How many people does it take to change a bulb? Correction, how many people does it take to change a headlight bulb? Answer: Two utterly frustrated men, a youtube video and an owner's manual that doesn't say it all.

What should have been one of the easiest things to do turned out to be quite a harrowing experience. On a short vacation in the US, my brother-in-law asked me to help him out in changing a low beam bulb on his last-gen Honda Accord. Considering how expensive labour is in the US (even multi-millionaire Jay Leno will tell you that), it seemed fine to do the job ourselves. So while he went to fetch a pair of new bulbs (he decided he wanted to change them both), I sifted through the manual to understand which clips need to be unhooked.

Now the manual says, and you can see in the picture above, only two clips need to be attended to on the inner wheel arch and that should give us access to the socket supporting the low beam headlamp. It wasn't so simple. First, the manual doesn't tell you that you need to wedge the screw driver in a gap provided for the screws. And since these are plastic screws, they don't tell you that they are of no use once removed. Heaving and pushing at the screws was a different experience altogether. Moreover, since the screws hadn't been touched in seven years, our wrists got a thorough workout. By the time, the two screws finally came out, (and we even brought our laptop along to check out what youtube had to say) it was 45 minutes into the operation, and no, we couldn't access the socket either. It meant, removing all the screws along the edge of the wheel arch too, and that meant more of them plastic screws to order (at $0.75 a pop!). Finally, we got a hang of it and did the same on the other side, but not before it took us nearly two hours to change what should ideally have taken us not more than 15-20 minutes. And oh, we probably saved $20-30 in labour, but a back-breaking experience at that.

Which brings me to a more relevant point - why can't owner manuals be idiot proof? Why don't they tell you the exact procedure, and not some half baked one? And why do they not tell you that the screws will need to be replaced? You are probably wondering that back in India these are jobs that are done by mechanics, but if one has to do it himself, and the procedure is mentioned in the manual then it better be clear. And yes, I'd be the first one to join a group on Facebook that said "Bring back the metal screws, out with the plastic ones!"

Honda has a product called the Accord Crosstour (or Acura ZDX) on sale in the US. Essentially it is a hopped up Accord with seating for four and tagged a crossover. It looks quite nice in the flesh, scandalous in pictures. Even in the US, where the variety of cars is tremendous, it manages to stand out and turn heads, even when a Bumblebee yellow Camaro stands next to it. If Honda Siel is listening, they should consider bringing it to India