Many drivers might consider the engine or brakes to be among the most important parts of their vehicle, and they're right to a certain extent. However, a well-maintained engine won't do you much good if you can't see three feet in front of you.

This is why headlight maintenance is one of the more critical aspects of car care, and yet many people don't take the time to change out their bulbs until it's too late. It's always a scary moment when the headlight goes out on a dark night, but drivers can avoid that with a little preventative maintenance. Taking care of your headlights is especially important as spring begins to approach, because the rain likely means you'll be using your headlights more often.

Fortunately, changing a headlight is a breeze. The key to accessing the headlight of your vehicle is popping the hood of your car - there's no way to remove the glass surrounding the bulb just above the bumper. You should be able to see a circular indentation located on the back of where the bulb is. This is the power connector, and contains the wiring that is used to light up the bulb.

Now remove the dust cover, which will likely twist off rather easily. You should then see the back of the bulb itself, which probably has a clip of some kind - it may be metal, plastic or not there at all depending on the vehicle. Remove this clip and then pull back on the entire assembly, which should remove the bulb as well. 

Take this bulb to your auto parts store in order to find a matching version. It's important that you buy a headlight that is compatible with your vehicle. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to get an exact replica of the type you were using, and you may want to consider upgrading to more powerful headlights or LEDs. In fact, changing one bulb is a good time to change both of them - if one of them was faulty or dim, the other is likely on its way out too.

Reinstalling the headlights is simple - just insert the new bulb where the old one was and clip it back into place. If your bulbs are compatible, then there should be no issues getting it to fit. Be careful when handling the bulb as the natural oils from your fingers can decrease the lifespan of the light. If you do touch the bulb itself, wipe it down with alcohol before inserting it. Then replace the dust cover and reconnect the power to the headlight.

Of course, as with any electrical issue, a bad headlight may not necessarily mean that it was the bulb itself at fault. Replacing a bulb is never a bad idea, and can increase your visibility at night or in the rain, so it's not wasted money. Yet if your bulb is still malfunctioning after replacing it, you likely have a problem with the electrical system itself.

One of the more common culprits is a blown fuse. Use the owner's manual to locate your vehicles fuse box. The fuse box should have some type of labeling that will indicate which fuses go to which part. Locate the fuse that controls the headlights and visually inspect it. You should be able to tell right away if it's blown, as it will likely look burnt out or blackened. Replacing a blown fuse is simple - simply write down the amperage of the fuse that you're replacing and buy a new fuse with the same rating. It might be more economical to buy a box of many different fuses, which can help with electrical problems in both your car and house.

If the fuses all look functional, than it might be time to call in the professionals, as hunting down an electrical problem in the car's wiring is above the ability of most amateur mechanics.