All of the lights on your car are protected by fuses, much as your home electricity is controlled by circuit breakers. The fuse stops a light from damaging the car should the bulb overload or develop a short. Most of the lighting problems you'll experience in your car are due to a burned out bulb or fuse. Here is how you can use that knowledge to fix most lighting problems in your car.
Most Problems are Easy Fixes
A quick trip to the auto parts store to get a replacement bulb will fix many problems. Access to most of the bulbs on your car to change them is easy. Some hard to access bulbs will require a trip to the auto repair shop. Your car likely has spare fuses, if that is the problem. Again, they are easy to access and change.
Two Simple Rules That Cover Most Lighting Problems
The lighting system in your car consists of two types of lights:
- Single lights - These include the dome light, glove compartment light, license plate light, trunk light, and engine compartment light.
- Lighting pairs - These include headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, parking lights, fog lights, backup lights.
When troubleshooting a light problem, start with these rules:
- If both lights of a pair are not working, it is a fuse.
- If only one of a pair of lights is not working, it's a burned out bulb.
On a rare occasion will both bulbs in a pair be burned out. You're safe following these rules when initially troubleshooting a lighting problems.
Changing a Fuse
If you suspect that a fuse is the problem, follow these steps to change the fuse in most cars.
- Find the fuse box, which is located either in the glove compartment or on the side of the dashboard on the driver's side.
- Find the car's owner's manual and the chart within that lists all of the fuses in the fuse box.
- Find the number of the fuse on the chart that corresponds to the light that has failed.
- Find that fuse in the fuse box according to its number.
- Pull the old fuse out of the fuse box.
- Find the spare fuse located in another area of the fuse box or on the cover of the box. Match the fuse by color or the number stamped on the side.
- Place the new fuse in the slot where you removed the old fuse.
- Go to the auto parts store as soon as you can to replace the spare fuse that you used so you'll always have an extra on hand.
Changing a Light Bulb
Changing a light bulb differs from bulb to bulb, especially with the single lights. But single lights are easy to access to determine how they should be changed. Lighting pairs are a little more standard, so follow these instructions for changing one of a pair of bulbs.
- Go to the auto parts store and have them give you a replacement bulb. There are dozens of types, so have the clerk track down the right bulb for your car.
- Find the bulb you need to change at the front of the engine compartment (headlight, turn signal, parking light, fog light) or in the trunk (taillight, brake light, turn signal, parking light, backup light).
- Push the bulb into the lighting assembly slightly as you turn it counterclockwise and remove the bulb. The bulb will come out with its connector.
- Pull the bulb straight out of the connector if it has a flat base. If it has a round base, push it into the connector slightly and turn counterclockwise to remove the bulb.
- Insert the new bulb by pushing it straight into the connector (flat base) or by pushing it in and turning clockwise (round base).
- Insert the bulb and its connector into the lighting assembly by pushing it in slightly and turning it clockwise until you feel it click into place.
Problems You May Encounter
You may have to go to an auto repair shop to have them fix one of the following problems:
- The bulb is broken and you can't get it out of the base.
- You've placed the bulb and fuse and it still doesn't work. There could be a short or break in the wiring.
- You can't access the bulb, such as those in your dashboard in front of the driver.
To learn more, contact an auto repair shop like Alaska Professional Auto.