Changing a Focus headlight bulb

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Changing a Focus headlight bulb

Postby Doive » 01 Feb 2007, 15:04

What a bugger of a job. Spent my entire lunch hour and an extra half hour fighting to get a new headlight bulb in a 52 plate Focus. Eventually had to give up as the retaining clip refused to either retain or indeed clip. Access to the rear of the lamp was abysmal, every knuckle I have is now skinned and my blood pressure is a good 20% higher than it was two hours ago. Apparently the preferred method of replacement is to remove the front wheel, remove the arch liner, remove all the bolts holding the headlights, remove the front grille and trim, remove headlight and replace bulb. What??

Has anyone else encountered new/modern cars with appaling design faults? The Astra I had was a right pig to change headlight bulbs, but at least I didn't have to take the whole front of the car apart to do it.
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Postby Shellysowner » 01 Feb 2007, 15:12

Yeah here's an appauling the design fault with the focus (old model):

Where the roof meets the body side there is a plastic strip glued in that runs the length of the car. On my friend's Focus Ford had positioned this too far forward and it was holding the windscreen rubbers away from the front of the roof and letting water in (took me a good while to work out where the water was coming from).

Furthermore all the footwells are linked by very thin tubes for routing various wiring so if you get water in one footwell the process of driving the car causes the water (with the help of the tubes acting like capilliaries) to be distributed evenly thoughout all 4 footwells. Nice!
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Postby Shuvit-pinto » 01 Feb 2007, 19:21

Yeah, our 52 plate Nissan Primeval 2.2 JFX Diesel has crap headlight bulb access too Dave. Similar solution to.
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Postby CancerWagon » 02 Feb 2007, 01:12

My Cavalier, (the #9006 in the center of the Labrynth):

1: remove upper air diverter (8 snap in retainers)
2: remove two 10mm headlight asssembly retainer bolts and don't loose the aiming shims!
3: gently pull out assembly, 3rd holder snaps into place.
4: don't unplug the headlight wire, this is there to fool you!
5: turn a large 3" cover 45 degrees and remove to expose headlight bulb (and it's REAL identical electrical connection. The entire unit is sealed.) And don't loose the silicone 3" o-ring.
6: pretend you are changing left a headlight bulb in a '91 Jetta
7: Complain to David Bowie in tight pants about how life isn't fair.
8: get pissed off as the cover's o-ring will refuse to sit in it's groove like a cat in a bathtub full of cold water.
9: hope you don't bend over the weak plastic tab with the retainer as you snap in the assembly again, because you can't see the hole it's supposed to snap into as the assembly blocks your view.
10: replace retainining bolts and shims, and the air diverter.
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Postby Chevette Girl » 02 Feb 2007, 02:57

Yeah, there's another reason why I keep driving my 25 year old car... (the main reason being because it's a Chevette)

I haven't actually worked on a new car, but I have heard horror stories... I remember one neighbour complaining that he had to change 3 of his spark plugs on his '90's car (I think it might have been a Lincoln Towncar) every 6 months because otherwise they'd break, the engine was mounted sideways such that all kinds of road crap would end up all over the back of the engine...

And another friend of mine had a late 90's/early 2000's Chev Blazer and it cost her over $1000 to have the heater core changed, aparently the DASHBOARD has to come out...
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Postby Tortron » 02 Feb 2007, 03:25

try replacing the bulb in a new beetle. have to remove half the car to get to it. even dealers resort to cutting a hole in the light to change it
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Postby Shoveitpusher » 02 Feb 2007, 09:02

well if you the public didn't keep insisting on cheaper, more well equiped cars with ever decreasing fuel consumption and emissions we might have some room for luxuries like servicing. (i'll gloss over the public taking up more space with ever expanding bodies)

seriously space is so limited in a modern car that the deletion of a wire in a harness is a cause for celebration: then a fight as all the different areas try and fill the few square milimeters with more kit.
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Postby Doive » 02 Feb 2007, 09:20

It's amazing how much they pack into cars these days. Issigonis would have been impressed with the use of space, less so about the pile of luxury and unneccessary extras. For comparison I did the same job on my Saab last night, access was a joy apart from the driver's side where the air con compressor sits. However, this was obviously designed with access in mind, as all the pipes and couplings are formed just right to get two hands in either side and get the cover off and out. Good Swedish design. Why can't Ford do something similar? What blithering idiot thought it would be a good idea to put the battery right behind the headlight??
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Postby CancerWagon » 02 Feb 2007, 11:19

I've got a solid steel plate. (and this daft contraption) :? I'd be happy if the battery was the only thing in the way.

Now I need to go look at a focus.... it's got my curiosity.
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Postby Shellysowner » 02 Feb 2007, 12:17

Doive wrote:It's amazing how much they pack into cars these days. Issigonis would have been impressed with the use of space, less so about the pile of luxury and unneccessary extras. For comparison I did the same job on my Saab last night, access was a joy apart from the driver's side where the air con compressor sits. However, this was obviously designed with access in mind, as all the pipes and couplings are formed just right to get two hands in either side and get the cover off and out. Good Swedish design. Why can't Ford do something similar? What blithering idiot thought it would be a good idea to put the battery right behind the headlight??


Yeah you're right there - the bulb holders on my Saab even have little grippy bits on them for your fingers. Changed a sidelight bulb in less than a minute the other day, including unlocking the car, popping the bonnet and closing it again afterwards.
Doive wrote:I remember last summer being in another Chevette with a quite mad driver, and we were drifting round A class roads at 65mph with the tail sliding progressively on the corners. It was fantastic.

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Postby Shoveitpusher » 02 Feb 2007, 15:06

er the answer is David!!

most cars are designed by Britts, even Saab and have been for years.

where else would you put the battery? i've been working on batteries just lately and i'm afraid it will get worse! it's no joke there is almost no room to put anything large.

handy little handles for pulling off the cover - cost, people want more and pay less.

pumas need to have the lamps removed to change the bulbs, with a useful plastic tab that apparently is good at breaking off leaving one with a big bill for a new lamp.

all i will say is it could be a lot worse if my lot weren't involved
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Postby Doive » 02 Feb 2007, 16:09

Surely the answer would be to make the shell of the vehicle a fraction larger in certain areas, and balance out the growth throughout the car. Although this seems to be happening naturally with each generation of car. The mk2 Cortina grew into the mk3, mk3 grew to mk4, mk4 sort of grew to become mk5, mk5 grew to become mk1 Sierra, that grew into the mk2, the Mondeo mk1 grew from that, the mk2 further still and the current mk3 is larger again in just about every dimension. Look at the new Discovery 3 as an example of extreme growth gone mad. I'll never understand it.
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Postby Shoveitpusher » 02 Feb 2007, 19:11

the real problem is as cars get bigger they effectively become the next model, i wouldn't be surprised if a focus is the size of a granada let alone a cortina and a fiesta now the size of an escort.

i know it's a pain and i swear as much as anybody but it is a nightmare trying to pack everything in, add in the new legislation (latest is pedestrian impact which requires a fair amount of freash air to be left free now.) and it gets harder each evolution.
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Postby UpNorth » 02 Feb 2007, 20:12

What a f***in' job!

I had the joy of doing this at Xmas. Apparently early Mondeos are a headlight out job (so I'm told).
Anyone have a 6R4 for sale? Unfortunately I've only got £1K spare but I could throw in a few eggs to sweeten the deal!
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Postby Shellysowner » 02 Feb 2007, 23:57

I take it all back - old Saabs are rubbish :) Nah not really but I just spent all day changing one balljoint. One of the bolts was seized in and after taking off the entire bottom arm and hitting it with a sledgehammer it still wouldn't come out!!! In the end I managed to drill it, but what a palaver (mind you, that bolt had been there for 18 years).

At least I didn't spend all day changing a headlamp bulb...
Doive wrote:I remember last summer being in another Chevette with a quite mad driver, and we were drifting round A class roads at 65mph with the tail sliding progressively on the corners. It was fantastic.

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Postby UpNorth » 03 Feb 2007, 08:49

Tortron wrote:try replacing the bulb in a new beetle. have to remove half the car to get to it. even dealers resort to cutting a hole in the light to change it


Bloody hell, I just noticed this. Looks like when a headlamp bulb goes in the Mrs's car she's gonna have to sell it :lol:
Anyone have a 6R4 for sale? Unfortunately I've only got £1K spare but I could throw in a few eggs to sweeten the deal!
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Postby CancerWagon » 03 Feb 2007, 10:04

UpNorth wrote:Bloody hell, I just noticed this. Looks like when a headlamp bulb goes in the Mrs's car she's gonna have to sell it



Get a life sized glossy photo of a good lit headlamp, and use it to cover over the lens :lol: "Everything is okay, this is real!"
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Postby Doive » 03 Feb 2007, 11:28

It's a Beetle, it's just a fancy Golf in a fugly suit. Sell it and buy something interesting. But not a focus.

Come on Ralph, a bolt that's been on your car 18 years and you complain about it being seized?! Glad it wasn't you working on my 9k brakes, where every bolt was seized after only 12 years. Tch. Swedish quality has obviously gone downhill. Apparently the new 9-5s are all falling apart as they leave the showroom.
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Postby Tortron » 04 Feb 2007, 05:46

for all to be right in the world all car designs should revert back to at least 1960's stylings, with big honking chrome steel bumpers and panels so thick that pedestrians simply bounce off them (perhaps work on making the ground softer)
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Postby UpNorth » 04 Feb 2007, 13:53

Doive wrote:It's a Beetle, it's just a fancy Golf in a fugly suit. Sell it and buy something interesting. But not a focus.

Come on Ralph, a bolt that's been on your car 18 years and you complain about it being seized?! Glad it wasn't you working on my 9k brakes, where every bolt was seized after only 12 years. Tch. Swedish quality has obviously gone downhill. Apparently the new 9-5s are all falling apart as they leave the showroom.


As for your first line - you try telling my Mrs that!

As for the Swedish build quality spiralling ever downwards - I'm sure this is directly connected to GM ownership. For a 3 year period about 10 years ago I frequently experienced Vauxhall's version of aftersales service thanks to one of their sorry modern cars. I'm still smarting from the experience!

I don't know which the worst - the car, the dealership 'mechanics' or their attempts to get me to rebuff every problem. Pitiful.
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Postby Doive » 04 Feb 2007, 15:02

Tis true. Since the GM takeover, Saab have been producing largely derivative versions of Vauxhall cars, with the poor engineering and budget cutting that goes along with that. This can be most effectively seen on the Saab owners forum, where the 9-5 section is filled with post after post of stuff breaking at 60k miles. The 9000 is now regarded as the last real Saab, with proper Saab engineering and quality control. There have been a number of owners recently who have traded in their £20k 9-5 for a £1k 9000 simply for the difference in build quality and expense of ownership. Doesn't say much for these new cars.

As for the Beetle being butt-ugly, I reiterate my claim.
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Postby chris(not) » 05 Feb 2007, 14:10

Chevette Girl wrote:Yeah, there's another reason why I keep driving my 25 year old car... (the main reason being because it's a Chevette)


And another friend of mine had a late 90's/early 2000's Chev Blazer and it cost her over $1000 to have the heater core changed, aparently the DASHBOARD has to come out...


Don't think that's particularly unusual- I had to do the same (twice) on a Montego to change the heater fan motor. Just for good measure, even with the heater out and on the floor, you've still got 15 minutes of disassembly to go..... I did ask about a price from a dealer but his first response was "Dunno if I could find anyone prepared to do it!" The first time took me 14 hours, by the second I was down to 8.

A friend had an explanation: "First they mount the heater on a bracket on the production line, then they start things rolling and build the car round it!"
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Postby Doive » 05 Feb 2007, 14:18

Most cars tend to have the heater mounted somewhere in the middle of the dashboard, so when it eventually does fail 10 years into the life of the car, the cost of replacement effectively writes the car off. Yet another example of the Saab school of design is the heater motor and matrix are mounted in the 'aquarium' - a false bulkhead panel fitted below the windscreen. Quite a bit of the front of the car needs to be dismantled to get it out properly, but the dashboard/interior can remain untouched.
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Postby UpNorth » 05 Feb 2007, 17:52

chris(not) wrote:Don't think that's particularly unusual- I had to do the same (twice) on a Montego to change the heater fan motor. Just for good measure, even with the heater out and on the floor, you've still got 15 minutes of disassembly to go..... I did ask about a price from a dealer but his first response was "Dunno if I could find anyone prepared to do it!" The first time took me 14 hours, by the second I was down to 8.

A friend had an explanation: "First they mount the heater on a bracket on the production line, then they start things rolling and build the car round it!"


:lol: :lol: As I former owner of many Austin Rover scrappers I've also had this dubious pleasure of ripping out & replacing the dashboard. 2 Maestros, 1 Monty & a friends Maestro - I think I got the time down to just under six hours. Mind, I also had to do the same to an 827 and a Renault 5 (heater matrix in that case).
All I can say is I was younger & more enthusiastic - if the same happened now I'd f*** the car off!
Anyone have a 6R4 for sale? Unfortunately I've only got £1K spare but I could throw in a few eggs to sweeten the deal!
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Postby CancerWagon » 08 Feb 2007, 04:03

chris(not) wrote:A friend had an explanation: "First they mount the heater on a bracket on the production line, then they start things rolling and build the car round it!"


"DODGE CARAVAN" is a perfect example of this, Twice (once a few weeks back), I have put a random heater core that was laying about with 6 Computer power-box fans on the back of it, and re-routing the coolant lines into the cabin between the seats. Infinitely easier than fixing the heater. And in a beater vehicle soon destined to the scrapyard, much better off.
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