Tag: car

Vauxhall/Opel Corsa B heating control panel lights servicing

Manuel Marques July 6, 2014 6 Comments Uncategorized , , , , ,

When I first got my car I was a bit surprised for not having any illumination of the heating controls, which can be a problem especially in the Winter, when the days are short and you need to use these controls a lot more!

Anyway, thereΒ is illumination indeed, the issue here is that the lighting is designed to stay onΒ regardless of whatever setting you may have on your outside lights. Add to it incandescent bulbs and a horrible procedure to extract them from the panel (more on that later) and no wonder most old Corsas lying around have no functioning lights any more – the owners are coping with it the best way they know, either by turning on the courtesy light or simply by memorising the position of the controls.

Not for me, though! πŸ™‚ – I hate knowing something could be working but it isn’t, but at the same time I hate forking out money on seemingly “little” things (and Vauxhall charges Β£50+ for the “privilege” of sorting these lights for you!). Hence, armed with some LEDs I got from eBay, my Haynes manual and a few more bits and pieces, I set on trying to sort this out.

Firstly, here is the part in question which holds the lights in place. It definitely doesn’t look familiar to anyone owning one of these cars, as it is buried deep into the fascia:

2014-04-11 14.03.28

Or, as it sits in the fascia (I took the previous photo as I was testing the lights hooking the part to a 12 V DC power supply),

2014-04-12 14.52.51

To access this holder all you have to do is follow the instructions from the Haynes manual: pushing the vents down to reveal the screws behind them, which will in turn release the multi-function display on top; and after removing the air recirculation switch and the knobs you can finally get to the lights.

Unfortunately there is something the Haynes manual misses – of these three bulbs only two of them are socketed, given that GM changed the design of this holder in ’97 and with that the central bulb became soldered inside the central switch (the one that controls the fan and the demister). Hence, I had to pry it open in order to get to the bulb,

2014-04-11 09.49.13

thus separating it from the remaining bulbs, which sit on those two arms:

2014-04-11 09.49.32

Given that I had intended to replace these lights with LEDs in order to avoid going through this procedure all over again in a year or two’s time, I had to be careful with the polarity. The pins on the back of the assembly are labelled as far as I remember, one of them having a plus sign, hence you can always test with a DC power supply before you take apart half of the car to replace the lights.

My advice – given that you will necessarily have to pry the fan/demister switch open to replace the light, get a used one off eBay or a scrapyard (they should be cheap…) and work on that one – in this way you can just replace the whole unit and be sure it effectively works correctly.

That’s it, folks! Hope you’ve enjoyed the tutorial, I felt I should do one as I kind of missed one when I attempted to do this myself (there were a few images in an enthusiast forum, but they have since been removed…). Any questions, please do ask!

Tricks of the light

Manuel Marques July 15, 2013 No Comments Uncategorized , ,

Yesterday I had some fun with my DSLR camera and tripod. I stood in almost complete darkness taking some long exposure time photos, here are the results:

Gazing at the darkness!...

This first one actually was not in complete darkness, as the house has a big halogen projector triggered by a motion sensor to illuminate the drive at night. Quite clever, but I wanted complete darkness – and since I couldn’t find the switch for it I had to wait until the timer went out, and then move surreptitiously without triggering the sensor again… πŸ™‚



I like this one in particular – the projector went off, and I took this with a 30 second exposure time, F/4 aperture and ISO cranked up to the maximum (1600 or 3200? Can’t remember). It looks very grainy, which gives it quite a cool effect.


And then I played a bit with my car (my neighbours probably think I’m some sort of a nutcracker, standing just in shorts (it was quite hot outside) in complete darkness, photographing my car with various light settings. But I did have fun :).

More tricks of the light

This last one turned out to be quite nice – and this was only with the position lights on, no headlamps! (I could probably have set the f/# to a larger value…)


Manuel Marques May 21, 2013 No Comments Uncategorized , ,


The diagnostic tool I bought for my car a month ago arrived! πŸ™‚ I shouldn’t complain much, it came from China, with free shipping!

Now I’ll finally be able to tell what is causing my car’s engine management light to randomly lit up from time to time. Strangely, in the last few days it has been very quiet!…

Edit: I ran a few tests yesterday, apparently the only error code stored on the ECU is related to an intermittent high voltage on the coolant temperature sensor – I suspect there is a loose connection somewhere, as most of the times the ECU warning lights up when I’m cornering. I monitored the sensor through the interface, and it seemed to be reporting the temperature properly! (anyway, the sensor is only Β£10 from Vauxhall and very easy to replace, if it comes to that I’ll take care of it myself…)

So cool to be able to monitor 50+ parameters of my car’s engine just through a data connection! It really brings up the geek in me! πŸ˜€

Oh, the wonders of globalisation…

Manuel Marques April 27, 2013 No Comments Uncategorized , ,

My car is truly international: it still displays the badge of a typically British car maker (Vauxhall), but its engine and bodywork were engineered in Germany (Opel), and everything was assembled together in the General Motors (USA) plant in Salamanca, Spain! πŸ™‚

New wheels!

Manuel Marques April 14, 2013 No Comments Uncategorized , ,

New wheels! by Manuel Jorge Marques
New wheels!, a photo by Manuel Jorge Marques on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
I finally took the plunge (after a few months saving…) and got myself a car (call it an “advance” birthday present). I had planned to do so more towards the end of the month, but this little blue gem came along, and in my opinion it wouldn’t last long until it was sold.

Very, very basic – no electric windows, no central locking, no power steering, and a ridiculously small 3-cylinder, 973cc engine. But it does only have 23600 miles on the clock (about 45000 km for those on the other side of the Channel), not bad for a soon-to-be 14-year-old car! And it runs like a dream…
So, now, off to the beach, off to the river, off to somewhere remote – the possibilities are endless! (sadly, the money to pay for the petrol isn’t… but this is a very frugal machine, so it is not that bad!)

And now, I must arrange some time to write a proper blog post. But the endless pile of lab reports to mark is also begging for attention… bah! πŸ˜›

More strange things about Britain…

Manuel Marques March 10, 2013 No Comments Uncategorized , , , ,

I was just checking car insurance quotes and I was amazed to find that, for the very same car (a cheap, smallish Fiat which sits in a very low insurance group), if I declare its value to be less than Β£500 the premium will actually rise!

And quite significantly, too – if I declare its value to be around the Β£700 mark they’ll quote me a premium of Β£480 (fully comprehensive), but if I lower that figure the premium will rise at least Β£300!

Seriously, why? I mean, if I wreck the car and they have to pay me back its declared value, they’d have to pay me less… makes no sense!

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