Do it yourself saves a lot of money – if hobby mechanics know what they’re doing. When it comes to car lights, wrong decisions or actions can quickly have the opposite effect. Here are five tips to avoid unnecessary work and high costs.
- If you see “fits …” for headlights and other lights on the internet you should always add a “maybe” in your mind. There are often many different headlights available for one and the same car model. So in most cases you can’t determine the exact type one hundred percent. Differences between models, year of manufacture and date of first registration alone have a significant influence. Once the bargain from the web sits in your garage ready to be put in, it may well be that cable harnesses or mounting brackets won’t fit. Fiddling around on these parts often won’t help or will create problems, on connectors for example, further down the line. In times of global trade it also happens quite often that you get delivered headlights for left-hand traffic or ones without headlamp leveling. Repairing them will be a disaster – and you’ll find that out when you take in your car for its inspection, if not before. Replacement parts bought directly from manufacturers are usually more expensive, but they really do fit.
- Some things just can’t be fixed. Many parts in car lights can no longer be opened, except for accessing the lamps. A broken built-in motor for headlamp leveling, a dull reflector or a broken adjuster are therefore not meant to be replaced. Sure, there are thousands of tips on the web. For example how a glued-on headlight cover can indeed be removed with the help of an oven. The adhesive softens, but sadly so too do many other things in the headlight. Once it has cooled down you can scrap it.
- Ideally, it’s the light itself that should shine out, not the outside of the headlights. Wax and polish have no place there. Using them will have the opposite effect, namely that the plastic parts will turn dull sooner or later. The same goes for reflectors – polishing them generally makes them go even duller. And the parts often can’t be accessed anyway.
- Adjusting screws correctly requires more expertise than many hobby mechanics would imagine. Apart from an adjuster you also need a delicate touch. It’s easy to overtighten them or break them off, or make them unusable in some other shape or form. If you find any at all, car recyclers are the only ones who would have replacements. Having them adjusted in a garage is cheaper and won’t give you a headache.
- Screwing isn’t always the right way anyway. Often you need to take off plastic latches if you want to dismount something. You need to know how to do this. Tightening instead of loosening them often makes them crack and then the part will never sit in a correct or stable position again. In the case of (more or less) simple lamp changes, the instructions will tell you how to do it. So it helps to read first and then replace.