honda civic

[from my archives]

After six years of faithful service, I retired my 1988 Toyota MR-2 (red) and replaced it with a 1999 Honda Civic EX Coupe (black).  I choose the Civic after five months of research, investigation and test-drives, based on my opinion, shared by many, that the Civic is the most reliable yet sporty car for the money.  So far, I have not been disappointed.

  • Specs of My Civic

  • 1.6 liter SOHC VTEC engine (127 HP)
  • Automatic transmission
  • ABS brakes (rare on the EX Coupe!)
  • Flamenco black

  • Dealer installed options

  • Odometer: 4,700
  • MPG: 24

  • Information

  • Insurance

  • Geico
  • Extended warranty:  My insurance company (Geico) offers a multi-risk option which provides an extended warranty for 7 years / 100,000 miles for under $40/year.  This is a better deal than the dealership's offer and on-line extended warranties such as Warranty Direct.

  • Parts & Accessories

Air filter(K&N Air Filter coming soon)
Blind spot mirrorsEasy
.25 hr
These are the $2 stick-on parabolic mirrors which go on the bottom-inside corner of the side mirrors.  I find the driver's side to be useful, but I'm not convinced the passenger's side is very useful.
Cargo netEasy
.25 hr
Overpriced and so far of minimal utility.
Dashboard coverEasy
.25 hr
Purchased from Dashhugger, one of the best on-line companies I have ever had the pleasure to deal with.  "Smoke" is the proper color (not light gray - oops!).
.50 hr
I opted for the $4 black ones from Kragen.  Easy to apply, looks nice, protects the door edge.
.50 hr
Overpriced at the dealer; cheaper at B.C. Imports.  Fit perfectly to the floor, high quality.  Retaining apparatus on driver's side is easy to install.
Fog lightsModerate
1.00 hr
I opted for the dealer installed fog lights, which are active only when the low-beam lights are on.  But when I picked up my car after having the lights installed, I noticed that the flange around the lights was gray, while the rest of my car is black (completely unacceptable).  The flange removes easily from the body of the car with just one screw.  Rather than try and get the dealer to find a black flange, I went to the local hobby shop and got Testors Gloss Black Spray Enamel #1247 and High Gloss Clearcoat #2936. I put on two coats of black and one coat of clearcoat, and then re-installed the hardware.  So far, so good.
Foot pedalsEasy
.25 hr
Easy to install on top of existing pedals, and under $20.
Glovebox lightModerate
1.50 hrs
I ran a hot lead from the accessory fuse in the fuse box (same used for radar detector project) over to a Radio Shack normally-closed push switch mounted on the panel to the right of the glovebox (panel is removable with one screw and three pulls).  From the switch, I ran a wire to a 12v interior light from Kragen, mounted on the metal bar centered over the glovebox opening.  The negative lead goes to a chassis ground.  This illuminates the glovebox when it is open.
1.50 hrs
The OEM horn makes a tinny "beep" noise, that just didn't sound very good.  I replaced it with a $12 130db trumpet-style horn.  The OEM horn is located in front of the radiator, and accessing it requires removing the front bumper.  Open the hood and extract all of the retaining plugs.  In the front of each front-wheel wheelwell (right where the front bumper connects to the wheelwell) is a screw which secures the bumper to the body of the car.  The screws go upwards, and both (one on each side) must be extracted.  Once this is done, the bumper can be loosened (although not completely removed), and the horn accessed (I'm told that to completely remove the bumper, there are some screws on the bottom of the bumper that need to be removed - this might be a good idea, as not to put unneeded stress on those screws).  Remove the OEM horn from the extension bar; put the replacement horn in its place; wire the ground to chassis and the positive wire to the existing horn wire (be sure to insulate the positive wire connections so that there aren't any short circuits if water gets in there).
Leather steering wheel wrapModerate
1.50 hrs
They're serious when they say to make the stitches tight!
License PlatesEasy
.50 hrs
My license plates are covered by a flat, plastic cover (front is smoke, rear is clear), and surrounded by a black, metal frame.  The top two screws are black hex screws, thereby making the plates hard(er) to remove.  Each of those components costs only a few bucks.  I duct-taped the top, bottom and sides of the license plate to the plastic cover to keep out water.
Mesh front grillModerate
1.00 hr
I was inspired to try this mod from this website.  I tried a few different methods, but I believe the easiest way to do this modification is using a black flexible plastic rain gutter mesh, with less than 1/2 inch diamond openings.   I was able to find a 6" by 20' roll a local hardware store for about $3.00.  I used the smallest size black cable ties (use the smallest kind, linked in pairs) to secure the mesh to the existing front grill in ten different places.  Then I cut the mesh to size (actually just a tad larger, so that it has a bit of a curve).
Mud guardsModerate
1.00 hr
These rubbery molded guards provide style and some protection from the elements.  They install using the screws and mounts that come with the guards.  The front guards install very easily, but the rear guards require some extra effort to put in a screw behind the rear tires.   You will need an angle screwdriver for this installation.
Radar detectorModerate
1.00 hr
Run the grounding wire to the chassis, and the positive wire along the dashboard to the left hand side of the dash.  To run the wire inside the panel, remove the screw at the top of the left side panel and the upwards-pointing screw from near the coin holder.  Loosen the side panel, and route the wire behind this panel, down towards the fuses.  Remove the fuse door, and remove the MIN 10 AMP Accessory fuse.  Using a MIN Fuse Tap ($2 at Kragen), wire the positive lead from the radar detector to the top lead of the fuse.  This will power-on the detector when the car is turned on.
Scotchguard� fabricEasy
.25 hr
Strut Tower BarEasy
.25 hr
The shock towers on your car are the two things under your hood (and there are two more in the rear) that rise nearly to the hood on both the left and right of the engine, about halfway between the grille and the firewall. Attached to these (on the underside) are your shock absorbers (seen as two bolts from the top side).  This part of the car absorbs many of the bumps and stresses of the road, yet there is no connecting material between the two towers.  This is remedied by connecting the two shock towers together with a strut tower bar.  The bar I choose was made by Neuspeed. There are connecting bolts on the tower in the places corresponding to the pre-drilled holes on the strut tower bar.  I did have to move a "pump relay" box 90 degrees, but that was quite easy.  There are other types of "bars" which you can install, such as a lower rear tie bar and roll/sway bars.   I'm told these aren't necessary unless you are racing.   UPDATE:  After installing the bar, I noticed a rattling sound when braking and at low-RPM idling.  I wrapped the bar with thin foam padding, and that seems to have eliminated the rattling.
.25 hr
I used two hose clamps to secure the extension to the existing tailpipe.
Tinted rear three windowsn/aHave this professionally done at a place where they "bake" on the tint, which prevents bubbling.  Only go to an establishment which has a lifetime warranty.  If you are in the South Bay Area, I highly recommend California Auto Tinting & Polishing (408) 370-9399.
Valve stem capsEasy
.25 hr
$2 at Kragen for the chrome ones.
Wheel well trimModerate
1.00 hr
OEM parts from B.C. Imports.


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