DIY Money Saver: You Can Change ANY Light On Your Car Yourself!

EOD_CarLightPicI was sitting in the waiting room of the quick lube oil change place when one of the employees sat down beside me to give the customary rundown of my vehicle’s status and additional suggested services. At the end of the summary, he mentioned that both license plate lamps were out.

“Those lamps run $9.99 a piece. Would you like us to take care of those for you today?”

If you were in my position, what would your answer be? Your answer should be an immediate, and resounding, “No, thank you.” Which is exactly what I said.As the man walked away I could feel my wife’s eyes burning a hole into the side of my head.

“Do you know how to change those bulbs,” she asked?

“Nope. But I can figure it out,” I replied.

Upon returning home, I pulled out the owner’s manual out of the glove compartment, and found the section on bulb replacement. For each type of bulb, the owner’s manual includes the following information:

  • Bulb Type : Each bulb has an bulb type (usually a 3 or 4 digit number). You can take this number to your local auto supply store, or even a big box retailer like Walmart or Target to find a match. If you happen to find yourself staring at a wall of bulbs after forgetting to write down the number, most stores have a book nearby the display in which customers can look up the year and model of a vehicle to determine the needed bulb.
  • Replacement Instructions: For some bulbs, the method to remove and replace is obvious. For others, a little help is needed. The vehicle owner’s manual includes instructions to allow owners to maintain the bulbs on their automobile. I read quickly through the instructions for the license plate bulbs and was confident I could successfully follow them.

Later that afternoon, I was at Walmart for my weekly grocery shopping excursion. Written on my hand was, “2825,” which was the type of bulb needed to get my car’s license plate illuminated once again. Following the directions from the owner’s manual, I replaced both my license plate bulbs in less than 5 minutes.

Obviously I decided to change the bulbs myself because I believed it would save me money. So, how much did it actually save me?

  • Quick Lube Replacement Cost: 2 bulbs x $9.99 = $19.98.
  • DIY Replacement: Package of 2 bulbs : $4.95

I saved $15.03 by taking 5 minutes to replace the license plate bulbs myself.

When you pay someone else to replace burnt out bulbs on your vehicle, you’re paying for convenience. The information as to what bulb you need, and how to replace it is easily found in your owner’s manual, and with with just a few minutes of time you can accomplish the goal yourself. The amount you save will vary depending upon the bulb, but you have to ask yourself if a few minutes of your time is worth it.

About Travis

6 Responses to “DIY Money Saver: You Can Change ANY Light On Your Car Yourself!”

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  1. Money Beagle says:

    The thing is that if it’s an important bulb like a headlight or brake light, you have to take care of it pretty quickly or you’re increasing your risk of getting a ticket, which is going to set you back a lot further than even the overpriced quick lube shop.

    I’m not disagreeing with your statement at all. In fact I agree, but I just know that many will drive away from the quick lube place confident that they’re about to save a bunch of money, only to forget about it and keep putting it off, so just be careful!

  2. Sassy Mamaw says:

    I agree, but have to add that some cars are more difficult to work on than others. I have a 2011 Chevy Malibu. To change the headlight, you have to remove the bumper – seriously! Last summer, the dealer wanted $80 to do it. I found a shop that would do if for $60. Then it went out again, and then a third time! It turned out the be the wiring harness. Ugh. However, when the other bulb went out this year (!), my hubby and I decided to try it ourselves. We were able to loosen the bumper enough for me to squeeze my hand in and replace the bulb without taking everything apart. The bulb was $20, and it took about 2 hours of our time.

    It definitely saved us some money, but I wouldn’t have tried it without my hubby’s help.

  3. I would pay for that convenience if my bf was not around. I’m not car savvy (ask me where to put the windshield wash and I could not tell you) and I would not risk screwing it up.

    • Travis says:

      That’s exactly why they offer those services, Dannielle…..if it’s not something you’re comfortable doing, it’s good to have someone else do it. BUT, once you give it a try, you might find that it’s easier than you thought. 🙂

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