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posted: 7/28/2013 12:10 AM

Cheap headlight bulbs can be a hassle

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Q. We have a 2004 Buick Ranier on which I have had to replace the low beam headlamps a total of five times -- three on right and two on left -- over the past two years. A local repair shop did three, a dealer did one and I did one after researching the " How To" of removing the front grill without breaking it.

On one occasion a pig tail was burned, requiring replacement. The dealer would not admit this is unusual and said there is no recall or bulletin on this problem. I enjoy your column and thanks for your comments.

A. For some reason we do see a little higher incidence of headlight replacement and pigtail issues on the Rainier and Trailblazer vehicles. There are no service bulletins or any type of recalls that address this. One thing we have noticed, and we are careful to avoid, is buying cheap Chinese bulbs for our stock.

A few years back we had to fire a vendor because we were having so much trouble with his light bulbs. Because we don't know the quality of the bulbs that were put in your car, other than the one you put in, I would do the following next time a light goes out.

•Put in a good quality bulb that is exactly what the manufacturer calls for on your car.

• Make sure you don't touch the glass part of the bulb with your fingers as the oil from your skin will create a hot spot and cause the bulb to burn out prematurely.

• In addition, make sure the connection to the bulb is clean and tight. If the connector is bad, change it.

Once this is done make note of the date and see exactly how long that bulb lasts.

• Douglas Automotive is at 312 S. Hager Ave., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit Send questions to

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