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It’s the everyday things that interest me: Replacing an offside brake light on a Punto

I have never been very interested in cars and I’ve had a few, always second hand and I’ve always done some of the maintenance myself. The H reg Nissan Sunny I had was a great motor which when I got it was 10 years old with 12,000 miles on the clock. It was a great car and because of its age pretty simple, unfortunately it gave up in a major way at a very inconvenient moment and was thus collected by the scrap man who gave me £30 for it. The new (to us) T registration Punto is a different kettle of fish entirely I suddenly feel pretty inept at anything to do with its maintenance and he who deals with the car has now taken over. As it’s a more modern car much more is hidden away in odd and inaccessible places behind plastic panels. To change a rear brake light bulb was more involved than it needed to be (see the images). Is this about styling, about manufacturing processes or about encouraging us to pay for everything to be done?

Car maintenance is becoming less of a DIY activityand more of a service we need to purchase. This puts the emphasis on us to earn the money to pay for someone to carry out the job. Gone are the days of my friend Cath’s dad painting (yes that’s painting) their car every year or so with a brush and tin of gloss paint (and I can admit to that myself also – but I used a roller) but things like that bring a smile to your face, the image of someone painting a car with a brush. The alternative can be compared to wondering how much the coloured coded bumper on your new vehicle is going to cost to replace when it gets a knock.

So is the complicated bulb change about encouraging us to pay for services rather than doing it ourselves? It’s naïve to think its accidental – I’m thinking back to Derek’s information about design intention. I am sure someone at Fiat had the task of carrying out routine car maintenance jobs and timing them before the car went into mass production. What encourages me is the inclusion of a small kit of tools provided with the car which allow for the panelling to be undone, but who did the manufacturer imagine would be doing the undoing.