Ok ladies; try to think of your car as an extension of yourself!
Let’s start with LIGHTS – They are your car’s “face furniture”. They help you see in the dark, and they help others to see you!
You should check your lights, including indicators, on a daily basis, or before a journey. For head and tail lights, it’s simple – just switch them on, then get out and look! Your indicators are much the same – switch on your hazard lights, this will cause all of your indicators to flash at once, allowing you to get out and walk around the car to check them all. The same theory applies again to your fog lights, just switch them on and then look! Your brake lights might be a little more complicated, since you have to push the brake pedal for them to come on! One method is to find yourself a glamorous assistant to press the brake pedal, while you walk around to check. However; there are other ways, should your assistant be taking the day off! If you can manoeuvre your car such that you can see the rear of the vehicle in a window (either by looking out the window or in the rear-view mirror), you can then depress the brake pedal and check your lights in the reflection!
So! What happens if you have a one-eyed monster staring back at you? Firstly! Get to know your manufacturer’s handbook (or at the very least, know where it is in case you need it!).
How to change a bulb – Part 1 – Head Lights
If one of your front bulbs blow (head lamp, side lamp, daylight running lamp, etc), the following is a general guide on how to fix it!
First things first, you need to get under the bonnet!
No silly, I mean in where the engine is! In most cars you get in there by pulling a little lever found in the foot well (sometime located in the driver’s side, but often with European manufacturer’s it is in the passenger side, as the car was originally built to be left-hand drive). Remember to find the support rod, used to prop the bonnet up while you work on the car.
You now want to locate the offending bulb. Getting to the bulbs can be very different depending on the age of the car, as well as the manufacturer and model; I’ll show you here on the Peugeot 308, then the Volkswagen Polo.
Here on the 308, you need to first remove the airbox cover.
You will then find a rubber disc which you can peel off to access the bulb. The bulb itself may be discoloured, making it even easier to tell which one is blown.
You will need to check your hand book to be sure of what type of bulb you need (depending on make/model, and which bulb it is (head/tail, indicator, fog, etc), they come in different shapes, sizes and strengths). A wide range of bulbs can be bought in many places, including most local supermarkets, as well as shops like Wilkinsons and Halfords.
Once you’ve found the blown bulb, take it out and relocate your new bulb in its place. Information on the specifics of how to do this for your car, are again found in your manufacturers handbook.
You can then relocate the unit and replace all of the covers.
Here is the Polo, with its cute little 3-cylinder engine.
Again, locate the light unit access, and remove the rubber cover.
Then proceed as above, using your handbook to guide you.
How to change a bulb – Part 2 – Fog/Bumper Lights
Some vehicles have lights, such as fog lights and daytime running lights, located in the bumper instead of being part of a light cluster.
All cars, are again different, and should you have lights in your bumper, you'll need to check your manufacturers handbook to find details of how to access these lights for your specific car.
Here is the Polo and how to get to its bumper lights:
The first thing you will likely need is the tool kit, which is usually located in the boot, often inside the spare wheel (if you have one).
From this you need an item which looks like a small hook, this is used to pull off the plastic surround that blends the light compartment into the bumper.
Insert the hook into the small hole in the surround, and use your finger to pull on the loop and free the surround.
The surround should come off, exposing the light underneath.
On the exposed light, you will see a number of fastenings, including clips and screws.
You will now need to head back into your tool kit, and find the screw driver. For the polo, this is used to take out the two screws at the bottom of the light.
You then push against the tabs at the top of the light, and free the unit from the bumper. Be sure to do this gently and carefully so that you do not damage any wires.
At the rear of the unit, you will find the electrical attachment, which must be removed before you change any bulbs.
From here on, you should refer to your manufacturers handbook to ensure you are using the correct bulbs for your car.
How to change a bulb – Part 3 – Tail/Break Lights
If one of the bulbs to the rear of your car is blown, such as rear indicators, rear fogs, break lights or reversing lights, access to the light cluster is usually found through the boot of your car.
In the Polo, there is a small perforated hatch in the carpet behind the lights, this is pulled back to access the unit.
In here you will find an array of cables and screws. How you access these lights can vary drasticly from car to car. on some you must remove the entire light unit (a bit like with the bumper lights), on others it's a simple rubber cover (like with the headlights). Refere to your handbook to guide you through how to locate and change these bulbs in your car.
So there we have it ladies, changing the bulbs in your car is all pretty easy stuff, if you know how! If you ever get stuck, you can always come back to this guide to give you an idea of where you should be looking. Remember though, the manufacturers handbook is your friend! Make sure you keep it somewhere safe, and in the car! You never know when you might need it!
Remember to check back for the next installment of Car Maintenance For Girls (and boys too!), coming soon!