H1 Lamps

What can you still access yourself these days?

Replacing lamps for high beam and dipped beam. Back in the 70s, it was still done by your friendly gas station attendant, but later we preferred to do it ourselves. But the newer a car is, the less it lends itself to hobby mechanics. Some of you may like it that way (because replacing lamps also includes the risk of self-inflicted mistakes), but others may well not find it that great. Because if you tinker yourself a bit here and there, you have a good overview of how your little four-wheel friend is doing. We recognize many headlights from the front, but not so much from the back. In this series we will show you a few examples, starting with an almost historic H4 design and finishing with xenon lamps. Today, we’ll replace dipped beam and high beam in a Ford from the 90s, both of which are H1 lamps.

First create some space to reach them

The newer and more compact the design of cars is, the more tricks are needed to reach all the components with your tools. In our test specimen (yes, once again the highly divisive Scorpio) space is not an issue, fortunately. In mid-range and top-of-the-range cars from the 90s not everything was crammed with computers and electronic aids, which makes it fairly easy to reach the back of the headlights in this car (and also in the Mondeo, Escort and Fiesta). The screenwash container might need to be unhooked or a suction tube unscrewed, but that’s it. If you stick to these little things and don’t think you can save time by twisting and turning your arm to try and reach the lamps, you’ll be able to wash your hands in as little as 30 minutes, happy and content. The cap behind the headlight is easy to open and remove (be careful in the winter – plastic breaks easier when it’s cold), exposing the two separate halogen lamps for dipped beam and high beam.

Do not touch the glass!

With reasonably skillful fingers the small connector can be pulled out of the lamps and the lamp itself can be pulled out after releasing it. Be careful though. If the lights were still on a moment ago and you’re replacing the lamps “just in case” or with higher quality products from Osram, they can be dangerously hot. Both high beam (below) and dipped beam (above) are H1 halogen lamps. They have a chamfered base and can’t be inserted wrongly as long as you don’t use brute force. It’s important not to touch the glass body of the new lamp with your fingers, no matter whether they’re clean or dirty. OK, let’s check:

  • Have you inserted the lamps precisely?
  • Have you locked the wire brackets properly and securely?
  • Have you plugged all connectors back in?
  • Is the ground cable still in place?
  • Have you replaced the cap and locked it in position?

That’s it then, we’re done.

Oh, it’s nice and bright here.

Personally, I have learned a lot in the last 30 minutes. For example, that I don’t want to have a modern compact vehicle and, when it comes to hobby mechanic compatibility, that I’m very happy with my middle-aged set of wheels. And also that previous owners hadn’t always been 100% legal. In the high-beam headlights there were 100 W lamps that are banned in Germany. I changed them to completely legal Osram H1 Nightbreaker Unlimited. They seem to be even brighter … and now both sides are illuminated in the same color again and are extremely bright. It was all worth it. People may laugh at this car but I’ll have the last laugh when it comes to repairs you think you can carry out yourself. In any case, happy and successful replacing.

Cap and screenwash container off. Not necessary, but leaves more space.


The H1 lamp for dipped beam. Small with only one connector.


High beam, further down and also H1.


Questionable design, but now it’s bright again.

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