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Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Civic disobedience

I'm tempted to get another Spitfire so I'd have a reliable daily driver.

Just kidding, but the Civic has been really getting on my nerves lately. Today I had one of the mounting ears crack off the starter. OK, so I had been horsing around with some things that might have made the engine kick back a little when I cranked it once, but it was quite a shock to turn the key and hear the starter spinning freely. Sounded sort of like a vacuum cleaner. Luckily Honda starters are somewhat like (stock) slant six starters in that you can just unbolt it without even lifting the car up and drop a new one in.

But last week I managed to discover that the Civic had been the victim of a crazy previous owner (not the guy I bought it from, but whoever had it before him, apparently) who had managed to inflict a hack job brake repair that's up there with the lamp cord wiring in the Spitfire I used to have. He gets a special prize for managing to make a creative hack job look like the car left the factory that way - right up until you start checking measurements.

About a week ago, the car started making a clunking / clicking noise from the front end. I was kind of sick of wrenching on it (in addition to the radiator and head gasket, I'd also had to deal with a burst heater hose and some other minor nuisances too trivial to post here). So I dropped it off at the Goodyear - Gemini Auto Service in Conyers, Georgia. Ray and the other mechanics deserve a big commendation for putting up with what the problem turned out to be and getting the car back on the road as quickly as they did.

When you hear that it was a clicking from the front end, you're probably thinking, "CV joint," right? Me too. Well, they found the CV joints were perfectly fine. The clicking sound was coming from the brakes, and they found a couple other things so they wanted to do a complete brake job. I said fine.

A couple hours later, Ray called me back and said that they had a problem: The parts they'd ordered only fit on one side of the car. It turns out that the Civic had been in an accident, and somebody rebuilt the suspension with parts they'd found in a junkyard. My Civic is an EX, and the one in the junkyard was a DX. Not too many people pay attention to those letters, so it would be reasonable to think that the parts fit, right? Wrong. My Civic had brakes on one side that were almost a whole inch larger than the brakes on the other side. None of the parts, not even the spindle, matched up between a DX and an EX. How it was able to drive without pulling to one side, I don't know. (And the same goes for why Honda didn't just make the larger brakes standard instead of having to design two separate parts.)

At least it's back to normal now.


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