Changing a headlamp bulb on a Citroen C3

I own a Citroen C3 which is one of those cars where routine maintenance can turn into a half hour nightmare. Take, for example replacing the headlamp bulbs which should be one of the easiest things to do on a car. It’s a bulb, bulbs have short lifespans and are an important part of a car. Taking them out should be quick, simple and something you can do in five minutes in the dark at the side of the road.

It shouldn’t take this much effort… so, for those of us with Citroen C3 cars who have the misfortune of their driver’s side headlamp blowing, here’s a short set of photos that’ll help you.

To begin with, make sure you have a H7 style bulb. H7 bulbs are the ones with two prongs, complicated filament innards and a small black cap on the top. They look like this:

Citroen C3 H7 headlamp bulb

Don’t touch the glass, it’s made from quartz and the oil on your skin will boil, cracking the glass when you switch it on.

To remove the old bulb you’re going to need to remove the car battery covers, and the tightly secured fusebox cover. The battery covers aren’t sealed, but the fusebox cover has to be tight to keep rain from the fuses so it takes some fiddling to remove, there are also several thick cables coming from the fusebox which will get in the way.

Citroen C3 battery and fusebox compartment

OK now for the difficult part. The back of the headlamp assembly has a sealed plastic cover held by a piece of wire. Pull the wire upwards towards you to unclip it. Carefully remove the plastic cover – it has two plastic tabs at the bottom and will get snagged on everything. Be careful of the wires, your fingers and the car body.

Now take off your watch, rings and anything else that’ll get stuck, you’re about to poke your hand into a hole that’s just big enough for a few fingers. The last thing you need is your arm stuck. What you’re feeling for is the wire that plugs onto the back of the bulb – make sure you find the correct wire! If you accidentally pull out the small 5W bulb, just poke it back in its hole and try the other wires! Grab the plug and pull, it’ll come off the bulb.

You now need to grow eyes on your fingers to see the next bit, so here’s a photo

Rear of Citroen C3 headlamp bulb fitting

As you look down towards the floor, the top part of the image is “up”. Feel for the two ends of the metal retaining wire that are hooked around the clip you see on the top of that image. For each piece of wire, press it towards you and out to the side so it unclips. You can push them out the way once unclipped, they’re attached to the car and won’t fall off.

The bulb is now free, pull it out. Carefully insert the new one, being very careful not to touch the glass of the bulb with your skin. If you do, clean the bulb using methylated spirits.

To insert the bulb, hold it in with one finger and use another to hook one retaining wire back under its clip, then do the second one. Look at the bulb to make sure it is correctly seated. Then attach the cable and put your car back together!

Make sure the plastic cover for the headlamp assembly is properly attached. If it isn’t you will get water in the light fitting. To see if it is closed properly, turn the lights on and look for it escaping around the back.

There. This probably isn’t useful to anyone but me, however it might prevent someone else from having to pay a garage to fit a lightbulb out of frustration.

About James

If this were the 80s I'd be sat in front of a C64 or Speccy, or taking VCRs apart.