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Andrew Daniel

Andrew leads our Operational Team and is our expert when it comes to all the ins and outs of car hire excess insurance.

How much does it cost to change a lightbulb?

Sounds like a bad joke but changing a car headlight bulb is rapidly becoming a garage only job and it can take a couple of hours for the job.

If we're looking at a car headlight bulb, the costs can vary massively. If you're happy and competent to do the job yourself, headlight bulbs can be found online for as little as £4. But motorists are increasingly finding what should be a simple job has been turned into a challenge.

Handbooks are often no help at all and simply state "refer to dealer”.

Many cars require an considerable amount of dismantling required in order to gain access to the headlight bulb. Claire Evans, Deuputy Motoring Editor for Which? found her Renault Modus needed the bumper to be removed. Quotes from franchised dealers came in at £150 for the job.

Not all cars are as bad, Which? readers reported the Skoda Octavia and Volvo XC60 as thoughtfully designed and particularly easy. In contrast, many Ford models seem awkward, the Focus seems to be a one hour garage job at around £80.

Halfords offer a reasonably priced fitting service but an increasing number of cars are now being blacklisted, Renault's Modus and Laguna, Ford Mondeo among some of the more popular models now banned.

Xenon headlights are another matter and due to the high voltages involved, not one for the casual DIYer to attempt. Though the bulbs do last longer than conventional ones, replacement costs via dealers can be hundreds of pounds.

It is extraordinary how much an apparently simple job can cost to do on cars, especially if you rely on a garage to do the work. It is the same story with hire cars except you have absolutely no say in who does the work. Of course, most mechanical problems can be ignored as it's the hire car companies responsibility to deal with them. Clutches are the exception here as poor driving can wreck a clutch very quickly. So, if you have any doubts about the condition of the clutch when you pick up a hire car, you are best off refusing to accept the car rather than have it fail in your keeping.

But other incidents can and do happen and when they do, you may have little or no control over the costs incurred. A stone chip to a windscreen might result in the entire windscreen being replaced. We've got used to windscreen replacements not being too much of a problem on our own cars with most insurance policies covering it with a small excess but replacement can easily cost £4-500.

Windscreens, tyres, wheels, damage to the underside and roof of hire cars are typically not covered under the Collision Damage Waiver policies. So even if they have a zero excess CDW policy you would still be responsible for these areas. This is where dedicated car hire excess insurance policies come into their own. Users of the MoneyMaxim comparison service can easily see how much cover you get and which additional features such as misfuelling or lost key costs are covered.