Car Doctor Q&A: Why Is My Lexus Headlamp Blinking?

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Car owners are mystified by Xenon headlamps, but anyone with rudimentary skills and a few tools can replace them for around $25 each.

Q. I have a 2008 Lexus and the Xenon headlight on the driver’s side blinks. I took it into a shop for a diagnostic check and they told me it could be the bulb or some other electrical component.

They suggested I start with a bulb. They told me a bulb would be about $250 installed but couldn’t guarantee that is the problem.

Is there anything I can do to help control this cost/guessing at the problem?

A. The simplest test would be to swap and the left and right bulbs. If the bulb that is now on the right side starts to flash you know it is a bulb problem.If the bulb on the driver’s side continues to blink, the problem is related to the wiring or headlamp module.

You can find online sources for bulbs for around $50 for a pair, so it’s definitely to your advantage to do a little DIY if it turns out the bulb is bad.

As with any headlight bulb, HID or xenon, wear rubber gloves to avoid oil from your fingers contaminating the bulbs.

You didn’t mention what model Lexus you own. We found a YouTube for a video showing how they’re replaced on a Lexus IS. You can search there for your model, too.

If the bulbs are good, it may be the ballast that’s giving you trouble. A ballast provides the voltage required to ignite the lamp, and it also regulates the electrical current of the light once it’s illuminated.

Ballasts don’t go bad as frequently as bulbs do, but it happens occasionally. Replacing it is a little more involved than replacing a bulb, but anyone with decent DIY skills can get it done. It requires removing the entire headlamp cluster to get access to the ballast, but don’t be intimidated.

John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. A certified mechanic, Paul tests dozens of new cars each year and also hosts a radio show on AM 950 and 550.

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John Paul

John Paul