Honda Car Stuff

A couple notes on the old Honda Civic:

I just changed the bulb for the right headlamp. I had noticed the low-beam wasn’t working back in late May, but hadn’t gotten around to changing the thing until now. I was careful not to drive this car at night, so it wasn’t that much of an issue. Unfortunately, the previous ricer kid owners had put in some sort of blue-ish lamps and had lost/damaged/screwed-up the plastic mount. They had fixed it with a wad of duct tape. Replacing the bulb involved carefully peeling back the duck tape, finding the headlamp bulb fancy bulb had melted a little, chipping away the melted bits with a screw driver, then prying off the bulb, all before putting the new, regular bulb in place and carefully refastening the wad of duct tape. (Note the gunky prongs on the bad bulb.) The back of the headlamp has to be dealt with at some point, but I have two lights in front now.

More seriously, when I was coming back from judo the day Thursday before we left for Alaska, I heard a horrible screeching noise coming from the back of the car as I was turning onto Detroit just outside the rec center. Pulling aside and looking, there was this arm (formerly) attached to the right rear wheel that was now dragging on the ground. The judo instructors were leaving just behind me, and helped me get the car into the West Boulevard RTA parking lot across the street, so I wouldn’t be in the street anymore. By the time I got it into spot, that wheel was visible tilted in from the top. I called Grace and I called AAA for a tow.

Note that car advice from passing kibitzers is very bad. One guy took a look and thought it was a brake issue, and thought I could make the 4-mile drive home, though I should watch out for potholes. The main judo instructor correctly noted that I had basically lost a wheel, and I was in no position to drive. He said a flatbed tow would be necessary.

The tow took a while — flatbed tow trucks are apparently in high demand — and the judo guys checked up on me about 30 minutes into the wait. Grace had gotten there by then, and we were just sitting around, watching the buses go by. An RTA police car had also driven by to see if everything was alright, though some pesky kids were bothering me for a screwdriver to fix their bikes even though I was obviously on the phone trying to arrange the tow. I didn’t understand what AAA meant by “tow services” and hadn’t arranged for a service station to receive the car, so we spent a good chunk of time after the tow truck arrived trying to get in touch with Motorcars Honda to see if we could bring the car to the downtown service center. We never got in touch with anyone, and the best thing was to tow the car there and stop by early in the morning to arrange for service. I rode with the good natured tow truck driver and would hit the keyless remote whenever a pothole set off the car’s alarm. I gave the guy a big tip; we had held him up for a while and he was nice about it.

After dropping Grace off at the hospital in the morning, I got to the service center just as they were opening. One of the appointment guys there had seen the car and had hanging arm seen dangling arm and how it had gouged into the concrete as the car was being unloaded from the tow truck. He knew someone was coming by, probably early. Since we were leaving for Vancouver the next day, I told them to take their time and get the cheaper (but not immediately available) Honda replacement part. They kept the car on premises until we got back, without charging us storage fees (the guy said that they’re only going to get annoyed if someone dumps a car there for days without telling them when they were going to pick up).

strutTotal repairs were around $800, for the bolt on the arm, as it worked its way loose, gouged out the unibody, and the mechanic there had to do some fabrication to get everything back in place. This part normally doesn’t come loose, and the best explanation is that the ricer kids had loosened the bolt a long time ago trying to install something on the bottom of the car and hadn’t tightened it all the way. The arm had been coming loose for years. It was lucky I was making a slow turn when it came loose, rather than on the highway, and that I was across the street from a parking lot.

The service center noted a few other things that had be taken care of, most notably the CV joints, both of which have broken boots and contaminated bearings. Jack and I will try to take care of this later in the summer, as the joints are now occassionally making the click-click-click sound on turns. There’s also a minor of a fluid leak; the service center would have to clean everything off before they can look for it. Beyond that, the car’s still running reasonably well.

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