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Pro/con to having a dealership replace a headlight bulb?
January 2, 2011 9:42 PM   Subscribe

My headlight in my 2003 Civic Hybrid went out. Before I knew it my father had purchased a new bulb and attempted to replace it. The report: he had to unplug the battery to reach the headlight apparatus (?!) so now my anti-theft radio will no longer play (because why would anyone want to steal a Honda if the dinky factory-installed radio doesn't work?!). Furthermore the light he got was the wrong kind so my headlight has not even been fixed. So I've looked up the details on resetting the radio and I need to take it to the dealership to get it reset. I am hoping this won't cost anything but, since my light hasn't been replaced, should I just get the headlight bulb replaced there as well? Has anyone bothered getting this done at the dealership or should I just attempt to replace the light myself after I've brought it back from getting the radio fixed?
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Well, since the first time went so well, getting the headlight replaced while the car's at the dealership anyhow sounds like a no-brainer.

Replacing a headlight is a maintenance thing, so you shouldn't have to unhook the battery to do it. Maybe even ask the dealership to show you how to do it for next time?

(Also, the anti-theft radio is to discourage theft of the radio, not of the car. If someone stole your radio they couldn't make it work in another car without the dealer cooperating.)
posted by mendel at 9:49 PM on January 2, 2011


My non-hybrid 2002 Civic came with a manual and other such documents... including a card with my reset code. This might have been something that this dealership did as a favor.

If you know the code, resetting the radio is extremely simple. If you do end up taking it in, make sure you get the code, so in future you can do this yourself.

FYI, you'd need to do the same thing if you left your lights on and drained the battery (ask me how I know). Though, I suspect that may be harder to do on a Hybrid.
posted by utsutsu at 9:53 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


2nd'ing what utsutsu said. My 01 Civic came with a card (credit card shaped) packed in with the manuals with a reset code on it. Have used it several times.
posted by MillMan at 9:59 PM on January 2, 2011


My friend recently helped me replace a headlight in my 2000 Corolla. While in theory (and according to the manual) one shouldn't need to take out the battery to do it, in practice it was really hard to get to the lightbulb and have enough space to wiggle and maneuver it out without removing the battery - so we did.

My experience with Hondas and radio resetting is that you just need the code. The dealership might just be able to give it to you over the phone.

So: if money is an issue, I think you should be able to avoid taking the car in.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:02 PM on January 2, 2011


Thanks all -

Mendel - that is kind of what I was thinking, why not get it done all in one shot....

To everyone else, thanks - I will look for the card. I was speaking earlier to someone who works with dealerships on these things who said that for models 2003 and older I would have to go to the dealership but since some people had some success with older models I will do a double-check.

I'll also give the lamp-changing another go - I'm a bit more dexterous and mechanically inclined than my father. I just don't get up as early or hide my car keys as well. XD
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 10:40 PM on January 2, 2011


In my experience, 21st-century Honda headlamp bulbs are notoriously difficult to replace (along with other supposedly user-serviceable items, like air filters) due (IMO) to overly zealous space-saving in the engine-compartment design process. (Toyotas don't seem to have this problem.) So if it doesn't look easy, then go ahead and have the dealership change the bulb for you. If they're not total jerks, they should do it for the cost of the bulb -- or better yet, the cost of 2 bulbs. Best to replace both headlamps at one time, so you don't have to go through this again next week/month, when the other one burns out!
posted by turducken at 10:45 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't remember exactly where it is, but if you look under the hood on your honda civic, the code is actually printed somewhere. I've killed my battery a few times and had to look for it. (I want to say it's printed under the battery cover, but I'm not sure.)

Also, if you fuck around with it too much, it won't let you enter the code any more and you have to reset it, I think by disconnecting the power again.
posted by empath at 10:49 PM on January 2, 2011


From my own experience, the dealership was required to charge their minimum labor cost when my headlightlight bulb blew. That meant that a $10 light bulb would cost me $40 if the dealership did it for me as part of a routine service.

A nice lady at my local Kragen auto not only helped me identify the correct replacement bulb, but she also stood by me as I fumbled my way through the replacement. The radio code is a separate issue; whatever happens, the bulb replacement 1) will create this radio problem every time, and 2) is a simple procedure that you can do, but for which the dealership will charge through the nose.

Just remember not to touch the light bulb with an unprotected hand. It's a halogen; oil from the hand can cause it to explode. Otherwise, I think you'll find the process relatively straightforward.
posted by Graygorey at 10:50 PM on January 2, 2011


Oh, I remember, it's on the fuse box.
posted by empath at 10:51 PM on January 2, 2011


I can do my tail lights myself, but the headlights, especially the left, I take to the dealer. They're packed in there in such a way that I have to do quite a bit of interference removal to even get my hand in there. I figure the 45 bucks is worth my time dicking with it and possibly breaking something else, especially when I consider that the price of the bulb is more than half that on it's own.

If I go for something else like a routine scheduled maintenance, they usually fix a bunch of miscellanous small stuff like that for just the cost of parts anyway, if I tell them about it. (Radio reset, the guy would just come out and do it, not even write it up, but I'm a long-time customer that he knows.) (I also have a card with the code written on it, though) Maybe your dealer will do the same - is it time for an oil change?
posted by ctmf at 10:57 PM on January 2, 2011


ctmf - the kicker is I JUST got a full service, which includes replacement of burnt out bulbs - everything should be up to snuff. I guess my bulb blew right after that.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 11:25 PM on January 2, 2011


My 2003 Civic has the code on a sticker in the glove compartment. Saved my ass a couple of times...
posted by Stewriffic at 2:34 AM on January 3, 2011


Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth: "Has anyone bothered getting this done at the dealership or should I just attempt to replace the light myself after I've brought it back from getting the radio fixed?"

If you do decide to do it yourself, it sems to me it would be wise to replace the light yourself before you go get the radio fixed, in case you need to remove/unplug the battery to get to the light as well.
posted by Grither at 5:24 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


My 2000 Accord has a sticker with the code on it under the lid of the center console.
posted by deadmessenger at 5:59 AM on January 3, 2011


I don't see any need to go to the dealer. I bought a 2006 Element used and even though the reset sticker was missing I called Honda and gave them my VIN, and they gave me the reset code. You may also have some luck getting your code from this Honda-operated web portal. As for the bulb, it's probably less than $10 at Auto Zone (maybe a bit more if it's a high intensity or high output bulb) and anyone with fifteen minutes can install it.

The dealership will charge you at least $125 for these two items, not to mention keeping your car for the better part of a day unless you're very lucky. I'm not one of those "never go the dealership" people, but it is advisable to save dealer visits as a silver bullet for the really hard/time intensive stuff. Good luck!
posted by littlerobothead at 6:42 AM on January 3, 2011


If you know the radio serial #, you can combine that information with the VIN and Phone Number/Zip Code that Honda has on file to get the radio unlock code. You can use the site here.
posted by swhitt at 6:47 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will look for the card. I was speaking earlier to someone who works with dealerships on these things who said that for models 2003 and older I would have to go to the dealership but since some people had some success with older models I will do a double-check.

Even if you do not have a card or sticker with the code, you should not need to go to the dealer and pay money to have it reset. Instead,

(1) Get the stereo's serial number by turning on the car and pressing the 1 and 6 buttons on the stereo. The display should start flashing something like U1234 *blink* L9876 *blink* U1234... Your stereo's serial number is then 12349876.

(2) Go to https://radio-navicode.honda.com , input the requied information, and it spits the code back at you.

(3) Write the code down in the owner's manual.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:49 AM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


My 2004 Civic has the code on a sticker inside the glove compartment. It's on the left side wall.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:29 AM on January 3, 2011


Get the stereo's serial number by turning on the car and pressing the 1 and 6 buttons on the stereo. The display should start flashing something like U1234 *blink* L9876 *blink* U1234... Your stereo's serial number is then 12349876.

(2) Go to https://radio-navicode.honda.com , input the requied information, and it spits the code back at you.


This seems like it rather negates the point of having an anti-theft code.
posted by empath at 7:49 AM on January 3, 2011


The required information includes VIN and the address and phone number linked to the car in Honda's records, which someone who'd hurriedly ripped the deck out of a car shouldn't have.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:34 AM on January 3, 2011


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