January 05, 2005

Changing headlights on a Passat

The passenger side low-beam headlight on Meredith's 2002 Passat died recently, so I went out and bought a replacement bulb, popped the hood of her car, and, after staring dumbly at the inside for a minute, decided that there was almost no chance I could do this without the manual. Which we had lost.

Fortunately, I found a link to this 15-page PDF that someone created, complete with pictures, on how to do it: Replacing headlight bulbs for the VW Passat.

Posted by Mike at January 5, 2005 11:48 AM

Oh joy. On my 2002 Golf, the passenger side headlight went out. For 3 days. Then came back on. Then went out for 7 days. Now it's back on, after I bought a bulb. I'm blaming the barometer.

Posted by: adam bbboinggg on January 6, 2005 08:04 AM

Thanks for your post. My 2002 Passat had both low beams go out with days of each other. Just bought replacement bulbs today, opened the hood and freaked. Thanks for your link to that .pdf file. That guy is meticulous in his presentation--or, just a blossoming pyschopath.

Posted by: Brian Besse on February 9, 2005 01:19 PM

Yeah, the drivers side light just went out, so I'm going to be glad again for that pdf. Meticulous is right ;)

Posted by: Mike on February 10, 2005 08:26 AM

Thank you so much for this little tutorial! I appreciate you helping the other Passat owners as dealerships are charging $130.00 to replace the headlights...which gets a big "Whatever!" from me. So thank you, thank you, thank you! :)

Posted by: Casey on March 3, 2005 10:31 AM

Nice job Rich..... and thanks. You just saved me $50.00 US.

Posted by: 3-toots on March 27, 2005 07:34 PM

Thanks! I thought I could fix this in 5 minutes until I opened the hood. Great link! Fixed it in cheap and fast. Just the way I like it.

Now I have to figure out a cheap way of getting a mechanic to replace my cv boot...

Posted by: Doug on May 20, 2005 02:45 PM

Since everybody said this was so easy to do with the help of the instructions, I'm going to feel really dumb if I run into a problem! Whatever happened to VW simplicity? Certain tasks that are safety-related such as lights and bulbs should not be this tough to do.

Posted by: Steve on December 9, 2005 08:24 AM

Just wanted to say this worked perfectly on my 2003 Passat Wagon. It literally took me less than 10 minutes to do both driver and passenger low beams.

And to think the dealership was going to charge us for over an hour of labor... They told my wife she'd have to drop the car off and come back later... crooks...

Posted by: Christian on June 17, 2006 09:50 AM

Looked like it was going to be a real bitch to replace with some fancy new blue bulbs...took like 5 min. Thanks a bunch for the awesome post!

Posted by: Jeff Boutin on June 18, 2006 01:27 PM


Posted by: CHARLIE on July 3, 2006 04:48 PM

I took one look under my hood after both low beams went out and nearly drove to the dealership until I found this. Many sincere thanks Rich.

Posted by: John on September 8, 2006 02:43 PM

Sweet! I lookd inside and had the exact same reaction: "how in hell..." Thank you for saving time!

Posted by: PW on September 16, 2006 01:49 PM

Outstanding instructions! You saved me $50 the dealership wanted to accomplish this 5 minute task. Thanks!

Posted by: Terry on September 17, 2006 11:20 AM

Thanks for the instructions. It took me 5 minutes to replace my low beam on the driver side. What a dumb guy I was, I had had removed three bolts/screws and found myself going nowhere until I found your web link. Thanks!

Posted by: Sam on September 30, 2006 11:46 AM

Thanks for the instructions. The photos with arrows were a nice touch. Please post more!

Posted by: Phillip on October 1, 2006 06:19 PM

Thanks! That's a real help! Very much appreciated!!!

Posted by: Dave on October 5, 2006 11:30 AM

Wow! Thanks to Rich P for creating this lovely document. I'm printing it out and tossing into my car files.

My dealer told me that three of their technicians are out today and I would have to leave the car all day and I might have purchased the wrong item. Jerks...

We own 2 VWs, and love them both. The dealer on the other hand...

Posted by: Carlos on October 13, 2006 05:52 AM

This is great! I knew what needed to come off, but wasn't sure where to pull. Took me about a minute to get the lamp out. Thank you!

Posted by: Jim McCarty on October 25, 2006 07:33 PM

My dealer wants to charge 0.5 hrs for each bulb, plus materials and tax. Thank you so much for these instructions!!!

Posted by: jason on November 1, 2006 12:14 PM

Thank You! I just bought a replacement bulb and just stared dumbfounded trying to figure out how to change it. I called the dealer for some tips, and they told me that they had to take the bumper off to replace the bulb. I'm like, "what?" Then he proceeded to tell me that it would cost $258 in labor to replace!!! Guess what, I didn't bring it to them.

By the way, the dealer's name is MIDWESTERN AUTO GROUP in Dublin, Ohio.

Posted by: Alvin on November 16, 2006 06:26 AM

HA HA! of course it would be this hard....I just did the same dumbfounded stare....Do I take off the whole bumper assembly?! Do I remove the air intake....Do I go buy the Haynes Manual...Nah, I'll google...and WALLA (sp?) here is a 15 page illustrated manual with the included substitutes for the special tools! Thanks, I owe you $200!

Posted by: Niels on November 18, 2006 05:14 PM

Thanks for the reference! Didn't know how to get past the air intake that impeded getting to the passenger-side headlight. Your link was instrumental in being able to change the bulb.

Posted by: Sanjeev on January 5, 2007 05:17 PM

This link doesn't seem to be working anymore.

Posted by: RIch on January 20, 2007 12:21 PM

Try it again -- it seems to be working OK for me still.

Posted by: Mike on January 20, 2007 03:55 PM

Same thing here: $50 to do it at the dealership. I'm going to give this a try this weekend instead. So thanks!

They already took me for $25 last week for a tail light for my '03 passat (it was in for service anyway, and I figured it would just be free ... HA!). Anyone know if the tail light is equally complex to replace ... any one done one?

Posted by: Tom on January 22, 2007 07:33 PM

Thanks!! Nice job with this post! I am glad it hit near the top of my google query. The instructions are well done.

Posted by: Tor on January 27, 2007 07:39 AM

GREAT HELP! Thank you very much.

Posted by: Guillermo on January 29, 2007 08:00 AM

Thank a lot! I just got pulled over yesterday for having one of the low beam lights out and I bought a bulb, but then couldn't figure it out until I read this!

Posted by: Jim Goose on February 18, 2007 02:41 PM

Thank you who ever Rich P is. you saved me a $100 bucks. I cant belive how much dealerships want to charge when I did this on my own in five minutes.

Posted by: Jenn on March 6, 2007 01:18 PM

Hey, thanks a bunch, great tidbit and saved me at least $130. Took 10 minutes. I appreciate the posting.

Posted by: Rob on March 18, 2007 07:22 AM

This is wonderful! Thanks very much. Just saved me time, money, knuckle skin and much swearing.

Posted by: Clinton on March 18, 2007 07:45 PM

A million thanks: my headlights go off too often and my dealer just keeps sucking my money telling me it's too hard to do it by myself... Thanks for this wonderful document

Posted by: Armand on April 22, 2007 07:33 PM

Hey guys, I just joined your ranks :) Very satisfied to have fixed my headlights, and I couldn't have done it without the great article and all the positive enery around here -- Thanks Rich!

Posted by: Sirish on April 22, 2007 07:38 PM

I can't believe I did it! I called my dealer and they charge $16 for the bulb and $65 minimum to change the bulb.I found these instructions and decided to try it myself...I am a female with absolutely NO experience in this area, and I did it myself in 5 minutes for $5.99. Thanks again.

Posted by: Chris on May 25, 2007 02:45 PM

Umm, how 'bout the factory HID xenon? The outboard light on the right-hand side of my '03 Passat has gone dead. I found a couple of replacement bulbs on Ebay for "cheap" (only $35 ea.), and figured I'd replace both sides at once. But I have no idea how to get at the bulbs to replace them. The article mentioned above, with the pretty pictures, doesn't seem to apply. I've seen posts on other boards that suggest that the bumper has to be removed(!!) to access the bulbs, but that just seems TOO extreme to be true. Any ideas? Anyone done this?

Posted by: Warren on June 17, 2007 02:44 PM

Wow, thought I would never find something like this online....simply the best!!! Thanks for the reference.

Posted by: Dustin T on June 23, 2007 07:20 PM

Thanks a lot. I'm a total idiot and even I managed to successfully replace the bulbs after only a few minutes.

Posted by: Simon R. on September 27, 2007 08:17 PM

This is absolutely beautiful...thanks ten-fold!!!

Posted by: Stacy on October 28, 2007 09:48 AM

Fabulous guide, thanks.

Posted by: Richard. L on November 1, 2007 09:27 AM

Thanks a lot. It seems that every index entry in the owners manual refers to a paragraph saying to take it to the dealer.

Beware that both the high beam and low beam bulb holders only go in one way. If they are upside down they won't latch, and its not obvious - especially on the high beams. I cut a 'C' shape out of a piece of 3/4" plywood to use as an installation tool in place of the spring clamps.

The light bulbs are available at Walmart. That is handy when its 9:30 on Sunday night.

Posted by: Jim K on November 18, 2007 07:43 PM

Rich P rocks... awesome pdf file.

Posted by: Barry on November 20, 2007 07:22 PM

As for the v.w. dealerships around the world...buck-fung-you!!! Thanks for the detail instructions. The money saved was used for a great supper out with coctails....

Posted by: terry on November 22, 2007 07:33 AM

Geez, I was about to make an appt with the VW dealer until I thought "why not google the subject." The VW owner's manual says that changing bulbs in the front end of the car should be done by a VW dealer. "Drivers wanted"[so we can make money on headlamp replacements]

THANKS Rich and Mike for making this info available to all !

Posted by: Gene on November 27, 2007 09:32 PM

To everyone...you are all welcome. Glad to help. More here, http://home.comcast.net/~slashpub/

I accept PayPal. ;) j/k

Posted by: Rich P on December 8, 2007 02:36 PM

Thanks a million. If I ever get rid of this car I will buy something that anyone can work on. I live 2 hrs from any dealership of VW and it has really been a pain. I love my car but it is a pain.

Posted by: Karen on December 17, 2007 10:56 AM

Thank you for your post and Rich P, great document!

Posted by: Mark S on January 18, 2008 12:17 PM

Great post thanks for the link to the PDF

Posted by: Shawn C on January 24, 2008 11:55 AM

Thanks, extremely helpful... I got the job done!

Posted by: Max on January 26, 2008 12:40 PM

My N/S headlight went out as I was doing my pre work checks and I could not find the manual any where so I just Googled 'How to change headlight bulbs on a Passat' Up poppede your fantastic blog and in 25 minutes and a gashed left hand Im on the road!! Thanks buddy! If you ever come to the U.K. you get a free ride!

Posted by: David the cabbie on February 2, 2008 01:29 PM

My wife thanks I'm a "headlight hero." Thanks!

Posted by: David on April 22, 2008 04:19 PM

Bless your heart.

Posted by: losboats on May 30, 2008 11:37 AM

thanks, that saved me some cash.

Posted by: duncan on June 27, 2008 03:13 PM

Is there a post on instructions on how to replace the entire headlamp, encasement and all. The front plastic cover is completely sandblasetd and extremely opqaque. Cost is $245 for the entire headlight and $55 labor...$300 per side !!! yikes!!!

Posted by: Renee on August 20, 2008 09:00 AM

Is there a post on instructions on how to replace the entire headlamp, encasement and all. The front plastic cover is completely sandblasetd and extremely opqaque. Cost is $245 for the entire headlight and $55 labor...$300 per side !!! yikes!!!

Posted by: Renee on August 20, 2008 09:01 AM

Thank you so much for this post, it was easily found on a Google search and has seriously empowered this 25-year-old city gal who knows NOTHING about fixing her own car =)

Posted by: Carolina Girl on November 20, 2008 09:09 AM

My light went out yesterday. Quick google and Lo the full works. Google is your friend in all things. Now, how does it go?..... How many Passat owners does it take to change a light bulb?

Posted by: Chris on December 17, 2008 05:11 AM

So good. Thanks.

Posted by: JV on January 12, 2009 09:01 PM

For some reason I am unable to get the "cover" off (on page 2 of the .pdf instructions. The plastic will break if I pull on it any harder. 2002 VW Passat driver's side low beam. Please advise.

Posted by: KSW on January 13, 2009 09:00 PM

thanks! just what i was looking for.

Posted by: steve b on January 28, 2009 06:24 PM

Thanks for the info. Love my passat, but hat the difficulty of replacing simple things like bulbs and the battery. There's something wrong with a car design when you have to remove the wiper arms to swap out the battery. Thanks again.

Posted by: Wil on January 30, 2009 10:09 AM

Much Kudos. Thanks

Posted by: SteveD on February 8, 2009 09:29 AM

I have a 2002 Wagon with the 30 Valve V6 engine - which apart from this problem is a very nice car supposedly (VW Germany) capable of 140mph plus. And recently had the same problem. The tail lights are really accessible at least in the Estate/Brake/Wagon however the access for those front lights especially the turn signals is just a 81tch. Be very careful VW must still think the Second World War is one because the wiring looms are extremely tight.
I was told that they had to pull the whole hood forward as well and that it would be at least an hour. Next time I think I will go to Little Rock instead. Thanks for this, I used "Save Target As" and downloaded the .pdf file. Good Job and muchas gracias, mi amigo!

Posted by: EdtheBrit on March 21, 2009 06:04 PM

Very good. On the 2004 Passat removal of the drivers side cover (shown on page 2)is done by reaching down in front and behind (lengthwise on the car) the green filler cap. Two clips hold the cover to the stem below the filler cap. They are disconnected by putting your fingers under the lowest portion of the clip and pulling away from the cap. Be careful not to break them.

Posted by: Rod on April 12, 2009 11:40 AM

Thank you so much this was perfect and helped make this job quick and easy! You Rock!!

Posted by: Trudy on June 20, 2009 08:04 PM

I'm a 50 year old female, hates cars - changed the low beam bulb in my 2007 Passat in 5 minutes! Cost under $15. The instructions are the same except now it's easier - there is no casing to remove before getting to the little rubber weather cover. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the link to the picture tutorial. It was a breeze and if I can do it, anyone can.

Posted by: Jeanne on July 15, 2009 05:27 PM

Just saved myself $15 by doing it myself. Thanks!

Posted by: Glenn on July 27, 2009 04:49 PM

Great post.
I'm really p***ed off about the outrageous charges by VW dealerships ... example I was just quoted $850 for my 40,000 service. How utterly absurd is that! To check this, check that, top off this and top off that, change the oil, replace a filter or two and stare at a car that is a four stroke engine with 4 wheels, brakes and a steering wheel. Did the same service AND fixed a tire puncture for less than $100. All I recommend is that you keep a file to document your services for warantee purposes.
Anyway, chagning the headlights on a Passat 2007 2.0T is really easy and similar to the link provided in an earlier post: there's boot to take off (simply pull it off) right behinf the light, then the light has a toggle-like appendage to help you turn it counterclockwise (looking from the cabin to the front) then pull it out, ticckle the base of the lamp out with a knife or screw driver, put in the new (low and high the same) and do the opposite to put it back together.
$130 saved!

Posted by: Adriaan on August 1, 2009 12:55 PM

Thank you very much! Extremely helpful. Not every day when you find something this applicable so quickly online!

Posted by: Jeremy on August 22, 2009 03:03 PM

Yes, thank you! It was fabulously easy to replace! Now I can make $90 an hour.

Posted by: Greg on October 13, 2009 07:52 PM

Wonderful directions for people who are low on cash and are resorting to having to do new things for themselves. Thank you for your support!!!

Posted by: OutOfCash on October 15, 2009 12:39 PM

Thanks. I used this to replace the low beam on the passenger side of a 2004 Passat. The only problem was when I dropped the weather seal, and had to spend 20 minutes fishing it out with a coat hanger! Tip: Stuff a rag in the area below the light before removing the weather seal to catch it in case it falls.

Posted by: George on December 12, 2009 09:34 AM

Another supremely happy person once again driving a 2 headlighted Passat thanks to this post! Too bad you don't have a "Donate" button on this page...I'd have been happy to share my saving that you enabled.

Posted by: Charley on December 15, 2009 03:03 PM

Thanks! Dealer said it would be too hard to do and that I should bring it for a $40 charge. Your link helped me figure out how to remove the plastic part to get at the low bulb. $15 for a new bulb and 5 minutes later I was driving... Thanks again!

Posted by: Mike on February 15, 2010 03:36 PM

Nice PDF for the low and high beam.. but how do you get that little city light (running lamp) bulb out? Tough even getting my finger tips on it. Thanks.

Posted by: Don on March 11, 2010 06:04 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
The world may be a decent place after all if there are people like Rich P. that spend their time and effort to document these mandane repairs in such a comprehensive manner for the rest of us
struggling fools to have an easy time of it. Let's not forget the compassionate gesture of Mike to pass this along and make the day a little bit brighter for the rest of us. You guys rock!

Posted by: Kurt P on April 13, 2010 05:50 PM

Thank you, I'm going to tey it on my 2002 passat. My father and husband looked at it and had no idea what to do. Cross our fingers

Posted by: Sybil on April 25, 2010 07:43 AM

That was great! you the best!

Posted by: Bob on May 12, 2010 09:20 AM

The procedure is the EXACT same for a 2004 VW Passat 1.8L turbo. I have about 66000mi on my passat, and both headlights went out at almost exactly the same time. At first I thought I blew a fuse, but turns out it was just both blown bulbs.

This change took about 10 minutes. Definitely do not waste your time paying for someone to do this for you.

Posted by: SurfCharleston on June 13, 2010 08:47 AM