November 29, 2006

Fit In The Snow

While at a client's home painting on the 25th, Vancouver had its first snowfall of the year. This wasn't a small one either. 20-50cm of snow fell within a 24 hour period, and continued on through the next few days to tie or break records in various parts of the lower mainland. While this may not be a huge number for other cities that are used to snow. A normally extremely mild Vancouver could never justify the public works infrastructure necessary for more effective snow removal.

My Fit handled the snow very well with its factory all season P175/65R14 tires. No wheelspin, no sliding, very easy to drive. The fact that it's manual transmission probably helped as well. However, once the snow turned to ice, the Fit's lack of weight became very apparent. It's still ok to drive, but it was easy for the car to start "floating". Filling the gas tank helps a bit, and adding rear passengers helped as well.

Oh, and the picture, yes. After attending the Eastside Cultural Crawl, My visiting mother and my insane wife decided that our close proximity to the ice cream factory meant we must stop for a few scoops. Nevermind that it's snowing like mad and freezing. Surprisingly, at least to me, we were not the only customers in the store!

So a couple of days after the snow first hit, I decided to dig out my old Mazda because I had snow tires for that car. I drove the Mazda before and after the snow tire install and the snow tires made a huge difference on the ice. So I decided to keep driving the Mazda until the ice was gone from the street, and keep the Fit out of the elements and out of harms way from stupid SUV drivers who think that AWD means they can go as fast as normal, and stop just the same on ice. Remember folks, 4 x 0 = 0.

For those who actually have been reading my blog, yes, the Mazda was fixed finally. In my first post How I Decided on a Fit, and even when I picked up my Fit, the Mazda was not starting. I had hoped to trade the non-running Mazda in to lower my purchase cost, but my Honda dealer was only able to offer me $100 for the car. So I thought it was worth it if I fixed it first and then sold it privately. I would most likely get more than $100 on the difference between the selling price and what it costs me to get it fixed. However, I sure am glad I haven't sold the Mazda yet, since I'm getting good use out of it during the snow storm.

November 28, 2006

Chrome Inner Door Handles

Fellow member Chikubi posted these JDM chrome inner door handles. It's these little things that make a big difference to whether the car feels like a econo-box or a well packaged little machine. Almost makes me want to bother my friends who are honeymooning in Japan right now to bring me a set. =P

Parts numbers are:
LH: 72160-SAA-J01ZA
RH: 72120-SAA-J01ZA

You'd need two of each for all four doors. According to Chikubi, they are around 1400 yen, or around $12USD each.

November 20, 2006

The Fit Gets Even Smaller

Remember this from about a year ago? Making real cars into Micro-Machine looking things using Photoshop. I never really looked into how to make them, but I recently stumbled onto a very easy to follow tutorial. So I made one from a generic side photo of an Alabaster Silver Metallic LX, and ventured onto doing a 3/4 shot of my wife's dream car, a Jaguar XJR. After trying it, I realize it is actually much more simple than I had imagined. Basically you do the following:
  1. Find a photo of your desired car, preferrably a side shot
  2. Use the Polygonal Lasso tool around the front wheel, getting the wheel arch and shadow, then copy and paste it to a new layer
  3. Do the same with the rear wheel, creating another new layer
  4. Go back to the original photo layer, then go to Edit, Free Transform, and narrow the photo to desired size
  5. Move the layers of full sized wheels to approximately where you wat them on the shrunken car
  6. Use Edit, Transform, Distort to twist the full size wheel layers if needed
  7. Use the erase tool at around 50% opaque around the full size wheels to blend the wheels into the shrunken background car
If you need more detailed help, check out this tutorial which helped me. It includes step-by-step screen captures, as well as a video example for reference.

Here's the original photo of the XJR I did for my wife:

And here's what it looks like after Photoshop:

November 12, 2006

Disabling Daytime Running Lights (DRL)

*disclaimer* - This is a general guide based on my personal experience. I will not be liable for any harm to your person or your vehicle, or any tickets and fines or other legal problems you may encounter as a result of performing this modification. Proceed only if you fully understand the instructions, and follow them at your own risk.

DRLI looked in the Owners Manual and it shows two fuses related to the Daytime Running Lamp (DRL) system. A 7.5amp fuse in slot 8, and a 10amp fuse in slot 18. But as I found out, you only need to remove the 7.5amp fuse from slot 8 and the system will be disabled. So removing both will not make a difference. However, removing only the 10amp fuse from slot 18 will result in the DRL warning light in the dash to light up, and I'm guessing most of you would rather not have that.

Follow these steps to disable your Canadian Spec DRL system:

  1. Locate the driver's coin tray to the left of the steering wheel column

  2. Find the dial on the top side of the coin tray, turn quarter-turn counterclock-wise, then pull the tray towards you and slightly downwards.

  3. Find the white fuse puller in the fuse panel and pull it straight out towards you

  4. Use the fuse puller and remove the 7.5amp (brown) mini fuse from slot 8

  5. Replace the fuse puller to its oiginal holder location in the panel

  6. Replace coin tray by lining up the tabs on the bottom, then push in to engage the side clips, and turn the top locking dial quarter-turn clockwise.

Done. Now when you put the parking brake down, the DRL won't light up. Turning the headlight switch to one click will only light up the parking lamps on top of the headlights, and two clicks will turn on your low beams. High beam will operate the same way as before.

<rant>I never liked this function personally. I understand why it is in our cars and how it can help make you car more visible. But I see way too many stupid people who are completely ignorant that they're driving with only DRLs at night because they see light ahead of them, and with many newer cars that have their dash light up anytime your igintion is on, it doesn't matter now many times you flash your light at them from behind trying to warn them they're completely invisible from the rear, they drive along without a clue.

What's worse are these idiots who think they're so cool and drive with their DRL and parking lights on at night without turning on their regular low beams. Many DRL systems are based on a reduced intensity voltage to the high beam assembly or filment, with a light dispersion pattern that will blind an oncoming driver.

I like to have control over my lights. I like to be able to run parking lights when waiting on the side of the street so I don't annoy pedestrians or shine my lights into someone's bedroom. I like to run just parking lights when there's enough light at dawn or dusk so my motorcycle riding friends with always on headlights are seen and differentiated more easily. I also like to be able to run parking lights only with fog lights (another thing stupid US laws don't allow) so that my light is dispersed low, where I need to in heavy fog, instead of up high (even worse with high beam DRLs) where it just reflects off the fog and blinds me.

The North American DRL system is a result of good government intentions caving to the pressures of industry. Had we incorporated the European standards for DRL, I don't think I, and a lot of other people, would have a problem with it. However, because automakers complained that it would be too costly to make cars with new low beam DRL systems, DRL systems in North America are allowed to use their high beams, or parking lamps (so white, amber, or yellow lights. talk about confusion) at up to 7,000 candela of light on axis! (versus 400 to 800 candela white light in Europe) With 800 candela low beam, you would not blind anyone in any ambient lighting condition, nor would you be lead to believe your headlights are already on at night.</rant>

And So It Begins

big wrench
Haha, well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I'm actually surprised I left the Fit unmolested for this long. Tonight, before heading over to the in-laws for dinner, I brought 4 kitchen garbage bags and a rag down with me to the car.

I've wanted to do this since I first got the car. So I opened the hatch, took out the extension from the tool bag in the spare tire well, and with my rag, I started to pry off the wheel cover. For some reason the first wheel I picked (rear passenger side) was very difficult, so I decided to try another wheel before putting more force into it, in case I was doing something wrong. Nope. It popped off easy enough. So I went around the car taking off each wheel cover, leaving the black steelies exposed. I've always hated wheel covers, and knowing Honda, these plastic wheel covers will cost almost as much to replace if lost or curbed as it would to replace the actual steel wheel. Plus the vast black space in the wheel wells now makes the car looks... less cute. That's a good thing because it's all I've been getting with this car. "Awwww.... It's sooo cute!" I feel like I should paint it pink and put a "Barbie" decal across the side or something. >__<

After I bagged each wheel cover individually to prevent scratching, I put the extension back in the tool bag and closed the hatch. I then went under the dash and opened up the fuse cover and proceeded to disable the Daytime Running Lights (DRL) on my Canadian spec Fit. I never liked the North American implementation of this function, and the Honda fit is among the worst offender by using the high beam as DRL. So like all of my previous cars that were equipped with Daytime running Lamps, the system was disabled. At least it was pretty easy to do on this car. Check my other post in the How-To section on what you need to do to disable the DRL.

November 09, 2006

Honda Service Manual

service manualAnyone who might be interested in doing some work on their own should definately check out the available service manuals for the Honda Fit.

The Helm Service Manual is approved by Honda USA and is currently the only publicly available manual for the North American spec Fit. Also, the price on their website is actually $5 less than the price listed in the back of the Owners Manual. I should definately add this one to my "wishlist"Helm also offers a number of other manuals for the Fit, including factory owners manuals and service history booklets. You can see the full list here.

For a quick reference, someone has posted a copy of the 2002-2005 Honda Fit/Jazz Electronic Service Manual (ESM) from Honda online. This service manual is in English only, and is meant for Australian and European export models, and should only be used for general reference, as many detail items, such as wiring diagrams, may not be compatible with North American spec models.

November 06, 2006

Canadian vs US Spec Fit

Canadian and American FlagCanadian and US spec Honda Fit are the most similar of all Fit and Jazz cars in the world, such as having extended bumpers (which also means different headlights, fenders, rebar, and bumpers) to meet strict crash requirements, and a traditional automatic transmission as opposed to the CVT offered elsewhere in the world. We only get the 1.5 vtec engine, and we also get ABS and Side curtain airbags standard. However, we do not get 4-wheel disc brakes like all European models, nor do we have the option of 4WD like in Japan. Some Japan and european models also get moonroof, HID headlamps and GPS navigation.

However, there are still some differences between the US and Canadian editions of the Honda Fit. There are the mandatory items such as Daytime Running Lights (DRL) in the Canadian spec models that are absent from their US counterparts, as well as the different markings and warning lamp icons in the dash. But there are also some other less obvious differences.

US spec Fit comes in two trims, Base, and Sport. In addition the the 15" alloy wheels (instead of the 14" steelies with hub caps), the Sport trim adds underbody spoilers, fog lamps, leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, the MP3 capable stereo with aux input.

Canadians spec Fit comes in three trim levels. DX, LX, and Sport. You can basically think of the LX like a US spec base model, with the addition of the Aux input on the stero, which is actually standard on all three trim levels in Canada. The Sport trim is the same as the Sport trim in the US. The Canadian DX trim, is truly an entry level vehicle, gets only 2 speakers instead of 4 on the base 160-watt audio system, has no air conditioning, and no power door locks or power mirrors. If you're looking to build a track car out of the Fit, then the Canadian spec DX is probably your best bet.

There are also a few exterior colour differences as well. Instead of Lunar Mist Metallic, Canadians get an Alabaster Silver Metallic (the colour I have), which is more of a pure silver, with no bluish hue, and Taffeta White is unavalible in Canada. Also, in Canada, the DX is only limited to Milano Red, Vivid Blue Pearl, and Alabaster Silver Metallic. While the LX adds Nighthawk Black Pearl and Storm Silver Metallic. The Sport adds Blaze Orange Metallic. In the US, all colours except Blaze Orange Metallic is available on the base model, which substitutes Lunar Mist Metallic as an available colour on the Sport trim.

The colour difference continues to the inside. Where some exterior colours in the US base models (and an option on the Taffeta White Sport) are mated to a beige/black interior, and all Sport trim has a black interior, The Canadian models have a grey/black interior on all DX and LX trim models regardless of exterior colour, and a black interior on all Sport trims. The grey/black interior is actually fairly dark still, just has a different texture and pattern on it versus the black interior of the Sport.

Keep in mind that these specs are based on the 2007 model year.

November 02, 2006

Wish List

candlesWhen I went to my bank yesterday to get my certified cheque for the Fit, the teller was kind enough to waive the service charge when he noticed on my ID that my birthday was coming up in a few days. He asked if the car was a birthday present to myself. I had not even thought about my birthday in relations to the car because first, I bought it because my old car broke, and second, I really didn't know for sure when I was going to get the car.

I haven't really planned out exactly what I want to do with this car since I didn't plan on buying a car at all, and I'm trying not to start "playing" with it until I get my finances settled down. However, there are a few things I would like to add to the car:

  • OEM Honda Cargo Cover - Available as a Honda accessory at the dealers. It's nice to be able to throw stuff in the back and be out-of-sight when you need to park somewhere. The less they see, the less tempted they are to break in.
  • OEM Armrest Console - Available in other world markets either as standard/optional equipment or accessory, this piece replaces the North American stock center console with one that has a sliding padded arm rest with a storage console underneath. I'd like to put my phone charger, tire gauge, CDs etc in there. Harder to find, but the the title has a link to a dealer in the US, and locally A&J Racing and BPT lists the item. I'm certain other shops who sell JDM items can get these as well.
  • OEM Passenger Side Visor w/Mirror - I notice that my wife does use the visor mirror sometimes in our other cars, especially if we're running late for a dinner or something and she's forced to finish her makeup in the car. It also comes with card holders so you'll always have your business cards handy.
  • Aftermarket Alarm System - Hondas, especially small Hondas, always end up taking a large number of spots on any "most stolen cars" list. Although the car has an immobilizer, it's still a serious concern. Many of my friends have opted for two-way paging alarms such as Compustar. But I'd like to know how well they work in a high-rise condo/parkade setting to see if they're worth the money.
  • OEM black headlamps - Anyone local want to trade their black headlamps with my Alabaster Silver ones? It's great if you want some contrast at the front of your car because the lighter Alabaster Silver emulates a chrome housing headlamp. And actually, Some markets in the world, the top line models come with a light silver painted housing. For me though, as I mentioned in previous posts, I think my car looks a bit too cute for my liking. Black headlamps would definitely help.

There are a few other import market OEM accessories and other things I find interesting, but the above items are the ones I'm sure I'd like to have. Too bad most of these items are fairly pricey and/or difficult to find and purchase, so I'm not holding my breath (so no pressure you guys). Anyways, I'm sure now that I've got the car, I'll have a full plan of attack for exactly what I want to do with it soon enough. Already, a few of the preliminary ideas might even "X" the black headlamps if I was to get them. Stay tuned...

November 01, 2006

The Fit is Go

Excuse the advertising copyline. I just had to use it once. Never again I promise. =P

I got a call in the morning saying that my Fit had arrived at the dealership. Normally I'd be very excited, but I have been very sick for the past three days, so it was difficult even for me to talk in order to arrange the pickup time with the dealership. Plus as I mentioned in my previous post about selecting the Fit, my old car had broken down. So although I waited a lot shorter than many others for their Fit to arrive (placed my order on the 19th of October), it was more of a "oh finally" feeling about the car's arrival. Don't get me wrong, I truly appreciate what my salespeople did for me to expedite delivery. It's just that with my mom here visiting and having to borrow cars from friends and family, it never too soon to have my own car again.

Fit Delivery
So I made the appointment for 3:30pm, and went in to the dealership. I briefly discussed the possibility of trading my non running old Mazda in, but they were only able to offer me $100 for the 20 year old car. So I decided I will get it running and sell it myself. The PDI had been done on my Fit and had 14kms on it along with a full tank of gas. My salesperson very nicely threw in the carpeted floor mats for me, and I can't remember for sure right now, but I remember seeing rear splash guards on my car when I looked it over. I thought this was an accessory item, and is listed on my accessories price list. Maybe I lucked out, but I'd rather have lucked out on a rear cargo cover or something, as this is something that will have to come off when I put a side skirt on the car. And after seeing pictures of me in this car, I think I will need to do something to make it look less, well, cute.

Anyways, as I said, I'm seriously sick right now. I'll double check later to see if I do actually have rear splash guards on my Fit, and if it is standard or an accessory. If I wasn't so sick, I'd probably be down with the car right now taking off the rear "Fit" badge (or maybe putting a dot between the "F" and the "i" of the badge so it reads "" *heh*). That's what I did the second day when I had my Audi, only because the first night I was busy installing the clear corners and smoked side marker lamps I had gotten before I even got my car. Hmm... this is bad. Maybe I should have bought the Kia. Then I wouldn't be so tempted to modify it. What was I thinking buying a Honda! Oh well, too late. =P