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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Bulbs and Lamps
By Mike Bumbeck/
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyEasy
Estimated Time60 minutes
60 minutes
Lighting Up for Safety -

Even though the activity has been at the core of many jokes, changing a light bulb at home is by most accounts a fairly painless experience. Switch goes to off. A ladder or similar comes out. Out screws the old bulb, and in with the new. Presto! The procedure is largely the same when it comes to automobiles, with the main difference being the different types of light bulbs involved. While tripping over the cat might be the result of a burned out kitchen bulb, staying afoot of automotive bulbs is of vital importance for safe driving. More modern vehicles will tell you when a bulb or lamp has burned out, and even when it's time to file taxes, or mow the lawn. Older vehicles require the driver to occasionally inspect bulb and lamp condition.
Bulbs and Lamps
Checking to see if the bulbs are lighting up the way they should be is an easy task. Having a pal or the kids stand out back while you hit the brake pedal and put on the blinkers might involve some yelling out the window, but it's an otherwise painless experience that can save a heap of trouble. If there's no one around, use a garage door or wall to observe reflections of bulb operation. Check for high beam, low beam, parking lights, and finally left and right blinkers without having to leave the comfort of your own seat.
How Many Motorists Does it Take?
While you may not need a ladder to swap out a burned out brake lamp or dysfunctional dome light, you will need to take a trip to the auto parts store with your vehicle's year, make, and model or the burned out bulb in hand. Most bulbs have a number on the bulb itself, 1157, 1816, 63, 1154 and so on. Simply match up the burned out bulb with the same number and win! A rule of thumb is that the more obscure the bulb, lamp, light, or beam, the greater a chore it will be to replace. Headlamps and brake bulbs usually take just a few minutes. That dash light buried deep behind the in-car entertainment system or the bulb deep up inside the dome may be a bit more involved.
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