Have you noticed that the number of cars on our roads with a blown or misaligned headlight has increased over the past few years? I have, and I have theory about the cause.
OK, so we’re all cutting back and trying to save money everywhere we can, so perhaps some people are ignoring a blown car light for longer than they usually would. But there’s more to this motoring black-out than just people being stingy.
Over the past decade, carmakers have made it much more difficult to change the bulbs on some car models. Trust me I know – I own a Renault Modus…
Don’t be in the dark on headlights
When we called franchised dealers for our snapshot investigation, we were told that the whole front bumper of our Modus would have to be removed just to get at the headlight bulb. This resulted in a quote of £150.
That made the Modus the most expensive car for this particular piece of maintenance that we found. Some dealers did acknowledge the high cost of replacing bulbs when we called them, with a few offering to waive the labour fee for the work.
However, when lights are the most common cause for MOT failures (see the pic above for other top causes), you may have to cough up the cost more than once during the lifetime of your car.
I can attest to that. After living with my Modus for six years, I’ve had to pay for two sets of replacement bulbs.
Shining a light on car maintenance
So, knowing how expensive this particular job could be, when a headlight blew for the third time, I resolved to find a cheaper way around the problem. I took the car to my local Halfords and asked them to fit a new headlight under their £5 fitting service.
Three hours (and a lot of blue air) later, I drove home with what I thought were two working headlights. However, as soon as it got dark I realised they’d fitted the bulb upside down. It was pointing up at the sky rather than on the road ahead.
Back I went, and another few hours later I drove home with a new light that mostly points in the right direction. It’s not perfect, but I got the job done for a lot cheaper than going to a mainstream dealer.
The only problem is that the Modus has now been blacklisted along with several other cars by my local Halfords, due to how difficult it is to fit new headlight bulbs. So I’m not sure what I’ll do when the next bulb blows. I guess the only answer will be to get a set of tools and have a go myself.
Do you have any horror stories about car headlight fitting or prices? Do you feel you’ve been charged over the odds for bulbs or the fitting?