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William K.
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Headlamp replacement headaches
William K.   11/28/2011 11:36:14 AM
It is often the case that the OEM changing process is far more complex than the one that others may use. Just like the ORielly's procedure, I have done changes based on what I could see, which usually was much less effort than the dealer procedure. So don't give up hope just yet.

I would offer that heater hoses are not a wear item and so they could reasonably be expected to take more effort to replace. But we know that a headlamp bulb will fail eventually. 

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Re: Oversight or purposeful design flaw?
Justajo   11/28/2011 11:24:10 AM
Back to an early reply: IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. It COSTS the manufacturer MONEY to design and build a user-servicable vehicle and it MAKES MONEY for them to do it that way. What they are really working towards is a totally throw-away car. They don't want their stuff to be rebuilt, re-used or resold. Just take that 3-year old car to a recycle site, drop it off (maybe you'll get a few bucks for it) and head over to the new car lot. By the time the makers get to this point no one will give you anything for it as a trade-in...even they will take it to the recycler. Market manipulation: It's a beautiful thing.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Oversight or purposeful design flaw?
Rob Spiegel   11/28/2011 11:04:14 AM
Good point, Jmiller,

I remember Ford announced in the mid-to-late 90s that owners could no longer work on their own cars, that the vehicles were too advanced and required tools (computer programs) that average owner does not possess. One would guess cars are designed now with that in mind.

But even given that, they're making it difficult for the shop as well.

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Malibu Headlamp Replacement
scrocket   11/28/2011 10:20:42 AM

I had the same experience above but before I removed the bumper i went back to O’REilly’s and asked if anyone knew how to change the headlight. One of the guys went out to my car and right above the headlight adjustment screws are two black plastic tabs. He told me to pull up on those. I had to use a screwdriver for leverage but when both tabs were pulled up the whole bulb assembly pops right out and changing the bulb was a breeze. Hope this works for you.

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Malibu Headlight Replacement
averagejoe72677   11/28/2011 10:09:10 AM
This is not unusual for G.M.. I had a 1978 Camaro that required the removal of the right front fender to replace a heater hose. There are many other nightmare stories out there on other models with various design glitches that make major work out of a simple task. I have found that the most common issues generally revolves around the use of a shared engine in various models. Unfortunately cars today are designed for assembly and not for service, a practice that needs to be reviewed by all manufacturers. In my humble opinion servicabilty is a very important part of car design and is currently being overlookedor just plain ignored. I remember the ad campaign from Ford for the 1970 Pinto. It was advertised as being completely owner servicable and was puposely designed that way. Dealer labor rates are approaching $100/hr and the simple task of headlight bulb replacement should not require a trip to the dealer. Maybe if the buying public screams loud enough they will listen.  

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What Do You Expect?
Robotech   11/28/2011 10:05:05 AM
What do you expect, when the auto companies and their outside contracted design companies lay off, or let go under early retirement plans, all of their experienced designers? It was bad enough before, but expect to hear even more horror stories like this, most of which are likely to be stupid oversights, not caught early enough in the design process.

It's even easier to mess up when using a computer aided design system for your design as most of these people have seldom actually worked on cars, so as long as the initial assembly sequence works, everything is fine... By the time you reach your initial physical prototype stage, it may be too late to change things, even if you're smart enough to recognize now that there may be a problem. 

That's not to say that some of these "gotchas" aren't fully intentional, aimed at bringing in more service dollars for the dealers. The automaker's mandate is only to get most of the vehicles past their warranty period without major service costs. After that, any expensive repairs that can be "driven" to the dealerships just put more money in the dealership's pockets, or perhaps "encourage" the owner to buy a new vehicle "now" rather than later. Not a bad thing from their point of view, though one suspects that the next new car they buy won't be the same model, and maybe not the same brand...


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Re: Par for the course at GM
jhankwitz   11/28/2011 9:57:27 AM
I learned how to drive in my father's 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special sedan.  Using today's dollars, he paid over $85,000 for it.

After about one year, the radio light burned out so we couldn't see what station it was on at night.  During a regular oil change service, he told the Cadillac dealer to replace the radio light.  They said it would be ready later that day. 

When we pick up the car, the bill was $3.50 for the oil change and lube, $0.12 for the new radio lamp, and $150.00 labor for changing the bulb.  They had to pull the stearing wheel, the entire dashboard, the unmount the radio chassis to get to the bulb.  That's over $1,000 in today's dollars.  Perhaps GM does this to keep their service people busy.  You'd think that after so long they would get a clue.


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Re: Oversight or purposeful design flaw?
Battar   11/28/2011 9:51:55 AM
You must be kidding. Any cut price auto-parts store will sell you cheap H7 halogen bulbs (I could mention brands, but I won't) that wouldn't stand 5 hours of continuous use, and barely last 6 months in normal service. Stay away the low cost! In my Peugeot, changing a bulb in the car wasn't much different that in a light fixture in the house.  

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Re: Oversight or purposeful design flaw?
pgdion   11/28/2011 9:39:16 AM
That is an awfully lot of work for a headlamp bulb. However, it probably is a balance between reduced manufacturing costs (something driven heavily by the asian imports) and service life. What shocks me as you had to replace a headlamp on a 2008??? Halogen bulbs have a very long life. I have 10 year old cars that still have their original headlamp bulbs in them. Most people will never have to change a headlamp bulb, very few will every have to change one more than once. Given the life of these bulbs, this may be considered acceptable service labor. As for sparkplugs, it's not just GM (know your cars better), it's pretty much every manufacturer with a tranverse V6. V6's and front-wheel drive with today's cab-forward designs are just not a good match. But again, considering that tune-ups are now every 100,000 to 150,000 miles as opposed to the every 20,000 they used to be, this is not so unreasonable. The total time required to do these maintenance items has actually decreased, not increased. Think about it. And if you learn a few tricks and are good with a wrench, they actually aren't half as bad as they sound.


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Not just GM
bronorb   11/28/2011 9:30:44 AM
I thought my 2005 VW Beetle  was bad. The whole headlight assemble slides out the front of the car after you loosen this plastic circular sliding lock ring. I'm sure the lock works great when the car is new and clean but after a few years of weather it gets dirty and gritty in there and it doesn't slide as well.

Just as described in this article, the manual says "take it to the dealer" but I read how to do it online and changed it. The second one to go coincided with some warranty work so the dealer did it for me. That bulb burned out again (it seems to burn out bulbs frequently) and I did it myself last week. However, it looks like the mechanics broke the lock ring because the little thumb handle snapped right off when I put some pressure on it. With a lot of jiggling and swearing, I got it out and replaced. Managed to get it back in but it's not in all the way and I doubt if I will ever get it out again.

Time to sell the car, I guess.

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