Headlights won't turn on, any ideas?
October 21, 2009 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Headlights won't turn on, any ideas?

So I was driving this evening and people where flashing their headlights at me and when I pulled over I realized that my headlights were not on.

Everything else works on my car fine, but no headlights or high beams will turn on. Is there anything I can check before I take my car to the mechanic [i'm kind of poor these days]

My car is a 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer, stock nothing fancy added to it.

posted by mattsweaters to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Probably just a fuse. Find the fuse box, should have a diagram on it. Pull the one for the lights and buy a replacement. Couple dollars.
posted by WickedPissah at 7:57 PM on October 21, 2009

Could be the fuse, could be the bulbs.
When was the last time you put new bulbs in?
posted by Jon-o at 8:05 PM on October 21, 2009

I'm pretty sure the fuse box in my car has a couple of extras included, so you may not even have to buy a new one. You will probably also need a pair of needle-nose pliers to get the old fuse out.
posted by AtomicBee at 8:10 PM on October 21, 2009

Probably the fuse or bulbs. Both are easy to replace yourself. Instructions and the parts will need are in your owners manual. I had the same problem on a Hyundai, if I was able to fix it by myself anyone can.
posted by entropyiswinning at 8:14 PM on October 21, 2009

The fuse is a good start. The headlight may also have a relay, which may be in another box similar to the fuse box. The relays are a little larger than the fuses. If that is the problem, you should be able to find one easily, but they are not as readily available as fuses. Check your owners manual.
posted by Yorrick at 8:16 PM on October 21, 2009

Check the fuse before the bulbs - it's more likely that a single fuse would blow, than both headlights blowing at once (unless you were driving around with one headlight for ages without knowing it, then the second one blew?)

Also not mentioned yet: the switch. Not sure where this is located on your car (dashboard? blinker column?) but that's another single point of failure that could explain both lights malfunctioning at once.

As a more general tip: it's always worth poking around under the hood & behind the dashboard, checking for loose wires. Give every connection you can find a little jiggle & make sure the connectors are pushed together tight.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:51 PM on October 21, 2009

As UbuRoivas says, I think it's likely you had one headlight out for awhile without realizing it, and today the second one went out. It's easy not to notice one headlight being out.
posted by ShooBoo at 8:54 PM on October 21, 2009

What everyone else said. The fuse for the headlights is probably in the fuse box under the hood somewhere near the battery.
posted by Doohickie at 9:14 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding the bit about the relay. Once you have checked the fuses (and if they are OK) you can most likely swap the headlight relay with another (working) one. On my 2007 Subaru the horn and headlight relay were exactly the same. I swapped them over and the horn still worked, and the lights didn't! That's when I knew it was bulbs... Yes they both blew at the same time.

I am not familiar with your car at all, but the relay for the horn/lights/and some other fuses etc was actually located under the hood. Check your car's user manual, it will tell you where to find all the fuses/relays.

As an aside - do you drive all the time with your lights on? I have a bad habit of doing this (since the lights automatically switch off when you remove the ignition key), so I go through a pair of bulbs every 18 months :-)
posted by humpy at 11:41 PM on October 21, 2009

nthing the fuse. in our case, it was the fuse inside the switch in the dash, not under the hood. this was in an old mercury, though. i think it was like, $14? we took the dash apart and popped in the new part ourselves. easy!
posted by janepanic at 3:16 AM on October 22, 2009

I bet $10 it's not the fuse.
posted by digsrus at 7:00 AM on October 22, 2009

Fuses don't normally blow unless there is some other problem. My guess are both bulbs are burned out or it's a bad switch.
posted by digsrus at 7:06 AM on October 22, 2009

Auto fuses don't usually pop like the ones in your house. If you have a fuse go bad, it's often indicative of some other problem, like a short.
posted by electroboy at 7:11 AM on October 22, 2009

Or, you know, what digsrus said.
posted by electroboy at 7:12 AM on October 22, 2009

Are just the headlights out? Or are all of the running lights (side markers and tail lights) out?
Do the headlight on your car also serve as daytime running lights? If so, are they also off in that mode?

Might be the light switch, too.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:31 AM on October 22, 2009

both of the blubs had burnt out! thanks
posted by mattsweaters at 4:41 PM on November 11, 2009

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