How to change a light bulb

First you have to remove the wheel.  Make sure the emergency brake is engaged and position the jack under the spot indicated in the owner’s manual to avoid damaging the vehicle.  Loosen the lug nuts slightly.  Then lift up the vehicle until it is high enough from the ground to remove the wheel entirely.

I suppose some context is called for.  Tweety (the wife’s car) blew a headlamp.  I’d replaced headlamps before, both on the bakkie and the White Jellytot, and it’s a simple affair: unsnap the back cover of the headlight assembly, unplug the wires, remove the bulb, replace, plug in, cover up.  With that in mind I popped the bonnet on Tweety and saw…

Ford Ka headlight top view

…a big piece of metal blocking access to the rear of the headlight assembly (and before you say “remove the battery, I did…there was a big piece of metal as well).

For the first time in my life I own a car that still has an owner’s manual, so I consulted it on how to proceed.  Apparently, I had to remove a snap-out panel in the front wheel well to gain access to the headlights.  So I turned the wheel as far out as it could go, fetched a flashlight, and realised the person who wrote the manual must never have seen the actual car, a suspicion that grew the further I went.

To start with, even with the wheel turned out there was barely space to get my arm in, never mind reach all the way up to the headlight assembly, so…

Ford Ka Wheel

…I removed the wheel, and found not a snap-out panel…

Ford Ka Wheel Well

…but a single piece of plastic lining the inside of the wheel well held in place by a dozen screws.  So I removed that.  Oh, to make things extra fun, these weren’t regular screws, but those six-point star types.


Luckily my folks gave me a complete set of screwdriver and drill bits for Christmas a couple of years ago, otherwise I’d have had to put the wheel back to drive to the hardware store for a screwdriver first.  With the lining removed I could finally get to the headlight assembly…

Ford Ka headlight housing bottom view

…barely.  Due to an assortment of cables that were not pictured in the owner’s manual it was impossible to completely remove the rear panel, so I pushed it aside as far as I could and the wife held it for me by reaching her fingers (pictured above) through the tiny hole at the top.  As it was I could not fit both my head and my arm into the available space so I replace the light bulb and replaced the cover by touch alone.  Needless to say, I tested the light before replacing the lining and wheel…

Ford Ka Headlight

And that is how you replace a light bulb by picking up a car.

The joy of compact cars.  I think my next car will be a monster truck, or something else I can walk under if I need to replace a light bulb.

12 thoughts on “How to change a light bulb

  1. Ah, the joys of compact cars (not!). My sister owns one of those Ka’s. I don’t know if they’ve had to replace a headlamp bulb yet. Guess they beat the monster truck when it comes to fuel bill, though not driving fun… Naming cars is always fun, though. My wife’s previous car was ‘Lucy’ (riffing on the numberplate) the current one is ‘Beastie’, largely because it’s a beast of a car compared to Lucy. My car, for various reasons, is ‘Henry’.


    1. We got Tweety already named, and I’ve never been able to pick a name for the bakkie that worked.

      The Ka is light on fuel, but not as much as the Daewoo Matiz was. On the other hand, the Ka has a 1.3litre engine as opposed to the Matiz’z 950cc. I feel much safer driving on the highway in Tweety, knowing I can easily maintain the higher speed limit. With the Matiz eighteen-wheelers sometimes overtook me, which is a tad intimidating.


    1. I hope she has the ability to put them together again. The talent to disassemble machinery can turn out expensive if the opposite skill set is lacking…


      1. No. She is very adept. A real grease monkey.
        She once took the carburetor on my car to pieces. I nearly had an infarction when I saw it in bits on the garage. ( It had always played up since I bought the car)
        Well, turns out one of the mounting bolts had not been fitted! Factory new , nogal.
        We bought one, she reset the float chamber, cleaned the jets etc and reassembled it.
        All info gleaned from the workshop manual!
        Hadn’t run so well since I’d driven it off the showroom.
        I was gobsmacked, as the colloquial saying goes.


  2. I’m glad it was so simple. The car manufacturers sometimes complicate these things so we’ll think, hey, maybe I’ll just buy a new car so I don’t have to replace the light bulb.


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