Compared to other car maintenance regimens, light bulb replacement is relatively cheap and easy, so there's no reason for you not to do it. The performance of the lights, which are very important automotive safety features, depends on the condition of the bulbs. So if you don't want to compromise your safety on night-time and low-light driving conditions, you'd better maintain your car's light bulbs well.
Whether you're replacing a light bulb for running lights, taillights, brake lights, or headlights, here are some dos and don'ts that you need to bear in mind to be sure that you'll do the task well:
This tip is applicable for those lights installed in the vehicle in pairs like all the automotive exterior lights. Even if just one bulb has blown out, it's still wise to replace the car light bulbs in pair for you to get consistent light output from the lamps you'll be putting the bulbs on. Also, since you're using both lights at the same frequency, once one bulb has gone bad, it won't be long .till the other one fails. Replacing them both will save you maintenance time.
Whenever you're replacing an automotive bulb in an exterior socket, it's wise to apply a light coating of dielectric grease to the bulb's socket and contacts. If you don't have dielectric grease, you can also use petroleum jelly or lithium chassis grease. The grease will keep water out of the contacts, thus preventing corrosion. A corroded socket can give you headaches during bulb replacement as it won't release the bulb readily, so you'll be forced to dissect the socket just to be able to take out the remains of a broken bulb.
Make it a point to wear gloves before touching the bulb. Oil in the skin can cause a new bulb to swell and eventually fail. Wearing gloves is even more important if you're dealing with quartz-halogen bulbs because they use high-temperature glass to operate more efficiently than conventional bulbs. Oil and any contamination from your fingers can make the bulb heat up unevenly, causing it to burn out. This is actually one of the reasons why cardboard or foam rubber sleeve is placed around the lamp.
In case the light bulb isn't wrapped with cardboard, you can use a clean tissue, paper towel, or even cloth to prevent your skin from coming in contact with the bulb. If you accidentally touch the bulb, you can clean it using rubbing alcohol, glass cleaner, or lacquer thinner before installing it. Before handling the bulb, read the label because even interior vehicle lights now make use of quartz bulbs.
While automotive light bulbs can be upgraded, make sure that the new ones you'll install won't draw more power than what your lighting system can provide. Overtaxing the lights' wiring harness can cause premature damage on the wiring and relays. Before deciding to upgrade, check your owner's manual first to know the bulb wattage recommendations for every type of light.