About This Site
 
"Having a job is expensive. If you spend all your time working for someone else, you don't have any time to learn to do things yourself."
-- Charley Groden in the 2003 film, "Off the Map"

In 1991 after researching which cars were the most reliable, I purchased a new Honda Civic LX. It had a 1.5 liter engine, manual transmission, and no air conditioning. For many years I never had time to do much work on my Honda other than oil changes and basic tuneup items (air filter, fuel filter, plugs, wires, distributor cap). I left repairs such as timing belt changes, diagnosis of no-start conditions, etc. for the greater part to independent import car shops, Firestone, and on a few occasions, the dealer. I came to appreciate how questionable the quality of work could be when one did not do the work one's self. I had the most luck with independent shops, but even these could disappoint. In the summer of 1999 I did learn from either an independent shop or the net that the cause of some no start problems my Civic was having was its main relay. The independent shop said it was too busy to take my Civic for several weeks, but a kind technician there came out to the parking lot and with a flashlight pointed out the main relay's somewhat tricky location. I must have groups.googled then and found a certain well-known online honda parts site, because this is from where I bought my new main relay. I installed it myself, and the no start problem went away.

Since then I have performed increasingly more difficult maintenance and repairs. My tool inventory has grown to include deep metric sockets, a sizable air compressor, two torque wrenches, a Mity-Vac pump, feeler gages, a 1/2-inch drive 1.5 foot breaker bar, an extra short ratchet, a digital multimeter, a timing light, rhino ramps, jack stands, a suspension spring compressor, a hydraulic floor jack, an 8 mm cam style stud remover, a ball joint separator, a trailing arm bushing extractor, an electric cutting wheel, a desoldering iron and a valve spring compressor. I have made a few tools that were customized to my Hondas' needs. I am a retired mechanical engineer who worked in power plant design and operations for some years. Still I think most of my design inspiration has taken place while working on my Hondas. Today I rely heavily on a 1984-1995 Honda Civic Chilton's manual, a 1993 Civic Helm manual, a 2001-05 shop manual, www.honda-tech.com, civicforums.com, and other web sites. Some of the web sites are homemade like this one. They are helpful, filling in gaps the manuals do not cover.

My 1991 Civic was driven in the northern United States for much of its life. It had rust around the rear wheel wells, but I did a repair on these areas in 2004. When I sold it in February 2009, it looked pretty good and ran fabulously. It got over 40 miles per gallon most of the year, with the driving being suburban/countryside and a touch of highway.

My 1991 Civic had myriad distributor problems from 2002-2003. As a result I acquired specialized knowledge in this area.

I saw a bit of oil on my garage floor starting in 2004, so I began replacing certain seals which I figured were surely due for a car with 153k miles and 13 years on it. I replaced the oil pan gasket and the front engine crankshaft seal. The latter required removal of the timing belt. This resulted in the pulley holder tool pictured at the top of the page Crankshaft Pulley Holding Tools. This helped me when I actually replaced the belt in 2007. In 2005 I replaced the lower spark plug tube O-rings per the description at the page Oil Leaks. All oil drips stopped.

In 2008 I bought a second Honda Civic: a 1993 DX with 185k miles on it. Per carfax.com I was its second owner. It was an experiment in both home economics and used car owning. I followed my own guidance at Buying Used when selecting this car. I added OEM cruise control and an OEM LX cluster (so I would have a tachometer) to my DX. I sold the 1991 Civic LX in 2009 at a price a little less than the Kelly Blue Book price for "good" condition, only because I did not have space for two cars and did not want to bear the expense of keeping up two. Cars need to be driven to maintain their engine systems.

In 2009 I happened across a great deal on a 2003 Civic LX Coupe. The 1993 Civic DX had been fun and I learned a lot from it, but I had been thinking of getting something snazzier. I bought the 2003 Civic LX and sold the 1993 Civic DX. I am hoping the 2003 Civic LX lasts the rest of my life. Its engine design is a little different from my previous Civics, and I am enjoying getting to know it. In late 2009 I started preparing to do a timing belt job on it, including building a crankshaft pulley holding tool from pipe fittings. In 2014 I replaced its fuel pump filter. In 2016, I replaced the alternator with a secondhand salvage yard alternator. I put new brushes in the secondhand alternator.

Here in 2016 I am in my mid-50s. Arthritis has slowed me down, though I remain strong, swimming long regularly. Also I moved to a condominium without a garage. I now often break up my Civic's projects over several days.

I tell friends that I could buy a new car tomorrow, but I think I would find that a spanking brand new car would not inspire. I am having too much fun keeping my 2003 Civic running well.