Whilst the other cars have been in the spotlight, getting all the love and attention, the poor little Honda has been sitting off to the side, trundling along as the super reliable daily, clocking up the miles.
This was a job I had been putting off for a while, but given I have a four or more hour drive ahead of me tomorrow, It was time to finally replace the spark plugs.
Not to be left out, I finally did some long overdue maintenance on the Fit.
So we have owned our Honda a few years now, I thought it might be time to do a quick review.
Like usual, I was bored yesterday at work, so, like all normal people, I decided to work out the average MSRP of some of the cars I have owned, and some other cars from the same era that were popular.
So, it’s been almost a month since I swapped the standard cabin filter in the Fit out for an Activated Carbon filter. The results?
Previously I have done a write up on how to change the cabin filter in the Swift, so here I am again, changing it in the Honda Fit.
After selling the Skyline I was hanging out for something fun and exciting to drive. I decided something simple, like an Integra Type R would do it. So I went on the trademes and had a look around.
What I found, is what I should’ve ran far, far away from. A DC2 Integra Type R, with a turbo. Now, this isn’t my first rodeo, i have had a turbo ITR before and it was a great car. Drove like a normal ITR but it was stupid fast and made choo choo noises.
This one on trademe, well, it had moderate KM, a stack of receipts, and a lovely Milano Pink paint job. I decided to contact the owner as it was within my spending range, and sure enough the owner convinced me the car was in good shape, drove well, didn’t use or leak anything and only smoked “a little at high RPM”.
I should’ve ran, but instead I was silly. I paid the man, booked the truck, and organised for delivery, all without seeing it myself.
A few days later it arrived at work on the truck, filthy and certainly pink, but it made the right noises.
I wrangled a co-worker to help me take the car home and bring me back to work (as I also had the daily at work so couldn’t drive both home). This drive is where I noticed it wasn’t quite all as it was described. There was a definite misfire under boost, and it smoked like a freight train under most conditions (especially deceleration as I quickly found out).
Got it home, went back to work and just left it. After work I had a go poke over of it to see what I had. The receipts for various work, including the tune at NZEFI and some of the turbo bits.
It was great fun to drive, handled like a gokart and was fairly quick with 320 odd hp on tap. The solid engine mounts are something I never want to experience again though, the whole car was like being in a washing machine on spin cycle. Great for racekar, but crap for anything else.
The clear coat was buggered on the roof and bonnet and the paint was pink everywhere else, so I decided to do my first hardcore paint correction.
Grabbed my DA and the Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound and went to work. Two days of non-stop machine work and the outcome was actually really good. The car was deep red again, with only some patches of pink on the really bad bits of the bonnet. I was pleased. Not sure how long it’ll last though, even with a couple of coats of wax.
After that I decided the car wasn’t for me, it was just too rough and unpleasant to drive (not to mention the whole misrepresentation of sale soured the car for me), so listed it for sale. During this time that it was listed, this happened….
Bastard thing decided it had enough of being a car, and stopped right there, in the forecourt (only after almost dying on the motorway). I was driving along, heading into town to update the warrant. First I noticed was a slight misfire when cruising, which then developed into regular misfires and then an almost complete lack of response when I opened the throttle. I quickly pulled off the motorway and limped into the gas station forecourt.
I had about 1/4 tank gas left, but I wasn’t actually sure how accurate the gauge was. I decided I needed to chuck something in the tank as it might have been low, and I couldn’t make it to BP to get 98, 95 was the best I could get. Chucked $20 in the tank, gauge level went up so can’t be that low. Tried to start, just cranked and cranked until the battery died.
The forecourt attendant came over to see what was happening, I hand him my jump pack and tell him hold it whilst I try to jump the battery. Connect it up, turn the key and *BANG* it lets an almighty backfire out. Attendant shits himself and immediately demands I remove the car from the forecourt. I don’t think he found it as funny as I did.
Pushed the car off to the side and called the towie. An hour later he showed up, and all was well.
Turns out the distributor was corroded from a missing weather seal on the cap, and everything was very worn too. Cleaned it all up, replaced the very worn spark plugs and fuel filter and away it went, driving better than ever. No more misfire, and it started easier too.
I eventually sold the car, went to some kid in Auckland and last I saw it was listed on trademe using my exact listing, both photos and words. He also took it to the drags, and somehow managed to stuff the front bumper too, certainly not as tidy as it was when I sold it.
Glad its gone.
We looked at a few cars in this segment, Toyota BB, Toyota IST, GD Honda Fit, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Cube, Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Insight etc. The criteria was simple, it needed to be reliable, comfortable, auto, small displacement and spacious.
The one car that stuck out for me was a late 2007 build GE8 Honda Fit RS. It was nice to drive, reasonably nippy, had good options and wasnt prone to CVT startup clutch failure like the GD Fit. After much discussion we finally agreed this is the car we would buy. We struck up a deal with the salesman and off we drove.
We were the first owners in NZ, being a fresh import from Japan with 99,000km on the clock. It was tidy, obviously well looked after, but didn’t have any service history (typical for imports).
So far all we have done is regular servicing, and putting on heaps of KM. In the couple of years we have owned it (3 years this year I think) we have put on 40,000km. it absolutely excels at being a daily, and I wouldn’t want anything else.
Being of the Road Sailing (RS) spec, we get the big block 1.5L L15A iVtec engine, with 120hp or so on tap. That power is channelled to the wheels via a CVT box, which can be put into sport or manual modes (where the latter simulates 7 “gears”). The chassis is stiff and solid, and the handling is a lot of fun when driven hard. Head into a corner, begin turn and tap the brakes. The front will duck in and the rear will rotate to follow.
It would certainly benefit from some wider wheels and tyres and lowering, but that would defeat the purpose of it as a comfortable daily. I think with even just lowering it would prove to be a lot of fun to drive.
Unfortunately it hasn’t all been fun and games. When we got the car the first thing we did was service it and do some preventative maintenance. So along with an oil change we had the CVT fluid changed and valve clearances checked and corrected (due to slight noise when cold). We had this done at the local main Honda dealer.
After work I head over to pick the car up as the work had been completed. Pay up, grab the keys and head out. Jump in, try to start the car and its reluctant to start. Finally it does start but doesn’t idle, it’s very lumpy and clearly not well. I shut it off and head in to give the service advisor some grief. Took the loan car home and was told it would be sorted tomorrow.
Once again, the next day I head in after work to pick the car up. This time it starts and idles ok, so I head off on my way. Heading home I notice it’s well down on power though. The next day I head back into Honda, again, and told them I don’t want to see the car again until it’s correctly fixed. Later on that day I get a call saying the car is ready again, and that it was one valve that was slightly out of adjustment (sure sure). I pick the car up and although there is now some valve noise when cold, it drives OK.
I now make sure never to recommend that dealer, as they are just rubbish. Average customer service and clearly their techs aren’t that great either.
The next service was carried out by another Honda dealer, and their customer service and workmanship was miles ahead of the other one. We paid to have the valve clearances done again at this next service, and they’ve been spot on since. It’s also small things like the first dealer not grooming the car (in fact they decided to hose the car down even though I had just machine polished it, and left water spots all over it, making it worse than when it went in), whilst the second dealer did and it left me feeling like more of a valued customer.
The only mods I have done is to fit a double din bluetooth headunit (an OEM unit from a Mitsubishi Triton), and LED bulbs all around. Nothing too major, but it’s handy being able to take calls in the car, and to actually see in the boot at night. Also had the headlamp auto adjustment motor fail, so both were disabled (as shown in the Projects section)
This is our current daily as shortly after we got this the Prelude was sold. We have no intention to sell this any time soon and will probably drive it into the ground eventually. Hoping to make 200,000km in it.
Related Project Links
So this is GRU. After I sold the BMW I had some cash to spare, and one day I came across something on trademe that seemed to be a bargain. It was a CL9 Accord in the middle of nowhere, for very little money. On the plus side, it was a sport model with the OEM bodykit and alloys, and it was 6 speed manual. On the negative side, the bodywork was rough, and the clutch needed replacing (although he said it was still drivable).
So, the better half and I decided to go halves, knowing we could make money on it once we fixed it up. We drive off into the middle of nowhere and meet the seller. He was selling on behalf (apparently), and it was obvious the car had been on a farm all its life. Took it for a test drive and sure enough the clutch was stuffed. It had enough bite to get into gear when stopped, but that was it. I managed to limp it around the test drive and then we discussed price. The car wasn’t as described, it was rougher and I told him this. Said I wasnt going to pay what he was asking. He wasn’t pleased, and it wasn’t until my partner got back in the car to leave that he decided to agree to the lower price.
So I jumped in GRU, and off we went. Insurance was sorted at the side of the road, and we began our couple of hour trek home. Better half in the BMW (AGAIN!), and me in the Accord with no clutch. Having had previous experience in clutchless shifting in the Marina, it didn’t take long to begin seamlessly shifting without the clutch in the Accord. Still have memories of fanging around the Manawatu Gorge, windows down, Bohemian Rhapsody cranking loud, and just enjoying the drive.
Unfortunately that all ended quickly once we hit SH1 just south of Levin, where apparently everyone in the country was returning from a long weekend, and the roads were gridlocked. Now, this sucks at the best of times, but having a clutch which barely works when stopped and doesn’t work when moving sucks worse. At least I could get in and out of gear when stopped, but as soon as I stopped I had to jump into neutral or the car would just keep creeping. It was a very long drive back, and a stressful one at that.
One thing that became apparent when I was driving, was that I wasn’t alone in the car. The skittering of little claws running across the head lining from one side to the other, the smell of urine, and the little black droppings everywhere quickly indicated that I had a resident mouse floating around in the car. I’m not scared of mice so this wasn’t a big deal, but the car did smell unpleasant.
When we got home, I made the call and found a workshop that would replace the clutch for me. Dropped the car in and a couple of days later it was good to go. With the new clutch, the car was awesome. The torque I experienced in my old auto one was just that much stronger with the manual box to control it. It was a great car to drive now, and as a plus, the mouse was nowhere to be found when I got the car back. Obviously it liked the workshop more than my car. I gave it a damn good cleaning, and de-smelled the AC. Came up well.
I also decided to tackle the bodywork. The front lip had a large dent in it and the rear bumper was hanging off and not clipped into the retainers. Wasnt too hard to pull the bumpers off, and realigning the rear was fairly easy although I couldn’t press out the dent that it had in the side of it. The front lip came off easy enough and with heat and some brute force I managed to 90% push the dent out of it. Refitted the bumpers and it looked somewhat better.
We purchased GRU for the sole purpose of reselling once it was fixed, and that’s what we did. Needless to say we made a decent profit on it, even after the expense of the clutch replacement. It went to a nice family in Auckland who no doubt have a great, reliable car now.
Update 8/3/20 – Unfortunately after only a couple of years since I sold it, this car was written off by an insurer.