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Abstract: How to replace the front headlight bulb on your Toyota Prius

Applies to: Toyota Prius 2004 - 2009 (NHW20 platform)

This article is supplemental information to the Bentley Prius manual, Chapter 10 Electrical System.

How to replace the front head light bulb

  • Switch hybrid system OFF (READY indicator not illuminated).

• Be sure hybrid system is OFF when servicing vehicle (READY indicator not illuminated).
• Failure to switch the hybrid system OFF could result in engine start at any time.

  • Remove 6 retainers (arrows) on radiator cover.

  • To remove retainers:
    • Turn center pin ¼ turn with Phillips screwdriver until center pin
    • Use small flat-blade screwdriver to gently pry out pin and

  • Remove radiator cover.
Left side bulb:
  • Remove fuse panel cover (arrow).

Right side bulb:
  • Remove air intake duct (arrow).

Halogen headlight bulb, replacing
  • Disconnect electrical connector (arrow) from bulb.

  • Rotate headlight bulb cover counter clockwise (arrow) to

Heat from headlight bulb may cause rubber cover to harden and stick to base of bulb. Insert small screwdriver or similiartool between rubber cover and bulb base to loosen before attempting to remove.

  • Disengage set spring (arrow) to remove headlight bulb. Do not
    touch bulb glass with your fingers.

  • Installation is reverse of removal.
Xenon (HID) headlight bulb, replacing
  • Rotate headlight bulb cover (arrow) and remove.

  • Rotate xenon (HID) headlight control module socket (arrow) to
    disengage from bulb.

  • Disengage set spring (arrow) to remove headlight bulb.

Do not touch bulb glass with your fingers.

  • Installation is reverse of removal.
Bentley Prius Manual

Before Performing any Work

Please read Warnings & Cautions before proceeding with any work on your vehicle

Technical Discussion Forums

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Toyota Prius Headlight Bulb, Replacing


  1. Anonymous

    When the Toyota Prius originally came out many people described it as 'surprisngly almost like driving a real car' which, at the time, wasn't quite damning it with faint praise, as early adopters are willing to put up with, or even crave, a bit of strangeness. Now, however, that Toyota is trying to make the Prius a mainstream option, it can't 'almost' drive like a real car, it has to drive better than a conventional gas engine vehicle in order to not scare away those a bit leary of battery-electric power. Perhaps the cheapness inside is Toyota trying to further justify the price of the upcoming Lexus model based on the Prius. On the other hand, it could be the general cheapening Toyota is doing across the line. I have no doubt that Toyota will sell many of these, but the writing is on the wall, just as GM, Ford, and Chrysler were guilty of in their peak, Toyota is starting to let the accountants run the company, and figures it can maintain position through reputation alone.

  2. Anonymous

    Let's see, Toyota cars started showing these issues back in 2007 or even before that. Instead of asking about conflict of interest, shouldn't you be asking why a previous administration didn't do anything to protect their citizens from faulty cars? I am pleased that our actual president is taking care of us; maybe you are one of the few that puts corporate gains ahead of citizens wellbeing. The car prices are as stndard like brand name.;commentsStandAlone#ixzz17bUTETEE

  3. Anonymous

    You failed to have a step on removing the rubber boot from the bulb base, though you mention using a screwdriver to loosen (how exactly? there's no room to angle the screwdriver, and no visibility); The major difficulty is in keeping the bulb pushed IN while simultaneously pulling the rubber boot OUT. This cost me at least 30 minutes of aggravation and was by far the hardest step (I got it eventually, but not without bending the set spring a little).  But thanks for the nice graphics and photos. This helped.

    1. Hi, thanks for the comments. The step to remove the bulb cover is mentioned and there are graphics showing it in the locked and unlocked postion. You rotate cover to unlock, then pull off bulb. It can become stuck, and if that is the you have to loosen the bond with a small screwdriver or pick.

      Keep in mind. This is not the (Toyota) recommended procedure to replace the bulb. Toyota recommends removing the bumper and headlight. This is quite a but easier. Even if you are left fumbling with the rubber cover for a few minutes.

      Thanks again!

      1. Anonymous

        Really wish I'd seen this page before I changed out the bulb in my Prius. Although I watched and re-watched some very good videos on the process (and therefore knew the whole headlight assembly didn't have to be removed), having some nice clear diagrams like you do here would have been an immense help. I too struggled to get the weather cover off, probably because heating had caused the bulb to stick to it. Getting the cover back on was also a chore, mostly because I didn't have a good mental picture of how it worked. Many thanks for putting this page up though. It is in fact a great advert for your full manual. I hope you consider doing further supplements like this in the future.

  4. Anonymous

    These directions were a real money saver, Thanks!

  5. Anonymous

    The pictures were a great help, since most of the operation had to be done by "feel".  Got it done with a minimum donation to the swear jar.

  6. Anonymous

    Ditto to comments above - best instructions and photos anywhere (non-HID)! Removal of radiator cover is not necessary for driver side only replacement. Removal of the rubber boot was a bit tricky not due to heat binding but rather because the rubber sleeve is pretty deep, ~1/2" fully covering the based of the bulb and ribbed, so it took some gentle rocking and pulling to get it off.

  7. Anonymous

    Just changed both bulbs: 35 min all done! Great instructions!

  8. Anonymous

    Just finished replacement on a 2004,thanks very helpful,the swing clip on that holds the bulb in swings out toward fender,when you swing it back you can look at the right side of the lamp to see it securly fastened,(through the lens)had to do it twice as i had to rotate the lamp 90 deg. It took 10 minutes,I didn't remove the front cover either.

  9. Anonymous

    May want to add a comment that the wire needs to be held tightly at all costs. It dropped down into the light housing. Had to take the entire assembly out to get the wire back.

  10. Anonymous

    Thank you for this information. Very helpful in changing the headlight on our '07.  I found I broke the screw clips that hold the plastic cowl, and that plastic wire ties will work until I can get some from the toyota dealer.   I have changed lots of headlights over the years, but this is more cramped and took me a lot longer. But still much easier than removing the bumper!   As others have noted, next time will be quicker.

  11. Anonymous

    Thank you.  I was able to give this sequence to my local mechanics, with good results.   I was previously denied their services since they believed that the bumper on my 2005 Prius had to be removed to replace the head lamps.

  12. Anonymous

    Very useful as to what to expect. Regarding the halogen instructions, to release the bulb retaining wire, there is a loop in the wire on the side toward the radiator. The loop needs to be depressed to release the wire. It pops free. This is on a 2008 Prius.

  13. Anonymous

    Thanks for the great instructions!  Much better than the simple diagrams in the Prius manual.  For my halogen installation, the hardest part was getting the rubber cover back on securely!

  14. Anonymous

    Go to YouTube and search for "how to change headlight bulb in 2008 Prius."  There is a video that shows how to do it in about 15 minutes.  Several people who did it commented on how easy it was and were very grateful to this man for showing them how to save anywhere between $300 and $800. 



  15. Anonymous

    Very helpful, thanks.  Worst part was getting cover off. Found that is isn't necessary to remove outside connector on cover (on 2007 w/HID). It is fairly easy to not get the bulb aligned properly, since it is difficult to see. After initial re-assembly i found that my headlight adjustment was way off. Thought maybe I broke something and even tried re-adjusting aim. After looking in through the front and comparing to the other headlight, I noticed that I didn't get it seated properly, and it was cocked a bit. It does help to look at the other headlight to see how it should be oriented, or as you're removing the old one, take notice. After re-aiming all is good.

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