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Wednesday, July 30, 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.