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Vehicle Maintenance

The Honda Civic died on me yesterday while I was picking up a couple things at the grocery store. I came out and was greeted with the dreaded clicking of a nearly dead battery. As this was the original battery and it has been more than 5½ years, I figured it was time for a new battery. The recent cold spell combined with generally short trips means the battery was rarely fully charged, and the condition of the anode when I popped off the red shield for the jumper cable [fuzzy green] meant that the charging circuit was definitely not optimal.

I figured as long as I was getting a battery I should also replace the wipers [also original] and some new clamps for the jumper cables.

Replacing the battery is a PITA. The guys who designed the system didn’t waste money on cable length, but added a strange 2-inch extension to the main threaded rod that holds the battery in place. It was a two person job, with one person holding the cables out of the way while the other person released all of the hold downs, removed the plastic box, and finally removed the battery. This is definitely not the easy access found under the hood of the cars I worked on when I was younger.

The wiper blades are a continuing project, as I am attempting to locate replacements locally. I can get the passenger’s side, but the driver’s side is four inches longer, and most places don’t carry it, although it is listed. I may have to resort to the ‘Net for that and the cable clamps, because no one seems to want to stock anything that won’t be sold in a month.

I try to buy locally, but the local stores sure don’t make it easy.

4 comments

1 Badtux { 01.03.13 at 1:46 am }

Most modern cars annoy me horribly at how difficult they are to work on. On a Hyundai Accent you have to take off the bumper and the left inner fender to change the headlight bulb and according to my Jeep mechanic it’s a PITA that he’ll charge you a couple hundred dollars to do. Say *wha*?

At least my Wranglers have been stone axe simple to work on. Last time I had to change the headlight bulb it was literally five minutes including finding the bulb in my electricals box, a Torx screwdriver to unscrew/rescrew the housing then returning the Torx screwdriver to the toolbox. (Chiseler does like their Torx-head screws, sigh… at least they don’t strip out as easy as Phillips-head screws tho). When I changed the battery in my old Jeep I removed the two cables and set them aside, unscrewed the retainer clip (that hugs the bottom of the battery via the groove there) with a long-handled screwdriver then used the same screwdriver to push the clip backward, grabbed the handle on top of the battery, and heaved up and towards the pushed-backward clip to get it out of the (fixed) rear retainer clip. It popped right out. Something to be said for old school, though I must admit that the cost of gas makes me look lustfully at something like a Prius…

2 Bryan { 01.03.13 at 5:14 pm }

When I changed the headlight on my Mother’s Saturn, it was a quarter turn by hand of the socket and then swap the bulb, and a quarter turn to put it back. You did need to check to see of the sealing washer was still good, but that was it.

Working on Compaqs put Torx in my tool box, and the Saturn used some, but they are better that Phillips-head, as you note. Electrical equipment is changing to square drive for a lot of things now.

Getting to the battery in a VW Bug was a PITA, but after you got the rear seat up, replacing the battery was easy.

I found the wipers – $50 for the set because that’s cheaper than Honda, and Bosche was the only set that didn’t Mickey Mouse the connection with assorted plastic filler pieces. Honda screws you on the filler strips, expecting you to reuse the metal strips and only supplying the rubber for an outrageous amount of money.

After 5 years you have to expect problems.

3 Badtux { 01.03.13 at 7:03 pm }

Saturn is one of those stories that makes me ridiculously annoyed with American CEO’s. They had a great idea, executed it adequately (not great, but adequately), then… abandoned it in place, eventually turning the brand into a graveyard for cast-off Chevrolet parts. One of the good things to come out of the auto industry bailout is that the morons and idiots who did that all got fired…

4 Bryan { 01.03.13 at 8:30 pm }

My Mother bought the Saturn used and got a trouble free decade out of it before selling it. It would still be going today if a clown in an SUV hadn’t blown through a stop sign and creamed it. The girl who bought it was unhurt but the insurance company totaled the Saturn. The plastic body panels were great and things were easy to get to in the engine compartment.

I had to replace the headliner, a plastic bit for the driver’s side power window, one battery, four tires, and a few light bulbs. It never left her stranded. She wanted a new one when she decided on the Honda. The problem was that the nearest dealer was 50 miles away, and GM was talking about shutting down the factory. It was a good car with amazing owner loyalty, but the management blew it. They just couldn’t accept solid, consistent income, everything had to have unrealistic profits.