Monday, July 22, 2013

Vehicle disabled by a light bulb

On the ride home last night the high beam on the passenger side kept blinking on and off. Loose wire, I thought. How hard can it be? I've been fixing headlights since I was a kid.

Back in the day of sealed beam headlights the whole light would get replaced. Used to take me 10 or 15 minutes as I was in no hurry. I think they used to cost something like 8 bucks.

Then they went to halogen bulbs that would twist into the lens assembly and the socket would easily snap in the back. Most cars I owned, they could be replaced without using tools and took about 5 minutes. There was one car I owned that the battery had to be removed first. That slowed it down a bit.

Once I popped the hood, it was clear that the battery had to come out. It's a little dicey on my van as it's a two battery system and there are more cables and stocky bits. Got the battery removed only to discover that the battery holder would also have to come out. The bolts were rusty, but eventually a lot of elbow grease persuaded them.

Underneath that was another plate in the way. Broke two Phillips bits trying to remove the screws holding it. After some persuasion with a chisel and hammer, one screw got loose enough to turn. With one out it was possible to pry the plate far enough out of the way to access the light socket.

Sure enough, the high beam wire had pulled out of the socket. Of course, there was no way to repair the wire as it broke inside the fixture where it was sealed with resin. No problem, I'd picked up a replacement socket -the wrong one, as it turned out.

Now I have to borrow my wife's car for a trip into town to buy a new socket. Reassembling the van just to drive to the auto parts store is a chore I'll happy do without. Heck, I'd ride my bike into town before messing with that stuff one more time than I absolutely have to.



  1. I've always said that the people who design them should be FORCED to work on them before they're put into production.

  2. Ah now I won't start ranting about modern cars! Some years ago my wife and I bought a old Morris traveller. I loved that car and wish we never sold it. It was already old then. It always started first time, it was nice to drive, it had individuality and as a very big bonus it was easy to work on. The first time I opened the bonnet, I could see the road around the engine there was so much space around it. I guess efficiency has it's price: it's practically impossible to work on a modern car without a bank of computers and a swish carpeted showroom (used to be called a garage) full of "technicians", I don't call them mechanics. Mostly they know where to plug the computers that tell them what's wrong.
    My apologies! I did say I wouldn't rant but couldn't resist!!

    1. Sometimes a well deserved rant is called for. When I was a little kid, my dad had a Morris Minor. Pretty rare here in the states. He loved it, but had a hard time getting parts.

  3. The battery went dead in my wife's Subaru and we had trouble with it for nearly a year and finally they figured that the computer had to be refreshed (they probably had to reload all the data for that model). So if your battery has been unhooked for awhile and it doesn't run right, have it looked at. I learned to drive Model A Fords when growing up, they had personality.

    1. Had a Dodge van that ate computers and electric fuel pumps. Never did learn why. Ran fine until the 100,000 mile warranty ran out.

      The second battery is still live, so it should be Okay. Sure, I'm supposed to disconnect all batteries before working on it, but that would take a day's work to get to. Part of the joys of it once being an ambulance. The battery is tucked away deep inside the cabin.

  4. I hate working on vehicles, but sometimes it is a must, especially if you want it done right.