alacrity in action

I’m an engineer. Most of the time these days I focus on software engineering so I always look forward to engineering challenges that involve hardware. My left headlight bulb went a few days ago. I know, changing a bulb should be straight forward, that’s what I thought as well, but since my right headlight bulb went in November I know different. Obviously Citroen designers though long and hard how to attract more customers to the authorised dealership network.

My first attempt to change the headlight bulb back in November was right when it happened, late evening, dark, it’s raining, bought a spare at a patrol station. Good 45 minutes of struggling got me as far as taking the old one out and I was properly fed up trying, 1.5 hours next day did not help either so in an attempt to save further frustration I stopped in a local garage hinting at my initial difficulties. Fortunately they took up the challenge and two hours later I had my bulb changed.

With the experience last time around I decided this time to get the Halfords guys to fit the new bulb for me. I was slightly suspicious though when it was kindly explained to me, I will only be charged for the service once the bulb is fitted. Guess what? I didn’t pay. Falling far short of 2 hours the guy gave up when he couldn’t even unplug the wires.

Today, with renewed energy and determination not to let Citroen lure me into their trap, equipped with a camera to explore the headlight design, I took up the challenge and succeeded. In case you also wonder how to change headlight bulb in Citroen C4 here are some hopefully helpful pictures and quick instructions.

Left headlight bulb with wires

Left headlight bulb with wires


Headlight bulb mounting spring

Here is the bulb with the wires attached. Taking them off took some time, the key is to hold the bulb mount with one finger while delicately pulling the wires out. On the right, with the wires off.


Bulb replacement instructions

The easiest way I found to take the bulb out was to take the mounting spring in the following order:

1.) Slide the bottom right arm of the spring out to the left

2.) Take the top of the spring out (to the right) from the latch

3.) Delicately release the spring, keep it hinged at the bottom left

Make sure you don’t drop the spring or the bulb.

I found inserting the new bulb is easier when you look at the front through the headlight glass (from outside) and then just following the directions in reverse order: attach the left arm of the spring in the lower bottom hinge, lock the spring at the top in the latch and finally secure the right arm of the spring in the lower right hinge.

It took less then 20 minutes in total and so I was well impressed with myself. enough to say there is no mention of any of the above in the manual.

The new bulb replaced.

The new bulb replaced.


  1. bonnet down stuff it

  2. Geoff Handley says:

    This info and photos were priceless I was ready to admit failure and pay!!!!!
    No way left hand took 5 min right a little longer due to dropping the spring clip.
    Thanks a million.

    Geoff H

  3. Paul Cleary says:

    Good on your for posting this information. Perhaps you should send it to Citroen and urge them not to design something so complicated. pc

  4. Thanks for posting the pics…I was on the verge of taking out the light assembly to get those views.Citroen and other manufacturers take note THIS IS A JOB THAT SHOULD BE ABLE TO BE PERFORMED BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD BY A PERSON WITH AVERAGE SKILL.

  5. Thanks for this handy guide.
    Biggest problem i had was getting the electric off… Ended up unclipping it first which seemed easier.
    Then managed to mess around putting the bulb in upside down.
    All together not too bad thanks to this page…

  6. Good post.
    I have a system of changing the globe thats very close to yours but with a few minor changes, & I would like to share them here. I have quite some experience with these.
    1. Remove rubber cover.
    2. Remove the globe clip totally from housing as above. (take care not to drop the clipi in the light housing, as it will take you time to fish it out).
    3. Take globe out of light housing with wires still attached. Take wires out of guide clip on the side of light as this will give you more length to play with.
    4. Remove globe from wire socket. Hold globe base in one hand & socket in other hand & pull apart. (note: this requires a high pulling force, & don’t worry you will not break it)
    5. Re-install globe clip, only the bottom two sections (where the number 1 is in the picture above). Leave the top of the clip hanging down.
    6. Insert new globe into position, look at front of light as you do this & you will see when the globe is in the correct position easier. the globe will only fit in correctly at only one rotation position.
    7. Flip the clip up & push top of clip to the side so it can slide under number 2 in the picture above. It’s just a piece of metal with a space under it that the clip can go under.
    8. Re-install the wire socket pushing it into place.
    9. Re-install rubber cover.

  7. I dare you to try an oil & air filter change. The most complex procedure ever for this process.
    Just for comparison sake try the same on a Subaru. Bet you it take at least 10 times longer on the Citroen.

    If you need to look for instructions for changing a light bulb can you imagine how the boys feel in the work shop servicing these cars. Bet it’s never done properly.

  8. Ian Kubler says:

    Thankyou for the information.
    Found this after much frustration.

  9. I thought the rear end was a pain the the b…. I even lost the hex key down the only place it could fall…thanks for the tips fro the front. Will now reattempt it. Bloody French design there lack of…
    CHanged the front and rear ends of my LR Discovery 3 in less time than the rear C4

  10. Graham Procter says:

    I have a 58 reg C4. manual says for driving beam remove cover, turn anti clock wise 1/4 turn. Yep easy. Then removed bulb no problem Then took 3/4 trying to line it up to put back in. I now have a very sore thumb and finger. No room at all, Air box removal recommended. LOL. I agree workshop technicians must suffer. Having said that my local dealer charges £80 and hour!

  11. Sarunas Remeika says:

    Many thanks !

  12. Terry Bailey says:

    Had a very similar experience changing nearside left bulb on my C4 Picasso. Had to work totally by feel alone and managed to drop the retaining spring clip, which just seemed to vanish. was unable to recover the spring resulting in my having to buy a new complete headlamp, which I am just about to order @ £139.99. (£187.07 from the main dealer). Citroen dealer said that the spring clip is not replaceable as it is part of the headlamp fitting. If this is the case why on earth do Citroen not crimp the ends of the clip so that it cannot become detached and dropped?

  13. I just changed both headlight bulbs today and thanks to the pics above i managed to do this with ease. I have a coupe and there are some things that get in the way. I took off the cover that is over the windscreen wash bottle and the coolant cap. This gave me the access to see what i was doing and i didn’t have to keep scraping my hand trying to pull off the connector from the bulb. The clip was very simple, just feel with your thumb for the top of the spring clasp. Push and move it to the right at the same time keeping the pushing force locked, then let go and it falls down neatly. Change the bulb with the flat part of the bulb facing up and then push the clasp back over the bulb fixture and push with some force towards the light and a little bit to the right and then hold the pushing force slide it to the left, it should catch and then just reconnect the connector 🙂

  14. Steven Young says:

    Pictures were a great right. I found it easier to clip the two lower spring arms inplace first then leave the spring hang inplace then insert the bulb. The bulb sould sit in place if it is seated correctly. Now lift the top of spring into place pushing it slightly to your left at the top, When to spring is hard against the bulb base let the top ofcthe spring settle your right.

  15. Yes, the clip is the key. It seems imposiible to move just by trying to move the top across the the side which is what it should easily allow, Push in at top and move to side. How hard is that meant to be but, no. Not happening so the pinching of the bottom arms then moving the top to get the bulb out. Once done, the rest is quite easy.

    As mentioned though, this should be a task that can be done at the side of the road at night with relative ease by semi competent people. Not something that requires researching or a service mechanic to do.

    And I thought my Honda Fireblade was a pig to work on. Hah, Honda has nothing on Citroen LOL

  16. Trev dempsey says:

    This was priceless!!! My neighbours no longer have to listen to my foul language everytime a bulb goes!! They thank you too

  17. Ira Meparanum says:

    Thanks so much for your post, Marcin and Dan! This has helped me so much. There were several occasions where I nearly dropped the spring clip and had a mini heart attack!

  18. If doing it all was so easy after reading sensible instructions

  19. ARGH!!! Trev no what do you mean “everytime”? Thanks for all the guidance and at least I do not feel quite so precious.If it hapens again tho i may be tempted to lower the bumper , remove the entire light fitting and open up the access hole (hot wire cut) And then just seal it up with the mighty gaffer.

  20. Stabber99 says:

    Thanks for the picture of the clip. I was stuck on putting it back.

  21. Appreciate your help!! It saved me some time!! Managed to replace it in 5 minutes!

  22. Many Thanks!,Marcyin. Following your instructions it took me 30 mins in total. I have also a Citroen Xsara and changing the bulbs on headlamps is not easy task either., Citroen must employ sadistic headlamp designers!

    • Thanks for the info. Less than 15 minutes and thats with getting some pliers from the garage.

  23. Thank you, thank you thank you. Hubby spent half an hour trying to do this and couldn’t. After reading this, is took me 2mins!

  24. Thank you
    A great help to me, the pictures were the key to my success after a great deal of faffing about
    thanks again

  25. Brilliant – after paying for the dealer to change a lightbulb I too was convinced it can’t be that hard! How wrong I was but this post has helped massively, thanks.

  26. Twenty minutes even with dropping the spring, thanks for the photos they were invaluable. I was feel so good only for the neighbour to tell me I also have a brake light gone.

  27. Brilliant .Great post helped me out greatly.10 mins all done

  28. Great help, car not made to suit owner ! On my Audi you can’t get near it, 1/4 hr booking at £112 ph..what u spose to do in France?!

  29. Fleur Whitlock says:


  30. jim andrews says:

    many thanks for photos really helpful. I ended up taking the headlight housing off the car and turning it upside down in the house and refitted the bulb. Took 30 minutes but reasonably simple to remove whole housing

  31. Thank you very much for posting these photos and instructions. It made changing a breeze.

  32. Thank you great instructions I even managed to do it myself! This will impress my other half when he gets home! Thank again.

  33. Thanks for the photos they were a great help after I spent ages trying to fit the bulb the wrong way round !
    The peugeot 207 uses the same bulb arrangement as the C4.

  34. Thank you, helpful! I managed to change my Citroen c1 in less than five mins thanks to this 🙂

  35. Hi guys just in the process of changing the dreaded bulb as said before what a pain in the rectal area ran out of light will try again tomorrow think I may tie a piece of cotton around the clip as my fingers are the size of walls sausages just be on the safe side

  36. Excellent explanation and graphics. Saved myself a bit of money. Owe you a beer Mr Marcin Floryan.

  37. Hi guys me again just about to have a hissy fit as I couldn’t get the bulb in then after calming down and a little break straight in the cotton tied around the clip was worth it as I dropped it a few times and it was easy to retrieve

  38. If you use a pair of pointy nosed pliers you can undo the clip without undoing the the bottom and risk of dropping clips gone

  39. Tried to do this outside the shop and gave up after a couple of minutes. Drove home and looked it up and took 2 minutes. thanks. Only problem is I didn’t put the circular cap back on at the shop and it’s gone. Insulating tape will need to do until I get hold of a replacement cap 🙁

  40. Tried to do this simple task and after 25 mins managed to remove the offending bulb all on my own with no internet help!!! Being smug with myself was soon dismissed as i couldnt get the bulb back in for love nor money! Leaving it for a day and my partner taking the car on school run, the retaining clip went missing. Citreon dont sell these clips seperately, they only come as a complete assembly! so be aware

  41. Donpetroleum says:

    Spot on advice. The pictures were worth a thousand words. Much appreciated

  42. Up to now II was feeling inferior after over one hour. Depleted of all pride and rotten with shame I found your posting and now I am cured. Screw Citroen…I drive a Toyota myself, thank God. Well done Marcin,

  43. Spelling error there: I should have said : Up to now I was… not II was…anyway… I am chuffed delighted I found this posting. Rock on Marcin.

  44. Now I now why Citroen dealer mechanics were plasters.

  45. please don’t shoot me down. but does the bulb have to go in a certain way (up or down) or doesn’t it matter either way??….i need to change one of mine but the last one halfords changed (the drivers side)seems to be badly aligned and is pointing quite far to the right

  46. margie sheely says:

    Thanks – that was so helpful 🙂
    The clip on my picasso looks a little different but your photos gave me the general idea and confidence to have a go myself .

  47. The pics are very helpful. Unfortunately, I dropped the bulb into the lighting house. I’m wondering how to fish it out.

  48. had to visit this page a few times now and its been very helpful, cheers.

    the next problem is this happens with moinotonous regularity so i’ve ordered H7 LED replacements off Ebay and when they turn up i’ll do both sides and hopefully never have to do it again (also $3.60 for two LED replacements compared to $20 for one normal halogen from local auto parts store…….)

    also going to replace both tail/stop lights with LEDs as they blow regularly too

    i hate french cars…….why the hell she bought it still escapes me, not that my jap/aussie car (Holden Rodeo) is any easier to do the lights on but at least its further off the ground

  49. Garry Travers says:

    Thank you, Thank you, it took a while to get the spring off , but your photos and instructions made what seemed impossible an easy fix. I found returning the spring was easiest but placing both pins into place and then pushing the top into place.

    • Thanks to you too Garry, I found replacing the clip this way very straight forward.

  50. Thank you for these instructions. A friend tried it for me and took the bulb and clip out (grrrr!) so I went in completely blind. After much heartache and an unlady like amount of swearing, I changed the passenger side headlamp. I’m feeling kinda like a boss right now!! Thanks again 🙂

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