I thought would be it easy. The front headlights on my new-to-me 2011 Ford Fusion were beginning to dim and I figured some new bulbs would solve it. Ordering the bulbs, I began to think this would be an easy process. Just locate the sockets for the bulbs, replace them, put the sockets back into place, and done.
Little did I know this would be only a fantasy.
Before fully diving into this, I opened up the owners manual to the vehicle to get an idea of what I was getting myself into. It turned out that changing the bulbs is a very involved process. For the driver’s side, you need to remove the air filter box and pipe to get enough room to access the bulbs. My vehicle has two bulbs for the low and high-beams and making sure to pluck out right one will save yourself a lot of pain and suffering. I didn’t realize at the time that rubber covers for the light sockets hint at which bulb is which - smaller one is the high-beam, the larger one is the low-beam. Had I known this, I wouldn’t have spent a good half hour trying to get the high-beam back into place with me a fair amount of swearing and my best impression of Jeremy Clarkson’s “COME ON!” The only thing missing was ‘Yakety Sax’ being played in the background.
After that goof, I would pull out the right socket and replace with the bulb with no issue. The same cannot be said for putting the air filter box into place as it took a bit of wrestling to get it back into place and hoping nothing broke. After accomplishing this, my attention turned towards the passenger side which would be even difficult.
Here is a photo showing off the passenger side of the engine bay. There are various mechanical parts littered about including the power steering pump and coolant reservoir. Unlike the driver’s side, there is not a part you can remove for easy access from the topside. In the owner’s manual, Ford tells you to take off the wheel well cover to access the bulbs. I would have done this, but I didn’t have the correct tool and was scared of breaking them off if I used something like a crowbar. This would have been the point of giving up, but I decided to see if there was another way. Turns out there was as a YouTube showed you could get some space by moving the coolant reservoir. That’s what I ended up doing and it did take a fair amount of time patience as I was mostly doing this by feel.
After putting everything back in its place and checking to see if the lights were working, I felt like I had accomplished something major. Despite feeling sore throughout my body and being a fair bit annoyed at the process to do this, I had gotten the new lights in. It may seem ridiculous, but when you consider that most days I’m sitting in front of a computer, banging out words and editing photos, doing some work with a physical object feels unique.
While I was replacing bulbs, the internet blew a gasket when a report came out concerning the upcoming Ford Ranger. Due to the design of the 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder and placement of the oil cooler, the oil filter was placed at an odd angle. The removal procedure involved removing the driver’s side wheel, undoing a number of fasteners and moving the wheel well cover, and then use an “end cap tool” to remove the filter. Since then, Ford has issued a tweet talking through the procedure (see below).
Reading through this story after I had finished, I’ll admit I was a bit incensed. For anyone who wanted to do their own oil change, this procedure seemed like madness and would push the small number of those who do this away. But then I thought back to my Fusion with its cramped engine bay and it dawned on me, maybe this was the best option for Ford. Considering how much a new car houses in terms of equipment and parts, offering something akin to the list of steps may be have been the least terrible option. Sure, going through a number of steps just to remove an oil filter seems a bit much. But can you imagine the fallout if Ford just told everyone they needed to their dealer to have the oil change done? *Shudders*
Seeing Ford’s response earlier in the week reinforces this thought of mine. I understand cars are only becoming more and more complicated and that shade tree mechanics are either having to go through more hoops to accomplish repairs or throw in the towel. But do I think there is some conspiracy to stop those from doing their own service to vehicles? Nope.
I’ll admit that I’m not quite ready to tackle some of the issues that face my vehicle at the moment such as flushing the transmission fluid or replacing various bits of the front suspension. But this experience has made me slightly more confident in undertaking smaller repairs and improvements into the vehicle. It has also caused me to do a bit research into doing various projects so I know what I’m getting myself into so I don’t have as many frustrations.