Friday, May 29, 2015

in excelsis mondeo

Following on from my election manifesto What I'd Do If I Were In Charge as summarised here (alternative title: Things Are Going To Be Pretty Ruddy Different Round Here From Now On Let Me Tell You) here's a couple of extra items.

You'll recall there was some stuff in the original list about changes to house-building regulations, well, this is a perfect opportunity to crack down on some of the ridiculousness inherent in modern car design as well. I know that the majority of cars driven in the UK are probably manufactured outside it, but let's ignore that for the moment; I'm in no danger of being asked to actually implement any of this shit anyway, so it doesn't really matter how ill-thought-out it is.

We already know what item one is going to be: more human-readable diagnostic information in the event of a fault being logged by the engine management system. In other words, cars must carry an on-board version of the little diagnostic gizmo I was obliged to buy off Amazon. Since most cars now have a display screen and menu options built in anyway, the engine diagnostic menu could just be added to this.

Item two is as follows: for fuck's sake make changing the headlamp bulbs a bit easier. It can't be beyond modern vehicle science to come up with a way of, for instance, changing the main beam bulb on a 2008 Ford Mondeo that doesn't involve undoing two Torx screws and one cross-head screw, wiggling the entire (quite large) headlamp housing free from its position and removing it, unclipping the protective cover from the back, pulling out the bulb holder, removing the bulb, replacing it with a new one, and then putting the whole lot back together again, having, if you're sensible, tested the whole set-up first to make sure it's working. Not only that, but since I didn't have any Torx bits of the relevant size I had to buy some, although that did afford me the opportunity to buy this rather neat little ratchet screwdriver kit off Amazon for the absurdly reasonable price of £3.49.

As I've said before, I'm not especially expert with car maintenance, but I'm perfectly capable of following instructions. So I'm extremely thankful for the existence of YouTube and its excellent selection of car maintenance videos, including this one which describes and demonstrates the elaborate procedure I described above - in particular the advice regarding replacing the bulbs between 3:40 and 4:00 is invaluable and I urge you to take heed of it if you're attempting the same job. If I'd been trying to do it from a series of grainy still photos in the Haynes manual, or, worse still, having to work it out for myself, I probably wouldn't have dared even trying to start. And that's the problem: you don't really want to be going straight to a garage to get a bulb replaced, but equally you definitely don't want to be going to a garage with a headlamp housing with various vital bits sheared off or shattered because you've had a go at fixing things yourself and made a colossal bish of it.

As with the diagnostic thing, I realise there's no commercial incentive for car manufacturers to comply, but equally there was no commercial incentive for them to fit seat belts either, which was why legislation was required. So let's legislate the shit out of this, and look forward to a world of simple screw- or snap-in bulbs that you can do one-handed while sipping a nice G&T.

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