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I looked up online how to do this and got two decent resources - one is a video and one is a text description.

Unfortunately the video does not show what I have in my car. My car has some kind of rubber housing over a large part of the assembly. I could not figure out how to remove the rubber boot. (I did get the electrical connector off the back though)

The text description has no pictures and seems to be either contradictory or is skipping steps.

Any suggestions or a better resource?

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  • Maybe your owner manual is more specific, I know that mine show how to remove the rubber boot (2 tab to pull). If not, are you able to take a picture and show us? Jan 30 '12 at 3:26
  • Thanks - I will look in the owner manual - I will try to get a pic.
    – Tim
    Jan 30 '12 at 3:38
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First check to see if you can remove the electrical connector - it is easier to do this when the bulb is still in the housing. Sometimes this can be a challenge, as wiring up until '01 wasn't really thick enough gauge so heating sometimes melts the connector a little.

Once the connector is out the way, it is much easier to see how the rubber boot is fixed in - wiggle it to see where the tabs attach, and it can just be pulled out.

Then pop the bulb socket out by turning it anticlockwise and pulling. Change the bulb over and refit.

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  • I did get the electric connector off. I will try again to work the rubber boot off. thanks
    – Tim
    Jan 30 '12 at 16:11
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This guidance applies to a 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback wagon, though I believe the same headlight assembly was found in all 1995-1999 Legacies, and perhaps other Subaru models.

I was a bit intimidated, at first, in trying to change the halogen bulb. The rubber boot backing the headlight assembly seemed stuck in place, and pulling on the tab at the top of the boot looked like it was going to tear it off. Then I got the idea to twist the boot, and was eventually able to twist it around in a full circle. It became apparent that there are no internal tabs to the boot, which had to be aligned one way or another in order to remove it. The boot just comes off, pulling straight backwards. With this in mind, here are the steps to replacing the halogen bulb, or capsule.

SAFETY WARNING: It is advised by halogen bulb manufacturers, and myself, to always wear eye protection (safety glasses or goggles) when handling halogen bulbs, as they contain pressurized gasses and could shatter at any time.

  1. Remove the bulb's socket/connector. (It has a rubberized covering.) Grasp firmly and pull straight backwards with a wiggling motion.

  2. Remove the rubber boot at the rear of the headlight housing. It may feel stuck in place. With both hands, grasp the boot at its base where it meets the housing, and try to twist it: in a full circle, or back and forth as much as possible. This should release any adhesions. Try to get your fingers under the base of the boot, grasp and pull straight backwards with a wiggling motion. There's no trick to this; the boot is designed to pull off. It is held in place merely with a friction fit, like the lid to a Tupperware container. It will come off; just be persistent.

  3. Remove the old bulb. It is retained by a spring-like wire, hinged on one end, and held in place on the other end by spring tension, much like the tip of a safety pin. As you would "unlock" a safety pin, push on the wire and swing it out from its "catch." Again, this retaining wire is hinged, and you just swing it back out of the way. The halogen bulb is then loose and will pull out without resistance.

  4. Install the new bulb. Handle the new bulb only from its base. (Never grasp a halogen bulb with bare hands by its glass capsule. The oils on your fingers will contaminate the glass surface. When the bulb heats up while in operation, the oil creates a temperature differential which eventually causes the glass to shatter.) There are tabs on the bulb's metal base, which interlock with the headlight housing in only one way. Keep turning the bulb until you find where it drops properly into position. Now, swing the retaining wire back in place, closing it much like you would a safety pin. Next, reinstall the rubber boot. Put pressure in a circular motion along its back edge, squeezing it back in place like the lid of a Tupperware container. Finally, reconnect the headlight's electrical socket.

  5. Turn-on the headlights (in a Subaru, usually this means turning on the ignition, first) and admire your gleaming accomplishment!

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