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Automotive Gynaecology

15th Nov 2008, 08:48:41

By James Stocks

Renault Clio Engine

The goal: Change a W5W sidelight bulb in my car. No problem - done it a hundred times, how hard can it be...?

Upon opening the bonnet I am greeted by something appearing to be a plastic tea-tray from Wilkinsons and what I can only assume is the PVC piping Renault had left over from its last bathroom refit. Unfortunately, the tea-tray and plumbing assembly occupies almost every square millimetre of the engine bay, the backs of the headlamps are barely even visible, let alone accessible to my fingers. Time to look in the manual.

"Due to their reduced accessibility, (sometimes requiring the removal of bodywork or mechanical components) we advise you to have your bulbs replaced by your RENAULT dealer."

Exsqueeze me? Baking powder? It sounded like you told me I have to take the car apart to change the bulbs. I phone the Renault dealer, indeed this is correct and they want £30.00 to do it. As Oscar Wilde was once heard to remark "Bollocks to that!". A quick Google reveals that the generally accepted procedure is:

Hmm, I don't like the sound of this, firstly because I'm horribly hamfisted and secondly because I don't have any axle stands. It is at this point a powerful mix of incredulity, despair and indignation dawns over me. How can something that should be as swift and as automatic as taking a piss be this hard?! Desperation sets in and I decide surgery is the only option. Using a head torch, pair of artery forceps, a very long flat-bladed screwdriver, most of the skin off my knuckles and a lot of foul language I finally get the bulbs done in just under an hour.

Nice design, Renault. There are three separate WTFs here, why do you need to take the front of the car off to change a bleeding bulb?, why does the manual not tell you the procedure and why does the dealership charge money to get around this design cockup? They might as well have just blanked the page and written "Ha ha ha, fuck you, you've bought the car now!". I can only assume that Renault's market research has shown their cars to be popular with Aye-ayes.

If I ever have to change the main-beam or cornering lights, I think the only sensible option will be to set fire to the car and purchase another with working lights.

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