Friday, July 4, 2008

The One-Eyed Driving Machine

Welcome to the first official Do It Herself post of The Well-Rounded Woman!

A few weeks ago I had all three of my little boys out at my sister-in-law's house and stayed out past bedtime. I made the twenty minute trip home to the accompaniment of the baby wailing and the three year old alternately whining about the noise and crying himself. Two miles from home I see flashing red and blue lights in my rear view mirror. I was not speeding! To keep it short, the very nice police officer told me one of my headlights was out, only asked for my license, and had me on my way as quickly as possible, after asking if I needed any help. Um, yeah. After not driving my car after dark for the last two weeks, I finally changed the bulb. All by myself! And you can do it too.

My first stop was the glove compartment of my car to look for the owner's manual. If you can't find yours, most manufacturers provide them online. I keep mine in the car because I have to refer to it everytime we lose battery power for some reason. I just can't remember the complicated sequence of buttons to push to change the temperature settings from celcius to farenheit. And despite a degree in chemistry, I can't do the conversion in my head. It's important to find your owners manual first and look for instructions to any repair you want to do yourself. Some cars are so compact now, with squished engine compartments, and it might be impossible for you to reach what you need without disassembling half the engine. If so, find a good mechanic.

Next I used AutoZone online to search for the part I needed. I just searched for headlight and it walked me through the process of choosing the right part for my car. It even gave me several choices, showed the prices, and let me know if they were in stock at my local store.

The next step if very important - POP YOUR HOOD! If you don't know how to pop your hood, go to your car right now and figure it out. You might need to do this on the road someday and really need to know where both the interior release button and the actual hood latch are located. The interior release is on the drivers side, usually close to the door kind of up under the steering wheel. Then you have to go to the hood and feel underneath the edge for the latch, which you move with your finger. You also need to know how to "prop up the hood solidly. There may be a rod or lever at the very front or right side of the hood that you can lift up and insert the tip into the underside of the hood to hold the hood up securely. Make sure the hood is securely opened! You do not want the hood to crash on you!" That was from wikiHow, How to Get Under the Hood of a Vehicle. Please only open your hood and touch the engine if everything is cooled down.

Here's a picture of me changing the headlight of my beautiful car. Yes, I'm wearing a skirt, because that's the kind of Well-Rounded Woman I am. No, I'm not wearing make-up, I'm working on my car, silly. A tip: don't wear your favorite shirt to work on the car. This one was only my seventh or eighth favorite and I was lucky enough not to get any grease on it.
Here were the basic steps for my car. Unscrew the cover of the housing and unplug the power supply, which took a little more strength than I expected. I guess you don't want that wiggling loose while you're driving. Unhook the paper clip-esque doohickey keeping the bulb in place. Don't drop it! Pull out the spent bulb and replace with your new one. Reattach everything. This is where I had problems. It spent 15 min. of the 30 min. total time for this project in trying to reattach the paper clip doohickey. I finally realized the screw that held it down on one side was loose and once I tightened it everything went well. If only I had skinny, flexible monkey arms and very dexterious fingers - this might have been easier. But I got everything put back together.

Voila! Working headlights! If your own headlight goes out and you don't have a man in your life to fix it, try doing it yourself and then spend the money you saved on some new shoes. If you do have a man about, handy or not, fix it yourself anyway. Suprise him with your resourcefullness and tell him you're becoming a Well-Rounded Woman. Then buy shoes.

Bonus points if you do this in temperatures over 100 degrees, as I did. That handy temperature gauge on my car read 117 earlier this week. Farenheit.


Jane @ What About Mom? said...

This post is AWESOME!! Love the pictures of you and of the actual engine with good, esay-to-follow instructions.

I actually almost feel like I could change my headlight myself too now.