Headlight Replacement on a 2006 VW Beetle

With all the technical situations I deal with on a daily basis, even I was taken about at just how annoyingly difficult it is to try and replace a burnt out headlight bulb on new Volkswagen Beetles.

Fortunately, Google came to the rescue and led me to this guide. While the directions are for an older model, seeing the overall process helped with the 2006. In addition to the metal lever on the side of the assembly mentioned in the guide, there’s also a lock bolt that you have to rotate.

Once done, the entire assembly pulls out. Just make sure once you’re putting the assembly back, you push down on the metal lever so that the assembly can be fully locked back in place.

46 thoughts on “Headlight Replacement on a 2006 VW Beetle”

  1. where’s the bolt and the lever? I can see a metal lever that looks like its made of spring steel but no bolt (or which bolt am i rotating?)

    thanks

  2. I found the bolt. It’s toward the front of the fender at the base of the headlight module. A 5mm deep socket works nicely. There is also a *small* silkscreen of an opened/closed padlock to show the direction to turn to open, ie. it’s counter intuitive but you turn clockwise to open, counter clockwise to tighten.

    The thing is i can pull the assembly out about an inch before it snags on something.
    I am familiar with the older beetles where you have a locking tab / metal lever. However i don’t see that on this model. Perhaps i need to look again.
    -r

  3. I finally located the release lever. It’s at the base of and along side the headlight assembly. turn the screw then depress the (3 inch, silver) lever while pressing on the assembly from behind. One more thing, you will require an H7/55 watt replacement bulb. Not an H1/55. Which is what was used in the pre-2006 models and is what PepBoys mistakenly sold me.
    cheers
    -r

  4. I need to mention, the headlight assembly i pulled out was on the passenger side. This determines the direction you need to turn the lock screw. Follow the silkscreen mentioned above and you’ll be fine. And yes “Annoying difficult” sums it up 🙂

  5. dont give up its easy took me an hour to do both well open the hood duh ! buy the light bulb duh!
    ok serious part get a verry long screw driver flash light and a 6/13 i think socket hectagone female ranch with long extension look on the passenger side first u will see a piece of metal sticking out like a little penis lol,, well twist it with the socket ranch the verry small hectagone one then look on the side facing the engine real low a leveler verry fragil and made of tin well u have to find it pull on it ( the lever) with the screw driver down tillits all down then slide the light assembly out if it sticks use flatheasd screw driver to get it out. applyu the same method for the driver side light no need to remove the battery,,wow it was hard but worth it shop wanted 100 for labor!!

  6. It took me a long while to figure out the release lever. If you are having trouble after turning the lock-unlock screw in the from of the light assembly to unlock, stop working hard and look for a small shiny piece of tin that really doesn’t stand out. It just seems random. Like others have said down towards the bottom on the engine side. On the passenger side it is easier to reach, on the drivers side you will see a shiny piece of tin behind the battery. Just press it down 2-3 inches and the whole assemby will slide forward with little pressure and will hit the ground, so careful. The omega (horseshoe) shaped piece of wire only releases the back cover to get access the the bulbs after the housing is out of the car.
    It is real easy after you figure it out. I did the other side as well after figuring it out and it really only should take 2-3 minutes.

  7. I discovered my driver side headlight is out. My husband is out of town, so my daughter came over to help. After much trial and error we gave up and took the car to a Valvoline oil change shop. 3 techs worked on it for almost 1 hour, and could not figure it out. Needless to say, my husband is sure he can figure it out. The previous tips have been very helpful indeed. Thanks

  8. Thank you to everyone who contributed…I accomplished in 15 minutes what it would have taken (after hours of frustration) a trip to the dealer to fix.

    My observations: the whole headlight assembly is enclosed. After turning the locknut, wiggle the assembly from the outside to get it loose, then use some kind of tool (another site suggest

    Advice to newcomers:
    1) Change both bulbs ($18 for one, $35 for two at Kragens) at the same time. If one is out the other is likely to go pretty soon anyway, and the second one goes much quicker than the first..
    2) Start with the passenger side, even if the driver’s side is the one that’s out The passenger side is a challenge, but once you figure it out, the driver’s side is relatively easy. Finding the nut and the lever on the Driver’s side would be tough if you started there first.
    3) Get the bulbs (and the 5mm [or 3/16] socket + extensions) first. Kragens had a socket set for $6.99 and a set of three extesnions were another $5.99.

    Including a 15 minute trip to the parts store the whole job took less than an hour.

    Thanks to all.

  9. Oops! What the other site suggested was a paint stir stick to push down the lever. I didn’t have one, but made do with a screwriver.

  10. ACHTUNG BABY:
    I recently replaced my headlight bulb on my 2007 VW Beetle convertible. As the previous posts indicate it is not very easy, but it is worthwhile to learn because the knowledge can save you alot of money. Tools you will need to complete job: 5 mm socket ( to be able to unloosen the headlight lock) socket needs to have an length of 5-6 inches to reach the headlight lock/unlock screw so therefore have it connected to a long screw driver or a socket wrench with a long extension, an H7 bulb (mine cost 16.99 at AutoZone) a close ended wrench, a flashlight/and or trouble light and alot of patience.

    First: Unlock the light by finding the release, which requires the 5mm socket. The unlocking screw is located toward the front of the light and you will be able to distinquish it by the image by it that indicates which way to lock and unlock the light.
    Second: After the unlocking screw has been set to the the unlock position locate the release lever, on the drivers side it is right behind the battery located at about the same depth as the bottom of the battery. Position the closed end of the wrench around the release lever and lightly push it down. The wrench is especially useful on the drivers side because the battery is completely in the way and therefore the lever is inaccessible by your hand. (DO NOT REMOVE THE BATTERY; IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO DO SO).
    Third: Now push the headlight from the rear to unloosen it. Next take your fingers and from the front grab under the headlight lip and pull the headlight assembly out.
    Note: In the earlier model Beetles it is necessary to disengage the headlight with various electrical cords this is not so in the later models (06/06-present).
    Fourth: Once the headlight assembly has been removed take the backend off the headlight(This enables access to the bulbs themselves)
    Note: The bulb on top is the one that needs replaced for the DLR’s(Daytime running lights).
    Reverse the procedure to reinstall the headlight.

    NOTE: If you do not turn the locking screw to the lock position the entire light will not function at all once you place it back in.
    NOTE: If after you have inserted the light and positioned the screw to the lock position and the light still refuses to work, manually push the light in from the outside front in an effort to recede the electric connections.

    As I previously stated, it is worthwhile to learn to do this yourself because the dealer will charge you quite a bit for a situation that is going to occur numerous times during your Beetle’s life.

    GOOD LUCK!

    1. Thanks Jeffrey!
      I had to replace a bulb on the drivers side of my wife’s 2006 VW Beetle. Since I’d decided to upgrade I chose to change all four. There were plenty of YouTube videos but none for the 2006 passenger and driver side. The driver side appeared to be more difficult because of the battery and air filter. Also one had to be careful because I discovered that the procedure changed beginning with the 2006 Beetle. I researched for a couple of hours before finding your post and it was a lifesaver! After finding the correct tools it took me less than 30 minutes to do both sides, of course I referred to your directions along the way. Thanks again!!

  11. Thanks, your instructions were dead on. Did my wife’s 2006 beetle in about 10 minutes. Never would have figured this out without removing battery to see how it was attached. You saved me a bunch of time and headache.

  12. Thanks for the info. I got the drivers side assem. out, but the passenger side refuses to slide out. It is loose, and will come out about 1/4 “, then it catches on something. There must be another sneeky release or trick for the pass.side on the 2007 beetle convertible. Please Help!

  13. Thank you!!!! I first looked at my wife’s 2006 Beetle and thought “No Way!” I am used to replacing from the rear of the assembly and NEVER would have known to remove the whole headlight system from the front. I did it in 5:00 start to finish and could never have done it without this guide.

  14. On the driver side remove the air filter to get to the release lever, almost impossiable to reach otherwise. Also easier to get the silver latch back latched without it in. I remember the good ol days of open engine bays and easy to reach parts….. they are gone forever I suppose

  15. also make sure to push down on the silver tab when putting the assembly back in,,also make sure to fully turn the locking nut or the light wont work,,thanks ,made it too easy

  16. I was explaining to a friend about the headlights and how much I thought it might cost and he said “GOOGLE IT”. I found your site and read all of the ideas from the others. I can’t believe how easy it was. All of the locations were right on. The passenger side was the harder one only because a steel line runs past the lever, so I used a long screw driver to hold it down. Do the bolt first then the lever and the other way going back in. One person said to use a paint stir stick, which worked perfect on the drivers side. You can see the lever right between the air filter and battery. One thing I figured out when going back in, push the lever insert the light, push hard on the fixture and turn the locking bolt until it “CLICKS”. Thank for the great ideas!

  17. Have been reading the comments on the art of headlight bulb replacement for a VW beetle and it seems to be the same Chinese Fire Drill as a battery replacement. I took on
    that job last night and since not wanting to break off too many plastic tabs holding the various battery housing parts together the job was a full evening of fun! That being said,
    after the battery compartment was empty, thought it would be a great idea to ck out the
    steps needed to replace a headlight bulb. Easy to spot the locking lever plus the release
    tab since so much room was available. Turned the locking lever to the release position then depressed the silver tab and pushed hard from the rear of the light assembly but
    nothing comes loose. I expected the whole light housing to come out. Now what ???

  18. So easy, even a caveman could do it .. once we figured it out! We were working on the passenger side light assembly. 1) Raise the hood and look inside the engine compartment in the vicinity of the headlight. Find the sticker that indicates the lock/unlock position on the little silver ‘knob’. It has a small triangle stamped on the top. A 5mm socket on a extention screwdriver works great. Turn this in the direction as indicated on the sticker to unlock until it stop turning. Do not force. 2) Now look for a small thin aluminum lever to the right of the light assembly and gently push down on it with a paint stick. This releases the whole assembly and it will slide right out of the socket. 3) Do NOT handle replacement bulb with your fingers. The oil from your fingers will cause a hot spot on the bulb that will make it blow again. Always handle these bulbs with a kleenex, paper towel or rag. 4) Note: There is limited visibility from inside the engine compartment. If you cannot find the second release, you may be able to see it from underneath. Once you find it, it’s a piece of cake.

    I have not changed the driver side bulb yet. Let me caution you before you disconnect battery cables to BE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR RADIO CODE on hand first. This anti-theft mechanism disables the whole radio, and it will not work again until it is recoded with the factory number assigned to it by VW. I recently went through this because some low-life busted out my window to steal my GPS. The battery cables had to be disconnected to replace the broken window. The former car owner had removed the radio code from the manual (as the manual suggested). If you don’t have that code, the only way to get it is to have a VW dealer pull the radio out to get the chassis number for the radio AND the vin # for your particular car to the manufacturer in Germany. Only then will they give out the radio code. It cost me $60 for this service. I now have that radio code stored in 4 different places for future reference.

    Good luck! And yes .. a GIRL can do this! LOL!

  19. Turning the unlock – lock 5mm nut was easy. The assembly would slide out almost an inch then stop.
    The unconventional part was pushing the tin/aluminum strip which felt like it was just dangling there with no mechanical purpose, just a piece of 0.25″ wide sheet metal hanging there. But as soon as you push the dangling strip down a couple inches, the whole assebly just slides out very easily.
    I did the driver’s side. The shiny dangling strip can be seen on the back side of the battery case (I didn’t remove the cover) and just needed to be pushed by a long screwdriver.

  20. You guys/gals are awesome! Took me forever to figure out how to change the lamp on my 2006 New Beetle Convertible. But everyone here contributed to make mine a success story. Here are a couple of highlights that might help the next person:

    – Ignore the Omega (horshoe) clip until the whole headlight assembly is out of the car. This is not the aluminum (tin) lever that everyone is mentioning in the posts above. Look long and hard for the actual lever because i would have never found it without all your help!

    – Definitely takes two steps. 1) Turn the 5mm nut to open position and push out the headlight assembly about an inch from the car body. 2) Then hold down the aluminum lever and push out the whole assembly

    – Be careful when the pushing out the assembly. The whole thing can fall out pretty fast.

    – When putting the assembly back in the car, make sure to align the plastic guides on the sides of the headlight. I did not do this at first and the seal was not very tight around the lamp to car body. It took me 3-4 tries to finally get the plastic guides aligned, but now the seal is tight and no air space to the car body.

    That’s about all i can add. I have to give kudos to everyone that does this on their own because it was a painful, but rewarding experience.

  21. I am still confused. I am trying to replace the drivers side lamp on my 2008. On another site they said NOTHING about a socket that needed to be “unlocked” I do not see this. Does anyone have a 2008?

  22. I went back out and looked I see two white hex nuts one says V1 and the other V2 is this what is supposed to be loosened? or am I way off base? Thanks in advance if anyone can help. I found what I thought was the release but after reading this I believe it is the horseshoe spring, I released that and then the metal clasp popped off and fell down. I have to go to work tomorrow so I am hoping the headlight stays in place. Please help, this is soooooooo frustrating.

  23. Question, I have replaced the bulbs on both sides of my 2006 why does both lights keep going out?
    I have removed both sides several times and it appears that the connector wears out or gets dirty and fails to make or keep contact (my connector is not dirty probably worn out). Just a note while the headlights are on I can push on the lense and the light will turn on, then goes off as I drive down the street.
    I take this as defect and not the consumers fault. I have noticed many newer Bugs with headlight issues. Am I the only person that has this problem?

  24. Just read the post on how to change my 2006 Beetle headlight. Was a piece of cake after reading the comments. Thanks and my billfold thanks you!!!!!!

  25. Aaargh! Armed with the info from this website, I attempted to fix my girlfriend’s Driver’s side lightbulb. Gave up after seeing the huge mess of machinery in the way. Firestone replaced it for me for $50 + $10 bulb. Problem is – TODAY IT IS OUT AGAIN!!!! 3 days later. WTF??? VW’s design is absolutely terrible.

    Here’s the Bentley’s guide with diagrams to help those for whom the instructions above weren’t clear enough. For 06-08 models. (also 05 diesel)

    http://tech.bentleypublishers.com/servlet/JiveServlet/download/38-33028-364054-6889/Headlamp05to08.pdf

  26. You guys and gals explained everything right on…did everything I was told to do and it was no problem (passengers side). Came right out…no problem…replaced both bulbs…placed it back…locked it backed…tested it and nothing…changed the fuses…nothing so now what do I do? And to think everything was going so well…I’m so sad.

  27. you dont have to take the battery out! take battery cover off, take 2 bolts out of the air cleaner assembly and unplug harness on top of the air cleaner!pull air cleaner completely out. this makes it eaiser to get to leverbehind battery! locate the white stem thas sticking out front side of head lamp and it shows you which way to turn to unlock headlight! use a 5mm socket and a long extension and turn about 3 turns to unlock! ” dont be forceful” then find springy lever towards rear of housing! push down on lever with one hand and push on back of headlight with the other! it should push out about an inch or so. put one hand on one side of the headlight and your other hand on the other side and pull out! you may have to wiggle it some so be careful!!!
    passenger side works the same way!!!!! good luck!!!!

    look to the front and at the bottom of the headlight you will ss a white stem sticking out! take a 5mm socket and a long extension and put it on stem and turn in the direction that it is marked to unlock it! towards the back side you will find a springy lever towards the bottom of the light while pushing down on lever, push on backside of headlight and it push out an inch or so! grasp front of headlight with both hands and pull out

    1

    first find the white stem that is sticking out at the base of the headlight! take a 5mm socket and a long extension and turn approx. three turns in the direction it says to unlock it

    first find the white stem sticking out at the bottom of the headlight housing! next take a 5mm socket and a long extension and turn approx. three turns in the direction that it says to unlock housing! you can see diagrahm on side of housing telling you which way to turn to lock or unlock housing! next locate springy lever back towards rear and down towards bottom of headlight! push lever down with one hand and push on back of headlight with the other. should push out about an inch or so! then take both hands , one on each side of headlight and pull out!! you may have to wiggle it a little bit to get it out

    look to the front

    take th

    You Won’t Find This- Carrie Underwood (lyrics)

  28. try taking the light out and put it back in again!! sounds like you are not making good contact!! light has to slide into the light harness good! i done the same thing and had to take it out and put it back in again! i wasn,t getting a good connection!!!!! make sure the rubber around the lens seals good against the car!!! good luck!!!!!!!

  29. Thanks to all, I just finished changing the driver’s side low beam bulb on my wife’s 2006 Bug. I would have never figured it out.

  30. Thank you for the information. I read the comments here and replaced both lights on my 2006 new beetle. I removed the battery which made it very easy to find the bolt (identified by a picture of a lock) to unlock the canister; requires a 5 mm socket. After turning the bolt, the release tab is pushed down. I decided to replace the passenger side light even though it was not burned-out. For this one, I used an extension because the regular socket ratchet will not reach it. Once I unlocked the canister, I used the socket extension to push down the release lever (which is hidden below a hose). It took me a total of 25 minutes to remove canisters, clean the area, replace bulbs and re-assemble and re-install the units. If I had not read these comments I would not have bee able to accomplish this task. The dealership chages about $95.00 per hour. I saved at least that much. Thank you again. The advice incline here does work.

  31. Thank you for the information. I read the comments here and replaced both lights on my 2006 new beetle. I removed the battery which made it very easy to find the bolt (identified by a picture of a lock) to unlock the canister; requires a 5 mm socket. After turning the bolt, the release tab is pushed down. I decided to replace the passenger side light even though it was not burned-out. For this one, I used an extension because the regular socket ratchet will not reach it. Once I unlocked the canister, I used the socket extension to push down the release lever (which is hidden below a hose). It took me a total of 25 minutes to remove canisters, clean the area, replace bulbs and re-assemble and re-install the units. If I had not read these comments I would not have bee able to accomplish this task. The dealership chages about $95.00 per hour. I saved at least that much. Thank you again. The advice here does work.

  32. Went back and read all the info again about how to get the headlight assembly out of the front of the car for bulb replacement. Thanks there Johnny for telling the number of turns to use on that 5mm locking bolt. My problem was thinking it only went a quarter of a turn from lock to unlock so no wonder I couldn’t get the assembly to break loose when I tried during my battery replacement and the compartment was empty! Will try it again and with the previous data given by all parties, should be able to get the job done. Many thanks again there Johnny!

  33. Thanks so much for the post…and WHAT A PAIN.

    I had to use two extenders and an articulating joint on my socket wrench to turn the 5mm hex bolt to unlock it…and then figure out how to get two hands in that incredibly tight space – one two push down the lever and anther to push the headlamp housing out…while positioning my body in front to stop the housing from flying out on to the floor. I have NEVER had to replace a light that was as difficult. I have to remove 8 screws to replace a headlight in my Wrangler…and that is easier.

    One warning to folks – make sure that you push the housing back in very firmly…or you will end up like me…having to pull it out a SECOND time to re-seat it because the electrical connection was not secure.

    Man, I bought this Beetle for my daughter some time ago and was so impressed when I first got it…but a couple of dozen ridiculous issues later (e.g., swollen emergency brake cable not covered under warranty) and I went from considering a VW for my next car to considering anything BUT a VW.

    Grrrr.

    Thanks again!

  34. Knowing is half the battle…and a way to save some ca$h…the 1st key to removing is the release bolt on the base of the headlight assembly at the front. It is angled up and “looking up” at you when you peer in. You will need a 5mm socket with a minimum extension piece of 6″. 1/4 turn counter clockwise. 2nd key is the tin looking lever located again at the base but you can Gesee it when you look behind the battery. You will need something thin and 6″-8″ long that you will press down on the tin looking lever 2″-3″ and while holding that down gently, but firmly, push the headlight assembly forward at least 3/4″. Release the lever. Work the headlight assembly out from the housing gently, yet firmly (yes that combo again). The rest you have probably read somewhere here and it is fairly accurate. With the right tools and knowing where the release do-ma-hicky things are you can do this in 15 minutes tops. I did.

  35. These directions are spot on, but it can still be tricky even whe you are doing it right. You definitely have to make sure the assembly is lined up perfect on reassembly, or it WILL NOT make a solid electrical connection. Also, the little tin release lever popped completely out of it’s tabs on the passenger side when I took the headlight assembly out. I put it back in place, but when I tried to put the light assembly back in, the release lever popped out again and jammed the light assembly where it would not go in or come out. So, I spent a solid hour or more finding a way to wedge a thin (bent) piece of metal under the release lever in order to jiggle the light assembly free and remove the light assembly AGAIN. I then re-installed the release lever and made sure it was in TIGHT, then replaced the assembly. It still did not want to line up properly, but I finally managed to get it flush again after a couple of tries. The one tip I will give is do not do this repair in the driveway, in the dark, by the light of a flashlight. I learned that lesson the hard way. Wait until morning…

    My wife had a 2000 model, and I thought that it was a pain in the rear-end to work on – that is, until she got this 2006 model. This is the last modern VW product she will ever have, unless she kindly divorces me first. They just aren’t worth the money it costs to have the dealer work on it and they definitely aren’t worth the hassle and aggravation of working on them yourself.

  36. OMgoodness- ok so the passennger headlight went out on my 06 beetle, while replacing the bulbs the isulation was brittle on the wires and therefor after we got the buldbs replaced the light quit working- the driverside was still working-
    I ordered 2 new headlights (entire unit, figured of one was bad the other would be the same and I wanted to be ahead of the game) and just put them in and neither one of them are working!!! the parking lights in the bumper are working and the “brights” indicater comes on. Please help me

  37. Well…you were all spot on with your recommendations. I read everyone’s post and then went outside with all my tools ready. I needed to change the driver’s side light and had difficulty finding the diagram showing which way to turn the lock. However, from everyone’s post I knew it was easier to locate it on the passenger side. Once I found the diagram on the passenger side I knew exactly where to look on the driver side. I flashed my light in that VERY tiny space and there it was!! Using a paint stirring stick was also a great suggest to press down on that silver lever. I used my knee to keep the light fixture from popping out onto the ground. Thank you all for providing such good instructions.. I saved myself about $80. About 2 months ago I had the dealership replace the passenger side light and vowed that they would not get another $80 if the driver side light went out. When it did, I searched the web and was very glad to have found all your posts. Needless to say, I am very proud that I (a 56 year old female) was able to change this light all by myself. Now that I know what I am doing I could probably change it again in 15 minutes.

  38. Thanks for all your info. On how to change the headlight. I am no machnic but your comments helped get the job done in no time. The hardest part was finding the levers. Thanks again.

  39. This is all extremely helpful. But after I removed the housing and replaced the bulbs, I can’t get it to pull up snug against the car and the lights don’t work. I’ve taken it out and replaced it a dozen times and it just won’t tighten when I turn the hex bolt. Is the release lever important when putting the light assembly back in? Obviously I’m not making a good electrical connection but I don’t know what else to to. When I turn the hex bolt to the locked position it doesn’t make any difference. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  40. SUCCESS!!! However, this project took me quite a bit longer; I also had to replace the headlight retainer (the locking screw’s housing on the old one had broken, so the whole headlight fell out while my wife was driving…), and THEN I had to re-seat that to get the light to work (we ended up doing the whole removal/replacement of the headlight about 6 times before I did that…) If the headlight doesn’t work once you’ve locked it into place and pushed the front (as suggested earlier), there are 2 8mm bolts with Phillips-heads on the retainer which you can get to once the headlight’s out; loosen those and pull the retainer forward as far as it’ll go, tighten it back and try to replace the headlight. Hope that helps anyone who has this issue!

  41. Thanks for the great instructions. We were able to get both changed and everything put back. Bulbs worked great for about 2 days then driver’s side went out. If I push even lightly on the exterior of the acrylic lens, the light comes back on. When I let go, it goes off again. Anyone have any ideas? We plan to take the driver’s side out again tomorrow and re-seat it. Thanks in advance.

  42. Am helping my son’s girlfriend out with this. This will be the sixth set of bulbs in less than a year. I suggest a class action suit against VW. This is a completely BS design and they should pay for a 100% replacement with a new design.

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