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changing lightbulbs on my car

Changing car lightbulbs ended up being a lot more complicated than it should have been.

First, I knew that I had a front light of some sort out because when I hit my keyfob to unlock my car, only one side lit up. It wasn't the headlight - it was something else. What was it? Is this common knowledge? You google "car light diagram" and you get schematics of the wiring behind lights... not an easy, "this is the light".

Then a coworker kindly told me that I had a drivers side brake light out. Well that's a serious thing!

Which one is the brake light? There are four light bulbs on my car.

And how do I test it, when I can only get them to turn on if I'm in my car hitting the brakes?

The way the manuals read, this is supposed to be common knowledge... well it wasn't, for me, and I asked a guy at work why these bulbs were so hard to change (my owners manual actually said to go in from the wheel well for the front bulbs, not the hood, WTF!) and he shrugged and said "Most people just go to the dealership."

I have a masters in engineering. I am not going to the dealership to hire some kid to change my lightbulbs.

I'm also a blogger who has to do things just as an adventure.

And the weather was nice.

Car nut friend told me to check the sylvania website first to find the lightbulbs I should buy - which was nice, because I was telling him that I really was not in the mood to take my car apart through the wheel well to get a lightbulb so I could see a part number in the parking lot of an auto parts store that was probably out of stock. So that was my first good tip.

Then Marc and I just went out to my car and mapped out my lights and I learned some things.

Brake lights are the only lights you really need a friend to test, other than that, you can still be an independent woman who don't need a man, IF you know what all to look for. According to some discussions you can also back up to a store with reflective glass or even a mirror to see what's going on behind you, or get some object to hold your brake pedal down.

Parking lights stay on when your main headlights are on.

My car has a two-filament light bulb that doubles as a brake light and tail light in the back. This is total bullshit, because you have to replace it when either filament burns out, so you're setting yourself to replace it twice as often as any normal bulb. The car manufacturers saved themselves a light socket but screwed us all, and the landfills, in the end.

Here is an image of my car that I was looking for - I wish it existed elsewhere, but maybe someone on here or pinterest will find it useful, and my trouble was worth it.

Well... almost worth it. My back tail light is still out because it wasn't the light bulb. The light socket itself is corroded to crap and does not conduct electricity to the tail light filament - only the brake light (to fully confuse me, one side had a brake light out and the other side had a tail light out... same bulb!) So it's Sunday, I doubt that's a part I can get at autozone, so I'll talk with the dealer and eventually have a fully functioning car again. The saga continues!

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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
randomdreams
Feb. 22nd, 2016 12:03 am (UTC)
Along with shoveling the walk in the morning, kids are also designed to sit in the driver's seat and push pedals while you figure out what does/doesn't work. (Similarly with bleeding the brakes, by the way, although that takes a bit more instruction.)
I've also had luck jamming the brake pedal down using my snow scraper against the seat front.

Getting little plastic bits like lightbulb parts from the dealer can be stupid expensive. Junkyards may be a viable alternative, or ebay, or places like rockauto.com

Edited at 2016-02-22 12:03 am (UTC)
randomdreams
Feb. 22nd, 2016 12:11 am (UTC)
By the way, thewronghands informs me that this is now common knowledge, but just in case it's still news, use a pair of gloves or a tissue paper when handling the glass(quartz) envelope of headlight bulbs. Fingerprints, combined with the heat of headlight bulbs, leads to damaging the bulb and premature failure.
David Vandenbout
Feb. 22nd, 2016 12:07 am (UTC)
dual-filament light bulbs are bad?
I don't get it.

If a single filament bulb has a 12-month lifetime, then you would expect to change two bulbs per year. They probably don't fail at the same time, so you'll have to do two separate installations.

If you have a dual-filament bulb, suppose it had a lifetime of only 9 months. (I don't know why it would have a much shorter lifetime than a single filament bulb, but I'm no expert on this.) Then you would have to do one installation every 9 months, or two installs every 18 months. That seems better to me, and you're throwing fewer bulbs into the landfill. And you have only one socket that can fail instead of two, which seems to be the real failure you experienced.

Like I said, I don't get it.
randomdreams
Feb. 22nd, 2016 12:14 am (UTC)
Re: dual-filament light bulbs are bad?
I usually get about four or five years out of an auto bulb (depending on the bulb) with about two years of variation -- ie, 4.5+/-2. I don't think I've ever seen a bulb have both filaments fail at the same time except for in cases of blunt force trauma. As such, I throw away a fair number of dual-filament bulbs with one good filament, for which I think I could expect another year or two of usage.
spacefem
Feb. 22nd, 2016 02:39 am (UTC)
Re: dual-filament light bulbs are bad?
I see your point and you'd be right if the lifespans of all filaments were about the same. But in my experience, identical light bulbs out of the same factory will still all have wildly different lifespans, some last three times longer than others. With the dual filament bulb, you'll always be at the mercy of the weakest filament.

kind of an interesting controversy when you think about it.
kirstene
Feb. 22nd, 2016 07:02 pm (UTC)
I got pulled over for a non-working brake light. The cop was nice, except he tried to be nice by saying "lots of the auto part stores, if you tell them what you need, they'll even install it for you, you know lots of ladies don't like to do this kind of work."

Haha.... so I went to the auto part store, half hoping he was right because I had my little boy with me; it would have been nice to have service. But! The manager at the auto part store was a woman (!), not a chauvanist, so she let me borrow a screw driver and I did the replacement myself, with my little guy going around pretending to use tools on the car too.
binaryprecision
Feb. 23rd, 2016 03:07 pm (UTC)
I had to replace a brake light once on my Honda Fit: it was super easy and the local hardware store had the part (O'Reiley Auto Parts or AutoZone). You don't have to take your car apart to access the front lights, they should be accessible from under the hood! I just identify the burned out one, remove it (it's not lighting up anyway, just close up the panel so no water/debris gets inside, then look up the part number or just take it in to the hardware store and say, "Got one of these?" No big deal!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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