Musing on life, IT and programming by Chris Weedall

Changing a bulb

I drive a mk II Renault Megane, and recently a headlight bulb failed, so a quick trip to Halfords later it’s time to replace the bulb. Renault in their infinite wisdom; no doubt as part of the drive to make cars a “black box” that only the magicians at the garage can understand, decided that changing a headlight bulb should not be a simple task. There should be no opening of the bonnet and simply replacing the bulb. There should instead be a test of willpower and perseverance.

This is roughly what I had to do:

  • Turn the front wheels full lock so I could access the underside of the wheel arch
  • Remove a dirty, hard to remove plastic panel that felt like it might snap
  • Reach my arm from the elbow upwards through the resulting small hole with sharpish edges to feel the for the bulb, though from this position I couldn’t look through the light cover at the front of the car (to position my hand) and reach at the same time.
  • Except it’s not there – it is hidden behind a plastic cap (that I can’t see). Unscrew the cap (trying not to drop the cap inside the car)
  • A-ha – the bulb, I think. It has a plug attached to it (that I can’t see), and is held in place by a spring/clip (that I can’t see).
  • Go looking for a torch, that might help. Found Lauren’s wind-up penguin torch.
  • No that doesn’t really help much, though I can now kind of see some wires attached to a plug behind which is the bulb.
  • Catch 22 – the arm hole is big enough to either shine the torch through or put my arm in. Went for my arm as light on it’s own is unlikely to finish the job. Perhaps if it was a tractor beam torch…
  • Remove the plug (should I pull it by the wires or the plasticy bit – went for the plasticy bit)
  • Unclip the spring/clip (harder than it sounds, turns out it is only clipped at the top)
  • Remove the bulb (that I can’t see). Try not to drop the bulb
  • Oops – before doing that I should have tried to remember which side of the bulb mount the notch was facing (that I can’t see) as that helps in positioning the new bulb.

Putting the new bulb in place is then a matter of doing this in reverse, which is trickier than it sounds as the bulb is small and you need to locate the correct rotation for the notch, attach the spring/clip, attach the plug, and screw the cap on, all without being able to see what you are doing.

It turns out I was doing things the hard way. There is a great guide on the Megane Owners Club website that explains that jacking the car up and taking the wheel off first (I kid you not) is the best way to do this. I’ll try that next time.


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