Burning Brightly

Remove the four screws in the large chrome metal bezel that surrounds the headlamp and turn and marker lamps. Remove the bezel, and rest it somewhere nearby.

How many truckers does it take to change a light bulb?Actually it’s pretty easy, so you can do it by yourself, and this simple task can keep you safely on the road. Lights not only help you see, they help other people see you. But problems with lights are not uncommon in big trucks. The most common one is the need to replace a burned-out headlamp, fog light or marker/turn signal lamp. Count on a DOT stop if the officer can see a light is out, especially one of the headlamps, which are your eyes in the dark or at times of dangerously reduced visibility.

Complaints from large fleets over the years about all the time their technicians spend working on lighting have induced the truck-makers to design trucks so that bulb replacement is easy.

For a quick lesson, we visited Freedom International, in North Philadelphia, Pa., to find out how to service the lamps on late model Internationals. Technician Dion Lorchak showed us every step involved in servicing the headlights and turn signal/marker lights on an International Eagle 9900 ix tractor.

To replace the sealed beam headlamps:

  1. Remove the four screws in the large chrome metal bezel that surrounds the headlamp and turn and marker lamps. Remove the bezel, and rest it somewhere nearby.

    Be careful not to touch the three adjusting screws for aiming the headlamp, or the headlamp will have to be re-aimed. Two are on the outboard side (top and bottom), and one is inboard near the bottom of the lamp and is recessed.

  2. There are two screws at the top, two at the bottom, and two on either side of the small chrome bezel that holds the headlamp in place. Remove all of these with a Phillips screwdriver, doing the two on the top last so the bezel will remain in place as you work.
  3. If the truck is on a level surface, the headlight will probably remain in place as you remove the headlamp retaining bezel. Pull the bezel off carefully, but be ready to catch the headlamp in case it starts to fall out.
  4. Once the bezel has been removed and put in a safe place, gently pull the headlamp out of the recess in the fender. Note the position of the three-prong plug. In this model, when the headlamp is right-side up, the three-prong plug is positioned with the single prong at top and the two prongs at the bottom. Then disconnect the three-prong plug.
  5. To replace, plug the three-prong plug onto the prongs on the back of the new headlamp. Force the plug onto the headlamp until the prongs are fully seated in the plug.
  6. Install the headlamp into the recess, making sure it’s right-side up (with the dual prongs below the single prong).
  7. Install the headlamp retaining bezel, and hold it in place while installing its four
    retaining screws. Tighten the screws, gently going around the bezel in several stages until all have been snugged up.

    Lorchak says that if you ever need to replace these screws, make sure to use the OEM design or a stainless steel screw. Some aftermarket screws that are not made of the right material will rust where they screw into the fender and then will break off when you try to replace the headlamp, creating a difficult repair.

  8. Install the large chrome bezel and four retaining screws.

In the past, technicians would ordinarily re-aim headlights when replacing them and at frequent intervals as routine maintenance. But Lorchak says the truck and lamp manufacturers have nearly eliminated the need to re-aim headlamps. This is one reason it’s so important to leave the adjusting screws alone when replacing the headlights. They can be re-aimed if, for some reason, proper aim has been lost. You can just use a large, Phillips screwdriver, going in through the outboard hole and the inboard recess in the large chrome bezel. The outboard screw adjusts the lamp up and down, and the inboard one aims it to the right and left.
Consult your owner’s manual for how to determine the exact height and angle of the beam.

To replace the parking/turn signal lamps:

  1. Remove the large chrome bezel. Remove the screw at top and the one at the bottom of the parking light assembly.
  2. Carefully pull the assembly straight out of the fender. You’ll be pulling the two prongs shown in the illustration out of corresponding holes in the fender recess, and then removing the assembly.
  3. To replace the lamp, turn the socket 1/4 turn counterclockwise, and then pull it out of the parking lamp assembly.
  4. Gently hold the socket in one hand and pull the lamp itself out with the other.
  5. Put dielectric (insulating) grease on the prongs of the new lamp. Lorchak prefers the clear type dielectric grease because it’s less messy.
  6. Insert the bulb so the connector prongs are inserted securely into the recess in the socket. Wipe off the lamp with a rag and wipe your hands to remove oils from your skin. Inspect the rubber seal and, if it is cracked or broken, replace it. Install the socket into the parking lamp assembly with the tabs lined up with the openings, and then turn it 1/4 turn clockwise to lock it in place.
  7. Reinstall the parking lamp assembly. You’ll have to wiggle it into position with the two prongs lined up with the corresponding holes in the fender recess. The back edge of the assembly must end up slightly inside the fender opening, and it will be at a slight angle (with the front outward) as you start. Once the prongs have been forced all the way in, the assembly will be at the right angle.
  8. Once the prongs are all the way in, push the assembly gently toward the center of the truck to line up the holes and then reinstall the two attaching screws. Tighten these gently, as they are machine screws going into fiberglass. Don’t use an electric screwdriver.
  9. Install the chrome bezel and its four attaching screws.
Partner Insights
Information to advance your business from industry suppliers

To replace the fog lamps
We worked on an International 7300 chassis, typical of a Class 7 dump truck, to replace fog lamps as the dealer did not have a Class 8 truck with foglamps in stock, but the fogs on an Eagle 9900 are very similar to these.

The fog lamps are mounted behind the front bumper and shine through a square hole cut into the bumper. You need to remove the assembly from behind the bumper for access to change a bulb.

  1. First, use a 17-mm socket or open-end wrench to remove the retaining nut from the fog lamp-mounting stud. Be careful to catch the lock-washer that’s under the nut as you remove it. Then lift the lamp up so the mounting stud clears the mounting hole, and pull the fog-lamp assembly out from behind the bumper.
  2. Remove the screw from either side of the assembly, and then pull the assembly apart. Remove the halves of the housing from the reflector.
  3. Unplug the single connector for the lamp on the back of the reflector. The lamp is held in place by two small springs retained in notches. Push them toward the reflector and then pry slightly outward to release from the notches. Rotate them on their hinges away from the back of the lamp.
  4. Pull the lamp assembly out the back of the fog lamp.
  5. Insert a new lamp assembly. Note that because the lamp is directional, there are two differently shaped cuts in the base. It must be installed in the right direction so the cuts match properly with the corresponding male parts in the fog lamp assembly.
  6. Relock the two retaining springs in the notches on the reflector.
  7. Reconnect the electrical connector securely by inserting it over the connector prong on the back of the assembly.
  8. Check the rubber gasket on the outside of the reflector to make sure it is intact and not cracked. If it is torn or damaged, replace it.
  9. Install the front and rear covers over the reflector assembly. Squeeze the halves of the covers together so the holes line up, and then install the screws on either side and tighten them gently.
  10. Position the mounting stud through the mounting hole on the bracket behind the bumper. Install the lock-washer and mounting nut.
  11. Turn the lamp until it is aligned straight with the bumper, and hold it while tightening the nut.

These instructions should help you do most routine light bulb or sealed beam replacements on your tractor. Although every truck is different, many share common lamp designs that come from the same suppliers. Consult your owner’s manual for specific information relating to your vehicle, which may differ slightly from what’s above.

For further information, please contact the following:
Freedom International Trucks, Inc.
(800) 348-8782

International Truck and Engine Corp.
(800) 448-7825

Grote Industries
(800) 628-0809

Peterson Mfg.
(816) 765-2000

(800) 888-7095