This Morning's Adventure: Changing Hard-to-reach Light Bulbs on My 2005 Honda CR-V

I put on my gloves and my hat this chilly morning to go to work on changing a brake light bulb and the license plate bulb for my 2005 Honda CR-V. I was planning to do this last weekend but the weather became quite rainy and I'd rather take a cold sunny morning than a gray and chilly afternoon for this sort of work.

Videos are Great for Teardowns!

A resource that exists today that didn't have all of the information that existed 9 years ago is Youtube. When I need to know how to take apart a part of my car, I refer to a video on youtube. There are many generous videos that help me to figure out how exactly many screws there are, and whether they are hidden by covers.

For instance, on my CR-V, the passenger-side rear light assembly is held in place by two hex-shaped screws and only the top has a cover which needs to be removed by a flat-head screwdriver. Then a philips head screwdriver can be used to remove the screw. The bottom screw requires closing the side-hinged rear gate most of the way in order to access the screw.

There are three plastic tabs which keep the assembly in place thereafter and, having seen that from the video, I also knew that I could apply a bit of force to get them to pop free from their anchor points. With the benefit of the teardown, I would not have known whether applying force would break anything. This is a key factor which holds me back from working on my own car: the fear that I will break it.

Trust But Verify

I did not have all of the correct bulbs. The brake light bulb is much larger than the tail light bulb (which are the ones that turn on whenever the headlights are on).

So this morning's adventure included a trip to the car parts store in search of the correct bulb.

I made two visits to the car parts store to get bulbs. One was about a week ago and I had the person at the desk look up the bulbs and that is how I ended up leaving without having all of the bulbs that I needed. I do not hold it against the gentleman from the car parts store. He did his honest best.

But that doesn't mean my time, and yours, has no value. So I suggest that you verify information yourself if you can. The car parts store used to have a guide book tethered near the light bulbs but that convention no longer exists in the age of the smartphone.

The new best way to verify that you have the correct bulb is to look it up on the bulb vendor's website. Most of the bulbs sold at the local car parts store are made by Sylvania. And though their site isn't mobile-ready, I was able to lookup the bulb listing for my car without too much trouble.

Old Faithful

My car is getting old now. It is a 2005 model which means it may have been in operation for as much as 12 years now. The odometer is nearly at 155k miles. I bought the vehicle with 17k miles.

The headlights are getting foggy. The exhaust is getting fumey. The suspension is getting creaky. Time is not kind to automobiles.

I don't have a solid system on how to determine what to fix (and more importantly what not to fix) given the age of the car. This is something I am working my way through, one decision at a time.

I am fighting my impulses to refresh my car. 150k miles was, at a point in time, my arbitrary limit for when I would part with a vehicle. By 150k for most makes, the easy maintenance years are behind you.

But every single change of automobiles costs money and time. And if I invest no energy into getting a newer car, then the course of action is to continue driving the one that I have and to spend the time making decisions on how to maintain it.