1991 Acura NSX: Marker Light Bulb Replaced
February 29, 2012
Last week some of you noticed one of the front marker lights was burned out on our long-term 1991 Acura NSX. On Monday morning, I remembered this and pulled out the owners manual. I looked at the step-by-step instructions and thought, ah, well I'll just replace the bulb myself. It'll be easy!
Of course, the first thing I did was buy the wrong bulb. Page 160 of the owners manual refers to this bulb as the parking light, but if you go to page 209, there's no listing for that. I figured the side marker light had to be the amber-lensed lights on the side of the car... but was I dealing with a "front position light"? I wasn't sure. So I came across this guide on the Sylvania website of all the bulb types for a '91 NSX, saw the listing for a parking light bulb, and though, ah, I need an 1157 bulb! Went out and bought one.
The next morning I removed the lower light unit from the NSX, and found that the 1157 bulb was about 4 times too big. But let me back up for a second. My photo of page 160 of the owners manual isn't the sharpest, but if you look closely, you'll see that the lighting assembly is held on by one screw -- and getting to that screw is a blind operation because it's behind the bumper and you can't gain access by opening the hood because the pop-up headlight blocks it.
There's a small opening in the bumper to insert a screwdriver, but the one in the picture isn't to scale: You need a long-necked phillips-head screwdriver, which I borrowed from Ed Hellwig. Eventually I realized I could see the screw if I lay on the floor and directed a flashlight to the appropriate location. (In retrospect, I should have gone to our garage, where I would have had access to the lift and a full set of tools, but I was so sure this would be an easy job.
Finally, I'd removed the grimy light assembly. Marker light is circled in blue; turn signal bulb is circled in yellow.
I unscrewed the parking/marker light, and saw how tiny it was... regardless of what the manual says, this is indeed a teeny 168 light -- a "peanut light" as the guys as the auto parts store called it. A new one cost 91 cents. The new bulb fit perfectly in the assembly and I set about to reinstall everything.
But I wasn't able to re-secure the screw. Before long, I realized why. Somewhere along the line, this metal retaining clip (which slides onto a plastic anchor point) had popped off and landed... well, we still don't know where and we may have to use a magnet to find it later this week when time permits.
We then removed the driver-side lower-light assembly so that we could see what size retaining clip to buy. The clip on the driver side was pretty beat up and stretched out (to the point that the previous owner apparently applied a bit of adhesive to hold the driver-side assembly secure -- it had a red, gummy substance on it), so we decided to replace both clips.
A pack of three cost me $2.80, and they were just about exactly the right size for the job, but the metal was really stiff (above: the new one is black; the old one is from the driver-side lower light assembly), which isn't ideal, considering the clip has to slide onto a rough piece of plastic from the back (so that the open part of the clip faces forward) and considering it's hard to fit your hand into the space to get them on.
Ultimately, I got some help from Dan Edmunds, who is a lot more patient than I am (and, yes, yes, more skillful and likable, too), and he got the clips on and re-secured the screws.
Total cost: $3.71, not including labor
This is a long story, and basically, if you've ever joked or complained on this blog that the Inside Line editors (except for Dan, Jay, Mark and a couple others) have the automotive smarts of a hamster, well this confirms it. I wasn't able to replace a light bulb on my own. Any guesses how many IL editors it ultimately took to replace a peanut-size light bulb on the NSX?
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 52,104 miles