How to Change the Headlights on Toyota Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The Toyota car headlights feature unique opalescent designs to give the headlight its characteristic blue/violet coloring. This provides the driver with a much sharper and clearer view of the roadway. Toyota car provides three headlight options for you to choose from, depending on your regular driving environment. Bulbs are available for standard everyday driving, mountain or rural driving and for driving in the fog. The Toyota car headlights feature a simple plug-in technology, allowing you to replace them in less than a half hour.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Headlights on a Toyota Avalon

Halogen Bulbs

Park the Avalon on a level surface, set the parking brake and open the hood. Look on the rear of the headlight assembly and find the backside of the burned-out headlight bulb. Rotate the bulb counterclockwise to unlock it, then pull it from the headlight assembly.

Press the unlocking button on the headlight wiring harness and unplug the wiring harness from the headlight bulb. Hold a new No. 9005 headlight bulb by its plastic base and plug the wiring harness into the headlight bulb until it clicks into place.

Align the tabs on the headlight bulb with the slots in the headlight assembly, and insert the new bulb into the headlight assembly. Turn the bulb clockwise to lock it in place.

HID Bulbs

HID sockets can deliver 3,000 volts, so perform this repair away from moisture, such as in the rain. Make sure the headlight switch is in the "Off" position and the car has sat for a while. Otherwise, the bulb ECU could be too hot to touch. Open the hood and install a memory saver to the Avalon, using the memory saver's instructions as your guide. This is optional, but it will allow you to avoid losing all the system memories when you disconnect the battery -- which is not optional. Loosen the negative battery cable, using a ratchet and socket, and pull the negative battery cable from the battery. Set the battery cable aside to avoid accidental reconnection with the negative battery post.

Look on the rear of the headlight assembly and find the headlight electronic control unit -- the round, electrical component. Rotate the headlight ECU counterclockwise to unlock it, then pull it from the rear of the headlight assembly to expose the headlight ECU socket.

Rotate the headlight ECU socket counterclockwise to unlock it, then pull it from the HID bulb. Squeeze the looped ends of the HID bulb-retaining spring to unlatch it from its retaining hooks, then pivot the spring away from the HID bulb. Carefully slide the bulb from the headlight assembly.

Hold the new No. D4S HID bulb by its plastic base and guide it into the headlight assembly and pivot the bulb-retaining spring over the backside of the bulb. Squeeze the looped ends of the spring together and guide them into their retaining hooks on each side of the bulb.

Plug the headlight ECU socket into the new HID bulb and rotate the socket clockwise to lock it in place. Install the headlight ECU onto the rear of the headlight assembly and rotate it clockwise to lock it into place.

Reconnect the negative battery cable and tighten it to 61 inch-pounds, using an inch-pound torque wrench and socket. Remove the memory saver.

Items you will need

  • New No. 9005 headlight bulb

  • Ratchet

  • Socket set

  • New No. D4S HID bulb

  • Inch-pound torque wrench

 How to Change Headlights in a Toyota Celica

Unfasten the battery cables on the Toyota Celica with an open end wrench and remove the battery from the engine compartment. Set the cables aside so that they do not come into contact with each other or any metal parts.

Remove the coolant and water containers that are in the engine compartment near the front of the motor by undoing the brackets that are holding them in place with a socket wrench and moving the containers aside. They only need to be moved enough to provide you access to the area behind the headlamps and do not need to be drained.

Locate the headlight plug on the back of the headlight and turn the plug 1/4 turn counter-clockwise to loosen the plug. Then pull it straight back to detach it from the headlight.

Locate the clip on the side of the plug and push it in and up to detach the old headlight bulb. Take the old bulb out of the plug and place the new bulb in the plug using a clean cloth to handle the bulb.

Push the new bulb in to the plug and turn it until you hear the clip lock into place. Insert the plug into the back of the headlight assembly and turn it 1/4 turn clockwise to secure the plug.

Repeat this procedure with the other headlight bulb and then move the coolant and water containers into place and secure then to the vehicle. Put the Toyota Celica battery back in the engine compartment and reattach the battery cables.

Items you will need

  • Open end wrench

  • Socket wrench set

  • Clean dry cloth

 How to Change the Headlights of a 1996 Toyota Camry

Apply the parking brake on the Toyota Camry, ensure the headlight switch is off and open the hood.

Reach behind the headlight lens assembly and locate the separate wire harness plugs for the low and high beams.

Disconnect the wire harness plug from the socket base of the headlight being replaced. The plugs have a locking clip that snaps over a small tab on the headlight sockets. Lift the clip up and pull the plug from the headlight socket.

Turn the headlight retainer ring counterclockwise 1/3 of a turn and extract the headlight and ring from the back of the headlight lens assembly. Discard the faulty headlight.

Put on a pair of latex gloves to avoid accidentally touching the glass bulb of the headlight. Halogen headlights use an internal gas to burn brighter, and skin oils will damage the glass.

Insert the collar of the headlight socket into the retainer ring and align the tabs on the socket to the notches in the headlight lens assembly.

Turn the ring and socket clockwise 1/3 turn until they lock in place.

Connect the wire harness plug to the headlight socket until it clicks into the locked position.

Test the headlight(s) for proper operation.

Items you will need

  • Latex gloves

  • 9006 replacement headlights (low beam)

  • 9005 replacement headlight (high beam)

 How to Change the Headlight in a 95 Toyota 4Runner

Turn the headlight switch to the "Off" position, turn the engine off and open the hood.

Remove the screws mounting the parking light and side turn-signal. Pull the lights out and unplug the connection from behind them.

Depress the grille retaining clips with a small flat head screwdriver. There are six clips attached to the grille; they are directly behind the grille. Once these clips are disengaged, grasp the center of the grille and pull it away from the front of the 4Runner.

Remove the Phillips screws from the headlight bezel, which surrounds the sealed-beam headlight. Pull the bezel off.

Remove the two small headlight mounting screws. Do not touch the larger screws; these are for adjusting your headlights.

Pull the sealed-beam lamp out; unplug the connection behind it. Attach the connection to the replacement headlight. Insert it into its mount and tighten the screws.

Replace the headlight bezel. Re-attach the bezel's screws and tighten them with the screwdriver.

Replace the front grille assembly. Align the grille in place on the front and then push it toward the 4Runner to re-engage the retaining clips.

Replace the parking lights and turn-signal; tighten the screws to finish.

Items you will need

  • Gloves

  • Small flathead screwdriver

  • Phillips head screwdriver

  • Replacement sealed-beam headlights

 How to Replace the Headlight on a Toyota Sienna

Release the hood latch and open the hood. Locate the headlight bulb that's out. This may be a good time to check all of your front lights and rears, too. Make sure to turn off the lights before you replace any.

Unplug the wire harness from the back of the headlight bulb.

Remove the rubber gasket protector cover the back of the headlight. This simply pulls off, and there's a marking stamped on it that indicates the top of it when you're ready to replace it.

Locate the locking spring on the back of the headlight. This is the tricky part--trying to get your head down in there to see which side it locks on. One side has a press-in lock on the spring, and the other side is hinged by a screw. Press the spring inward and upward to release it, then swing it back on the hinge to remove the old bulb.

Remove the old bulb and install the new one. There is only one way to insert the new bulb into the headlight assembly cavity correctly. Be sure to line it up properly. Also, do not touch the glass of the new bulb with your fingers. Halogen bulbs can be compromised or damaged altogether by oils and alkaline in your skin.

Replace the locking spring by pressing inward and downward to clip it onto the lock. Again, this may seem tedious, but it's actually harder to lock the spring than unlock it.

Replace the rubber gasket protector correctly. Press it inward all around to make sure it is sealed properly.

Plug the wire harness back into the headlight.

Turn on the lights and test the new bulb.

 How to Replace the Headlight in a Toyota Tacoma 1996 Pickup

Open your Tacoma's hood. With a 1/4-inch drive ratchet and socket, disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery to prevent shocks or short circuits.

Locate the rear of the headlamp assembly. The bulb is mounted in a plug which fits into the rear of the headlight assembly.

Twist the plug counterclockwise and pull it backward. This will remove the headlight bulb and its socket.

Pull the bulb out of its socket. Push the new bulb into the socket. Push the socket into the rear of the headlamp assembly and secure it by turning it to the right, or clockwise.

Reattach the black negative battery cable to the battery and tighten the terminal to the battery post.

Items you will need

  • 1/4-inch drive ratchet

  • 1/4-inch drive socket set

  • Replacement headlamp bulb

 How to Replace the Headlight on a 2007 Toyota Prius

Drive the car forward onto a set of cap ramps and set the parking brake. Chock the rear wheels. Open the hood.

Pry up the three push tabs on the upper part of the front bumper fascia with a flat-blade screwdriver. Pull the tabs from their mounting holes. Remove the two rubber hood bumpers from the fascia by twisting them out with a Phillips screwdriver. Remove the six plastic fasteners from the black plastic splash shield (which is located in between the radiator and the front bumper fascia) with a Phillips screwdriver. Remove the splash shield and all fasteners from the engine bay and set them aside.

Locate the thin, black, plastic spoiler under the front bumper fascia. Remove the seven retaining bolts on the underside of the spoiler with a Phillips screwdriver. Remove the four retaining bolts on the black, plastic engine skid plate just behind the spoiler with a 10 mm socket and ratchet. Lower the skid plate from its mounting and place it aside.

Remove the five retaining screws from the spoiler (which were revealed after removing the skid plate) with a Phillips screwdriver. Lower the spoiler from the car and place it aside. Remove the two screws from the underside of the front bumper fascia just ahead of the front wheels with a Phillips screwdriver.

Pry back the plastic wheel well liner by hand where the front bumper meets the front fender, just ahead of the front wheels, to reveal the two remaining front bumper fascia retaining bolts. Remove the bolts with a Phillips screwdriver. Pull out on each side of the bumper cover where these two screws were removed.

Grasp the bumper on the side near the front wheel with one hand and near the headlight with the other hand. Pull out on the bumper. Pull the other side of the bumper cover out in the same fashion. Pull the cover away from the vehicle and place it aside.

Remove the three headlight assembly retaining screws with a 10 mm socket and ratchet. Pull the headlight assembly straight out of the front of the car. Remove each of the five light-socket wiring connectors from the back of the assembly by pressing in on the release tab on the connector while pulling the connector straight out.

Replace the headlight assembly, bumper cover, spoiler, skid plate and splash shield by following all steps in reverse order.

Items you will need

  • 2 car ramps

  • 2 wheel chocks

  • Flat-blade screwdriver

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • 10 mm socket

  • Ratchet

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.