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Headlamp change ... take the wheel off of course!

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avtur11/02/2015 02:15:02
883 forum posts
20 photos

A few weeks ago older daughter turned up at home asking if I could check the lights on her Mk 1 Ford Ka.

The o/s dipped headlamp had blown, there are separate bulbs for dipped and main beam but both sit in the same housing.

A quick look under the bonnet revealed that access was very poor, what was required was a hand the size of a 5 years old's with the strength and experience of an adult mechanic. After several attempts and scraped knuckles I realised I needed a plan B.

An option I've used on several cars over the years has been to remove the complete headlamp unit, so I decided to try this. I then found that removing the headlamp requires that half the front bumper and the wheelarch trim have to be released; and even then access to one of the three headlamp mounting bolts is still extremely difficult. I did manage it but it took over 90 minutes start to finish.

Yesterday we discover the recently replaced bulb has blown ...aaargh! After some searching on Google (where this problem is well documented) I found another suggestion; to jack the car up, remove the front wheel and plastic wheel-arch liner and approach the headlamp unit from below. I decided to give this a try and much to my surprise it worked and I had the job completed in 30 minutes.

From what I've read the subject of replacing headlamp bulbs on many cars is riddled with similar examples where it's very difficult, certainly not a roadside job. It's strange because in some European countries carrying spare bulbs is mandatory, not much use if you have part dismantle the car to fit the bulb.

Edited By avtur on 11/02/2015 02:34:55

Andrew Price 211/02/2015 03:06:51
832 forum posts

Avtur. Laws are not always designed to make sense or make the world a better place. They are, often, specifically to provide many years of secure, superannuated employment for the grey suits framing them. face 8

Dont believe me? Ask your local friendly HGV driver about the driver CPC!! Just saying like.

ted hughes11/02/2015 05:53:36
466 forum posts

This Guardian columnist agrees:**LINK**

He paid £90 for a bulb change.

Halfords will do it for about £7 I believe.

Andy.I11/02/2015 06:10:47
91 forum posts
1 photos

My wife's Nissan Micra suffered a blown headlight bulb last week, and I then discovered the parking bulb on the other side had gone too. After lifting the bonnet I discovered that there was no room for my hands which are not that large, and my wife couldn't get her hands in either.

I then had a brainwave! I drove to Halfords and paid them to do it. It cost £7 for the headlamp and £3 for the sidelight, but I sat in the car nice and warm and by the time they were finished the car was covered in over an inch of wet snow.


Bugbear11/02/2015 07:57:05
85 forum posts
8 photos

Welcome to the world of modern cars.

A bit of a side-track but in France we have to carry spare bulbs to replace, if stopped by the Gendarmes, at the roadside.

If you state that you don't know how to do it they are obliged to assist you cheeky

In reality, of course, after taking a look, it will probably end up with a "get it fixed at the next garage"

Peter Miller11/02/2015 08:32:40
11362 forum posts
1342 photos
10 articles

I have always said that aircraft designers should be made to work on aircraft for at least two years before they are allowed to start designing.

The same would apply to car designers. Maybe then they would think about ease of access to all parts.

I know that I try to design my models so that I can get at everything reasonably easily.

Edited By Peter Miller on 11/02/2015 08:33:28

ted hughes11/02/2015 08:43:40
466 forum posts

There is of course an upside to having non-user serviceable parts!

When I was a child, my father used to do monthly maintenance, which included using a grease gun around each wheel ( I think it was something to do with the brake linkages), and topping up fluids etc.

My car just gets an annual service along with its MOT.

gangster11/02/2015 08:47:59
1041 forum posts
29 photos

Certainly not limited to the KA avta. When I was at work the process to get bulbs changes,even simple ones like rear likes was to call the AA The poor fellow ended up looking at two on line manuals and making a couple of phone calls before embarking on the task which involved serious dismantling go the vehicle. Was it a complex,expensive specialised machine.? No it was a Corsa. If manufactures are going to make changing bulbs so impossible they should fit bulbs that last longer than a year

Another AA man gave up changing a sidelight bulb on a Vauxhall combo

. I also spoke to a guy the other day who paid £160 for a bulb change on a Lexus

Not sure about having a spotty youth at Halfords do it though.

MattyAndJo11/02/2015 09:28:57
36 forum posts
4 photos

Same here Renault Scenic II, absolute nightmare to change the bulbs (but superb for carrying models!), what makes it worse is that when one goes the other normally feels sorry for it and follow suit within a day or two....

This time however I took it to Halfords, nice young chap did them both.. £3 a pop! Worth every single penny....

Halfords all the way from now on for me...

GrahamC11/02/2015 09:33:55
1241 forum posts
196 photos

+1 for Halfords.

My Mondeo Mk4 is a headlamp unit out job... which means some dismantling of the front grille etc. £7 a bulb and it took them nearly half an hour to do both. Money well spent. .... [gangster... they have spotty youths at the Ford main dealer too, but there they charge you £50 an hour plus for their time. The lad at Halfords changes a lot of bulbs!]

I miss my krypton units on my Skoda Octavia L&K! Now they were headlamps!



Edited By GrahamC on 11/02/2015 09:34:32

gangster11/02/2015 09:54:05
1041 forum posts
29 photos

Ok faith restored in Halfords. But!, are we talking about the branches that have proper service bays as well as those who send out whoever is available to the shopping centre car park. As they as good?

TheFlyingCrust11/02/2015 10:00:22
611 forum posts
67 photos

Any one that has a parking space outside. Ours has a garden awning they use when its raining. Ours is in a shopping centre. Good service from them for me.


John Lee11/02/2015 10:05:17
792 forum posts
93 photos
Posted by gangster on 11/02/2015 08:47:59:

. I also spoke to a guy the other day who paid £160 for a bulb change on a Lexus

I could believe it. My Lexus required bumper &/or wheel arch liner removal. But in fairness to Lexus my Main Dealer replaced the blown bulb as part of a fixed price service (£210ish) at no extra cost.

avtur11/02/2015 10:15:48
883 forum posts
20 photos
Posted by ted hughes on 11/02/2015 05:53:36:

This Guardian columnist agrees:**LINK**

He paid £90 for a bulb change.

Halfords will do it for about £7 I believe.

I believe Halfords are selective about what they will fit. I researched several Ford owners forums and there were many comments that Halfords refused to touch Mk1 Ka headlamps; there were several comments to the effect that Halfords have a 15 minute time limit.

I suppose its understandable that they have a limit, after all £6.99 can only buy so much time.

I'm just surprised that headlamp bulb change such a simple car as the Mk1 Ka is not as straight forward as I had expected.

Given that I cut my automotive teeth on the likes of the Morris Minor, Austin A35 and A40 I guess I'm just showing my age!

Cuban811/02/2015 10:23:16
3032 forum posts
1 photos

Changed the O/S dip head lamp bulb in my Mk 4 Mondeo recently - headlamp out job as has been said, but it's only three screws and a little bit of manouvering past the wing and front trim. Went to a local carspares shop and they wanted £10 for a bog standard halogen lamp - non branded as well. No chance!

Found a branded (Ring Auto) bulb from a spares shop on Ebay £3.50 including postage and delivered next day. Not just the modelling world suffering from inflated prices.

Mike Etheridge 111/02/2015 10:39:44
1562 forum posts
433 photos

As for the first time in my life nearly 9 years ago I had some spare money I bought myself a one year old Jaguar X-Type estate which is ideal amongst other things for transporting model planes. This week a small cover plate on the front bumper disappeared. However I had not realised that the car had headlight washers and that the cover plate (there are two) pops out when the washers operate. The washers only operate if the side lights are on and you hit the screen wash button. They will not work again until you press the screen wash button six times afterwards or you re-start the car. Of course I have never seen the washers operate and am now left with the task of re-fitting a cover plate once it arrives in the post. You have to pull out the washer unit which is spring loaded and trap it in position and then fit the cover plate I hope.

Dai Fledermaus11/02/2015 10:56:10
1064 forum posts
55 photos

On a Renault Megane the easiest way to get at the headlight bulbs, is to take the wheel off and the wheel arch liner out. Don't ask me how I know.

Cuban811/02/2015 11:19:53
3032 forum posts
1 photos

It's been said that modern cars are becoming more complex - true. They're also much safer (for instance) because of the design of crumple zones, which the manufacturers claim is often the reason for light bulbs being difficult or impossible for the owner to change.

Sounds like a lame excuse to me and really more to do with sloppy engineering from the outset - or could it simply be a nice little earner for the dealer networks? (same issue with cam belts, when a decent chain drive is more or less indestructible).

I would certainly check on access to lamps etc when I eventually change my vehicle, and My choice would be influenced if I found that it cost a silly sum of money to change a consumable item like a bulb.

kevin b11/02/2015 12:33:55
1895 forum posts
150 photos

Headlamps ? Piece of cake !

Some of the current range of VWs have a camera in the front bumper. This appears to be connected to just about everything on the car. So if the track has to be adjusted, then the camera needs resetting. Ok. but this can only be done at a main dealer as the equipment is mega-expensive and the software is not available to the trade.

We have recently repaired 3 of these and each time it costs £470.00 +VAT !!! That is just for the reset.

Anybody who disbelieves I am happy to send a copy of the bills.

Looks like every time you catch a kerb it will be an insurance claim.

Just wait until they are all equipped with automatic parking !

Cuban811/02/2015 12:43:31
3032 forum posts
1 photos

Thanks for the info................VW won't be on my new car listwink

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