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  • car servicing rant.

    I know you guys are good to rant to when I have nowhere else.

    My LF headlight burned out a couple of days ago. Last year the RF burned out and I was able to replace it with a trick I found on You-tube by loosening the fender underflap and reaching up blindly and feeling the headlight assembly, cover, plug socket and clip to replace it.
    I figured the same on the left - Nope. Stuff blocking the way.

    In order to replace the headlamp, I had to remove 35 fasteners, the grill, the bumper and the headlight assembly to access the bulb.

    Should replacing the headlamp take 5 hours? And by the way I'm still scratching my head how to get the bumper positioned back on. Being large and floppy I can't seem to do it by myself.
    Was replacing the headlamp ever a consideration?

    And by the way, I have never had two headlamps burn out in a 7 year old car with 60,000 miles. What happened to headlamp life? With about 14-15 cars under my care for 45 years and keeping them about 10-12 years 100K miles I can count the headlights replaced probably 3 or 4 max at least one was a rock not burned out.
    Last edited by LCHIEN; 02-09-2020, 10:48 PM.
    Loring in Katy, TX USA
    If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
    BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

  • #2
    LOML bought a 2017 Toyota RAV4 new, and the horn sounds like a weak tiny horn at best so I ordered one with great reviews on Amazon to replace it. Then I looked up the procedure and it was not quite as extensive as yours but it was loosen everything in front of the radiator, take different parts off and loosen the bumper so that room could be made to remove the old and put in a new horn. There is plenty of space for the horn but no opening large enough to pull the old one out and put a new one in.

    My middle daughter started having the engine warning light come on for her 2013 Nissan. Had it checked and it said a switch on the transmission was either loose or needed replacing. Then I looked up the procedure - it was a major procedure similar to yours. Labor would have been 5 times the cost of the switch. She traded the car in and purchased a new one within a month.

    I feel for you, and aging hurts more now (doing the same work) than it did 10 years ago!
    Hank Lee

    Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

    Comment


    • #3
      What kind of vehicle Loring? I have had so many gripes about the lack of foresight of automotive engineers over the years. It would seem to me that thinking through the effort to maintain or replace parts on the fully assembled vehicle would be a consideration. Often it was not. LOML had a Ford Explorer that required spark plug removal and replacement through the wheel well. Her current GM Venture's battery is buried below a bar and electrical distribution box which needs moved to access the battery side terminals. Her headlights though are held in place by wing nuts. :O

      On the Peterbilt I drive daily there is an access panel that needs to be removed to service the headlight bulbs. Pretty easy. However there are daytime running lights that only come on with the multifunction light switch in the off position and the vehicle in drive. How do they expect a driver to inspect those? Most often I notice one is out when I am sitting in traffic with a vehicle in front of me that gives a good reflection.
      just another brick in the wall...

      Comment


      • #4
        Sadly, the engineers optimize the building of the cars, since that's where the cost is and there is little thought to serviceability. Figure out when the headlights were installed during assembly and go through assembly backwards until you get to that point. I think the days of the home auto mechanic are limited.

        My daughter's '08 VW Touareg had the alternator between the engine and the firewall with no way to replace it without removing the engine. The dealer quoted $380 for the alternator and nearly $3000 in labor to install it. A local mechanic was able to do the entire job for $1800 or 20% of the value of the vehicle at the time.

        On my '89 Ford Tempo, the fuel pump was in the tank and to replace a $30 part they had to remove the rear axel, drain remove the tank, just to get to the pump. A year later Ford put a hatch under the rear seat to get at it.
        Chr's
        __________
        An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
        A moral man does it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Stylists and minimizing production costs rule in the auto world since consumers look at interior space, purchase price, number of cup holders, etc. and rarely ask about common repair costs. Folks that use vehicles for a business - e.g. truck drivers - are more aware of repair costs and especially downtime due to simple repairs. In the airline world, fuel economy is king - airplanes exist to make money for airlines - but airlines are smart enough to look at access for common wear parts, basic maintenance times, etc. to weigh that against ultimate fuel economy. Airplanes, like big-rigs, are not making money when they are not moving.

          Besides asking dealer service advisors for the book repair costs for common repair items (alternators, batteries, lights, starters, water pumps), consumers can get an idea of repair costs (and overall vehicle reliability) by looking at extended warranties: cars with higher priced warranties indicate expensive to repair/maintain vehicles.

          mpc

          Comment


          • #6
            Been there, done that, and didn’t like it. The last two Civics we’ve had headlight lamps that required the hands of a small Asian child to reach. The current 2013 Civic we have is still on all of its original lamps at 60K miles.. Grandson’s older Chrysler required removing the wheel well liner and the battery to get to one headlight and the windshield washer reservoir to get to the other side. My ‘69 Camero had a bad heater fan motor. The R&R required removing the right front fender to gain access to the fan motor.
            Jim Frye
            The Nut in the Cellar.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Black walnut View Post
              What kind of vehicle Loring? ....

              On the Peterbilt I drive daily there is an access panel that needs to be removed to service the headlight bulbs. Pretty easy. However there are daytime running lights that only come on with the multifunction light switch in the off position and the vehicle in drive. How do they expect a driver to inspect those? Most often I notice one is out when I am sitting in traffic with a vehicle in front of me that gives a good reflection.
              Subaru Outback

              I have a habit of always checking the headlights and exterior front lighting on evenings when I pull up to a building with a clear white wall, big reflective plate glass windows or behind a vehicle with shiny broad bumper or rear deck. I quickly click thru the headlight positions and turn signals to make sure everything works.
              Loring in Katy, TX USA
              If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
              BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

              Comment


              • #8
                I recently heard the new model Ford Trucks no longer have replaceable head lamp bulbs, you replace the whole headlight module. Maybe it is easy to change out, but I feel sure a bulb is many times cheaper than replacing the whole assembly.

                I had the pleasure of helping my son replace a water pump on their late model Pontiac. He saw a small puddle of water under the engine and carried it to the dealership for repairs. $3600.00 to replace a water pump? He came home an called Pa! I googled everything I could think of and could never find this model/engine configuration water pump repair in the car. Apparently it was designed to be replaced by lowering the engine out of the car. He found a repair shop that said they had replaced water pumps In that model car before, for $2500.00. He was afraid to drive the car 200 miles south to my shop so I loaded every tool I could imagine I would need and we attempted the job in his 2 Car garage, with 2 electrical outlets and no AC! This is a chain driven overhead cam 4 cylinder engine that uses the chain to drive the water pump and tension the chain. It’s transverse engine with the water pump on the back of the engine, under the exhaust system, almost touching he firewall. It took a full day and half to complete the job, several trips into town to buy sacrificial tools to modify to fit stupidly tight locations. They actually sell a tool that reaches into the cam chain cover and attaches to the water pump sprocket to hold it so the pump can be removed without dropping the chain into the oil pan! The water pump doesn’t even have a water hose feeding it, instead a thin metal pipe with an o ring shoved into a hole in the back of the pump, the o ring allows for vibration and thermal movement of the pipe. The o ring was bad, not the water pump. What an engineering snafu. You would have though that the space shuttle would have taught them not to solely rely on an o ring. Our parts bill was about $300, but I told son that if I had know how hard this job would have been I would have paid for the repairs. Now anytime I see one of these cars on the road I just laugh and say... you will be sorry!
                capncarl

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                • #9
                  Some GM engines put the water pump behind the timing chain/belt cover; the water pump is driven by the timing chain/belt rather than an external belt. Why? Either cheaper to assemble (fewer belts, pullys, hoses to manually attach) and/or makes the engine physically smaller to fit sideways in the transverse front-wheel-drive chassis. Honda and others used to drive water pumps via a V-belt driven by the back end of the camshaft. Thus a dying water pump that siezed would also stop the camshaft from turning... ergo the pistons could slam into any open valves. Hondas are typically "interference" engines which means the pistons can hit valves if the timing is screwed up; a non-interference engine either has notches in the pistons or a lot of space between the piston and valve so they don't collide in the event of timing chain/belt failure. A friend of mine had the usual "ball bearing rolling in an empty coffee can" sound made by dying water pump bearings but he "was too busy" to get to it. The water pump siezed... 10 of the 12 valves on that engine were bent. A couple thousand dollars to put it back together. For a stupid water pump bearing. Granted, he ignored the warning sounds. Many owners today, if the "check engine" light isn't lit or the engine seems to be running okay, ignore new/strange sounds so he's not alone. I get upset at designs/engineering that turn minor failures into catastrophic events. Water pumps dying, siezing, or leaking water, should not cause instant engine death. All to save peanuts on the design or assembly costs. Turbocharger installations on many car engines are often cheapened-out too; many depend on engine oil to cool them rather than being plummed into the water cooling loop. Oil cooled turbos tend to have a much shorter lifetime than their water cooled cousins... and turbos are expensive to repair/replace. VW's 4-cyl turbo installation puts the turbo where it requires disassembly of much of the car's front end to access - stupid. "Packaging" requirements over-ruled maintainability. I was VERY impressed when I eyeballed the twin-turbo setup on the Hyundai/Kia V6 turbo motor used in the G70 and Stinger: water cooled and with factory "bypass" valves that extend the life of the turbos. And they looked like they could be replaced without pulling the engine - rare today. Until consumers learn to look for bad maintainability in cars the manufacturers will keep doing it - whatever makes them the most money.

                  mpc

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Somewhat off topic from design issues: Major agriculture machine MFGs are designing their machines - large GPS guided farm tractors, combines, cotton pickers to be none serviceable by the owners (except oil changes and filter changes.) There is a fight going on in courts and will probably go to the Supreme Court over this. It is not just the GPS part but the whole machine. If something goes wrong, the tractor/machine shuts down and the MFG company is alerted. A call to the center (and they already know about it) starts a conversation. Sometimes it is a small part but it doesn't matter, the company does not want the farmer to work on it. And when this happens when you have hours to finish planting before a rain, or hours to finish picking/cutting/combining before a rain and it is going to take 3 days for the service people to get to it, or the company wants to charge $3000 - $5000 for a part that the farmer can do for $500 by himself in a few hours. This rankles the farmers. Some farmers have good programming skills and have learned to bypass the company and go directly into the machine's computer. (There are machines out there different from but similar to the car code readers that allow this.) This makes the MFGer mad, but this is what the law suit is about. John Deere is the main one but other Farm Implement companies are backing JD.

                    Apple Inc. has also been backing that bill - that does not allow the owner to work on their own purchased product, even when the warranty is out.
                    Last edited by leehljp; 02-10-2020, 06:43 PM.
                    Hank Lee

                    Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My solution when I purchased my Wrangler a year ago was to pay for an extended warranty/service contract. Bumper to bumper for 7 years or 120K miles. I'm guessing I am in the majority on this.
                      just another brick in the wall...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Extended warranties normally don't cover headlights or any other bulbs. They fall under the "normal wear and tear" items like brake pads, oil, and blinker fluid. I do wonder how many people get the extended plans. I ended up canceling it on my Wrangler after considering what is likely to go wrong (very little). We did have it on the wife's BMW because...well...BMW. I'm sort of stressed that it's a ticking time bomb now, but she only drives 4k/year. We spent a lot on the coverage and then never needed it.

                        I've only once had an extended warranty pay off, and it was on a truck known to have transmission problems, which is the reason I got it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Over the years I've run into a few cars that bothered me with their 'lack of servisable designs'. Back in the 70's a friend had a Sunbeam Tiger which had Ford V-8 stuffed under the hood. To change one of the back plugs you had to go through an access panel on the firewall in the passenger footwell. But really, that body was never designed to house anything bigger than the original straight line four cylinder.

                          My son had a Mini Cooper (made by BMW) that he bought used. He had a hinge on the rear deck lid crack. Thought that would be an easy repair, but it cost almost $2K as the body-end of the hinge was welded to the roof and it would require that the entire rear seat, side and head liners to be removed, and the hinge cut from its mounting area and a new piece welded (and the roof to be repainted obviously) and of course everything re-assembled.) He was also having trouble with the automatic transmission, but BMW doesn't sell or service the transmission separately and he was told by the authorized dealer that the engine with transmission would have to be pulled and sent back to the factory service center. With the combined hinge and transmission problem it was easier to just trade the thing in.

                          At 75 now, I've only owned a handful of family cars, buying the first four brand new; 65' VW 1200, 67 Plymouth Valiant, 76 Mercury Monarch, 84 Toyota Tercel wagon, used 1991 Plymouth Grand Voyager, and my present 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan. (I do have a 95 Miata, but that's my toy, it's got 32K on it). All the cars were pretty reliable and easy to service, with the exception of the Mercury. It had rust-thru problems only four months after i bought it new; by the time it was seven years old it wasn't road worthy! Basically all of these cars were somewhat easy to service, at least for things like plug access, oii changes, bulb replacements, etc.

                          Regarding bulb changes, I keep pretty good service records/receipts and in all those years/cars, I think I only replaced one headlight bulb in the 65 VW and one in the 91 Van. No bulb replacements in any other car except the present 2006 Van which seems to eat bulbs. I've replaced one headlight, and my right rear turn signal light four times, then finally the bulb assembly and a few months ago the left rear bulb light. With the VW, I drove it more than 93,000 miles though and the two vans (both used when I bought them) had more than 100K, so I would expect things like bulbs to just burn out, but it shouldn't be a yearly task, and I'm wondering if they're just made cheaper today.

                          CWS

                          Think it Through Before You Do!

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                          • #14
                            One of the things that impressed me about the engineering on this transverse Pontiac 4 cyl oh cam engine with chain driven water pump was that the drive shaft of the water pump........ the only exposed shaft of an automotive water pump that eventually leaks when the seal wears out.... is actually in the cam chainway that is part of the engine oil system connected to the oil pan. Lots of words to say that when the water pump starts leaking it contaminates the engine oil with coolant water. Being that there is about as much coolant water as there is engine oil, and in case of a water pump seal failure all of that coolant will fill up the engine. Catastrophic engine failure is imminent just because a $.50 seal failure. This is not progressive engineering. Too many engineering snafus on this engine. Their selling feature is some electronic parking feature or other feel good option rather than the durability of the automobile. Like I said before, there is a special place for these people.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Cwsmith, I always wanted a Sunbeam Tiger! I had several Sunbeam Alpines, which were the donor vehicles for the Tiger. We installed several different V8 s in these cars but were unimpressed by the lack of handling of these cars. Suspension components to make them decent road cars were not available in the late 1960-70s. The Alpine/Tigers had a much larger engine compartment than the Mazda Miata, which they are now stuffing Chevrolet LS engines in daily! Now that’s a combination, a 500hp engine in a 2000lb automobile designed for 104hp! Much smarter engineering on these engines with few self destructive features! but impossible the service in the Miata.
                              Capncarl

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