Tag Archives: Ford Focus

How Many Volkswagen Mechanics does it take to Change a Golf Headlight?

This morning when I started the car, there was a warning light left illuminated on the dashboard. Needless to say the icon was a bit obtuse, at a guess I thought it might be something to do with the brake lights, as it looked a bit like a cross between a bulb and the hand brake light, but after a flick through the manual it turned out to be a general bulb problem warning. A quick bulb check and it looked to be one of the headlamp bulbs.

Now as any long term readers of this blog will know I had a generally poor opinion of our previous Ford Focus, especially when it came to changing headlamp bulbs, since the design of the engine bay in the revised mark one Focus we had was so bad that even the experts had to disassemble the front of the car to change one of the bulbs. I’m not alone in that either, the original posting is by far the most commented on the site. There are various suggestions on how to make it easier, but whichever way you look at it the bulb change is still a pain.

Compare this to the Volkswagen Golf we now have. I’ve just popped down to the car park and changed both headlamp bulbs in about ten minutes with no tools at all, the back of the headlight is a screw fit, and the bulb sits in a socket that again screws in and out. It’s not exactly as if there is loads of free space in the engine bay of the Golf – it’s still a bit fiddly, but it’s a job that either myself or Beth could easily completed on the roadside, rather than needing a toolbox or a visit to a garage to do the job properly.


One of the letters that was waiting for us when we got back from our holiday was one from the car finance company reminding me that the payments had almost been made on our Golf and that it was almost time for the final balloon payment on the credit agreement. The letter of course was tempting me with a new car – the whole reason they offer the deal.

Being the end of the deal, also means that the first MOT on the car was due, which is what we had today. It’s also one of the infrequent occasions when I get to drive Beth’s car – the Ford Focus that I replaced with the Golf three years ago. Every time it reminds me why I replaced it – and of course you only need to look through the entire category on the blog devoted to me grumbling about the car to realise quite how I feel about it.

As such, I’ve regularly thought about getting rid of it – usually more so after an experience with Reg Vardy. What is even more of a push is if I follow that up with an experience at our local VW dealer, Ridgeway. So a lousy experience a few weeks ago with Reg Vardy, followed by the MOT today, and where did we end up whilst we were picking the car up? Looking at new cars…


It has to be said, that Mrs Peat has fallen for this one – an ex-demonstration Polo Dune 1.4 TDI. It’s only nine months old, and being a demonstrator only has a few thousand miles on the clock. Basically the Dune is a normal Polo but looking a bit SUV-ish. It does have a bit of a higher sitting position than the regular car, plus alongside the styling tweaks has bigger wheels, and the suspension lifted by 20mm. Bearing in mind that Beth used to drive a Dodge Dakota in Canada the SUV-ish look does tend to appeal to her, alongside the small size that she misses from her Ford Fiesta.

We took it out for a test-drive too – it’s not got the same level of power as the Golf, and does sound a lot more diesel like at low-revs. However it is pretty nippy, and cruises quite comfortably at motorway speeds. So for what Beth needs, which is a good little run-around to go to work and back, and make occasional motorway trips it’s fine. Oh, and it can hook up to an iPod too… 🙂

The dealer seems to be proposing some complicated modification of our credit agreement whereby we continue the agreement paying off the Golf, buying the Polo and trading in the Focus – and gave it a pretty good go at trying to persuade us that the finance deal was a good idea, but I’m leaning more towards keeping it all separate. That sort of deal is inevitably totally confusing and as a result probably much the better deal for the dealer. Not that I’m complaining – I did somewhat skewer them on the Golf as it was the end of September and the salesman was within a few sales of wining a prize for salesman of the month, so it’s only sporting to give them a chance to sell us their credit agreement.

So are we tempted – I think so. Not least because it means I can finally get rid of the Focus and end my increasingly frustrating relationship with Reg Vardy.

The Cheapest Trip to Reg Vardy Ever?

So after my discovery of another blown bulb at the beginning of the week, today the Focus went back into Reg Vardy for the second week in succession.

Unfortunately, it was confirmed as another blown bulb, again necessitating major surgery to the front of the car to change it. However, unlike last week, when it came to paying the bill, the service agent said that they were only going to charge me for the parts. Whilst they could, and I guess some dealers probably would, try to argue that the second bulb blowing was just coincidence, she said that they probably hadn’t checked the car properly when they were done last week. So they handed me a bill for a grand total of 78 pence, plus VAT, coming to a total cost of less than £1. Just the kind of garage bill I’m happy to pay!

Headlight Fun Again

You may remember my rant two years ago about the idiotic design of the headlamp cluster on the old style Ford Focus – the article is by far the most popular on the site, and still gets comments two years later.

The bulb, following on from the fragile windscreens (the Focus currently has it’s fifth windscreen), and the general feeling of instability caused by the combination of tyres and suspension, oh and not forgetting the misfire, was ultimately the final straw that set me looking for a new car that in the end became the Golf. Now that has had one or two problems, but it still has the original windscreen, although it does have a small crack on it thanks to a stone chip – unlike the Focus, it has stayed a small crack. It also has the annoying dashboard light problem when it is cold, and of course it has that weird feature with the windows, but ultimately it is much better to drive.

Just in case I was starting to think that maybe the Focus isn’t that bad a car – the passenger side headlight has blown, almost exactly two years after it was last replaced, so I guess it’s another £40 headlight change from Reg Vardy – and a timely reminder of why I didn’t buy another Ford.

Keeping the Lights On

So yesterday, after having the car for over a year, I got my first experience of changing a headlamp bulb on my VW Golf. Now if this sounds like I’m getting a little overexcited about a simple bulb change, you might like to read back over the hassle I have with our Ford Focus, particularly the eye-watering £60 for the dealer to fit the passenger side bulb.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that the change for the Golf was simple enough that I did it in the car park of Halfords, with no need for tools screwdrivers or anything. The back of the headlamp unit is a screw cover, then the bulb itself is in a socket mounted in a plastic holder that again screws off. The holder can only go back in the correct way up, and again it all just screws back together. This was a breeze compared to the metal clips and plastic flip up cover effort on the Focus. In fact it even takes the same type of bulb as the Focus which makes life easier.

Having said that, whilst I was there, I did a light check, and spotted that the wing mirror indicator on the passenger side was not as bright as on the drivers side, indeed it seemed that some of the LED’s where flickering off on some occasions. Looking through the manual there was nothing about these bulbs, and nothing about how to change them, so today I gave the VW dealer a call. The diagnosis over the phone was that from the symptoms it could be a ‘fault with the board’, in which case it’s a warranty repair. Otherwise, if it’s that the bulb is going, then it’s £18+VAT to replace it – somewhat less painful than the headlight replacement over at Ford it has to be said. They were able to take the car in on Saturday to sort it out too.