How do I change a headlight bulb?

Asked by Aug 30, 2007 at 12:00 PM about the 2001 Mazda MPV

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

16 Answers


Your owner's manual should have procedures for this. Some vehicles require removal of the entire headlight assembly, while others may just require removal of the bulb socket. Advance Auto Parts offers free replacement of bulbs and can show you how to do it the first time.

12 people found this helpful.

I have a 1996 Mazda MPV. It uses 9003 dual beam headlight bulbs. So this may also apply to other Mazda models using the 9003 bulb of this vintage. There is a rubber boot that covers the rear of the headlight assembly. 1. Unplug the three-prong electrical connector. 2. Use tab on rubber boot, pull it back and slide it off. 3. A spring clip holds the bulb in the assembly. Un-hook one side and swing the clip back. 4. Slide the old bulb straight out. 5.Wearing disposable gloves so that skin oil doesn't get on the new bulb, open the new bulb's package and insert the new bulb straight into the holder, making sure it goes all the way to the front. The middle electrical prong should be up. 6. Swing the retaining spring back and re-clip. 7. Slide the rubber boot back on the rear of the assembly, making sure that the electrical prongs are exposed. 8. Re-connect the three-prong electrical connector. 9. Turn on lights and make sure it works.

23 people found this helpful.

Here are some additional points that I just figured out. The first time I tried to do it, it took me well over an hour because the manual in my 2001 does not specify to only unhook one side of the clip, as ceprise so deftly pointed out. I just changed the left bulb on mine tonight, and here are my pointers. 1. to unplug the 3 prong cable from the bulb, you must squeeze in on both sides hard - like opening a child proof cap on a pill bottle. 2. I only did the left bulb tonight, so I am not sure if the right bulb is the same or mirror image - but for the clip on the left bulb, I reached in and pushed the right side of the clip toward the front of the car slighly, and then down, then back again to swing it open like a door toward the back of the car. Don't take the whole clip out or you'll be in trouble like I was the first time.

18 people found this helpful.

Outstanding. Thank you. Without you guidance, the clip and rubber boot would have lead me to utilize the sledge hammer method! took me 10 minutes.

2 people found this helpful.

The owners manual tells you how, but to make it easier do this: 1. Remove front wheel 2. In addition to removing the front inside wheel well mud guard, remove the big wheel well plastic guard. 3. This gives you direct access to the back of the lamp and allows you to see what you are doing. 4. The hardest part is the clip, be careful, it is delicate. This is the dumbest design I have ever seen for a headlamp structure.


what moron designed this and how can he /she possibly still have a job? I dont even have the bezel off yet and i've used a micro screwdriver and a very large socket. If this were a roadside repair, I'd be done already. It's as bad a design as the trans they keep deleting websites about to avoid a recall. This is a crap product that bribes its way out of an obviously long overdo recall. I've had 2 transmissions in 4 years on a 2006. Both times, when I said I would peruse legal action, suddenly the company replaced it and all online complaint sites were flushed. This company and its cars have been a joke for a long time.To fox this problem, take it to a dealership ( who knows it's crap, and demand they fix it. They've been told to keep pit under the radar, so they'll do it for nothing so the whole show doesn't go under. After that, run like hell from these scumbags and never buy their crap again!

1 people found this helpful.

How? I'll tell you how. Sell that piece of crap for scrap if anyone will take it. I'm 2 hours in and I've had to use a microscrewdriver and a big socket and the bezels not close to off. Roadside? never. What moron designed this and how do they have a job? It's as much of a joke as the trans they are constantly deleting websites about. I've had 2 transmission replacements in 3 years. If you rag, any dealership will replace it for free because they know it is in SERIOUS DANGER OF A HUGE RECALL. My 2006 had the trans replaced in 2007. Then again in 2009. Both times, the dealer called HQ and, no charge because they knew a major recall was likely if they did'nt keep the coverup alive. These schmucks make the worst designed crap in history. Sell it now for whatever a chump will give you and NEVER buy their garbage again.


You are an idiot. You do realize that if we have to look t up or follow the next guys 9 step process it is stupidly engineered, right. We actually had to go online to replace a freaking lightbulb, and still it's like building a nuclear reactor. Mazda should be ashamed, if they had any shame. I swear now that I will never touch another piece of crap from them. Read this quick because they are remarkably better at scouring massive internet criticism of their should-have been-recalled-long-ago-if-we-weren't-keeping-up-with-the-internet- scouring duties as they are at standing up for their pathetic products. They must have 1 drunk designer and hundreds of webmasters to cover him. Dump it now before the imminent recall comes!! I'd say it was the the absolute lowest possible level of achievement for an automobile, but they would have to improve far beyond their abilities to even reach hat dubious summit. I wish they were brave enough to contact me and challenge me about my post and multiple dealership payoffs , but they are all-consumed with the coverup and avoiding the obvious danger of recall. Dump it now before it loses whatever value it has when they get busted.

3 people found this helpful.

The very idea that someone seriously posted " remove the front wheel" as step 1 of how to change a headlight bulb says it all....

1 people found this helpful.

Info here was very helpful, especially the post from ceprise. No tools necessary, although a clean latex glove to handle the bulb is a good thing. I did the following steps for a 10 minute or less job: 1) find the harness running to the back of the bulb to be changed 2) squeeze the sides of the connector and pull to remove the harness from the bulb 3) remove rubber boot that is pressed on to the back of the headlamp assembly 4) KEY POINT - find the hold down bar (looks like a twisted up paper clip) and unhook it at the hook end - LEAVE THE SCREW END ALONE 5) swing the hold down bar out of the way and the bulb will almost fall out 6) put the new bulb in - middle electrical pin up - don't get the bulb greasy or dirty 7) rehook the hold down bar 8) put the boot back on 9) connect the connector 10) test it out. Thanks for the help.

12 people found this helpful.

Mazda222-Great directions, replaced within minutes. thanks.

3 people found this helpful.

It may be helpful to take out the battery if you are replacing the drivers side light. I couldn't get enough leverage with my big hands to get the darn wire out so had to get the battery out of the way. Yes, this thing is a piece of junk, mostly crappy ford parts which is why they don't make them anymore. Bought it thinking it was Japanese quality only to find out that, yup, it's a Ford with a Mazda sticker on it. Can't wait to get rid of this piece of crap and get a honda or toyota van.

Problem I have is getting the elec connectors off - Ive done this twice before - not easily though, now the third time I've tried for hours to squeeze the sides but no luck -- is there a special tool to do this?


I just used finger pressure. I started out trying to just pull off the connector, but it was not going to release. After I read the help here, I was able to sqeeze the sides in and it came off pretty easy. I am not sure if there is a difference in model years. Mine is a 2001.

1 people found this helpful.

Thanks ceprise! Your instructions were perfect. A piece of cake with your help!

Two items I noted. With small hands you may be able to squeeze both sides of the connector, but otherwise very difficult (esp on driver side). The clip easily comes off completely, then you have a heck of a time getting it back in.... it is tight in there..... VERY POOR DESIGN, for what should be a simple task.

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