How to replace the headlight bulbs on a 2006 Subaru Impreza

Welcome to installment #2 on basic handiwork tips that any professional (day trader, neurosurgeon, or even business analyst) can learn to do! The previous tutorial discussed how to replace the rear bulbs on the same car.

It turns out that my low beams on my 2006 Subaru Impreza wagon decided to burn out on the way to work one early morning. I stopped by AutoZone on the way home to pick up replacement bulbs and made the repair that evening. An upgraded pair of Xenon-like bulbs could be found on eBay for less than $20. Unfortunately I could not wait for the shipping and ended up picking a set of standard Halogen bulbs for $31 at the store. The dealer and typical garage would have charged around $50 for parts and another $70 for labor. The job took me approximately 10-15 minutes. This roughly translated to a “net gain” of $90 for 15 minutes of my time. That brings things to an untaxed hourly rate of $360. Not bad!

The headlights of the car look like this:

Subaru Impreza 2006 headlights
The high beam is medial to the low beam

The low and high beams are divided into separate housing compartments with a washer seal to keep moisture out. Access to the passenger side lights is easier than the driver’s side because the battery is situated adjacent to the lights on the driver’s side. I was fortunately able to replace the driver’s side bulb without removing the battery.

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For the passenger side, you will have to remove the air filter exhaust to gain access to the lights. There is a hex bolt that holds the housing in place:

Subaru Impreza Air Exhaust bolt
Size 10 hex bolt

On the driver’s side, there is a plastic fastener that holds the windshield washer fluid reservoir tube in place:

Subaru Impreza Windshield fluid fastener
Use a Phillips head screwdriver to unscrew and then a flat head screw driver to remove the plastic

The plastic screw with fastener can be removed by unscrewing the screw and then prying the fastener up with a offset spatula or a flat screwdriver. Be careful to pry gently to prevent snapping any of the plastic thread on the fastener.

The low beam housing assembly is then directly behind the bulb:

Subaru Impreza headlight assembly
Subaru Impreza headlight assembly

It can be removed by turning the cover counterclockwise:

Subaru Impreza headlight bulb assembly
Turn counterclockwise to unscrew

Underneath there is a bulb connector that also needs to be unscrewed counterclockwise:

Subaru Impreza 2006 headlight bulb connector
turn counterclockwise to loosen

The bulb itself is then held in place by a spring mechanism. This the the trickiest part of the disassembly because you don’t have a clear view of the spring, especially on the driver’s side. The spring is removed by squeezing the prongs together and unthreading it from the retaining ridge:

Subaru Impreza 2006 headlight spring thread
Subaru Impreza 2006 headlight spring thread

After you remove the spring, you will have clear access to the low beam bulb. The bulb is a 12V – 55W unit. The Subaru Impreza 2006-2007 low beam bulb is a sized H7 bulb.

AutoZone only had the Sylvania brand.

The disassembly process is identical for both headlights, although there is much less room to work with on the driver’s side due to the battery. Make sure that you wear gloves while removing and replacing the bulb. These bulbs run hot, and can be asymmetrically heated if there is oil or grease from your hands or grime from the engine. Oil and grease will shorten the life of the bulb.

Reassembly involves reversing the aforementioned steps. Take your time and make sure that the housing cover is screwed on appropriately and tightly. You do not want moisture getting into the electrical wiring.

Again, this is a relatively straightforward process and is low risk. If you wish to upgrade your headlights, you can even install an HID conversion kit (Xenon) to upgrade the quality of lighting. You can find plenty of videos online discussing this option.

If you have any questions, sound out below!

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