A headlight socket is a female connector for a headlight bulb that acts as a power supply for the bulb. It is possible to buy new and used headlight sockets, as well as visit a junkyard and collect one, a low-cost option that can be especially useful if the make and model is unusual. In the event a socket needs replacement, the driver will need to take the headlight out of the mount, remove the old socket, and install the new one.
The headlight socket consists of a female connector designed to work with bulbs, attached to a pigtail of wiring that hooks up to the car's electrical system. A number of headlight styles are available, and sockets and plugs are not universal. Drivers should be aware of this when they replace headlights or sockets, as they may end up with an incompatible part. The whole headlight assembly, including the bulb, is commonly sold as a unit.
If a driver wants to change the type of headlights used, she may need to install a different headlight socket. This requires familiarity and comfort with electrical systems, as it means removing the old wiring, installing the new one, testing it, and then fitting in the headlight. It is important to test any wiring before using it with a bulb, as the bulb could blow if the wiring is not done properly. Electrical testers are available for this purpose.
Several things can go wrong with the wiring of a headlight socket and may cause problems like flickering, dimness, or a nonfunctional bulb even when the bulb is in good condition. Drivers with malfunctioning headlights can try some troubleshooting like checking to make sure all the connections are firm and inspecting the wiring for signs of wear before they inspect the bulb. Sometimes mice or other animals nest under the hood of a car, especially if it sits idle for extended periods of time, and they can damage the electrical system in the search for nesting material.
Drivers who are not comfortable working on their own cars can hire a mechanic to handle a headlight socket repair or replacement. The job usually does not take very long, and the mechanic can also check the rest of the electrical system and align the headlights at the same time. If damage to the socket is associated with an accident or an animal problem, an insurance company may cover the costs of repair.