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Pitfalls to Changing the Lighbulb on the 1995 Honda Civic EX

After borrowing my brother's 1995 Honda Civic EX, I found that its driver-side headlight is out. As it turned out, it used the H4 lightbulb, same as my car. I happened to have a few spare ones in my garage, so I figured that I'd just change it.

Pulling the hood latch was easy enough. Lifting the hood was a no brainer as well. But after lifting the hood I saw that the area behind the driver headlamp is cramped. Why couldn't the burnt out bulb be on the passenger-side, where there is ample room for turbocharger?

I had the bright idea of pulling the hose next to the headlamp to give my hands a little more room. But that was pitfall #1. Without thinkiing, I pulled it, only to have dark fluid spill over over the lower engine bay and the cement driveway. Great! Why didn't I consider that it's a hose and probably carried some kind of fluid? It's the power steering fluid. Ok, plugging the hose back, I decided to go ahead with the finger dance in the cramped area. With limited space, I couldn't figure out how to take the bulb out. Good thing that the passenger-side is wide open. So I took the lightbulb out on that side as an example.

To pull the plug, you have to hold it on both sides and squeeze. The squeeze releases the two latches. Then firmly pull the plug away. Next, pull the rubber boot surround. Notice that it as a top. Remember to put it back in the orientation specified. Next, release the spring tension. The release is easy. While standing in front of the car, look for the release on the left side of the lightbulb connector. Press it in and move it upward to release. Finally, remove the bulb. The orientation is exactly the same on the other side, not symetrical.

After figuring out how to remove the bulb, I started doing the finger dance. Turned out that the finger dance isn't all that hard in the cramped space. Swapping the lightbulb only took five minutes. But testing was much more painful.

Pitfall #2, the ignition switch did not have to be on to test the headlamp. I spent much time running into the car, turn on the ignition, turn on the headlight, and running to the front to see if they work. The driver-side doesn't. In the end, I found that the headlight works even when the ignition switch is off. I could have turn on the light from outside the window.

Pitfall #3, don't go about testing the fuse and the wiring until you've test the lightbulb. The easiest way to test the lightbulb is to swap the two front bulbs. If they both worked on the passenger-side, then the bulbs are good.

Instead of doing that, I kept trying new bulbs that don't work. Then I spent a lot of time testing the fuse and the wiring. When they all checked out, I went back to the bulbs again. Turned out that I just didn't plug it in right. Or the plug had a dirty connection. The bad bulb was perfectly good in the first place.

When it was all said and done. I spent an hour on a job that should have taken five minutes. I never thought a simple job could take this long. Hopefully, after you read this, you'd side-step all these pitfalls while changing bulbs on this car.

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 24 Mar 2008 02:55:33 +0000

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