I have a few sets of fog lights that I like to swap around on the Saab. But this is the only set of sealed beam ones. And of course, as soon as I had them mounted and aimed, one of them burned out. So...

Here’s how to replace one.

Brand new G.E. sealed beam fog light ordered off Amazon. Few auto parts stores still stock these things, but apparently they’re still made. A sealed beam light combines the reflector, lens, and bulb into one sealed unit. They have some drawbacks, but used to be required equipment in the U.S. for several decades.

One of the major drawbacks in this specific instance is that changing them out is a bit of a pain compared to changing a bulb in a usual fog lamp, where the reflector, lens, and bulb are all different pieces which may be disassembled.


Here you can see the back of the light. It is held into the lamp trim ring by a retaining ring which is secured by several retaining clips. A wire runs to one screw terminal, and the other terminal holds a steel strip which presses against the inside back of the lamp housing to provide a ground. You have to loosen both screws and remove the wire and strip from the light.

Each clip then has to be pried out with a flat head screwdriver. The retaining ring is then loose and light can be removed. The retaining ring has a notch in it that fits a tab molded into the light for the purpose of keeping the light oriented correctly in the lamp.


New and replacement lights. The milky appearance of the burned out light is vaporized tungsten.


These tiny sealed beams can be had in all sorts or beam patterns beside FOG. You might see FLOOD, TRACTOR, and SPOT. I guess the one redeeming thing about these old sealed beam lamps is that you can put any beam pattern in them, without necessarily having to go and buy new housings/lens for each type.

Putting the new light in is generally the reverse of removal, but it can help to have a pair of needle nosed pliers to manipulate the retaining clips back into place.


And working again!

I’m not much of a fan of sealed beam headlights, which require complex lenses and dual filaments that just don’t work well with the all-in-one design practice. However for fog lights or spot lights, which have simple lenses and a single filament, the sealed beam works out just fine and even has some advantages over lamps with removable bulbs. They can’t fill with water or dust, the reflector won’t discolor or oxidize, and they’re very sturdy and vibration proof.