Blogger malik aayan said...

I am very happy to read such a wonderful blog which gives the helpful information thanks for sharing this blog.How Solar Panels work

02 June, 2014 14:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cannot get that bloody cover back on no matter hoe i try the last step of the operation and have struggled for minuets trying to position the cover correctly so as to be able to pull the retaining clip up but can never get the cover to fit exactly as lugs will not sink into their holes what about sawing off the lugs? if i do that cover maybe still not fit anyway? or if it does fit it will come loose as it will only be held on with the retaining clip

17 June, 2014 07:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant instructions - I read them out as my dad struggled! 30 mins later passenger lights done - thank you.

19 August, 2014 12:38  
Blogger delboyginger said...

hi, thanks for this, i needed to change the dipped bulb on the nearside on a rhd car ie the battery side. I found that it was very easy to undo the third hex head self tapper underneath so I could completely bring forward the whole headlight assembly out of the car and then it is very easy to change any of the bulbs. I used a 10mm ratchet spanner, I also had to loosen the front grill bits to enable the unit to come forward but it was very easy and I will use this method again if needed, thanks again, cheers, derek (warrington England)

16 September, 2014 14:30  
Blogger Jorge Palomo said...

Thank you for this, sir. In every car I´ve previously had, this operation requires 30 seconds. It is funny how for the US model, the system is as simple as it should be, while in the European model looks like it was designed by a perfect psychopath.

15 November, 2014 17:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. With your help and inspired use of the mirror I managed the bulb change in 5 minutes in the dark with a torch. Great pics and great help.

31 December, 2014 17:54  
Anonymous John said...

Changed the passenger side headlamp bulb today on my brother's Focus.

Your guide was very helpful, Benjol. Found the mirror was absolutely essential, couldn't have done the job without.

Hardest part was getting the weather cover back on. In the end I filed the tags down slightly to make them thinner. I then managed to get them back into the slots. I know it's cheating but we'd really had enough!

Thank you once again for providing such useful information.

05 January, 2015 02:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for the in depth information provided in this guide although i didnt actually need to replace the buld i did find gettin to the headlight unit very easy thanks to the instructions

14 January, 2015 12:32  
Anonymous Keith said...

Thank you so much for your comprehensive and amusing blog. Despite the gathering gloom and biting wind I've just managed to change the battery-side bulb in my UK Focus. Although my brain doesn't work at all well in mirror-image mode, it all went very smoothly. Thank God for the internet and generous people like yourself!

14 January, 2015 17:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. Thank you. The tip about a mirror was invaluable. I was bemused by youtube accounts which seemed to have people practically dismembering their car to change a light bulb. Once I could see what I was doing, it all became clear. Still ridiculously fiddly but quite possible even for the non-mechanically minded.

04 August, 2015 19:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't even think to use a mirror before reading this. Battery side bulb successfully replaced on my Mk 1 UK Focus after much fiddling about. Your blog was a massive help, thank you!

14 November, 2015 16:53  

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