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Headlight Dimmer Switch Replacement Cost

Know what price you should pay to get your vehicle fixed.

The average cost for a headlight dimmer switch replacement is between $137 and $231. Labor costs are estimated between $52 and $145 while parts are priced between $85 and $86. Estimate does not include taxes and fees.
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What is a Headlamp Dimmer Switch?

Headlamps illuminate the road during nighttime driving. They also aid in vehicle visibility during the day. The headlamps normally produce two levels of brightness: the low beams and the high beams. A headlamp dimmer switch, usually included as part of the turn signal lever to the left of the steering wheel, allows the driver to toggle between these two settings.

How do Headlamp Dimmer Switches work?

While some vehicles today feature auto-dimming capabilities, where headlights can detect the presence of oncoming traffic at night and adjust their own brightness level, most vehicles require the driver to switch between high and low beams manually. The headlamp dimmer switch is incorporated into the turn signal lever assembly. The lever to the left of the steering wheel is raised or lowered to operate the turn signals. It is pulled toward the driver to click the headlamps from low to high, or high to low. The switch sends a signal to the Light Control Module (LCM) - a computer that coordinates the functions of all the lights on a vehicle - and the LCM causes a relay to switch the headlamps from the low beam bulbs to the high beam bulbs.

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What are the symptoms of a bad Headlamp Dimmer Switch?

The tiny electrical contacts inside the headlamp dimmer switch can wear out over time. If the headlamps refuse to change from low beams to high beams, but instead remain on one setting, the dimmer switch could be at fault. A bad dimmer switch could also be the problem if one setting or the other, low or high, does not work when the driver switches between them. This could leave the driver with the impression that the headlamps are on when they are not, and cause a safety concern during nighttime driving. In some cases, a bad dimmer switch may keep the headlamps from working at all.

Can I drive with a bad Headlamp Dimmer Switch?

The headlamps are a crucial safety feature of any car, truck, or SUV. They need to remain operational at all times. If a headlamp dimmer switch goes bad, it is possible for a driver to turn on the headlights, see the dashboard illuminate, and assume that the headlamps are working. But if the switch is bad and the headlamps do not come on, and if the vehicle is surrounded by plenty of ambient light (such as in urban settings even when it is dark out), the driver may be completely unaware that the headlamps are off. Depending on the specific symptoms, a vehicle may be driven with a faulty dimmer switch, but the lighting system should be inspected at first signs of a problem.

How often do Headlamp Dimmer Switches need replacement?

The headlamp dimmer switch is not meant to need replacement. There is no scheduled maintenance interval from the manufacturer. But, because the switch is used frequently, the internal electrical contacts can go bad over time and require that the switch be replaced. Aggressive use of the turn signal lever/dimmer switch can also lead to premature failure.

How are Headlamp Dimmer Switch issues diagnosed?

A technician will first look to rule out simple causes of malfunctioning headlamps - a blown fuse or a faulty relay. The relay may be removed and tested with a multimeter. Using a diagnostic scan tool, the technician might check the operation of the lighting system by reading data from the Light Control Module. The dimmer switch may be removed and probed with a multimeter to diagnose a problem. The technician will need access to a wiring diagram for the vehicle to determine which wire terminals on the combination switch assembly are used for the dimmer switch.

How are Headlamp Dimmer Switches replaced?

To replace a headlamp dimmer switch, a technician will disable power to the lighting system by disconnecting the battery or by pulling a fuse. The steering column cover trim and lower dash panels need to be removed for access to the switch assembly. In some cases, this can be an extensive operation that includes removal of trim above the steering wheel and around the instrument cluster. The retaining fasteners are unscrewed and the combination turn signal and headlamp switch module is unplugged from the wiring harness and removed as an assembly. The new module is plugged in and put in place and fastened before the trim is installed. The technician will restore power to the system and test the new switch.

RepairPal Recommendations for Headlamp Dimmer Switch issues

If symptoms of a faulty headlamp dimmer switch appear, the entire lighting system should be inspected by a qualified technician at a trusted repair shop. Since relays or control modules can be at fault, it is recommended to have the issue diagnosed before purchasing and replacing the switch.

What to look out for when dealing with Headlamp Dimmer Switch issues

The dashboard trim can be tricky to remove without damaging the panels. On some higher-end vehicles, the trim components can be extremely expensive to replace, and, in some cases, can only be replaced as a complete set costing thousands of dollars. Care should be exercised when disassembling components on the dashboard.

Can I replace the Headlamp Dimmer Switch myself?

Disassembly of the dashboard and steering column should probably be left to a professional. A comprehensive inspection of the lighting system that may include a diagnostic scan with a special scan tool should be performed any time there is a problem with the headlamps. The DIY mechanic with a solid understanding of automotive electrical circuit testing can identify the failed switch, but if the switch and relays are serviceable, the vehicle should be referred to a professional.

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