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HOW TO: Replace Headlights in Refresh (2016+) Model S

So like many others, I've been having issues with my DRLs "burning out" on my Model S. I'm on my 4th set of headlights now. Tesla has changed revisions of the headlights throughout the years and we are now on revision F (mid 2021). Let's hope that the problem doesn't come back.

The DRL's themselves are non-repairable. My understanding is what happens when they go out or yellow, is they desolder themselves from the circuit board and melt the light tube around them. The LEDs are tiny, so you won't be able to solder them back on with amateur soldering equipment. To top it all off, these lights are sealed with incredibly stout adhesive and are difficult to work with.

Anyway, you need to either get a new headlight from Tesla, eBay, dismantlers, w/e. The good thing is the different revisions are easily replaceable with no programming needed. In this case Tesla already replaced one side with the new revision and I'm replacing the other one myself.

The job is pretty easy if you can wrench a bit. One caveat is I really recommend a second set of hands for putting the bumper back on.

The only tools you need are:
- T25 screwdriver
- 10mm socket with a wobble extension
- small flathead screwdriver (for removing the plastic clips)

To begin you must remove the bumper. The only exception being that if you have a very early 2016/AP1 car. In that case you can just loosen the bumper, peel it back a bit, and get at the headlight with your 10mm extension. At some point mid-2016 Tesla introduced a new bracket under the bumper which needs to come off to do this job.

I won't bore you with the process to remove the bumper since there is already a great video about how to do it on YouTube here:

In short, you need to:
- Pop the front trim piece in front of the frunk tub and remove 4 10mm bolts
- Remove 4 10mm bolts under the car (the ones closest to the edges on the car)
- Remove 2 T25 screws inside the wheel wells.
- Remove 6 clips from the underside of the car at the front
- Once that is done the entire bumper cover comes off. Make sure to start taking it off on the drivers side first, as the pass side will have less slack due to the wiring harness on that side. You can set the bumper down on a moving blanket.

You also need to remove the side trim piece in the frunk, as shown below. The rubber stop/grommet thing actually unscrews by hand, then you can unclip that whole piece.

I used cheap plastic ramps ($50 from Amazon) under my front wheels to raise the car a bit and make the job easier.

So this is what the car looks like with the bumper off. You need to use your 10mm socket to remove these bolts (they are already removed in the picture).
The headlight has 4 bolts holding it in. 2 on top, one on the side (in the bumper hold bracket), and one on the bottom. To make the job easier I also removed two bolts holding the front quarterpanel.
View attachment 643838

Now at this point your headlight will be loose, you can disconnect the connector at the back by pressing in on the side of it closest to the center of the car.

You still won't be able to pull it out as there is a bracket in the way. On the drivers side of the car, this bracket is right on top of the radar. Here is where you'll need your wobble extension and a 10mm to take it out. Only one bolt holds it in.

View attachment 643839

Once that is off you can now slide the headlight forward and wiggle it around a bit and it will come out.

Installation is in reverse of the process. Pretty easy.
- Put new headlight in
- Connect it, test to make sure it works
- Put the bracket back on
- Put headlight bolts in
- Put the rest of the bolts in
- Put bumper back

I highly recommend a second set of hands for putting the bumper back on. Taking it off yourself is easy if you start from one side.

All in this should take only about an hour even if you're not experienced in removing the bumper.
My 2016 Model S refresh headlight connector disassembled at the connector by inserting a small screwdriver as shown in the first photo. The blade was pushed in toward the headlight and then gently levered to release the tab. This released the male-female halves from each other.

Int the second photo, you can see the blue tab inside the disassembled connector. Is the blue tab used to disassemble the connector from the headlight housing? I have my screwdriver on the front of the connector were it fits into the housing, but can't find the "latch". Where is the secret on this?
 

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Thanks for this guide. I'm going to tackle this when I can finally find a good headlight. I had one replaced right before warranty dropped. The other side was fading but Tesla said it wasn't within spec to replace and it finally went out.
You might try making a service request any claiming warranty, if it was already fading and documented by Tesla service. I had the first go out a few months before warranty, and like you, the 2nd one was showing clear dimming but not quite "failed". I did submit a request three weeks before the warranty expired, mobile service authorized with zero cost estimate - but the tech who came out refused to replace it, saying it was "failing" but not yet sufficiently "failed".

Of course two month after the warranty expired, it did fail, as everyone knew - I submitted another service request, requesting warranty service and noting their previous statements before end of warranty. They did replace it for free, since the fading was observed and acknowledged before end of warranty - though whether they officially logged it as warranty, or wrote it off as goodwill, I'm not 100% sure.
 
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That's interesting how Tesla service honored your claim, even though it was officially on an expired warranty. You were smart to log your request before the warranty expiration. My driver DRL is partially burned out, and since my 50,000 mile used vehicle warranty just expired, I'd doubt claiming it 1,000 miles later I'd get that good will. Unfortunately I spotted it only after my last service visit. I'm learning 😂
 
You might try making a service request any claiming warranty, if it was already fading and documented by Tesla service. I had the first go out a few months before warranty, and like you, the 2nd one was showing clear dimming but not quite "failed". I did submit a request three weeks before the warranty expired, mobile service authorized with zero cost estimate - but the tech who came out refused to replace it, saying it was "failing" but not yet sufficiently "failed".

Of course two month after the warranty expired, it did fail, as everyone knew - I submitted another service request, requesting warranty service and noting their previous statements before end of warranty. They did replace it for free, since the fading was observed and acknowledged before end of warranty - though whether they officially logged it as warranty, or wrote it off as goodwill, I'm not 100% sure.
I actually did. They documented it back in August and it’s too far since then. Would be full price so I decided to get one and going to do it shortly.
 
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This is great news. I checked eBay and prices range all over the place, whether new or used. A few had inaccurate part number revisions, for example one listed as an F was an A. Like everything on eBay, it pays to do thorough homework on what you think you're buying. None of the sellers seemed to offer any of this discount:(
Tesla have recently halved the cost of replacement headlamps.
 
My own left headlight DRL just started to have the issue (4.5 years, so warranty expired).

I've been quoted by Tesla 1568 € for the replacement! Seems the halved replacement cost is not yet reflected in Europe.
Revision E only (part number in Europe: 1053574-E).

Has someone another experience of a reduced replacement cost, in particular in the EU?
Am also starting to look at eBay.
 

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