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2013 Model S HID Bulb replacement guide

At 200,000 miles my bulbs were starting to fail often. Mainly the left one but when the right went out at the same time on the drive home one day, I stepped up needing to get it done. Hitting the Park/On button to reset them was getting a bit much.

I had originally scheduled a Tesla Service appointment but when I was quoted $120 for each bulb and $470 for the ballast each headlight, I decided I would see if I could do this on my own. Total bill would have been $1,400.

I wanted to give a walk through of how I replaced my 2013 Model S headlight bulbs and share with the community. Hopefully there might be a few people who can use my example as well as other great write ups including one from @xAgyex, because they were help to me as well! This will be rather long and I will try to use pictures as often as I can because every once and a while the write ups I was looking assumed to do a particular thing but may have skimmed over it leaving me to guess. Feel free to glance or keyword search wherever you need if it’s too wordy!



Parts:

HID Bulb- I got mine from @uscgreel at ReelDealEV. Originally I had thought I would do the ballasts as well, but he was out. So I took a $120 chance that it would be just the bulbs and I’d still come out about $1,300 ahead 😊 Tesla Model S Headlight replacement ballast and D3S bulb — ReelDeal EV - EV Car Parts and Accessories

Fastener clips- I’ve had this are since 89k on the odo so I knew most if not all the clips were 9 year old plastic facing salt and gravel road conditions. The tool that came with it was quite useful after I was able to pry the ‘rivet’ up with a flat screwdriver. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XKV7JHJ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Tools:

3 Ton Jack Boss Jack lift- https://www.amazon.com/Jack-Boss-Hy...6547126&sprefix=jack+boss+3+to,aps,330&sr=8-3

Chirano Lifting Jack Pads- https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084VTSDXK/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Wheel Lug cap remover- https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Q5MLYLJ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Flathead Screwdriver

Latex/Nitrile gloves

Eye protection goggles

21mm deep socket

10mm socket

Impact Wrench (or breaker bar)

Tekton Torque Wrench- https://www.amazon.com/TEKTON-Torqu...ive&sprefix=trekton+tor,automotive,130&sr=1-3

Patience

---

Turn off HVAC/Radio/Lights. This was easier ahead of time when it came to make sure I could determine success or failure with the lights and any sounds they would make (they did, more on that later)

I put some wood on the back tire on the side I was working on
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Used the jack pad and put it into the lift point. Slowly listened to the aches and squeaks of a 9 year old car as it went up in the air.



Used the impact wrench to drive out the 21mm nuts.
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I made sure to diagram them where they went, just to make sure they would go back nicely. I’m sure I could’ve swapped them around but I didn’t want an extra variable.
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Unrelated to the lightbulb job, I took time to inspect the brake pads.
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All the old plastic fasteners. Most were the same size. Some where more difficult to get out than others
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To pry them out without the least amount of damage I used a flathead screwdriver to release the ‘rivet’ for lack of a better term, then used the fastener tool that came with the box from Amazon. For the most part it worked out well. A few broke in the lining and one probably needed to be drilled out but came off when I pulled the liner.
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Probably overkill, but I numbered each one of the fasteners to where they went in hopes if there were fit problems I could keep them in the same place. Also helped me keep track of how many I needed to take care of. 15 if you’re asking.

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Two 10mm bolts underneath and a few fasteners
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With the fasteners and bolts of (one 10mm behind the shocks) I pulled the panel down revealing the temperature sensor in the middle. Because I was unsure how to clip it, I just set it down under the rotor/bumper with it still clipped. Oddly, on the right side there was a clip on the wire and the temp sensor that didn’t give as much slack

1656563918644.png




Bunch of road cruft back there and a lot more fell down when the felt was removed.
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Another shot of the temp probe clipped in
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Wiggle out the felt and like other guides state it is easy to bend/fold it back behind the spring and out of the way revealing the back of the headlight assembly. I would not attempt to remove the rubber cover by pulling the tabs. Rather, I just went around the edges pulling slightly until it gave way

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There it is, the OEM (I’m guessing) HID bulb.
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Sticking your hand into the opening you’ll feel for the locking ring. It’s farther than you probably think it will be. And you’ll need a good nudge counter clockwise to get it to unlock. I practiced a few times unlocking and locking just to help me later. I was very worried that I would clip the tip off the bulb taking it out so I was very slow in removing out from the assembly. A pull and backflip approach worked well.

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Like other tutorials you’ll need to pull the clip from it firmly. Straight out from the socket. No bending. The original with the black ring on it still and the replacement with the green insert.
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I felt like some tutorials made this next part without much direction: how did the black ring come off? I was concerned that if I just pushed it off the 9 year old plastic would be brittle and snap. So I looked for different ways I could twist or pivot. No joy. So I put it in between the lock and unlock markers because there were detents in the metal housing for either extreme. Then carefully I just pushed gently up waiting for the inevitable ‘snap’. Nope! Some friction but nothing that ended up being a concern.

I did wonder where I would be able to buy the replacement part if it was messed up. (Still do wonder)
1656564114169.png



I fit tested the new bulb and worked it back and forth.

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Fishing the bulb back in was a little tedious. I was worried again that I’d clip the tip of the bulb trying to get it back in. I wore new gloves for this part. But I was able to get it in and locked it with the clip. I then went to the car to turn on the lights to see how it looked. The bulb was much stronger than my old bulb and maybe a little more warmer in color. I hate blue/white bulbs in my eyes driving and on my vehicles so the warm color didn’t bother me. I have paper lined up after I set the car back down. Tesla Service website has the method for adjusting the assembly. I know mine are slightly different in position but I’m not sure if I will need to adjust.
1656564136762.png





Like other tutorials state, reverse order the assembly of the fasteners and liners. Remember to put that rubber cover on the assembly before you close things up! Ask me how I know? I tried to reuse the original fasteners as much as possible. For some that broke I just used new. Sometimes I had to use a screw driver and cleco the felt liner and the plastic liner together and then put a fastener in.

I then used the torque wrench to correctly set the tightness of the bolts in a star pattern. I went on a test drive for an hour or so with the lights set to on and the new one was perfect the other time.



Unexpected issues:

I put the new bulb in and there was a high pitched whine frequency going on. I was worried that it would stay like that or if it was a break in period on the filament. IMG_7348.MOV should be the video link



I reached out to ReelDealEV and went to troubleshoot. But after the 50 mile test drive on the bulb I pulled into the garage and the noise was gone. The next morning when I replaced the other bulb it too did the exact same thing. And after a test drive it went away. Success! Excellent customer service from ReelDealEv.



Difficulty: I have now replaced my 12v battery and the HID bulbs. The bulb was MUCH easier than the battery (in hindsight that was a little nerve racking). I feel I could probably do my brake pads in the future by myself too. This coming from a guy who never changed his own oil or spark plugs on my Corolla. I just wanted to learn how to do this and be a little more self-sufficient. Maybe I’d try a door handle when the third one fails. My screen behind my wheel has bubbled something fierce. I do have the replacement from ReelDeel but I am worried that I’ll mess up the interior panels in the process as I just don’t have day to day practice in automotive trim working.

I’d recommend that if you have the right tools to do this job you can do it! I’d say I’m probably break even in cost with what it would have cost from Tesla versus the jack and other tools I bought. But now I can rotate my own tires and continue to repair the vehicle I own.

For reference: New bulb on left, old on right.
1656564149478.png
 
Thank you for writing this article -- very well explained. I am about to do this myself for my 2013 MS whenever I receive the bulbs. I submitted a service request to have both bulbs replaced, and I got an estimate of $3500! I suspect they thought it was the entire assembly, but maybe that is their quote!!
 
Thank you for writing this article -- very well explained. I am about to do this myself for my 2013 MS whenever I receive the bulbs. I submitted a service request to have both bulbs replaced, and I got an estimate of $3500! I suspect they thought it was the entire assembly, but maybe that is their quote!!
Happy I could help. Chad at ReelDeal EV bulbs were great. I was worried in my research it was going to be the ballast portion of my headlights. But he didn’t have any in stock so I took a change it was just the bulbs, and it was!

So far so good! You could never tell they weren’t stock. And this is a doable task- just have the parts and tools needed. Take your time and take pictures along the way for reference. That was helpful for me.

And PM me if I can be of any help.
 
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And PM me if I can be of any
Very helpful. I replaced my bulbs last year and I couldn't figure out how to get the black ring off the bulb. I ended up snapping the flange off the stock bulb in the process and then realized the ring comes off by twisting / pushing laterally. My rings were very snug.
That was the scariest part! I could not find a well worded or video example of what to do exactly when I got there. At first I thought they’d twist off. Nope.

I was really worried 10 year old plastic would not flex as much as it needed but I kind of shimmied it back and forth in the up direction and it worked.
 
As a follow-up, I did this today. I purchased the two bulbs/ballasts from ReedDeal and the fasteners you recommended. I'm very pleased I had those, because half of the stock fasteners were so brittle they fractured.

I've got big hands, so I took my wheels off. It's likely someone smaller than I could have done this by turning the wheels inwards. But, swapping wheels is an easy task for me since I do it twice annually. The flanges rotated fairly easily and came off the ballasts easily as well. The hardest part was fitting my fingers into the 3 inch diameter housing, but it worked out.

After replacing the bulb that was defective, I could tell a huge difference in the brightness and color of the lights. So, I swapped out the functioning bulb to maintain a uniform color and brightness for both.

All's good.

Again: thank you for posting this step-by-step process.
 
Glad it could help! I agree those holes for the bulbs is tight and it feels like you’re just fishing for the right twist. I also agree taking the wheels off is the best bet.

Question for you, since I have the tools now to take off my tires, I’d like to rotate my own tires. I was thinking of getting one Renn jack stand and prop up one side of my car (one with stand and one with actual jack) and rotate front to back. How do you rotate yours?

I’ve never been in to doing my own car service but I truly believe if I can take out my bulbs and replace the 12v then others can too with the time and tools. But I get some prefer to just have the service center do it all.

EDIT: you did the ballasts too? Did you power off the 12v to do that or just turn off from the main screen? Chad didn’t have the ballasts in stock so all I did was the bulbs and it went well for me.
It might be good for the repair thread if you can share about the ballasts!
 
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Oops!

I didn't turn off the car at all! Didn't power down, and I certainly didn't disconnect the battery. Gads.

I ordered the bulb+ballast. I didn't want to troubleshoot, so I replaced the whole thing.

I use Jackpoint jackstands. There's a thread I posted in the forum in 2013 or 2014 about these things. They're sturdy as hell. I don't actually use them to swap out the tires, but I use them when I dismount the wheels to detail the well, calipers and if I have to clean the rotors. For the jack, I use a 3 ton jack I got on Amazon a while back. Breaker bar. Torque wrench. Etc. I use a silver sharpie to write on the inside of the tire where it was and where it needs to go next time. (I have two sets of wheels: the OEM 19 inch with summer performance tires and Rial Lugano 19 inch with my winter tires. I don't rotate in the traditional sense.)

Nevertheless, those Jackpoint Jackstands would work well for regular rotation. Get 4 of them and it would be quick work!

 
Oops!

I didn't turn off the car at all! Didn't power down, and I certainly didn't disconnect the battery. Gads.

I ordered the bulb+ballast. I didn't want to troubleshoot, so I replaced the whole thing.

I use Jackpoint jackstands. There's a thread I posted in the forum in 2013 or 2014 about these things. They're sturdy as hell. I don't actually use them to swap out the tires, but I use them when I dismount the wheels to detail the well, calipers and if I have to clean the rotors. For the jack, I use a 3 ton jack I got on Amazon a while back. Breaker bar. Torque wrench. Etc. I use a silver sharpie to write on the inside of the tire where it was and where it needs to go next time. (I have two sets of wheels: the OEM 19 inch with summer performance tires and Rial Lugano 19 inch with my winter tires. I don't rotate in the traditional sense.)

Nevertheless, those Jackpoint Jackstands would work well for regular rotation. Get 4 of them and it would be quick work!

Kevin, I assume you got the Tesla Compatible Pad version? Jackpoint Jackstands PAIR – Tesla Compatible Pad – Matte Finish – Jackpoint Jackstands LLC

They are out of stock. Is there a third party provider who has them in?

Renn Stands on evannex are available for $449 for a pair. I feel I could the Renn with my Highlander to change tires to since it's a bit taller. But I do like the wider stance the Jackpoints have. What's your take? :)
 
I did not get the Tesla compatible stands. I got these things when the Model S was still quite young, and I don't think the Jackstands had been out that long. I got the standard pads with a rubber ring, and they work just fine. I've been very happy with them. I've used them for about 8 years when detailing my wheels, wells, and calipers. They are very durable.

 
Hey has any tried to get the service centre to do the install for you if you have bought these parts?
I’m gawd awful at this kinda thing -much rather get the proper folks to do if if possible …
Yes, in the mobile app you can ask for headlights to be serviced; the ballast and bulbs. But Filmscore, my quote for that was $1400. I promise before my Tesla about the most I could do on my Corolla was an air filter. If you take your time and have the tools you can do it. If you’re more comfortable spending that much and having a service center I think you’ll be happy too. Just a bit lighter in the pocketbook. 🙃

Edit, if you are asking if you can bring in parts but theirs they will probably balk at it because they can’t be certain about the parts. I guess you could ask. I did that once for another car and hvac work.
 
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