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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Friday, August 1, 2003

So, here I was (again) minding my own business and some stupid kid in a slammed Civic with a cheezy body kit hanging half off the car races past me. Normally, this is no big deal, simply because I've made it a practice to let morons like this guy speed past me so they eventually splatter their brains on the guard rail and learn the valuable lesson "it's not nice to drive like an ASSHOLE".

(Image: Closeup of fog lamp assembly glass) This time, however, something came off of his POS and sailed toward me. I thought I was going to eat whatever it was, but then it quickly dipped below the level of my hood and I heard a loud "thump". I figured I had gotten lucky and merely ran over it. When I got home, I realized that wasn't the case. I found the left fog lamp assembly hanging by its supply wires, nearly touching the ground, the glass of the light assembly completely shattered, the bulb sheared off, and a few scratches on the paint around the apparent point of impact.

Surprisingly, I didn't freak out too much. And, no, it's not because I've been working on my anger management. Rather, it's because I'd seriously considered replacing the light assemblies anyway for the simple reason that six years of high speed driving had taken its toll on the glass, much in the same way it had on my first windshield. If you click on the image, you can see what I mean.

The next morning I went to my dealer and asked my mechanic to "take a quick look" at the problem, which he knows by now really means "off the clock". It took him about 30 seconds to say that if I bought the parts, he's snap them in for free. I then told him that if I was to replace the left assembly, I might as well replace the other so it matches. I also knew that if I were to replace one halogen bulb, I should replace the other to avoid possible subtle, but noticeable differences in color rendering that can appear between different bulb manufacturers and as bulbs age. His offer still held. I walked over to the parts counter and found the light assemblies priced at $70 each, and the bulbs a mere $9. Sold.

While the right-hand assembly went fine as expected, after my mechanic tried to insert the left light assembly into its mount, he realized that one of the mount's aiming pivots had been sheered off by the impact. Click on the picture to see what I mean. The two arrows indicate the points that should be one piece. The alignment arm to the right pivots on the broken shaft and is adjusted by a screw that is inside of the white plastic shaft on the upper right side of the bracket.

(Image: Fog lamp mounting assembly and rear of foglamp) He also could not seem to get the new light assembly to latch properly. The assembly is normally held in by one of those press-fit clip type arrangements...you can see the metal clip affixed to the far right of the light assembly, which snaps into the plastic pivoting receptacle on the mounting bracket to the left.

At that point I offered to go back to the parts desk and get the part, but he stopped me and said "wait a sec...". He then walked over to a couple of his spare parts bins and...amazingly...found the exact part we needed, saving me about $35! (Have I said lately that my mechanic is a cool guy?)

The downside was that replacement of the mounting bracket was a bit more involved than installing the light assembly, so I needed to pay a for a half hour of his labor to get the job done. The task involved removing one of the underside panels to gain access to the rear of the bracket where four screws hold it to the bumper cover. Considering he'd just saved me the equivalent cost in parts, I considered it a wash. Less than 45 minutes later, the job was done and paid for, and I was on my way.

Now that I know how this whole assembly is supposed to look and work, I could probably fix it myself if it happens again.

Total labor $45, Parts, $156, Total $214. Mileage 81880.

Monday, August 11, 2003

I submitted a claim to my insurance company a couple days after my fog lamp incident happened just for shits and giggles, thinking they'd find a way to avoid paying. Much to my pleasant surprise, a check arrived in the mail today for $114, or the total cost less my deductable. Kudos to State Farm...they really turned this around quickly without haggling. Have to admit it's nice to get even a tiny percentage of my premiums back.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Ok, I goofed. I accidentally caught the driver's door moulding on an obstruction in the garage. Due to the design of the moulding, it shifted on its mounting clips and wound up compressed (Image: Right side door moulding) between the door and the quarter panel. That effectively trashed the end of the moulding. Since the side moulding in particular was faded from UV damage, I figured I'd do something I'd been planning to do for some time -- replace all the moulding around the car.

I made my way to the dealer the next morning and spoke to the parts guy about this and he quoted me almost $450 for all of the moulding pieces around the (Image: Moulding Part Numbers)car. After I picked myself up off the floor, I chuckled and said, "well, hey, let's just order the left and right side mouldings today". $226 and a week later, I went back to pick them up.

Today I installed them. Pretty easy, actually. The moulding is attached to the car via plastic butterfly-type plastic mounting hardware. Each clip is covered with a soft rubber tip. According to my mechanic, the tip is required to prevent scratching the paint on the edge of the hole in the door that receives the clip. If you scratch the paint, you're asking for rust and corrosion to set in. After working with the clips, I figure the rubber tip is also required to create the proper interference fit and prevent vibration from wearing down the plastic mounting hardware. Incidentally, when you receive the moulding, the rubber tip is about half-way on the clip. That needs to be stretched over the mounting clip before you install it.

After carefully (but "firmly") pulling the old moulding off, I decided to wash and wax the entire car and pay particular attention to cleaning out the cruft that had formed on the paint under the moulding. After that was done, I started with the front left quarter panel trim and went around the car, firmly pushing the new moudling mounting clip into their respective holes. Mission accomplished.

At some point, I'll likely replace the front and rear trim, but right now, the car looks great again, so it's no biggie.