How to replace / repair the headlights on Volvo 240 and 260 (1981 on)

by: Mike_Brace


One of the problem areas with the 240s are the headlamps on the 81 on models. The biggest problem is that they are held on by three M6 bolts who’s head is held captive by the plastic and the nut tends to rust onto the bolt. The result is that the bolt then turns in the plastic.

This “how to” explains how to remove and replace the headlamps whether to fit new or just replace the reflectors.
To change the headlamps you will need the replacement headlamps, 10mm socket, extension and ratchet, cross head and straight head screwdriver, cordless drill and drill bits. It is also worth considering replacing the indicator units. If these have been taken off previously without removing the headlamp it is likely that the plastic retaining clip will be broken.

If you are only replacing the reflector you will instead need new reflectors and the plastic retaining clips.

The self tapping screws retaining the trims are also likely to need replacing.

It is a good idea to soak the nuts with penetrating oil for a few days beforehand.

Starting on one headlamp the first task is to try to undo the three retaining nuts – it may be necessary to move things to improve access:

In all probability one or more may not undo. Next task it to disconnect the wiring to the light:

Now to tackle the ones that won’t undo. These are drilled out from inside the lamp. To access them it is necessary to remove the headlamp glass. First remove the black trim next to the grille which is held by two self tappers.

The glass is held on all sides by spring clips. The ones on the grille side are now accessible and can be removed by putting a straight headed screwdriver behind it and twisting and it will spring off.

The bottom ones can be accessed between the lamp and the bottom panel. Gentle pressure on the panel can improve access. Remove these clips:

Next remove the three screws retaining the indicator lens:

The side clips can now be removed:

This just leaves the top ones between the slam panel and the lamp:

The glass can now be lifted out (it may be slightly stuck by the rubber gasket):

The next task is to remove the reflector which is held on by plastic clips – the reflector can just be levered off the retainers:

This exposes the plastic housing and the bolt heads:

The next task is to drill out the seized bolts. It is necessary to be careful how you do this if you intend reusing the plastic housing. Start with a small drill bit (make sure it is sharp) in the centre of the bolt head. I use a cordless as they are slower and less chance of building up heat which will melt the plastic. To stop the bolt turning use the ratchet on the nut on the back to stop it turning. increase the size of the drill bit until the head is drilled off.

The headlamp and indicator lamp can now be removed but remember that the indicator is still wired to the car so keep it supported whilst separating the two lamps. There is a metal clip to remove and the lamp can then be unclipped.

Next the trim needs removing from the lamp:

Now to the new lamp – remove the rubber cover:

If your car is fitted with headlamp wipers the stop for the wiper will need fitting in the correct position:

Fit the trim to the lamp

Then fit the black trim that goes by the grille:

The lamp is now ready to fit. We used copper grease on the threads. It could also be advisable to use stainless nuts.

Slide the indicator onto the headlamp

Then fit the metal clip

Push the lamp into to position:

Then fit the nuts and tighten

Refit the rubber cover and plug the lamp in

All that remains now is to check the lamp is working and repeat the process for the other side. Don’t forget to get the alignment set correctly to gain maximum benefit from your new lamps and avoid dazzling other road users.


The instructions in this tutorial will work in the following models / years:

– 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993 Volvo 240, 242, 244 and 245

– 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985 Volvo 260, 262, 264 and 265