How-To: Replace A Mazda5 Headlamp Bulb (Low Beam)

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Mazda 5, Mazda Tribute, & 1996 Miata MX-5
Mazda 5 Headlight Bulb Replacement (Low Beam)

A. This is a frustrating job for most people because the opening in the back of the headlamp is too small for even small fingers, and it takes considerable force to release and re-tension the metal clip that holds the bulb in place. I've found a trick that makes this job a bit easier (it's still a challenge) and am sharing it in this post. The bulb is held in with a metal clip that is nearly impossible to re-clip by your bare hands. Therefore, fashion a tool to assist with the job from an 8” long flat spade screwdriver. Notch the screwdriver in the center of the blade so that the position of the end of the bulb retaining clip can be captured and manipulated into position. Photos are shown below of a screw driver modified with a notch, and a H7 replacement bulb:



B. To remove the old bulb, do the following steps:
1. Make space to work by removing any plastic covers in the vicinity of the back of the headlamp.
2. Unplug the electrical socket from the back of the headlamp.


3. Gently pry off the rubber boot on the back of the lamp that prevents water infiltration.


4. Inspect how the bulb is held in place with the retaining clip so that you will know what it looks like when it is properly holding the bulb in position. Use the notched screwdriver to carefully release the bulb retaining clip, and swing it out so that the old bulb can be removed. The clip is too big for the opening in the back of the lamp to swing out without some twisting and manipulation of the end of the clip. With some effort it can be twisted clear of the opening. The photo shows the screw driver blade just prior to pushing and releasing the end of the retaining clip:


5. Disconnect the bulb from the front of the H7 socket adapter and discard the old bulb.

C. To install the new replacement bulb do the following steps:
1. Wear surgical gloves for the following steps so that you don’t get natural oils from your hands all over the new bulb and reduce it’s life span.
2. Attach the new H7 bulb into the H7 socket adapter and position this assembly into the back of the headlamp so that it fits. There is a stub on one side of the bulb socket that only allows the assembly to fit in snuggly one way.
3. Swing the bulb retaining clip so that it begins to hold the bulb assembly in place. The clip is too big for the opening in the back of the lamp, so it will take some twisting and manipulation to get the clip inside the opening.
4. With the bulb in position, and the clip inside the opening, use the notched screwdriver to push and hook the end of the clip into it’s final position. It takes considerable effort to push the clip in place.
5. Apply some bulb grease around the inside flange of the rubber boot that keeps moisture out of the headlamp. Press the rubber boot onto the headlamp and back of the bulb socket.
6. Press the socket back onto the connections for the bulb.
7. Replace all the various plastic covers to complete the job!
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Great info and pics, but I was confused when I looked at the replacement bulb and finally realized that the silver
piece needed to be separated from the black plastic piece (socket adapter). I did this with a large flat bladed screwdriver. Up until I did this, I thought I had the wrong bulb.
How the Bulb looks with and without the H7 Socket Adapter

I realized after the job was done that I should have taken a picture of the new bulb next to the old bulb connected to the H7 socket adapter. It would have made it easier for others to see what to expect. But I wasn't about to undo the job after it was done. You are right that they look quite different when connected, and one might make the mistake of thinking that they had the wrong bulb. Your comment should help clarify it for others. Glad you figured that step (Section B, Step 5) out for yourself!
I bought this based on someone else's advice.

Tack Puller (commissions earned)

Was able to swap out this very quickly. I did have to look quite closely at how the metal hinge is latched on (easier on the passenger side headlamp).

I did find that there is a "right side up" on the seating. There is a little notch that fits in between two "posts". I noticed this only after one of the headlamps was shooting more to the ground than the other side. Second time unhinging the latch took two seconds with this tool!
Excellent thread. Thank you!

Several points I'd like to make after just completing this job on both headlights:
1) The tool described here was indispensable in making an impossible job actually possible to do. I cannibalized a duplicate small screw driver I had which was only 5" long. The narrower the head of the screw driver/tool, the better in my opinion. In this case, a smaller head is actually better since you are trying to get that tool into cramped spaces. The tools shown in this thread are on the big side of what I think makes the job easiest. Obviously, people were successful with the bigger tools.
2) One fundamental problem with this design is that the long side of the wire-formed spring clip interferes with the round hard plastic housing. The long side of the wire-formed spring clip can be shortened by about 2 to 3 mm without impairing its function at all. I did this on both driver and passenger side clips with a dremel tool. It is quite easy to do with the spring clip in the unlatched and in the fully open position. This will make the job simpler next time. Before you un-clip the wire-form, look to see how much excess wire is on yours. Remove it to make the job a breeze next time. As long as that extra wire is there to interfere with the housing, the job is still a pain, even with the tool.
3) The pictures in the service manual are not accurate in at least one respect. For example, the bottom right photo below shows the long side of the wire-formed spring clip flipped up while the short, opposite side is "down". That's bogus. Since it is one continuous clip, if one side is flipped up, the other side will be flipped up too. This was not initially obvious to me and was confusing, until I realized the documentation is just bad.

4) On the passenger side, the job is easier if you unhook and set aside the power steering fluid reservoir. Pull straight up on it to unhook it.
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Last night I replaced the driver side headlight bulb on my 2003 Protege5. I bought a tack puller based on comments here but didn't really need it for that side; got it done with my fingers.

The new bulb is noticeably brighter than the old one, so I figured I'd replace the passenger side one too. Not nearly as easy!

In all the fiddling around trying to get the spring back in its locked position, the whole wire popped out from whatever holds it in place. I can't begin to see what was holding it in place before (something broke, I'm guessing). For the moment I put the new bulb in and it is held in place by the rubber seal.

Talk about a simple job being frustrating! When I settle down a bit I'll go back and try to figure out how to get that spring back in place.

For the moment, the rubber boot/seal seems to be holding the bulb in place fine. Somewhere else on the Internet I found a comment from someone that broke the clip(s) and the rubber seals have been holding things in place fine for over 2 years, so maybe I won't worry about it.

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I was in a real bend trying to replace both low beam bulbs on my Mazda 5. This thread helped a lot but I would like to add a couple of things I didn't see in previous comments:
- The clip that holds the bulb in place in actually on hinges and can be flipped back and out of the way. I didn't realize this as the spring action in the clip pushes it against the plastic housing and it needs to be pinched/pushed inwards and then moved out of the housing it sits in. After that the bulb comes out easily (I spent a long time trying to work the spent bulb out through the clip still in the way).
- I tried to use screwdriver, long nose pliers and a few other tools to get the clip back into place when new bulb was in but nothing worked, after about an hour I finally figured out that if pushing on the clip where it bends out with my fingertip I was able to hook the clip behind the metal base with ease. It just took the right angle and everything worked in an instance!! This worked on both sides, the passenger side doesn't have much space but it is possible to bend the window washer fluid reservoir out of the way a bit.
Good luck to anyone trying this!!
Seriously ready to take a hostage

I somehow dropped and cannot find one of the screws for the retaining clip, can't seem to match it with a 4/70 metric which it appears to be (from the one left behind), and am not in the mood to break the boss or strip the threads, so... what's involved with modifying to HID? This is really causing me an ulcer.

Thanks in advance.


PS If the HID needs the retainer, I will probably need another solutions because I want to do away with the clip.
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The only solution that doesn't involve the clips is a full retrofit. TRS has their Morimoto Mini H1 kit,which is the easiest retro in the universe, but it costs about two hundred bucks and you have to bake your headlights in the oven. If the bulb is relatively stable with only one screw on that clip i would just leave it that way while i saved for the retro, just my two cents...
Great write up. It saved me some grief. Some... :). Still took me 30 mins for both sides. I ended up using an ace hardware weeder tool since I had that in the garage and didn't feel like cannibalizing a screwdriver. It was a bit wide but it did the job.
This thread helped make changing my low beams bearable. Everyone should definitely listen to the previous advice about trimming the long piece of metal that scrapes on the plastic and notching a flathead screwdriver to use as a tool. Thank you for the post.
Yes, thank you all for this thread! I was able to change the drivers side with the details in this thread.

I did however break one of the holes off the plastic piece that hooks onto the battery when putting everything back together, so be careful reassembling everything.

I usually replace both bulbs at the same time, but one side is all I can handle right now! Especially since it sounds like the passenger side is more difficult.
This post is great. I am glad to see that I wasn't the only person to have a problem replacing these low beam bulbs. I still have one thing that I don't understand and that is what is the H7 socket adapter??? My bulb is all metal around it but the picture in this post shows the clip on a black plastic housing. My bulb doesn't have any plastic on it. It's just all metal, except for the glass bulb of course. Please help me understand this. Thanks for the post and for any answer to my questions.
This post is great. I am glad to see that I wasn't the only person to have a problem replacing these low beam bulbs. I still have one thing that I don't understand and that is what is the H7 socket adapter??? My bulb is all metal around it but the picture in this post shows the clip on a black plastic housing. My bulb doesn't have any plastic on it. It's just all metal, except for the glass bulb of course. Please help me understand this. Thanks for the post and for any answer to my questions.

You need to connect your H7 bulb to a socket adapter like this:


Once they're connected, insert the bulb and attached socket adapter into the headlamp assembly; secure bulb with wire/clip; then wire plug connects to bulb socket adapter.
Paint can opener made into the tool took about 5 minutes with a vice and hacksaw. Snipping 1/8" off the end of the clip helps greatly, too. Job done in 2 minutes.
headlamp tool@0.75x.jpg
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