On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Been Busy

My Mother bought a new car. She does this about every ten years, and she was looking at the Honda Fit, figuring it would be more fuel efficient than her gas-guzzling 1996 Saturn that only gets 35mpg on the highway.

Well, the Fit is smaller, but it doesn’t get the mileage that the Civic gets, 38 vs. 40mpg, so she bought a Civic coupe.

Now she has to sell the Saturn, but it needs the headliner recovered, so I have been fighting with the headliner. After you’ve done it once, it’s a snap, but this sucker has been kicking my butt for four days trying to locate the clips for the trim and figuring out how to take things off without breaking them.

It also meant finding someone with a T-55 Torx bit so I didn’t have to spend $25 for a set. Someone decided that SAE and Metric sockets weren’t generating enough revenue so the seat belts are installed with Torx bolts.

I should be back to normal after tomorrow.


1 Steve Bates { 05.29.07 at 10:30 am }

Bryan, when you’re done, if you’d like another similar challenge, the headliner on my ancient Chevy is gradually falling in front of the rear window. This car is too old to have any actual resale value, so I plan to use duct tape as many times as necessary. Duct tape is a software guy’s solution to many hardware problems. 🙂

2 hipparchia { 05.29.07 at 11:15 am }

aw, heck, steve, just rip out the old headliner and make new one.

3 ellroon { 05.29.07 at 11:35 am }

I was wondering about the Fit as well. Good to know the Civic coupe is better. Slowly working up to getting a new car.

I took my antique Tercel doorcover off to try and fix the front window. Learned a lot about the way windows work, but can’t fix the stripped out gear on the window handle. So I just have to thump the handle to align it occasionally. The plastic in the car is so decayed, every time we slam the door, chunks from the ceiling strips that frame the headliner decorate us. Still drives perkily and it was a gift from a friend, so I will drive it until it blows up (figuratively speaking..)

Love the link to Duct Tape art. I’d use duct tape for the ripped up car seats but it gets so very hot in Southern California that the tape would slide and expose the adhesive. Are there duct tape type things that can handle extreme heat? Haven’t found a seat cover that does those little fold down seats yet…

4 hipparchia { 05.29.07 at 11:52 am }

florida’s hot enough to be glue-unfriendly too. whose stupid idea was it to glue rear-view mirrors to windshields anyway?!

i generally keep cars till they blow up too, sometimes literally speaking. so far my remedy for falling headliners has been to rip them out entirely and my remedy for less-than-perfect upholstery has been to throw blankets or bedsheets over it.

i know, i’m not much help here, but that duct tape art site is great fun.

5 Bryan { 05.29.07 at 1:27 pm }

Steve, it’s probably pretty much the same as the Saturn – a fiberglass board with foam-backed fabric glued to it. If they had provided a little overlap at the front and rear, it wouldn’t fall down. Other than a socket to remove the shoulder belt from the B pillar, all you need is a couple of screwdrivers, a couple of yards of fabric, and some spray on glue. I’m using fleece instead of foam-backed fabric because it’s the foam that disintegrates in the heat, not the glue. If you want a quicker solution, just get a can of textured spray paint and paint it after you strip off the old fabric and foam.

Ellroon, the pastic window parts are a pain because they don’t want to sell you the individual pieces that broke, they want to sell you a kit – $75 because a penny plastic piece broke.

I covered torn seat covers with denim. If I didn’t have access to a sewing machine, I would staple or screw them on. Anyone can sew a straight line with a sewing machine, and a seat cover is a glorified bag.

Hipparchia, heavy duty double-sided carpet tape can be useful in hold the blanket or bed sheet in place, and can be replaced when the glue fails as it will down here.

6 andante { 05.29.07 at 1:40 pm }

The headliner on my Olds jalopy has been hanging down and irritating me for several years. My wonderful neighborhood mechanic quoted me $200 to fix it; if my master plan of thumbtacks (or Steve’s duct tape) doesn’t pan out, I’ll be saving my pennies for it.

7 ellroon { 05.29.07 at 2:14 pm }

What a good idea about the denim! Thanks! I’ve been trying to be thrifty with this car as my daughter will get it for a local drive-about when she gets her license. It still has its original paint job so she’s planning to get her friends together to make an original work of art all over it.

I haven’t told her making her car identifiable will make it impossible to misbehave….

8 Badtux { 05.29.07 at 4:07 pm }

The Fit is geared lower for the city and gets better gas mileage than the Civic in the city as well as having similar acceleration. It is only the highway mileage that is lower because of the lower gearing and the taller profile (which increases wind resistance but gives great headroom and legroom compared to the Civic, which is like sitting in a bathtub).

Unless you have the hybrid Civic you will never get 40mpg on the highway in the Civic. My mother only got 35mpg on the highway in her 1993 Civic, which was 500 pounds lighter and had a smaller engine (1.6L vs. 1.8L) than the newer Civic. The EPA “highway” mileage is a joke.

9 Bryan { 05.29.07 at 5:08 pm }

Andante, this is a 1996, so I assume GM is using the same system, and it’s not that bad a job. It was discovering the easy way to do it without breaking anything that took the time. You swap hard drives in computers, you can do this.

Ellroon, my first car, a 1954 Opel, had upholstery based on a department store remnants table, a maroon leather driver’s seat from a crashed Humber and no front passenger’s seat. It had the European “flipper” turn signals, and a standard transmission with occasional synchro in some gears. Six months worth of insurance cost mor than the car, but it kept me out of trouble.

Badtux, all of the numbers from EPA are bogus, but we don’t have anything that would be called city, even in jest, within 40 miles. The driver’s seat on the Civic adjusts so that my Mother can see out the windshield, which was a problem when she drove GM tanks, like her Pontiacs and Olds. She liked the looks and the seats in the Civic better, and was annoyed at the fuel economy difference. Another problem is that she was going to have to wait for a Fit, while they had Civics in stock.

10 Steve Bates { 05.29.07 at 9:03 pm }

Bryan, I loved my 1983 Civic hatchback until the electrical system started having problems my mechanic could not find and fix. I gave the car to a friend, whose boyfriend mechanic (no slouch as far as I could tell) couldn’t fix it either. Still, my Civic story is that I brought a small spinet harpsichord back from San Antonio in the hatch of that car, with its tail stretched out between the two front seats. The hatch was closed, and the right-hand seat was occupied (albeit by a very small woman). Couldn’t do that in my much larger Chevy today!

Swap a hard drive? not a fair test… even I managed to do that! 🙂

hipparchia, the duct tape art site was fun; thanks.

EPA mileage numbers must be determined using only a frame, no seats or other interior, no panels and possibly no bumpers… how else could they come up with those numbers. Your mileage may, uh, vary.

11 hipparchia { 05.29.07 at 10:49 pm }

steve, i loved my pontiac t-1000 [essentially a chevette with a timing chain imstead of a timing belt, so you could actually drive for more than a few months without worrying if the engine would quit suddenly]. an amazing amount of cargo space in a tiny car.

and speaking of larger cars: i’ve always preferred the tiny ones myself, but when my parents offered to give me their old buick, i couldn’t pass it up, being in a financial fix at the time and desperately needing to replace the car i had. the buick was an aircraft carrier compared to what i was used to, but lo and behold, it’s the first car i’ve ever owned where you can RAISE the drivers seat. first time in years i’ve been able to see over the steering wheel.

12 Bryan { 05.29.07 at 11:46 pm }

The Civic does that, which is why my Mother likes it. It’s an LX, which is the mid-level, so between the multiple seat adjustments and the adjustable steering wheel, she can see the road and the instruments.

13 hipparchia { 05.30.07 at 10:58 pm }

my next car was going to be either the vw gti or the cooper mini, but now that i know that about the civic, i’ll have to add that one to the list. it’s a good little car.

14 Bryan { 05.30.07 at 11:19 pm }

Hipparchia, I’d take the Mini over the GTI in a minute, I owned a Rabbit for a while.

There are lot of good little cars, but look for a “95% solution”, a vehicle that handles 95% of your needs. Most SUVs are 5% vehicles.

Steve, this isn’t a hatchback, but the rear seat folds down and you can haul a lot of stuff in the back.

15 Steve Bates { 05.31.07 at 1:41 am }

Bryan, I miss my hatchback. Even 12 years later, I miss it every. @#$%. day. No other design packs quite so much hauling capacity into such a small vehicle. And the Civic did it best, at least back in the day. Compared to other similar vehicles, it had a lot of pep, and you could cram the hatch full of heavy stuff w/o straining the engine at all.

There were only two deficiencies in that car (apart from the one that led me eventually to get rid of it): it was noisy, and it had no cruise control… a serious limitation on highway driving for someone whose feet don’t work quite right. Otherwise, I loved that car.

I’d better stop now. Otherwise, I’ll start pining for the good old days. 🙂