Replacing the headlamp in your 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Having broken through the 100,000 mile barrier several months ago, it was inevitable that things would start needing to be replaced on my 2009 Toyota Highlander. My last state inspection and oil change in May prompted a replacement of the 12v battery (no, not the hybrid battery, that would be disastrous...)

Yesterday, while backing out of the driveway, I noticed in the reflection from the windows in the front of my home, that I had a burned out headlamp. The last time that I had replaced a headlamp (in my Isuzu Trooper), the experience had caused me to question the intelligence of Japanese engineering. So, I headed down to Pep Boys where a helpful parts desk lady showed me which bulb I needed and took me over to the rack where they were displayed.

The proper lamp is the 9003. I purchased a pair of 9003/HB2 lamps which cost me around $25. These lamps are up to 30% brighter than OEM and since one had already burned out, it only made sense to replace both of them at the same time. I was hoping that the job would be simple enough that I wouldn't regret it. At least I would have a spare.

This morning, before embarking to the driveway to begin the task, I did a little homework. A quick Google search turned up this website from I watched the approximately 3 minute video. It is surprisingly helpful and not condescending, even showing you how to find your hood release lever and how to prop up the hood.

I want to add a couple of hints, one of which may be unique to the Hybrid, to make your task a bit easier if you need to replace your headlamps.

First, on the Hybrid, you can make it easier to get your hands on the driver-side lamp by removing the black plastic shroud on top of the engine (see photo). Just grab the piece and pull up on it. There are three catches that hold it on. Just pull up briskly on it.

Engine shroud

Next, after you remove the plug from the lamp, the rubber seal over the headlight assembly is a bit tough to get off if this is the first time the bulb has been replaced. I used a flat head screwdriver to gently pry it away from the back of the assembly. Once it is started, the outer section comes off easily. The inner ring will take some tugging to get it away from the base of the bulb.

The clip that holds the bulb in its socket is also a bit tricky. The end of the clip wire slides behind a C-shaped hook. You can see it in the video. It is a bit difficult to see on the car, but once you realize how it is held in there, it comes right off.

On the passenger side, there is the windshield washer fluid filler tube. This is in the way of the lamp on that side of the car. Squeeze the inner clips where it attaches to the frame (as shown in the photo) and it will pop out of its slot. Next, reach down to where the tube enters the reservoir (center of bottom photo) and pull the tube out. Set it aside. Now you have access to the back of the lamp.

When you are done, reassemble the lamp connections and slide the rubber seal back on. It should fit snugly without binding. Check the headlights to make sure they both light up. Once you confirm they are both burning and properly aligned, turn off the car, replace the windshield washer tube, pop the shroud back on the engine and close the hood. You are good to go.


Craig Hollins said…
You forgot to mention to check the alignment of the headlights so you're not blinding oncoming traffic with your 30% brighter bulbs - or even lighting only the three feet of ground in front of your car. You will also need to treat the missing skin on the back of your hands. (Or is it only me that can't open a car bonnet without bleeding?)

My time saving tip is to drop by your dealership and look at a new car. Tell the salesperson you are looking at a new one but you have to get the headlights fixed on your current. He'll be so keen to show you how good their service dept is you'll be on your way in 15 mins flat and pay little more than the cost of the bulb. I did that with my VW and they topped up the oil as well with no charge for either.
Wow, things really ARE upside down, down under...

This car actually did not harm me. That is why I hated replacing the lamps in my Isuzu.

Also, I don't think the headlights need alignment since the only thing that changes is the bulb. The reflector and the front reflector thingie that sits in front of the bulb (lamp) is stationary.
Craig Hollins said…
True, but if you RTFM they usually say check alignment in case your ham fisted attempts at hammering in a bulb knocked them out.
The Asterisk said…
Had to replace another bulb today, so I pulled up my own blog entry to remember how to do it! Vive la Internet!

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