My dad told me Saturday that replacing the lamp on his 13 year old Avalon required removing the bumper. I didn't believe him.
I had my own experience with a 1998 Nissan Pathfinder. I have small hands and still couldn't properly seat the bulb in the headlamp. When I got the car inspected it failed as I actually didn't realize it wasn't aligned well (didn't shine it on a wall to check). They had to remove the battery to correct the alignment in order for the vehicle to pass. Told me that was normal operating procedure for replacing the drivers side headlamp bulb on the Pathfinder. Fortunately they didn't charge me.
And we wonder why they lost so much market share in the last 30 years? I've heard about these kinds of stories out of GM owners for years. One model requires loosening the motor mounts and jacking up the engine to change a spark plug. Uggg!
While design for easy repair and manufacturabiltiy seems like an obvious no-brainer, I don't think it's addressed formally as a process and design requirement in many organizations, as crazy as that may be. I think with increased regulations around Vehicle End of Life and some of the electronics regulations like RoHS WEEE in Europe, there's more of a focus on this. In fact, most of the major PLM platforms are building out their suites to address capabilities and workflows around design for maintenance and manufacturability.
How can a car go through all that development and end up with this as the best design. Doesn't someone somewhere like to work on their own cars and like to fix this stuff and realize that there are others out there that like to do the same. I just really want to believe that somebody would have that much knowledge and NOT build a car like this.
Don't wax too nostalgic for "the olden days." Yes, routine engine maintenance was possible (and required VERY frequently compared to today). BUT... there were whole areas of the car that were just as inaccessible as the Malibu example. I was (and still am) a radio ham; my first car was a 1957 Buick Special. Of course, it had an "entertainment system" (aka AM radio). Of necessity, it used vacuum tubes, which of course needed to be replaced about as often as the various light bulbs. This was no simple task! The running joke among those of my friends who dabbled in car radio servicing was that if you went to see the factory, the very first station on the assembly line put in the radio! Everything else followed, and to get to the radio had to be removed in order! This was almost literal truth: Step 1 was to remove the top piece of the dashboard, which invariably incurred a few skinned knuckles trying to get to the mounting bolts while "sitting" upside down in the front seat, head and arms up under the dash. After completing this, and wrestling the long (and heavy) dash assembly out of the car, you had to try the reverse posture, head against the windshield, arms down into the "guts" under the dash, to remove the radio mounting bolts, disconnect the in-line fuseholder, pull the antenna and speaker connectors, etc. THEN you got to schlep the 15 lb or more radio up and out, remove the cover plate screws, find the bad tube(s), put it back in, reconnect it, and fire it up to see if it was fixed! Also, I was part of the old Civil Defense group (we provided both rescue squad and communication support as a police/fire department auxilary). So I designed a converter for our VHF (46MHz... oops, MC) local emergency communications frequency so I could hear calls for assistance. Of course, installing THAT was just as hard as removing the radio, PLUS finding room, power, and a mounting mechanism for the extra box! It actually worked pretty well, and outlasted the car (the A-frame supports for the front wheels both collapsed one day due to winter-salt corrosion). So, just another case of "the more things change...."
Just get a Chinese $15.00 hot-knife from Harbor Freight, and cut your way through the plastic parts, begining with an 8 in hole inside the wheelwell, just behind the headlamp bulb, until you get to the bulb, replace and stuff the empty spaces with empty groceries plastic bags, reattach only the inner fender piece that you cut, to protect the inside from wheel water spray, holding it with tape and then use some silicon glue to do the job, make sure everything is clean so the glue will work right, remove the tape when silicon is dry, and complete the silicon sealing where the tape was removed.
DONE the REDNECK way in 15 minutes. Very effective. Show them who is the boss.
This solution shows a higher level of proficiency than the GM engineers.
Worried about the car..., judging by the way they are built today (like disposable junk), when the headlamp bulb burns, the whole car is just a bunch of twisted and cracked plastic and metal parts junk that is worth less than 1/10 of his dealer price, and has just a few years of useful life left in it, before it ends in a used car lot, the hands of a high school teenager, totalled in a fender bender or the junkyard
(No this cars are not suitable for destruction derby use, don't even think about it, consequences will be terrible)
So don't worry, planed obsolescence will take care of it and besides... the hole cant be seen from outside unless you stick your head in the wheelwell.
Replacement bulb (WallMart has the cheapest ones)
Hacksaw (just in case things get stubborn; use with care)
Electric Cinese Hot-kinfe (from your friendly neighbourhood Harbor freight store)
Duct tape. (will cost you nothing if you already have a roll laying around)
Silicon glue. (caulking compound may also work and you can finish the tube in your bathtub or around your kitchen sink)
I'll vote for DFERAM as well. In this case, they had to be conscious of the design and its implications for repair. I'd love to know the logic. Was it easier to manufacture the car with this design? Were they intentionally throwing pricey work to shops? That doesn't make sense. Or was it simply the belief that owners don't work on their own cars any longer, so it doesn't matter whether the car is designed for DFERAM.
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