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Thursday, 16 February 2012

How to change a blown H7 Headlight bulb on a VW Golf mk4, Detailed with photographs.

If my guide was of use to you then please tweet it for others so they can save time too  :

This post is for anyone thinking of trying to change the headlight bulb on a UK Mark IV VW Golf.
Print this out so you can refer to it when working on your car or use an iPad :)

By the way if your looking for information on changing a rear bulb then I also made a video on which bulbs are which - VW Golf MkIV:How to identify which bulb is which on the rear light cluster. Brake, indicator,fog etc.

This is what a H7 Headlight Bulb looks like:
H7 Bulb

The passenger side (near side) headlight bulb had gone and reading online this one seems to give people all sorts of problems. Having looked at lots of mk4 forums before doing this there seemed to be lots of people having great difficulty and even having to resort to taking the bumper off the car! Some people taking several hours of time to change a bulb. Not being put off by this I decided to have a go and document just how easy and quick I found it. Once I had changed the drivers side and knew how it all came apart I found it really quick and easy to change the passenger side. I would say it took me less that one minute to change the passenger headlight bulb !
Looking at it I can see why someone have problems and its mainly to do with not understanding how to remove the bulb retaining clip because you can't actually see it unless you put a camera in the small gap.
In my photographs you will see I have a good shot of the bulb retaining clip and you can see how it operates so it does not matter that you can't see it!

What I have done here is documented in great detail with photographs so you should have no problems what so ever in doing it yourself. All you need is good lighting, patience (as always when working on your car), a pair of new H7 headlight bulbs, A large screwdriver.

There is no need to remove the bumper,the battery or anything else for that matter.
You don't even need any tools but I suggest you use a screwdriver only to remove the risk of loosing skin when working in the tight space.

By the way when I say Headlight I am referring to the bright lights that come on when you set the rotary headlight switch to its last position (1=off,2=sidelights,3=headlights). Where as the "full beam headlight" is operated by pushing forward the indicator stick and this is a different bulb (H1 448) But you can follow my guide for replacing that one too as that's also accessible when you change this bulb.

You are always best to change bulbs in pairs rather than just the one that has gone.
So you may ask "why do i have to change h7 bulbs in pairs", well you don't have to but if you only change one then the colour of the light will be different between the new and the old. If your lazy and just want a quick fix then just change one.

I highly recommend that you change the drivers side one first so that you can get a real good idea of how to do it and this will then make it a lot simpler for the passenger side as there is no a lot of space behind that one because of the battery.

All of my photographs refer to the Drivers side (off side) on a UK Golf mk4 model (2000 year). The passenger side is an exact mirror of the guide.

The replacement bulbs I got were from Derby Autocentre on Elton Road in Derby.
There were only £4 each and are Narva H7 477 bulbs made by Philips. You can of course spend lots of money on bright headlight bulbs if you wish.
You can even get bulbs that are 90% brighter than the standard ones, these are called Night Breaker Headlight Bulbs and can be bought from Amazon or your local car parts retailer.

My step by step instructions with photographs.
Click any photograph to view a larger version if you want more details.

1) A Close up view of the H7 Headlight bulb (drivers side). This is the bulb we are going to change.
That metal cap thing is part of the lens cluster and not attached to the bulb.
H7 Headlight bulb on VW Golf mk4

Lift the bonnet and you should see on the drivers side something like this in front of the screen washer bottle :
2) Here is a view from above the drivers side headlight and back cover retaining clip.
Headlight bulb changing - Drivers side - Clip
Using a large flatblade screwdriver ease this retaining clip out of its notches and push it over to the right.

3) Here you can see I have unclipped the retaining clip out of the way.
Retaining clip moved out of the way.
Now the retaining clip is moved out of the way you can remove the back cover.

4) Here I have started to open up the cover to reveal the bulb connections.
headlight back cover being opened.
This back cover has a rubber seal so you may have to use a bit of force if its dirty. It hinges on the left side

5) This is what the back cover looks like when removed.
Drivers side headlight back cover removed
The bit sticking out on the left is the hinge part.

6) side view of the power plug on the back of the H7 headlight bulb.
Headlight bulb changing - Power plug drivers side.
Here you can see the power plug on the back of the headlight bulb.This is easy to remove, just wiggle it while pulling it off away from the bulb (towards the screen washer bottle). Once disconnected move the plug loom out of the way so you can remove the bulb.

7) Here is a view of the bulb connections and the bulb retaining clip.
H7 blub retaining clip.
The H7 bulb is latched in place by that spring clip. Its hinged at the bottom.
See the next photo down so you fully understand how it operates.

8) Close up view of the bulb retaining clip mechanism.
Close up of retaining clip mechanism on headlight bulb on VW Golf mk4
As you can see in order to remove the bulb you need to press your finger against that top bar so it moves it out of the way into the recess first, then push it to the right (towards the front offside wheel)

Important : Now you have unclipped the latch, keep your finger on the back of the bulb and drop the clip down (don't worry it wont fall to the ground as its attached). Once the clip is out of the way slowly pull the bulb out of the light cluster towards the screen washer bottle. Make a note of the keyway on this bulb as you MUST replace the bulb in the same way!. If you get it wrong then they won't point correctly.
I think the keyway was at the top on my bulb.

9) The H7 477 Headlight Bulb and replacement one ready to go in.
Faulty H7 Headlight bulb and new one in box.
Get your new bulb out of its box making sure you do not touch the glass. Hold it by the pins at the back.
To fit the bulb its simply the reverse of above. So place the bulb slowly until its fully home and lift the retaining clip back up and push it forward and then to the left and release it into the latch recess.
You can now reconnect the power plug, refit the back cover and slide the cover retaining clip back over the cover. that's it done.
Passenger side :
The passenger side is exactly the same as above, the retaining clip has to be pushed towards the curbside as its a mirror of the drivers side. There is slightly less room for your hands to work in.

To test your bulbs start the car and set the rotary headlights switch to position 3, check they both light up.

Hope this helps anyone contemplating changing the bulb.
Please leave a comment if you found my guide of help and any other tips you may have for doing this job.
Tweet this article for others.




  1. I owe you a pint!
    This is exactly what I needed, I did not want to pay a garage to change a bulb but could not work out how you get that clip thing off but thanks to your photographs I'm sorted, did it in 10mins !!


  2. Cheers mate exactly what I needed, changed my wifes lights in 10 mins.
    Thanks again

  3. Many thanks, this is exactly what we need. I've just come back from a filling station where I cheerfully popped the cover off ready to go and buy a bulb in the shop - then realised it wasn't going to be as easy as I'd expected!

  4. Well Done Andy,
    really great.

    Tim (another one)

  5. Can i ask, what the keyway is? And what happens to the little thing on the end of the bulb?

    1. The keyway is that matel tab sticking out of the side of the bulb.
      "Little thing on the end of the bulb" ?

  6. I would just add that **if** you do accidentally touch the glass envelope on the new bulb, wash it in alcohol to remove all grease. Otherwise the glass will crack just where you touched it :-(

  7. eoghan o connor28 June 2012 12:27

    thank you Andy you are a genious i was trying 30 min before looking this up

  8. this advice has made my day! changed it in 2 mins feel empowered bu it.. many thanks

  9. Fantastic, saw someone pay £13,98 to have two headbulbs fitted then came home and changed them on my car in 10 minutes with your instructions. Many thanks.

  10. how easy with your help thanks a lot BRILL

  11. Thanks for the advice, but no go I am afraid. This was designed by imbeciles, an absolute crock... Tried two hundred times to fix the clip back in. It's not going in - will probably have to take out the battery to even get my fingers in & see what's not happening.

  12. Brilliant - am looking at replacing my car with a Mk4 golf and after hearing horror stories about changing the light bulb, I was starting to have reservations. Mind has been put to ease now :D

  13. Definitely need to remove battery for access on passenger side (Mk4 TDI)... unless you have petite hands and the dexterity of a surgeon :-)

  14. YESSSS! Did it and yes I do have petite hands and the deterity of a surgeon. Also too tight to give my money away. Although it did take half an hour. :(

  15. Thank you, instructions even a girl can follow!!!

    1. Instructions that "even a girl can follow"?? I'm assuming that you are female and so am I. Changing a bulb doesn't take brute strength, and the capacity to understand car repair is not relative to genetics, my dear. sigh

    2. Oh c'mon, most girls prob think a retainer clip is what they used to wear to bed in high school... Lol, most guys think that way now too, lol

  16. Excellent guide. I'd heard the 'horror' stories and was going to take the car to a local garage. I found your guide and managed to sort it myself in about 10 minutes.
    Many thanks.

  17. Awesome, sweet as a nut, sorted, nice one, spot on.

    Only thing I can add is that I did have to remove the battery cover to give a little more room for the passenger side (MK 4 TDi)

    I've got big hands and just managed with that little extra room.


  18. Andy - thanks a lot. I can't imagine more clear and simple instruction how to change bulb. I have no DYI / repair skills at all but I have done it myself thanks to your superb instructions. Many thanks !

  19. Andy, fantastic. I was doing it today, and couldn't see the top of the clip, and doing it by feel meant I missed the little cut-out where the spring clip locates. You have saved me hours. Good man!

  20. Really helpful Andy - thank you. Your photographs & explanations were more helpful than You Tube videos I looked at.

  21. Thanks Andy - I was struggling to see what I needed to do, but your photos have helped heaps.



  22. Zoran - Canada '10 City Golf16 December 2012 22:44

    Thanks Andy,
    The images are always good, and there is no doubt that they made people with this design happy. I have so called City Golf (2010)... only in Canada. Instead of that clip to access the H7 bulb, I have circular cap (5-6 cm dia.) with rubber gasket and three teeth. The one on the left side where the battery is, has very little space even for the fingers. I was able to unscrew plastic circular cover but no luck to remove anything afterwards. I have even removed two screws from the top of the whole headlight assembly and tried to pull the whole thing out but something is holding it from the bottom. I am asking if anyone knows how to replace H7 on any other VW model with circular cap. Many thanks!

  23. very easy to follow instructions. Thank you

  24. Totally superb bit of blogging. Just changed both of them in about 15 minutes, thanks to your generous help. Great work, much appreciated from over here in France :o)

  25. Hi, Even Yanks like me can handle this in less than 20 min. for both. A little knoledge ahead of the job goes a long way. Thanks!

  26. Thanks Andy great post, clear photos, I would say the winter kit adds a couple of problems with tubes to the lamp wash and an extra piece of plastic trim; I found removing the top 2 headlamp screws (star shaped so used an 8mm socket) gives a little more wiggle room. Halfords will fit them for you but only in larger branches so you saved me petrol and hassle! Thanks again.

  27. Bought a workshop manual to try and solve the riddle of the bulbs - but it's not a patch on your photos and description. Great! You must have saved Golf owners headaches and heartaches galore.

  28. you safe my liife maaan veery much :)))))))))))

  29. Your a legend !! Thanks to ur clear photos and very easy instructions i have no doubt just saved a lot of money for what was an easy enough job but it also took half hour out of my own time which it prob would of been in garage for days ! Thanks ! If ur ever in Pompey I owe u a beer !

  30. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this post together :) I think this girl might be able to change at least the drivers side bulb now!

  31. Perfect and easy to follow - took me literally 2 minutes to do!
    I'll be adding your site to my favourites for other things I need to do.

  32. This was fantastic. I've been able to change the bulbs in my car for the first time myself after owning it for 9 years! Thank you very much

  33. After about an hour of swearing and sore fingers, unable to secure the bulb-holding clip back in, I bought a small mirror and saw exactly what is on your photos - watch out everyone as those little metal hooks bend so easily!

    PLEASE NOTE: the bulbs fit in only one way with the cutout facing up - rotate the bulb slowly if not sure until it slips into its correct position in which you cannot rotate it anymore.

  34. Hi
    Top man. I opened the bonnet and thought. Shit surely the battery does not have to come out. Looked in the manual and it said take it to a VW agent. I thought "This is not a French car". So looked on the internet and found your site. 10 minutes and done. Not only replaced but improved the lights with your tip. Will definitley make your site a favourite.

  35. Big thanks Andy ! , your description & good photos made everything much easier ! . Great work , Matt ;-) .

  36. Many Many thanks,after 45 mins of cursing and swearing, hands ripped to pieces,found your site brilliant. Fantastic description and photos, 2 mins and it's done.

  37. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This was just the information I needed to change the lights on my Ford Fiesta. The Ford forums were no use at all, weirdly. It's so easy! Just like, um, changing a lightbulb....

  38. Many thanks. Took me 10 minutes.

  39. The close up view of the bulb retaining clip mechanism was very helpful! :-) Finally got that *%^$# clip back in place after 3 hours of trying....

  40. Agreed with above comment... The photo really helped. When I took mine off, the whole clip sprang out of place and I had no idea how to put it back on. Thanks, saved me a few unnecessary labour bucks!

  41. My bulb is pointing the wrong way somehow. When you say keyway what do you mean? Because the tab on the bulb can only go in one place from what I can see.

  42. Wow...Thx a Million!!! Did in order recommended, just removed battery cover on passenger side to get better access. Cheers from SA!

  43. Thanks, saved me lots of faffing!

  44. Great stuff, great help and no need for any cussing or cursing!

  45. Thank you for the info and detailed guide. Just did the pax side, was easy with your guide.
    many thanks!

  46. Brilliant, I have changed my bulbs over the years and each time I do it again I always seem to forget how I did it the time before!!! Thank you very very much.

  47. Thanks Dude - Driver side easy and straight forward, Passenger side a little trickey to get clip of light bulb, until I relised if you lift upwards and pull to left comes off easily! Only took a few mins there after :)

  48. Thanks very much - very good instructions. My Golf is now fully illuminated again. Thanks very much for sharing your wisdom here.

  49. Excellent.... I will try it again. This time I am sure I will manage no trouble. (Just agricultural and stiff fingers in that confined space...)

  50. Thank you! Was going to have a go but after reading this showed the wife and got her to do it (her hands are much smaller than mine!) done in 15 mins.

  51. And to think I nearly paid H*lf*rds to do it! This page bookmarked in case I need to it again. Clear photos and detailed description - VW should put it in the handbook!

  52. thanks - clear info and photos simplified what would have been an awkward and frustrating job

  53. Yes, it was the top of the retaining clip that got me wound up until I found your info Andy - thank you so much........

  54. Hi. Thanks very much for pics and advice. Found changing my headlamp bulbs a piece of cake. And only took 10 mins to do both sides.Cheers.

  55. Great post! Really helped me out. Took about 10 mins to change drivers and passenger side! Many thanks! ��