GM seemed to get a lot of things right when it introduced the new Generation 7 Chevy Malibu in 2008. I got one of the higher-end models with a six-cylinder engine and a very smooth shifting six-speed automatic transmission. I was generally happy with the car until a headlamp bulb burned out.
I went to the local auto parts store and bought a replacement bulb for about $12. Then I popped the hood and found that I couldn't get to the back of the headlight assembly. The owner's manual was no help at all -- its advice was to consult the dealer for bulb replacements.
A quick Internet search revealed the awful truth: To replace the headlight bulb, you needed to remove the front bumper (among other parts). The dealer confirmed this and quoted $150 labor to replace one bulb.
The steps needed to replace the headlight bulb are as follows:
- Open the hood and remove the plastic cover above the radiator (14 screws).
- Jack up the car and remove the wheel (five lug nuts).
- Remove the wheel-well liner (15 screws and pop-rivets).
- This exposes two bolts that hold the bumper in place; remove these bolts and slide off the end of the bumper.
- Now, you can reach the three bolts that hold in the headlight assembly; remove the headlight assembly and replace the bulb.
- Replace everything (29 screws, nuts, bolts, and pop-rivets).
If you think you might as well replace both lamps while you're at it, you'll still have to remove the other front wheel, wheel-well liner, the other side of the bumper, and the other headlight assembly (25 additional fasteners). In my Toyota Camry, I could replace both headlight bulbs in less time than it takes to read this paragraph -- without needing a single tool. Just open the hood, twist the bulb socket a quarter turn to remove it, and plug in the new bulb.
What's next? Will we have to remove the dashboard to change the oil? Remove the rear seats every time we get gas? I can't believe that there wasn't a way to provide easier access to parts that require replacement many times over the life of a car. Maybe the monkeys who designed the car don't think it's going to last very long.
This entry was submitted by Ross Loeb and edited by Rob Spiegel
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