How to Change a Headlight on Mk 1 (face-lift) Ford Focus

Introduction: How to Change a Headlight on Mk 1 (face-lift) Ford Focus

Changing the dipped beam bulb on the old Mk1 Ford Focus can seem daunting, and I have read different ways of doing it. The near-side (kerb-side) bulb is a particular challenge due to the proximity of the battery and A/C.

This is the way I was shown by a Ford engineer, and when you have done it once it is very quick and easy.

It involves removing the headlight assembly. The main obstacle is the retaining bolt under the car!

Step 1: Purchase Bulb

My local car hardware chain store seemed insistent that the Mk1-facelife (Mk 1.5) Focus has H4 bulbs (dual filament) but this was not the case. The Mk1.5 has a separate main beam and this means it is a H7 dipped beam bulb that is needed.

Step 2: Undo Top Headlight Unit Bolts

Wait for a dry day, unless you have a garage.

Tools needed - ratcheting socket wrench, 10 mm socket, and an extender piece.

Open bonnet and secure.

Remove the two bolts on the headlight unit as shown in the figure using the 10 mm socket wrench. One is at the top corner, and the other half way along the top of the headlight.

These bolts and the one under the car you will soon remove are identical. They are not the same as the ones from the grill plastic trim however, which also need removing, so don't mix them up...

Step 3: Remove Bolt Underneath

The final retaining bolt is located under the car, you have to get your arm up under the plastic trim in front of the wheel arch. There is a 'tab' that protrudes down from the bodywork, through which a bolt attaches to a similar tab in the headlight assembly. You may need to put down a mat to lie on, and get under the car, but once familiar you can do it by touch. You will need to use the standard length socket (no extender piece this time) due to the tight space.

This is the most inconvenient bit. I can only assume a deliberate act by Ford to encourage people to visit a dealer. Newer designs have done away with this. In fact, I have not bothered to put this back in, the unit is perfectly secure on the top two bolts.

Step 4: Loosen Plastic Front Grill

This is necessary to allow the headlight assembly to be removed.

It is only necessary to loosen one side of the grill (the side where the headlight is you wish to remove). It is possible to remove it entirely if needed.

There are plastic arms with clips that come off by pulling up. Loosen one of these (or both if removing entirely). Unscrew and remove the bolt and washer - this is deep down and you will need the extender bit of your socket set.

Once the grill is loose, you should be able to lift the headlight unit away. It will now only be held on with the power connector.

Note this screw is different to the others on the headlight so don't mix them up.

Step 5: Remove Power Lead.

The headlight is now only held in by the power connector. Push a flat screwdriver in the clip on the power connector and it will pull off (may be a bit tight). Take the headlight to a working area. Push down metal bar to release the back cover, and remove it from the hinge slots. Note which way around it went on.

Step 6: Remove Headlight Back Cover

You can now take the headlight unit to a suitable working area.

Push down metal bar to release the back cover, and remove it from the hinge slots.

Step 7: Remove Old Bulb

A sprung metal clip holds the bulb in. It passes over the bulb and connector. This is pushed down to release it from the notch that holds it in. The loop of the clip passes over the black square bulb connector and wire. Pull the old bulb off the black connector. Leave the wire and black connector through the metal loop. Safely discard the old bulb.

Step 8: Fit New Bulb

Take the new bulb by the metal housing – do not touch the glass. Attach to the square black power connector which should still be passed through the metal clip loop. Now place the bulb in the headlight.

Align the bulb with the slots in the unit – it will only fit one way. Once sat correctly, hold in place with a finger whilst closing the metal retaining loop. If this requires a lot of force, the bulb is not sat correctly!

Step 9: Test the Bulb and Reassemble

Test the bulb before reassembling the headlight, to make sure it works.

Reattach the rear plastic cover to the headlight. Don't forget to do this! (as I have)

Site the headlight unit back on the car. It may need some wiggling to get it to slot in right (this is the 'tab' that goes under the car that needs to be positioned right).

Attach the power lead. Attach the three bolts for the headlight (or two, if you are leaving the one off that is under the car, as I have).

Clip the grill back on and put the bolt and washer back. When tightening that bolt, don't catch the lip of the plastic under the washer, push it out of the way.


1 Person Made This Project!


  • Anything Goes Contest

    Anything Goes Contest
  • Lamps Challenge

    Lamps Challenge
  • Puzzles Challenge

    Puzzles Challenge



3 years ago

My mk1.5 which was registered a few days before UK 05 reg and was exactly as described with the lower bolt . Best way to undo this is with a ratcheting ring spanner. Makes it a doddle, once you get your arm in the right place.
Thanks for the how to guide, last time I changed it I had to take out the battery and cover. So this is massively easier.


Question 4 years ago on Step 3

I have a 2005 MK1 TDDI and I can't seem to reach this bolt from the bottom. The whole bottom of my cars engine part is covered with a plastic piece that's connected to plastic of the wheel arch.

Any idea's how to reach the bolt without having to take apart my whole car?


Reply 4 years ago

Hi, sorry I'm not sure. Different models seem to have different bolt arrangements. If you can't see it, are you sure it exists?


Reply 4 years ago

Too be honest, I'm not sure if it exists haha. I removed the 2 bolts on the top but the headlight was still very much stuck. It felt like there was still something attached to it in the bottom right corner (left headlight when sitting in the car, bottom right when standing in front of the car). So I thought it had to be that bolt. Because of the plastic bottom cover there's no way for me to check if it actually exists... Guess I'll just take it to a repair shop.


5 years ago

Thanks for the excellent instructions.

Why the Ford engineers didn't allow for the access panel to lift up is beyond me. I can take the Headlamps out of my XC90 by lifting 2 clips and out she comes. This was a mission not helped by the plastic post screws the just kept spinning in their enclosures stopping you from removing the front grill I was glad I found your work around top man. Saved me from giving up after much swearing.

2002 UK Spec Focus


7 years ago on Introduction

My Focus 1.5 didn't have that bolt underneath, instead there was a plastic spring clip which you could (just) get to from the top. You need a torch to see and a large flat-blade screwdriver to insert behind the clip and twist to release it.

(My first thought the difference was due to was maybe yours was US spec, but I see it's RHD, so not. Mine's UK, late model 1.5 so maybe they changed the fixing.)


Reply 7 years ago

Hi, that's interesting. No mine is UK standard mk 1.5, 53 plate. Maybe in the last year they changed this design. Thanks for the extra info!