How Many Swedish Engineers Did It Take to Make This Headlight Change Easier Than Assembling an IKEA Table?

My wife and I decided we needed a bigger car than my 3-series wagon for our family, now featuring two kids and two dogs. Sure, we all fit nicely in the 3'er. But not with much of anything else, like food or clothes for a weekend.

Not wanting a big SUV, we looked at bigger wagons, namely the Volvo XC70; we also considered the Subaru Outback, but a particularly good example of the Volvo came up, so we jumped on it. I do believe we’ll pay more to maintain the Volvo over its lifespan, but that’s not based on any real information, just the general “European car tax” ingrained in my head despite the fact that I own two high-mileage BMWs that have been (mostly) wonderful to us.

This week, however, I was given a little gift by the Basic Auto Repair Gods when I had a headlight bulb out. My co-worker with a 2011-ish Subaru said he had to take the front wheel and fender liner out to change the headlight bulb in his car. I chuckled and said “I’ve changed a bulb in my E46 while pumping gas - and I finished before the pump did.” But I hadn’t done the Volvo yet. I knew in my parents’ Volvo it involved removing the airbox. Not a big deal, but not a gas station no-tools job.


Above is an actual screenshot from a video titled “Headlight bulb replacement Subaru Outback - the easy way” and you might notice it’s FORTY-TWO MINUTES LONG and also the image captured includes a brake caliper.

Now, while the Volvo took more than a minute, I have never seen such a clever mechanism on a modern car, although to be fair my data set is quite limited. In our 2012 XC70, there are two metal tabs you can pull up - they look like tent pegs - and then the whole headlight assembly slides out! You disconnect the wire harness, and place the assembly on any convenient flat surface. Then the back of it comes off with a few clever, simple latches, and bam. You’re in.

Two “tent pegs” - lift those up (remove and set aside)
Tabs removed, pull light assembly out, unplug harness in middle, back
This whole cover comes off, exposing the bulbs inside. Too easy from there to make it worth taking pictures.

The bulb housing even indicates which direction to spin the thing to remove the bulb (duh, it’s counter-clockwise). It might take a touch longer than the easiest-to-reach bulbs in fixed headlight assemblies, but the ease and comfort is second to none.

Don’t take my word for it, there’s a youtube video for “Volvo XC70 Headlight Bulb Replacement” (2008+) and you guessed it, it’s 44 SECONDS long.

Thank you, Volvo!

Happy Friday, everyone!

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