November 14, 2009

How to Park a Honda Fit / Jazz

Everyone knows that a small car like the Honda Fit/Jazz is great for parking. But these guys go the extra step...

November 03, 2009

3 Years Old. Out of Basic Warranty

I've just realized, as of Halloween, I've officially owned this little Fit for 3 years now. Aside from that strange Check Fuel Cap warning the one time (which didn't result in any down time), this car has been completely trouble free.

This also means I am now out of Honda's 3 year basic warranty. Which totally didn't hit me until now. That's too bad 'cause I would have probably checked over the car for issues and had the dealer fix a couple of little things.

One of those things would be the plastic cover under the parking brake handle. It has snapped and broke off from flexing as the handle moves up and down. Looking at the forums, it seems to be a fairly common issue with this car, especially in colder climates. Mine has been broken for at least a year and a half. But I guess it just never really bothered me, so I didn't remember. I would also have checked the condition of the stock battery as some on the forum had issues with them dying early. But so far, mine has no problems. Let's hope it stays that way.

Happy birthday little Fit.

October 27, 2009

New (ish) Tires and Ready for Winter

Well, I officially put the motorcycle away a week ago. Changed the oil and filter, put the fuel stabilizer in the tank, pumped up the tire pressure, lubed the chain, took the battery out, and put the cover on.

As for the Fit, well, I mentioned I needed new tires in my last maintanence post. As luck would have it, I managed to find a couple of good deals on the local Craigslist. I picked up a near mint set of 195/55R15 Bridgestone Turanza EL470 that was taken off another '08 Fit Sport that's perfect for my EM1 wheels.

A few days later, I also found a set of OEM GD3 14" steelies with hubcaps and factory Dunlop SP31 in 175/65R14 size. they had around the same wear (about 20,000km) on them as when I took my originals off and traded them for some body parts that I ended up not using anyway. It's like getting my old setup back. And with the winter we had last year and me on my worn 195 tires getting stuck everywhere, I'm so glad to have these 175 14" tires to run this winter; even if they are all-seasons. After all, this is Vancouver, Not Winnipeg. And they got me through the first two winters with the Fit.

So today, I went to my mechanic, and got the tires replaced on the EM1 rims, and slapped the 14" steelies on the Fit for the season. And the best part, the total paid for the 15" tires, the 14" wheels and tires, and mounting and balancing of the replacement tires, was less than what I would have paid for one set of new 15" tires. Also, since the hubcaps that came with the wheels are already scratched up, I will be running the steelies with hubcaps on, unlike when I first got my car. So it'll hopefully look a bit better. It also means my Fit will pretty much look like a stock DX/LX on the road with the exception of the smoked LED lights in the rear.

One more thing. I noticed that since I've actually stuck to my guns and have not turned the Fit into a project car, Most updates here on the blog have been about oil changes and general maintenance items. I did a bunch of research when I just purchased the car, and still have some of them bookmarked or saved somewhere on the HD. I will try to dig up and look through what I have and update this blog with more information on parts and accessories that may be of interest to you in the future. Thanks for following this little blog, and stay tuned...

September 15, 2009

Luxury + Supercar Weekend in Vancouver

This past weekend was the first of hopefully more Luxury + Supercar Weekend at the Plaza of Nations in downtown Vancouver, BC. The event was hosted by the Edgewater Casino and featured the lastest releases from the manufacturers such as the Porsche GT3, the Ferrari California, the Audi R8 V10, the Murcielago SV, the SLR McLaren 722S, Bentley GTC Speed, the Spyker C8 Aileron, and more. It also showcased the 1000hp, 1.5 million dollar Bugatti Veyron. Ducati and Benelli also brought out some of their bikes to showcase.

And if even these factory tuned cars just don't interest you, there were some heavily modified exotics, including the contingent brought down by Calgary's ZR Auto that included the 707hp Novitec twin-supercharged F430, and the just finished Heffner Performance twin-turboed Murcielago putting down a dyno proven 1100hp to the rear wheels! They also brought their EDO tuned Enzo, and similarly tuned, but even more rare Maserati MC12.

There were also rare vehicles from private collectors on display, like a Ferrari Dino, F40, Lamborghini Muira, Diablo SE, Saleen S7, De Tomaso Pantera, Noble M400, and lots more. To see most of these cars would be a rare occurrence. To see them all in one place, was worth the price of admission. I'm glad I went down to the show on my motorcycle, and not in the Honda Fit. To have to walk back to the Fit after seeing all those cars...

Plus with the bike, I got to park steps away in downtown for free!

September 04, 2009

Oil Change #9 (45220km)

I was running some errands and got a haircut today on my day-off, and on the way back, I decided to stop by my mechanic's place to say hi and see when he can fit me in for my next oil change.

Turns out the bay was empty and so he just told me to drive it right in. Air filter was replaced last time, so just the standard oil filter and oil change. I was a tad late on my last oil change, so the oil life indicator still said 60%.

I also asked him to check some tire prices for me since I will need them fairly soon. It seems 195/55R15 is not a popular size anymore, and I have a very limited selection of tires. Add to the fact I need performance all-seasons, my choices are even fewer. It will probably be around 5 bills when it's all done even for something like Falkens.

That price is coming pretty close to a set of used aftermarket wheels/tires in 15 or 16 inch sizes. So I'm going to start looking for those as an alternative as well. Thing is though, I like how stock/low-key my Fit looks right now with the SiR wheels. Any car with aftermarket wheels will stand out. I would love to get my hands on a set of 16" HFP split 7-spoke wheels for my car. But they're more rare around here than real BBS LMs. And I'm not about to buy them new from the dealer.

Hmm... anyone got a set of take-off 16" GE sport wheels/tires for sale locally?

August 18, 2009

Triple Show Weekend

So, this past Sunday, I had a really tough choice to make. You see, there were three major events happening on the exact same day. There was the Annual Great Canadian Volkswagen Show; the largest Volkswagen gathering in the entire northwest, maybe the whole west coast. It was a must attend event for me when I had my Audi. I even entered it a couple of years and did pretty well (won my class).

Then, there was the Annual Gastown Motorcycle Show and Shine organized by the British Columbia Coalition of Motorcyclists (BCCOM). This is the 4th year of this event where they actually close off Water St. Entirely for this show, and parts of a few streets leading down to Water St. for dedicated, FREE motorcycle parking. The show is mainly a custom bike affair, but totally open to the public in a tourist area of town. So the atmosphere is definitely unique.

Last there was the annual Revscene Summer Meet. Revscene is THE forum for local spo-com/euro gearheads and the annual summer meet brings out all the wild rides from all over the Greater Vancouver Region to one place. Vancouver has quite a few wildly modified Honda Fits, and this would be the venue they're headed to. (like Felix's car pictured here)

It was a tough choice, but in the end, I decided to gear up, hop on my bike, and head down to the Gastown Motorcycle Show and Shine. The main reason being that it was the only event I had not attended previously. And plus now that I'm finally riding regularly this year, I feel like I wouldn't feel like such an outsider anymore. (plus I'd know what I'm looking at now).

I was not disappointed. The event was big (although I was told it's smaller than previous year), and took up pretty much the entire length of Water Street (minus maybe 1/2 block). Mostly custom cruisers and choppers, but there were a few vintage bikes and sport bikes mixed in. The amount of work that went into some of these motorcycles is just insane! I'm certain many of the bikes on display had more man hours on them than the cars at the other two shows. I highly recommend this event to anyone who has the time. Even if you don't know motorcycles that well, you'll be able to enjoy the works of art on display. And if you really want to know more, the owners, or even others who know, will gladly share their knowledge. Just don't touch or sit on the bikes without the owners consent first.

Links to some photo galleries of the events (not mine)
Great Canadian Volkswagen Show
Gastown Motorcycle Show and Shine
Revscene Summer Meet

June 12, 2009

Oil Change #8 (41056km)

Aside from the normal Honda filter and 5W20 oil change today, I also replaced the air filter with a Genuine Honda unit as the last time we check it was getting a bit dirty. All is still good with the little Fit. However, I will need new tires by the end of the season. Keep in mind though these are the used tires I got with my SIR rims, not sure if the stock tires would wear out at 40,000km. I doubt it.

May 31, 2009

My Other Car has Two Wheels

The reason I haven't updated in a while is partly because I've been thinking more about my other vehicle lately. The summer weather is finally here, and I've been taking the bike out at least once or twice a week.

Some of you might remember back in August 2007 that I had finished my Motorcycle riding training and had passed my road test for a motorcycle license. Well, since then, I had ridden a motorcycle only ONCE, during a BMW test ride around April of 2008. And by then, I haven't been on a bike in half a year. Given my limited prior experience, I stalled the demo bike twice before leaving the lot. But once I got moving, it all started to come back, and I really enjoyed the test ride.

It wasn't until October 2008 that I ended up purchasing a bike, a 2005 Kawasaki Ninja 500R; A bike that has essentially not changed for the past two decades, but remains one of the top picks as a beginner sport motorcycle. However, since I purchased the bike in October, it was immediately put into storage policy and sat over the winter with the battery removed and fuel stabilizer in the tank.

I finally got the bike insured for the road in the beginning of May 2009, almost two years since I got my license. I was worried I wouldn't remember how to ride, but again, it all came back to me as I started riding. I think I did 140km on my first day riding just going around town aimlessly. I'm loving it, as the motorcycle has that acceleration I miss from my modded turbo days. Something the Fit just can't give me.

April 06, 2009

Check Fuel Cap Warning

So, strange thing. I had my last fill-up maybe a week or so ago. I've not touched the gas cap since. However, yesterday afternoon when I started the car up, with around 1/4 tank of gas left, the odometer section started blinking the words "Check Fuel Cap". I was just going to my in-laws not 5 minutes away, so I kept going until I got there.

I turned off the car, and checked the gas cap. Seems to be on securely. I take it off and put it back on again. "click click click..." ok. Let's try again. Turn on the car, and the warning is still there. I tried driving around the block a few times to see if it would reset itself, but it didn't. However, I did find out that if the warning annoyed you, you can always press the trip button and rotate to the Trip A, Trip B, or Oil Life display. But the next time you start the car again, it will go back to the warning.

Like I said, I had not touched the gas cap for a week. So the only thing I can think of that might have set off the warning is the recent temperature change. We've had unseasonably low temperature lately until yesterday, when spring suddenly arrived. Maybe the temperature change caused a change in tank pressure and the car thinks the gas cap is loose? (My car is parked outside)

Anyways, when I went to start up the car this morning, the warning was still there. It stayed on the whole 40km of my morning drive. But when I started the car up again this afternoon, the warning was gone. Hopefully that was enough start-ups/running time/kms for the ECU to reset the warning on its own, and I won't see it again.

March 22, 2009

Down the Oregon Coast

Well, despite the Hit-and-Run, we managed to make it on our trip, thanks in a huge part to Andrew Ma at Park Collision (604-279-5545). My insurance estimate was moved to Tuesday morning, the day I had planned to leave for our trip. I called Andrew explaining the situation, and he offered to order me a replacement mirror for next day delivery on Monday, before I even handed him my paperwork. He told me as soon as the mirror arrives, he'll put it on immediately so that I can make my trip without worry that my taped-up mirror would fall off on the highway. We'd worry about the superficial damage to the rest of the car after I come back.

And that's exactly what he did. After I finished with the insurance estimate, I dropped off the car and paperwork at Park Collision and went out to have a quick bite. Within 30 minutes from the mirror's E.T.A. of 12:30pm, I get a phone call from Andrew telling me the car is ready to go. I walk back to the bodyshop, and we were off on our vacation right on schedule.

We spent the first couple of nights at a friend's in Renton, WA as they just had a baby boy. It was fun playing with him and his two year old sister. I also visited a Renton Motorcycle Company, which can only be described as a Costco for motorcycles. On Thursday, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend arrived at our friends place, and we headed down towards Astoria, OR for our first night on the coast.

That night we met up with Sandy, someone I met on the forums. He was very kind when I posted about my hit-and-run, and offered to meet up if I still made it down. He offered some good tips on lodging and dining in the area, and we met for coffee and had a great chat that night. Of course, I totally forgot to take a photo.

The next day we had breakfast at the cafe Sandy originally wanted to take us, but was closed as we arrive to town kinda late. Then we set off down 101. We had borrowed a GPS unit from a friend, and for some reason it took us on a detour off 101 for a short bit. It wasn't too bad though as the detour was a bit of a winding affair and even if my tires couldn't grip the wet roads too well, my friend in his modified Audi 225TT sure enjoyed the drive.

We stopped by the Tanger Outlet in Lincoln in the afternoon, then continued to Newport for the night at a beachfront hotel. The rain was just terrible at some points during the day. But the beauty of the coast was worth it. We must have looked so funny being the only people to get out of our cars at some of the lookout points in the heavy rain and wind, just to take a few photos. Still, I'm sure we missed a lot of views due to the weather. I think this trip is definitely worth taking again.

Due to the limited number of days we had, Newport was as far south as we went this time around. In the morning, we woke up and went down to the beach by out hotel for a nice walk, which ended up with wet shoes and socks (boys being stupid). Then we visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. I really enjoyed the Oddwater and Passages of the Deep exhibits. We spent a bit more time in the aquarium than I had originally planned, but it was well worth it.

We then cut across 20 to get to I-5, then followed it north until Woodburn. Why, for the Woodburn Company Stores of course. Outlet prices and no tax. Because we left the aquarium late, we went back the the outlet the next morning. I scored myself two pairs of sneakers before calling it quits and heading back up to Vancouver.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip wonderful.

March 14, 2009

The Worst Day for Me and My Fit - [Hit and Run]

This is probably the worst day for me and the Fit since I purchased it.

So last night, the wife and I had a late dinner, and since I didn't have to work this morning, I stayed up late, and was playing around on the laptop a bit in bed. I'm not sure what time it was, but I heard a car alarm go off. I went to the window to have a peak, and a BMW 5 was flashing and blaring. It was parked two cars back from me on the street across from my building. My alarm didn't go off, so I thought nothing of it as I didn't really see any major damage or broken windows on the BMW.

A bit later, as I was finally going to sleep, I heard some talking outside. I took another look out the window and there were a few police vehicles on the street. One of the started shining it's spot light on parked cars as it slowly drove along. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach, and I went and found my small binoculars to have a better look. Turns out several of the parked cars had their driver side rear view mirrors broken, including mine. I figured since the police was already on scene, and it was really late, I'd wait 'til morning to see how bad the damage is.

Did you think I was going to get a good sleep with this on my mind? Of course not. And so I woke in the morning not rested at all, and went downstairs to see how bad the mirror was...

It wasn't just the mirror. The side of my car was scraped up as well, then entire length of the car, and even my front wheel. I looked up and down the street, and there are still 3 other cars parked with similar damage, and I know there were other cars parked there last night (later on, my friend told me when he came to pick me up, that cars that were parked on the cross-street were also hit, one with it's bumper hanging off even).

I called the insurance claim centre, and reported the hit and run. The lady suggested I call the police to see if they'd have a police report # as well, and sure enough, they did. However, unless they catch the guy(s) who did this, I, along with all of my unlucky neighbors, are out at least $300 deductible each!

The damage looks deliberate. The mirror at least looks to be smashed from the front center of the housing, not hit along the edge. Maybe a bat or something. And that's what really makes me mad. It wasn't an accident. It was someone's idea of fun.

This couldn't have happened at a worse time either. The wife had booked her vacation days off for next week, and we were going to drive down to Washington State to visit a friend who just had her 2nd baby, and then head down to the Oregon Coast for a few days of relaxation. Now, I'm going to be out the money for lodging, and I'm seriously doubt the car can be fixed in two days in time for the trip since most places require a vehicle to have a driver side rear view mirror.

And of course the estimate centres are closed for the weekend. I'm going to have to wait 'til Monday to take the car in before anything else can be started.

This sucks!

March 13, 2009

Oil Change #7 (35665km)

Another oil change time. It was done at 35665km even though the receipt says 36665km. I yelled out the wrong mileage to my mechanic as he wrote it. Oh well.

Standard affair once again with the OEM filter and 5w20 oil. No surprises this time around. Even remembered to reset the service reminder right away. I had just checked the tire pressure and so that was ok. Everything else looks good. The Fit is go for another 5000km.

I know the factory doesn't call for such short oil change intervals, and every time I do the oil change the service reminder usually still say 40%-50% oil life left. But with the timing chain system, oil pressure is used as hydraulic fluid to ratchet up the timing chain tensioner. If varnish forms in the timing chain tensioner bore then this system can fail and the chain will become loose and eventually break. The advantage is that if well maintained, the timing chain will never need replacing, saving you the $800 or more timing belt replacement every 100,000km or so.

February 24, 2009

Back to Basics. No More Parts

I've actually been slowly accumulating parts for my little Honda Fit LX. I know that in the beginning I said I would leave this car mostly alone. But who am I kidding. I'm addicted to this stuff. So before I knew it, I had a full factory sport lip kit, two rear spoilers, lowering springs, rear anti-sway bar, and OEM fog light kit. This is all aside from the EM1 Civic wheels (which I NEEDED at the time *roll eyes*), and the LED tails, JDM passenger side sun visor, and OEM cargo cover (which I actually need).

But in the back of my mind I knew that the Fit was just meant to be my daily driver, not a project. So when I saw some local Fit owners looking for parts that I already have on the forum, I messaged them and sold most of my parts before they were ever installed on my car. The only thing I have left now is a set of OEM Fog light kit. If you're interested, check out my ad for the fog lights on the forum, and message me there.

And to the guys who bought my parts, thanks, and I hope you will enjoy them for me.

January 18, 2009

Custom LED Third Brake Light Retrofit

Ever since I installed the JDM style red/smoked LED tail lamps, I have been a bit bothered by the delayed reaction time of the factory incandescent bulb in the third brake light. Because LEDs turn on and off much faster, the third brake light always lagged behind the tail lights by nearly 1/4 second when I hit the brakes or release them.

So since my buddy was ordering some LEDs for his LED running light project (A la Audi), I took the opportunity to share the shipping cost and ordered me some nice high powered 4-chip Super Flux LEDs in red. These LEDs have a stated 100 degree viewing angle, which is important for automotive retrofit applications. And the wide angle also means the brightness specs mean something. A 20 degree 5mm LED might have more mcd on axis, as soon as you move off that 20 degrees, the brightness drops significantly. The 4 leg Super Flux LED is also shorter than standard 5mm LEDs and it helps a lot in this application as there isn't much depth between the housing and the lens on the sides.

Also important to consider is the colour of the LED used. LEDs produce light in very tight wavelength. This means a white/blue LED will have very little output in the red colour spectrum. And since the red lens on the third brake light is essentially a photo filter that only allows the red spectrum to shine through, if you used white LEDs behind it, you'll lose a lot of light. Test this by shining your white LED source (keychain light, flashlight, whatever) through a red lens, then through a white or clean lens, and see how much of a difference it makes.

So, anyways, onto making the LEDs

1. Remove the third brake light - Take the cover off, which will expose two 10mm bolts on either side. remove them, then un-clip the center from the hatch and unplug the harness from the bulb socket.

2. Remove the bulb and red lens - Twist the bulb holder out. For the lens, there are four clips. Remove the wider, flatter ones first; it's easier. Use a flat head screwdriver (carefully) to help if needed.

3. Cut the circuit board to size - Pretty self explanatory. Cut to desired size to fit the housing and number of LEDs you are using. Keep in mind the board has to fit inside the inner lip in order to clip the red lens back in.

4. Design your circuit - There are various LED calculators available online if you know the specs of your LEDs. And you can design your circuit in series, parallel, or a combination of both. Make sure you know what you're doing here, or get help from someone who does.

4a. Power goes out - What? It didn't happen to you? Well, it happened to me right about here, just before I can test my circuit. Can't just skip to the next step even if I wanted to since the soldering iron needs electricity too. I played some DS and ate some food (love gas stoves) until the power came back an hour and a half later.

5. Test/Make your circuit - Use a breadboard to make sure the circuit will work, and layout how you're going to place the components on the circuit board. then, just solder the pieces in place.

6. Put it together - Place the completed and tested circuit in the third brake light housing. If you cut your circuit board properly, it will sit nicely inside with the pressure from the metal heat shield inside the housing. Then clip the red lens back in, and it should hold the circuit firmly in place.

7. Re-attach third brake light to the car - Run the lead wires out through the bulb hole. You don't need to put the bulb socket back in. Just attach the positive lead to the white wire side of the harness, and the ground to the black. Clip the housing back in and secure with the 10mm bolts. Put the cover back on, and you're done.

I'm using 6 LEDs that have a forward voltage drop of 2.0V, and current draw of 80mA. I want to run each LED in parallel so that if one LED shorts out, no other LED is affected. I also found a circuit board that was printed so that each horizontal line was already connected, making my job much easier as I don't have to solder connections between every LED. I went with a single 150ohm resistor before the path splits to each LED. And according the the LED calculators, I needed a 1W resistor to handle the heat based on a 14v input. So that's what I got. It's enough since the brake light is not constantly on like a taillight or license plate light.

I'm happy with the results. The reaction time now matches the LED tail lights. The viewing angle is very good, and people say it's definitely bright enough to notice driving behind my car. Compare the OEM JDM version which cost $170USD, my retrofit for a fraction of that is a pretty good deal. Plus it was fun making it. I hope you have fun making yours as well.