How to Change Headlights in a Lexus Es300by Josh Baum
Replacing a headlight bulb or even an entire headlight assembly on a Lexus ES300 is a simple process. Even if you rarely perform your own auto maintenance and repairs, you can do either in under a half hour. It's worth noting, though, that there are some slight design changes among the various model years and options packages of the ES300, so it is helpful to have a repair manual specific to your exact ES300 model so that you may more easily follow along. These instructions for changing both headlight assemblies and headlight bulbs apply to both left and right side headlights.
Changing the Entire Headlight Assembly
Open the hood of the ES300 and prop it open.
Look at the headlight assembly from the top down. Depending on your model year, there may be a plastic panel covering the top of the headlight assembly. If this is present, remove it by lifting all of the plastic clips around the edges and lifting it off.
Locate the three bolts that hold the headlight assembly in place. Two of the bolts are in the left and right rear corners of the assembly, and the third is on the side bordering the outside edge of the car, screwed into the back of the fender panel. Remove all of these bolts with a small adjustable wrench. Though they appear to be designed to be removed with a screwdriver, the way they're arranged makes it almost impossible to remove them with one.
Slide the entire headlight assembly forward a few inches so that you can reach the back of it.
Unscrew the plastic bulb socket assembly. This is the large, round component located right in the middle of the back of the main assembly. Turn it about a quarter turn to the left and you can pull it away from the main assembly. If you're replacing both the bulb and the main assembly, see the next section on how to replace the bulb, then resume this process.
Unplug all wiring harnesses from the back of the main assembly. Depending on your model year, there may be one, two or three wiring harnesses.
Pull the old assembly completely away from the car.
Slide the new assembly part of the way into place and reconnect all the wiring harnesses to the corresponding sockets on the back.
Insert the bulb socket assembly into the round hole on the back of the main assembly and turn it about a quarter turn to the right, locking it in place.
Push the assembly all the way into place.
Replace all three of the bolts that hold it in place. Screw each one down tightly with your adjustable wrench.
Replace the plastic cover if your ES300 has one. Push it straight down into place until you hear each of the plastic snaps make a clicking noise as they engage.
Changing the Bulb Only
Complete steps 1 through 5 in section 1.
Put on a pair of gloves. Any type will work; just make sure that you can still work well with your hands.
Grab the old bulb by its socket and pull it straight out.
Hold the new bulb by its socket and push it straight down into the cavity on the socket assembly. It won't make an audible click when it's in place, so try to wiggle it or tug on it gently to make sure it's all the way in.
Reinsert the bulb socket assembly in the round hole on the back of the main assembly. Turn the socket assembly about one quarter turn to the right to lock it in place.
Complete steps 10 through 12 in section 1 to insert the headlight assembly back into place.
- Toyota Camry 2002 - 2005 Haynes Repair Manual, Haynes, 2006
Things You'll Need
- ES300 repair manual specific to your model year and options package
- Replacement headlight bulb (type varies by model year, specified in owner's manual)
- Replacement headlight assembly specific to your model year and options package
- Small adjustable wrench
- If you touch the glass of a new headlight bulb with your skin, you'll transfer natural skin oils to the surface. These oils will dramatically reduce the life of the bulb, so make sure you wear gloves while handling it.