I am a proud owner of a 2004 Nissan Maxima. This is my third Maxima. I love this car. Unfortunately, headlights keep burning out on regular basis. It appears from various forums that the headlight issue is a common problem, complicated by the fact that replacement is an expensive proposition at the dealer. However, replacing the bulb yourself is not as difficult as some describe. It does not require one to remove the bumper and it only requires the most basic tools. Below are step-by-step instructions, accompanied by images that I took as I was replacing a light bulb in my Xeon lights on the passenger side. The process took me only 30 min on the first attempt.

WARNING: I am not a professional mechanic. I am just a regular guy; I do marketing for a living. Thus, please don't rely on my advice for safety. Safety is your responsibility!

Tools needed:

  1. Whatever you use to remove a wheel: a jack and an appropriate wrench
  2. A Phillips screwdriver
  3. A flat head screwdriver

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Step 1: Remove your front wheel

I hope you can do this step without instructions. If not, I suggest you learn. I was stuck in Canada once in -20C on a local highway with a flat, at night. Being able to replace it with a spare was essential. True story.

Step 2: Remove a small black plastic cover that is directly behind the wheel. This step does not apply to the driver's side.

Use your flat screwdriver to pop up the heads of four plastic clips. Pry them open carefully from each side without breaking them. Then you can simply pull them out. If you break a few, replacements are widely available from most automotive stores. The clips you'd need are nissan clips 01553-09321.

first piece
clips #9540

Step 3: Remove a small plastic part, the color of your car, which is on the bottom, almost under the door.

The piece is held in place by three screws. Simply unscrew them with a Phillips screwdriver.


Step 4: Remove all the remaining clips and some screws that are holding in place the wheel cover. Then remove the cover.

Note: there are some screws (two I believe) under the bumper. Once all the screws and clips are undone slide the cover out by first moving it towards the engine block and then taking it out.

wheel cover
wheel cover

Step 5: Remove the light bulb that you need to replace

Now, you have access to your low beam/high beam light bulb, your blinker/fog light and your turn light. On my car, the low and the high beam bulb is one and the same. I believe that is also true for many subsequent models. You can take out each bulb by twisting the assembly counterclockwise about 50 degrees. The assembly is shown below.

Light assembly 1
Light assembly 2
Light assembly 3
Light assembly 4

Step 6: Replace the bulb and reassemble in reverse order

It has been said that one should not touch light bulbs with bare hands as oils on our skin burn and greatly reduce the bulb's life expectancy.

The type of light bulb to serve as replacement is a topic for a separate discussion. It depends on whether you have Xeon lights. I just bought my replacements from a dealer, which was still expensive. However, it's better than paying them for labor on something that I can easily do myself. Nissan's part number for the bulb that my car needed is 26296-9B913.

I hope this helps. If so, please drop me a note:

Copyright © 2008 -2010 Dmitriy Lerman