1995 Honda Civic VX Stuff

Bought: June 2007
Sold: August 2010

Engine: VTEC-E 1.5L 4-cyl (D15Z1)
Tranny: 5-speed manual
Tires: 195/70-R13 Rocky Mountain
Wheels: 13x5 Honda VX alloys

Special Features:
Blown engine (head gasket)
Clogged Radiator
192k miles
Sand Blasted Windshield
Expired Air Freshener
Brown Steering Wheel Cover
Kenwood AM/FM/CD receiver

Things I did to it:
New Engine Seals
New Radiator

Tires: 205/40-R16 Nitto NeoGen
Wheels: 16x7 MB Seven X
Madico 35/20% window tint
JVC AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo
Spectre Performance Cold-Air Intake
JDM driving lights
JDM Sport steering wheel
JDM Sport removeable steering hub
'98 Acura Integra seats
10" subs in custom boxes
200watt 2-channel amp w/X-over
OEM center console/armrest
Custom Hatch Cover

Future Plans:
Hills Bros 'performance' exhaust tip
Cool custom paint


Newest pictures of the car - 6 Jan 2008

Cleaned up poser pictures - 15 July 2008

Sometime in June 2007 - I did some math the other day and discovered that I'm pushing roughly $1800 per year through my gas tank in the Ram as a daily commuter. And of course, that's at $3.00/gallon - which could change.

After riding with my pal Jeff to lunch one day in [then] his car, I was amazed at how much leg and head room there was, and stowed that away for future reference. Well, Jeff's been having some issues with the car lately (overheating, mostly) and it finally died on him on the way to work the other day. He took it to a mechanic and they told him that the cheapest thing that could've happened to the engine was a blown head gasket, and it would run over $450 to repair. Well, I offered to help him repair it, since a head gasket kit is a whole $25. He's had enough and thought about just selling it for salvaged. And I remembered that I wouldn't mind having something to commute with that was a little more thrifty. We talked and I offered him $800 for it... and he took it.

It's a pretty decent little car - not spotless inside or anything, typical years of use showing. However, the body's straight except for a minor dent and a few dings in the driver's side door - typical parking lot abuse. It has some normal wear on the seats - but not terrible. It has a nice Kenwood AM/FM/CD stereo and all the glass is in good shape along with new front tires and decent rears. It's also sportin' the 8-spoke VX alloy wheels and has a 1.5 VTEC-E engine - D15Z1. I'm thinking a pretty good wash and wax job will have it lookin' spiffy again.

Here's a couple of shots of it shortly after I got it home and tore it all apart.  I put the hood back on it for the pictures, and you can see the cylinder head on the table in front of the car in the bottom picture.

Oh yeah - almost forgot... here's the tally on cost to repair so far:

$800 - original purchase price
$220 - first trip to O'Reilly's for the following:
- Complete cylinder head seal & gasket kit
- OEM Radiator
- Replacement coolant hoses
$177 - cost of having the head rebuilt by the machine shop
$336 - last trip to O'Reilly's for the following:
- OEM Air Filter
- Fuel Filter
- Oil Filter
- Gallon of Mobil1 Synthetic 30W50
- Gallon of Prestone coolant
- NGK V-Power platinum spark plugs
- 8mm spark plug wires
- OEM muffler
- Muffler clamps
- 4' of 3/8" fuel line (for making new smaller coolant lines)
- hose clamps
- Cast Aluminum spray paint (2 cans)
- O'Reilly's engine degreaser (2 cans)
- Chilton's Repair Manual
- Spiffy leather steering wheel cover
- Metric feeler gauges (for setting valve lash)
- Tub of Gojo hand-cleaner
- a couple of other things I'm sure I missed

Total so far: $1533

Cost of being able to do this myself and having a cool friend to help with the repairs: Priceless

So I'm pretty much on-track to getting all that investment back within two years of daily commuting with the Honda, rather than the Ram.

I'm sure I'll cheat and drive the Ram to work now and then - but Hey - I do the same with the Jeep as it is anyway.

I've also been snooping around on eBay and scored a tilt-steering column for $44 ($20, $24 shipping). I've got a couple of items on 'Watch' for the next few days: JDM OEM Driving Lights (complete kit including harness and OEM switches/relays), computer-cut 20% window tint, and a center console storage bin (mine lacks this). Once I get those little niceties out of the way, I've also got a 200watt 2-channel amp and 2 10" subs that should compliment the spiffy Kenwood AM/FM/CD deck.

Then it'll be a matter of using some painting tactics to spiff it up a little more.

I am planning on pop-riveting a painted Hills Bros coffee can to the muffler tip - just to piss off the ricer crowd. I won't go as far as a cardboard body kit and plywood rear wing though.

This page will be my official journal on how things go with the car. Stay tuned.

17 June 07 - Got the Honda together, fired it up, and drove it around - terrorizing the neighborhood with my 'hole-in-the-muffler, rice-rocket-fart-cannon-wannabe' sound.

Actually, from inside the car, it kinda sounds pretty cool.

BUT! I have a new OEM muffler on the way and it should be here this week sometime.

All that remains is some tweaking of the engine (timing, idle speed, and the like), then some heavy-duty cleaning to get rid of the Previous Owner's funk - both inside and out.

And despite the Previous Owner's complaints of over-heating, even after letting the car idle in the driveway while I poked and prodded the throttle body (adjusting the idle), the temp gauge never rose over 1/3, and I did observe the cooling fan kicking on and off at regular intervals. Bonus! Funny what a new radiator will do for the flow of coolant.
21 June 07 - Pulled the decrepid muffler off this evening... and left the 'welded' inlet pipe on the car-side of the exhaust system. Suffice it to say, the muffler's shot, since it left half its guts on the ground. Found out it was a universal muffler, and the OEM unit I picked up is quite a bit different. The last person that installed the muffler had to cut some length out of the inlet pipe to accomodate the longer universal muffler. So I picked up an extension pipe tonight when I went back to the parts store for a WTF concerning the difference in the old and new units.

I also was able to score a set of the correct plug wires (the ones they sold me last Saturday don't quite fit into the boots like the original set did). I took the original wires with me and we discovered that they are for a 1.6 engine - which is bizarre, because they fit my 1.5 VTEC-E engine... not the 1.6 VTEC engine. Apparently, some of the parts they have listed for the 1.5 VTEC-E engine don't fit right for whatever reason.

No biggee - I'll just take the part number off the boxes and keep them handy for the next time I might need them.

Still gonna pop-rivet that coffee can onto it when I install it.
22 June 07 - OK - I got the muffler on today. Went on like a champ, and without any extra clamps or other tailpipe extensions or other nonsense like that. Nice and quiet too.

BUT - since Jim was helping me, and making all sorts of comments about my coffee-can faux-fart-cannon idea, I elected to put that off til another day. It's gonna happen though - and I will post pictures.

Followed the directions in the Chilton's manual, shorted the two-prong plug to the ECM, and cringing in anticipation of the ECM going up in flames, timed the car. It's running like a champ now. YES!!!

Took it on the road, first to the gas station. Apparently, Jeff had run the gas down to the scary level just above 'E.' And after 7.8 gallons in the tank (just over $21), it's now comfortably on 'F.'

Drove it 'like I stole it' for about 24 miles putzing around today, and the needle hasn't left the 'F-zone' yet... I could get used to this.

Went out to the base and visited the Auto Hobby Shop's tools in their storage slumber and fired up the A/C Servicing unit to pull down, leak-check, and re-charge the A/C. It has a full charge, but it's not cooling as well as it should. So, the next task is to evacuate the 134a, flush the lines (it might have too much oil in the system), install a new expansion valve, and try again. Maybe next weekend or something.

After watching the race and mowing the lawn, I took the car to the coin-op car wash for some love. 2 hours later, I've removed most of the previous owner's funk (both inside and out) sufficiently to begin driving it to work. I'm still going to need to buff out the paint to remove the bad spots from the coolant leaks when the heater hoses popped, but it cleaned up pretty well for an $800 turd with a blown engine, and actually looks pretty decent. A guy at the car wash offered me $1500 for it on the spot.

Sorry pal... it's gonna take a lot more than that now.
27 June 07 - I was so pissed when I got the registration done. Apparently, the new Texas law concerning private sales and title transfers calls for the fair market value (as determined by TXDOT) for tax assessment. So I had to pay taxes on $2382.00 worth of vehicle. I challenged the pudgy ditz behind the counter, asking her if she would've paid that much for a 12-year-old car with a blown engine. She said no. I asked, "Then why am I being forced to?" Of course, she said that that's just the way the law is and she didn't write it, blah-blah-blah. I think I remember saying they should go ahead and get an extra box of donuts next week since it's pretty much 'on me.' Which was met with a dirty look... but I already had my paperwork in-hand and left. $181 to title-transfer an $800 car. And the registration expires in September! She wouldn't let me register it (so I could be done with this whole thing for the next year) early, because they only allow early registration 2 months out... and this was 3 months out. Freaken thievery is what it is. Oh well. It's done now.

Had the windows tinted today. The rear hatch was much too convex for my abilities - even after I read up on how to 'heat-shrink' window tint for that seamless application. I had found an eBay auction for computer-cut window tint for roughly $25.00 shipped. It did not say what kind of tint film was involved, and it was all 20% - which is illegal on the front side passenger windows, according to Federal limitations.

So I took the car to Tuff Shine and only paid $119 for the convenience of not having to do it myself, not having to learn and experiment with the heat-shrink technique, and the fact that they use Madico film - which is the best in the automotive applications. And there's also a lifetime warranty against defects and poor installation. Window film isn't guaranteed against normal wear and tear... but I've never had any film bubble and go bad like I've seen on so many other cars. But we'll see.

I'll post pictures soon - it almost looks like a different car now, being clean and having tinted windows.

Next up is fixing the A/C. It seems like the expansion valve may be the culprit, so I need to evacuate the refrigerent and work out the bugs. Also need to find out why the A/C signal is not bumping up the fast idle when the compressor kicks on. Otherwise, the car's running like a champ.

My wife also scored a center-console w/armrest while on eBay as well. Now I'll have a place for nit-noids, since it has nothing currently.

Then it'll be painting the wheels. I've seen lots of cars the past few days sportin' painted and polished wheels - so I've decided to go for it. A couple of cans of black engine enamel, clear coat, and some hand polishing should have them looking the way I want. Thankfully, they're only 13" wheels - so it shouldn't be too bad.

Somewhere in there, I'll break in the new table saw by building a box for the subs and install it along with one of the numerous amps living in the garage.

This is kinda fun, actually.
3 July 2007 - Just filled up from 1/4 tank yesterday - 6.6 gallons in all. The odometer was at 183.6 miles traveled.

Little more than 28 mpg - not too bad considering all the time spent idling while working on the A/C, and the fact that I'm driving it like a crazy-man because it's something new, fun, and different.

I can see some increase on the horizon as I settle down, finish tweaking everything, and get the final adjustment on the valve-lash squared away.
6 July 2007 - OK - I pulled the lower dash panel yesterday (driver side) and found out that the electric controls for the HVAC are on that side. So I moved over to the passenger side and pulled the glove box. Lo and Behold! There's the temperature control cable and guess what - it was WAY out of adjustment. I took care of that (it's too simple because they 'secured' it by snapping it into a clip - yeah, like that's going to really hold it in place. Oh well. It's fixed now, and blowing cold air. Not Arctic Cold air, but most definitely MUCH colder air than last weekend after recharging it. BONUS!

Also received the new prestine center console/armrest in the mail yesterday. It's actually gray in color, so I scored a can of Duplicolor Vinyl/Fabric paint, so I should be able to get the new center console installed before the end of the weekend between the rest of my chores.

Now I just need to rub out the paint, give it a monster wax job, install the 'performance' exhaust tip, pull the whole front end off to install the cool JDM projector driving lights, and work on the wheels at some point.
25 July 2007 - The Check Engine Light (CEL) has been on this whole time, and I had a feeling I knew why. It's never idled like it's supposed to - with the rpms dropping by like 500 when the A/C compressor kicks on (yeah - it's that bad). And to combat that 'effect,' I had to "set the idle" (by re-positioning the throttle cable) to 750 with the A/C running... which would cause the non-A/C idle shoot up to 1350-1400. I also ran across a cool online repair manual for the car, and discovered how to engage the diagnotic mode of the ECU, and get the CEL to emit 'flash' codes, indicating possible problems.

The flash code I've been receiving happened to be '14,' which indicates a bad Idle Air Controller (IAC). So, after cleaning the Hell out of the throttle body and later the IAC, I had no change in how the car runs, so I ordered a new IAC - to the tune of $194! Which is damn near 25% of what I paid for the car initially!! Holy Crap!! Now I remember why I hate import cars.

Anyhoo - I got the new part and I'll be installing it sometime within the next few days, and hopefully extinguish the CEL for the time-being (until something serious happens later).

26 Jul 2007 - The new IAC did the trick - runs much better now and actually seems a little zippier off the line... even with the A/C running.

The only CEL flash code left to tackle is the Intake Air Temperature sensor.

28 Jul 2007 - I got the Air Charge Temp Sensor swapped out, and the CEL is now off. Runs a little 'different' now too... and I'm not sure I particularly like the way it runs now either. The sensor I replaced was completely fried - a big blob of blackened plastic on the end of the probe that lives inside the intake manifold... which most likely happened when the previous owner overheated the crap out of the engine.

Now I have a 'new' light that comes on at weird times. It seems totally random, but I did notice it comes on about 1200-1500 rpms before I usually grab the next gear, and then goes off again when I push in the clutch. I think I've heard this phenomena referred to as an 'upshift' light. Man, is that annoying. It didn't seem to be working when the CEL was on.

16 August 2007 - I got fed up with the 'upshift' light and the new weirdness that came with it - so I unplugged the Intake Air Temp Sensor (which brought back the CEL and put the ECU into 'limp' mode - no jokes about that, please...) and the car actually runs better. Or at least it runs better regarding the way I drive - more power and no weird 'governing' sensations when the upshift light's on. More troubleshooting is in order I guess... or maybe I'll just learn to live with the CEL on.

Installed my JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) driving lights... well, the 'wanna-be' JDM driving lights I got off eBay. You truly do get what you pay for - they're not bright at all. Oh well - they look nice, anyway.  The installed lights can be seen on the pictures at the top of the page, but here's what it looks like when you pull the entire nose cover off just to wire up some lights.

While I had the nose cover off, I discovered a factory-installed plastic block-off panel that was covering the entire A/C condenser and part of the radiator as well.  Since the A/C system won't cool without air flowing over the condenser, I yanked that panel right out of there.  When the system's fully charged, you'll freeze... providing the car's moving.  The little engine doesn't do so well with the A/C on sitting at idle... but oh well - it's an econo-box after all.  'Some' A/C is better than 'No' A/C, after all.

I also discovered an oil leak. Well, seep is more like it. It appears to be the oil pan gasket, based on the seepage I found underneath the car. It began leaving a 6" mark in the driveway and I get a burnt oil smell when I'm done driving it. So, I jacked it up onto jack stands, slid under, and cleaned any oil evidence from the underside. Then I started the car and let it run for like 40 minutes - nothing. Not a drip. After it cooled down, I slid under again and nothing... nada... no evidence of seepage at all. F00kin' thing. Now - 2 days later - burnt oil smell and I think I'm leaving spots again. No biggee though - the oil pan is pretty much accessible with no cross-member in the way - so changing it will be almost as easy as doing the Jeep's pan gasket... but no lift at the Auto Hobby Shop this time.

While I was waiting for things to cool down, I installed a nice 2" chrome exhaust tip - nothing obnoxious. I nix'd the coffee can idea for now.

I also called my insurance company and inquired about getting a new windshield based on poor visibility from all the years of neglect and poor maintenance. I explained that the glass didn't seem too bad when I bought the car, but after the first rain storm, the wipers brought out some scratches that I cannot see through when driving into the sun... let alone barely see through it at all under ideal conditions. The claims guy didn't seem like he was buyin' it though. I explained that I was calling to ask their policy because I've heard of fradulent claims of people getting new stuff because they wanted it, and didn't necessarily need it. I told him if it wasn't claim-worthy that I would understand - I just didn't feel right about tossing a brick at it and claiming it later, because that's kinda dishonest. He put me on hold for 10 minutes.

They hooked me up - I get a new windshield the following Monday..

25 August 2007 - Now I get to troubleshoot something completely unrelated to the engine I resurrected in the Honda - I've got a nifty new noise coming from what sounds like the right rear wheel. It's kind of a cycling noise that increases and decreases in frequency and loudness with the speed of the car.

Could be a wheel bearing. Could be a tire (since it IS the odd-ball tire out of the bunch, after all). Could be something wrong with the brakes at that corner.

I haven't been into the brakes yet, and I do have some pulsing in the pedal when I'm hard on the brakes, so it looks like a brake job is due aside from the issue with the right rear.

Considering how fast the noise has been 'getting worse,' I'm going to wager on the bearings - because it's the most difficult task of the bunch, and since the tire is in fact a tad smaller than the others, it would realisitically have more miles on it than the others - along with the bearings having more wear than the others as well.

Whatever the case, I parked it until I get a chance to fix it... meaning I'm driving the Ram full-time again - which is a joy and kinda weird too. It almost literally feels like driving a Monster Truck now. I never thought I'd ever feel 'not used' to driving the Ram. Weird.

27 August 2007 - The wheel bearing turned out to be bad. If you've ever hand-turned a DC-powered electric motor, you'll know exactly how it felt when I turned it by hand - kind of a stepped feeling as it rotated. So, my intuition paid off this time. So far, so good with this car.

I did some checking online and found the complete hub assembly (wheel bearings, seals, everything) at O'Reilly's for $78 - in stock. So, Saturday afternoon I got the back end of the car in the air (on jack stands, of course), pulled the wheels, pulled the drums and found some very normal looking brake shoes with lots of life on them... and the same of the drums (both sides). When I went to pull the hub assembly, I realized I didn't have the right sized socket for the spindle nut. So, since I needed to go to the parts store anyway, I figured I'd just pick up the right one and I'd have it for next time if necessary.

Since the tire on the right rear was an odd-ball size & brand (smaller, too), I swung by Discount Tire to see if they could order a new tire of the right size (and brand too, hopefully). Well, they could order one, but they actually had one in stock... and had it mounted & balanced in about 15 minutes... for only $46 with road hazard. Bonus! Now all the tires even match.

Got to the parts store and had Jason pull the part - just like the one on the car (of course, I gave him the part number...). Also had him get me a new spindle nut, since the online repair manual says not to reuse them. Since I got a new spindle nut, now I knew the size of the socket I'd need too - so I grabbed a 36mm specialized socket and a couple cans of house-brand brake cleaner. It was getting hot, so I bailed for the day, hung out and watched the first boring Bristol race I'd ever seen.

Sunday morning I got out there and decided to finish it off. Unfortunately, Jason (the parts guy) struck again. Not only was the spindle nut he gave me much too big, the $14 specialized socket I bought to take the old one off was too. Crap! So I called Jim, who was busy mowing his MIL's lawn, so I waited around for him to finish - I was bored, so I cleaned the drums and seal caps and painted them black. About 10 minutes before he showed up, my neighbor across the alley was picking on me for working on that car again, and I asked if he had a 1 1/4" socket - and he did and offered it up. Within 5 minutes, I had the spindle nut off, the hub swapped and was ready to put the old nut back on when Jim pulled up. He checked out my work, blessed it, and I put the rest of it back together.

Went back to the parts store and returned the oversized spindle nut and socket, and got a 1 1/4" socket for the tool kit. Pretty sad to think that I could've had the whole thing done in about an hour if I'd had the right tool to begin with.

Oddly enough, swapping out the wheel bearing and getting a matching tire also quieted down the interior noise quite a bit as well - so an extra bonus.

11 November 2007 - OK, it's been awhile since I've updated this, but suffice it to say, the car's running better even though it's leaking a little oil. OK - maybe a little more than just a little.

The eBay 'performance chip' upgrade that I ordered turned out to be a 3300 ohm resistor that you're supposed to plug into the IAT (Intake Air Temperature) sensor socket instead of the IAT itself. But Nope. The Check-Engine Light never went away, and there was nothing noteable with the performance.

One thing that I've done since all that was look into the Cold-Air Intake systems. Everybody raves about them, although I was less than enthusiastic. Rather than pay $180+ for a K&N kit, I found a display at O'Reilly Auto Parts for a modular CAI - a whole bunch of parts to build your own CAI. Since the throttle body was WAY smaller than anything the 'kit' offered, I left the stock air tube on (all the way to the factory air box). After grabbing a coupler, a 6" length of tube, and it's corresponding cone-style air filter. I removed the factory air box and installed the new parts, and the engine really seemed to wake up. Of course, if you hammer the throttle, you can hear the engine sucking in tons of air, but it actually moves along much quicker now.

Actual price: $49

Which brings us to the issue of the oil leak. I figured that since we hadn't cranked down the torque on the head bolts, that maybe between that and the gouge I put in the head gasket (albeit not in a critical location), might've caused the oil leak. As it turns out, 2 weekends ago, Jemezman and I pulled the head, swapped out the head gasket, and had it all back together in about 4 hours. Even with an hour or so of picking up some furniture from an estate sale his wife wanted mixed in there. Easy as pie to work on this car.

Unfortunately, it had zero impact on the oil leak, but I now have the peace of mind that the head gasket is pristine, as well as the head is torqued on properly. Now, we're looking at the oil filter adapter, and/or the oil pressure sending unit being the culprit, since the leakage has not subsided.

We also discovered that there's a distinct possibility that the PCV was not re-installed when I put it all back together the first time. We don't remember having to go through all the pain of hooking it back up from the last time, so it's a distinct possibility - that, and it's running like a champ right now. Between that, and the new home-made CAI, the little car's running awesome. Once I get the oil leak under control, I think I'll be in good shape.

All that's really left is to finish cleaning/waxing, get some seat covers, and dump a couple of subs and an amp in there to flesh out the stereo a little.

I did happen to see some really nice (cheap) rims at Pep Boys when I was in San Antonio this past week... and even though I know I'm not supposed to be thinking along these lines, I might see what happens if my position gets upgraded as has been promised. Or maybe even might make a nice Birthday present... you only turn 40 once, after all... and I guess this is as close to a mid-life crisis car as I'm going to get.

Here's what I'm thinking of:

17 November 2007 - Just filled up last week and discovered that all my work has paid off (even though I'm not completely done yet).

Before doing all the work I did last time, I was averaging 185 per tank (8 gallon tank, but since the car's new to me, so I chicken out and fill up around 7 gallons - just barely above 'E'). 185/7=26.4-ish mpg. Not bad, and roughly 220% better gas mileage than the Ram.

This time, 7.1 gallons on 240 miles traveled. 240/7.1=33.8-ish mpg. All of this with increased performance at minimal cost (better acceleration, no lag when the A/C is running, and all sensors plugged in and functioning properly - finally) and me driving it like I stole it.

Didn't know the ol' pile had it in 'er - 192,400 miles and counting.

I caved in Monday night and ordered some seat covers (black/black simulated leather and vinyl) as well as decided to do something about raking my right leg on the steering wheel every time I get in and out of the car. I ordered a Momo-like racing steering wheel (complete with removeable hub)... it should be here by next weekend hopefully.

I also just floated the idea about getting the cool rims & tires (shown above) by the wife, and she said, "Well, if that's what you want for your birthday..." (I didn't hear a "No" anywhere in there... icon_biggrin.gif )

Ya know - this car is actually kinda fun!

1 December 2007 - I've been talking about doing this for a long time now, but I finally got my new steering wheel with the detachable hub last week. Today, I had the chance to put it in.

Here's a shot of the stock wheel before I got too much stuff taken apart - I already had the steering column cover removed at this point:

After about 10 minutes with the battery off to make sure the airbag didn't blow up in my face, I pulled the airbag cover from the wheel, attached the 'shorting' plug to the wheel plug (to make sure static electricity doesn't inadvertantly set it off). The airbag cover is the big 'H' shaped thing in the middle. Two bolts, and it's off. Then it's a matter of pulling the center steering wheel nut. There's also a 'cable reel,' known as a clock spring in some circles, and it was all down to the stump. After playing around with how to assemble the hub and everything for about an hour (no instructions), I finally got it all put together.

Here's the finished product, with the wheel installed:

There's a small push-button on the top of the hub, and the ring rotates counter-clockwise and then you pull the wheel straight off. Exactly the opposite to reinstall. This is what it looks like with the wheel removed:

The only bummer is that in order to remove the airbag and install the new wheel, I had to pretty much unplug the entire wiring harness to the wheel and remove it. Unfortunately, the lead for the horn is in that harness, so I need to come up with something to wire up the horn button. I 'ohmed out' the right trace on the ribbon cable and figured out which lead on the airbag harness supplies the horn button, so putting together a new power lead for the horn shouldn't be a big deal. Hopefully.

The whole reason for this is not because I want to rice out the car even more, but because I'm 6'5", it's a major PITA to get in and out of the car, raking my right leg on the bottom of the stock steering wheel, and almost making the fenderwell flew a little trying to straighten my leg out enough for it to slide under. Now, the steering wheel by itself makes it much nicer to slide in and out because it's actually 3 or more inches smaller in diameter than the stock wheel. And there's the cool detachable hub thing as well. No more hassle with that.

Plus, the wheel feels a lot sportier. I liked the stock wheel just fine, and having the added benefit of the airbag was a nice feeling. But let's be honest, if I crash this car, my odds of surviving are slim anyway - nothing like my chances in the Ram. When I crashed my wife's Grand Am, there were no airbags in the car, and I did just fine. So we'll just hope for the best.

This was also the least gawdy wheel I found that had the detachable hub option. I might look into something a little different down the road - this one was cheap enough that I can afford to get something a little nicer later if I want to - it's not the greatest of quality either. And the red stitching is a little too much... time to whip out the Sharpie.

2 January 2008 - After having been authorized the purchase of the cool new rims and tires, Discount Tire came through and hooked up the car.  Pictures are at the top of the page.

BTW - the oil leak was solved by ordering some new VTEC module seals from some place out of the Phillipines via their eBay store. Pretty sad - the seals are dealer-only items... or else you have to get them from some place online. Even with shipping from the Phillipines, they were still almost half the cost of buying through the stealership.

Sometime in January, I scored the front seats out of a '98 Acura Integra and had some hassle via eBay with the butthole that sold them. He essentially charged me $75 to ship each seat, and then only taped them up in a couple of garbage bags - and tried to black out the price on the shipping tags (a little forensic work discovered he was only charged $41.00 each to ship). Bastard.

The seats showed up about a month after purchase, and if not for some honest postal workers, I wouldn't have even received one of the headrests, since it had worked its way out of the bag it was initially in - the mailman actually handed it to my wife after he brought the seats to the door.

A few days later, I decided to swap out the seats. The only issues I had were the outer rear mounts on both seats were flat (I'm guessing the Teg's are like that), but a couple of quick shots with the BFH had them smashed down to where they were supposed to be in a few seconds.

Here's the main reason I wanted new seats:

This side's not so bad, but if ya don't do 'em both... you're a dork:

Rawkin' It Bubba Smith-style (Hightower from Police Academy... nevermind):

Here's the new seats installed  Yes, I vacuumed all the funk from the previous picture before putting the new ones in:

And one from the business side:

And while I was at it (since the seats went in WAY too quick - I was planning on it taking all day... like when I do anything 'simple' with my Jeep), I decided to do something about the mess in the hatch:

I saw a used hatch cover on eBay for only $65... screw that. I had a half sheet of masonite laying around...

I had to run and pick up some adhesive so I could stick the carpet down. If I would've been able to get those black Teg seats I wanted a few months back (with the rear seats also), it would look better... but I'm happy:

The weird pattern in the carpet is from the flash reflecting off the glass. It fits a little tight - I should've trimmed the masonite a little more, but oh well. I used a piece of cardboard for the pattern, then traced it onto the masonite and used a jigsaw to cut it out. Took a whole 30 minutes to get the pattern right then cut it out, and about another 15 to mount up the carpet.

Masonite: Free (can't remember how much I paid for it years ago, so we'll just call it free)
Adhesive: $7.49
Roll of Automotive Carpet: $20

Not having to pay $65 for a used cover on eBay: Priceless