Friday, August 18, 2017

The Left-Handed Spanner: Bulbs, balls, blips, dips, sauces

A special feature by Kaibeezy: The Left-Handed Spanner: Bulbs, balls, blips, dips, sauces
So (yes, I millennialed the start of a story; but it was originally written as an ear-haired old email, not an InstaSnap or whatever, so...), I finally got around to changing the headlight bulb in the Xantia on account of it coming up with a failure on its recent MOT for a bad nearside dipped beam. Could have been worse, the Avensis failed same day on two corroded brake pipes (“brake pipes” always makes Vince chuckle).

I never got around to ordering a Haynes manual, but the fraternité seemed to agree it required post-human finger lengthening and hand thinning modifications, takes 20 minutes a side, usually produces several new Anglo-Franco hybrid cuss words, and/or may necessitate taking several breaks for cognac, escargot, Gauloises, etc.

I don’t know how to relax, but I do know how to procrastinate. I had bought replacement bulbs six months earlier back when it used to get dark before midnight. I admit, I knew then the bulb was out, but I also knew if I could just hang on until April, it would be October before it mattered. Unfortunately, the nearside turn signal bulb had been doing a fast blink for a couple of months before that, and you still need a signal in the daytime. I had been able to gently nudge the stalk to a spot where the blink didn’t go crazy, but that wasn’t a fix, only a workaround. With the MOT FAIL last week, I figured it was time to deal with both of those. So I waited until half an hour before we were supposed to go out the door, put on my reading glasses, read the frenchcarforum instructions twice, surveyed the scene, hacked a couple of hoses and pipes out of the way, whatever, and… got the headlights done in like 5 minutes a side. No, I didn’t cut anything, neither hoses nor skin, so chill. It simply was not that hard.

While I had the bonnet open and my hands dirty, and with 20 minutes to spare, I also topped up the LHR+ hydraulic fluid. You have to do it a little at a time while the car is running and the suspension set to “high service mode”, which means jacked up like a monster truck but with small tires, and pour a thin viscous stream while carefully monitoring the tophat as it blips and blurps up to between the lines on the little glass cupola there. It’s a very delicate, steady operation, like making béarnaise, hollandaise, béchamel, velouté or mayonnaise from scratch. You may now insert your obligatory saucy “car balls” snark here.

Once we post this I expect to be poo-Poupon'd by the frenchcarforumers for mocking their savoir faire, but I say, let's all get along. Mainly because when I put the replacement blinker bulb down, I noticed this switch in my console that doesn’t show up in the manual nor appear to actually do anything, which means it’s crucial in some way and I will probably need their help.

The thing is, I may just be a Citroen savant, because... not only did I get the headlights done, but when I went to re-check the indicator situation, wa-la!, it had fixed my speedy blinker problem! Maybe a Citroen blinker-on-goofballs is the indicator for a bad dipped beam, but it was the left dip out and my right turn signal that was blinking staccato triplets, so... donc, uhhh??



  1. I think the word you were looking for there is "voila", not "wa-la". It's even French!

    1. Robert, Robert, Robert. Or should I call you ʁɔbɛʁ?

      As Dumbledore said: Not all who mangle French spelling are lost.

  2. I bet this car has a smell, not a bad smell but a je ne sais quoi, like all old VWS.
    The e34 I just bough is infused with an early 90s oil, leather, and yuppie scent.

    1. Well, it's cloth seats. Not much of a smell, actually. The hydraulic fluid leaking all over the driveway is more of a visual thing. Nah, all seriousness aside, it's not that leaky. Then again, when the suspension, steering and brakes are all on the same hydraulic system, how much leak do you want to see? I'll answer: Not much.

  3. Please consult your doctor before taking Xantia.


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