Category Archives: Modifications

Updates…

I thought it might be time to post an update on how things are rolling with the Accord. Tonight, she rolled over to 117,000. At the rate I’ve been accumulating miles, I should be at 120,000 by the beginning of June…if not sooner! It’s amazing to think that in late February of this year, I was at 111,111 miles.

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Things have been running great. No vibrations, groans or other weird noises. The only thing is an occasional rattle from the dashboard where it meets with the windshield. This is most noticeable when I hit small bumps or drive on particularly coarse roads. Even though it was minor, it still bugged the hell out of me. Here’s what I did:

I took a trip down to Home Depot to buy some automotive weather stripping so I can try to quiet it down. I simply shoved it between the dash and the windshield so there is enough tension to keep the dash from vibrating and rubbing where it shouldn’t. It has been installed for about two weeks now, and as far as I could tell, the rattling is fixed! This must be a common Honda issue since my RSX had the exact same annoyance. Same modification fixed it too.

The weather stripping came with an adhesive backing, but I didn’t bother to remove tape. I just installed it as it came out of the packing.

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After it was installed, it was hardly noticeable.

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Now I can drive over rough roads in silence.

HFP (Honda Factory Performance) Status Update:

My HFP upgrade project has been quite frustrating of late. I’ve tried on several occasions to order a rear OEM HFP underbody spoiler, but every vendor I’ve dealt with would send an email after the order was complete, stating the part was discontinued by Honda. I even checked the Honda dealer network and nothing could be found. Not even a part in a different color. I’m currently searching the online community for a used one. If I have to paint it, oh well. As for the side skirts, I have a plan rigged up that (if it works) should complete the look very nicely yet still be OEM. However, I haven’t acquired the necessary parts yet.

There is some good news of late, though. I was able to score a brand new HFP suspension kit! The search for this was frustrating as well since it too is discontinued by Honda. After talking to a few folks, I was able to find out that in the entire U.S. Honda dealer network, there was only one who had it. I snatched it as soon as I could. Apparently, this had been on the shelf for 8 years according to the parts manager! What a lucky find. It arrived last week on my doorstep, and it was a HEAVY box! I haven’t installed it yet, but plan to soon. The HFP suspension promises to lower the Accord by 1 inch, decrease body roll and sharpen steering responses while maintaining a factory-like ride. Since my factory struts are fairly worn, I’m excited to feel the difference.

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I will post more updates as I have them…Hope the week is treating you well!

iPod/iPhone Integration

Well, let’s reveal the latest mod: I finished my iPod/iPhone integration this past weekend! Took me about 4hours in total (not consecutive) but I took my time and planned as carefully as I could. Overall, I’m very happy with the outcome. I’ve researched on several online forums, and I ended up combining a few DIYs and added a few twists here and there to make this my own.

I’m a sucker for music and I always have to have it with me on trips. For sound preference, I enjoy a good balance of crisp, clear high and mid tones in addition to a nice deep bass response. The stock 6-CD “Premium Sound System” that Honda fitted to the Accord is pretty decent, and I find it more than satisfying for my taste in music. However, long trips with just 6 CDs can grow tiring as everything starts to become repetitive. I have integrated XM Satellite Radio in the stock system, but I find the sound quality lacking and I’d rather spend the required subscription of $15 a month on something else. So, what’s left? Digital input from my iPhone. It offers near CD quality sound, and I have full function of the controls on the steering wheel. So let’s get stated:

Here’s what I used:

-USAspec PA15-HON2 iPod integration unit for Honda/Acura vehicles

-iSimple AUX mountable cable

-Some spade bits

-A 3/8 rubber grommet from Home Depot

-An Apple Lightening adaptor (so this can fit the newer redesigned port)

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I decided to mount my AUX port and iPod connector in the center cubby under the stereo.

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Taking everything apart was pretty easy.

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I had to be cautious when taking the cubby out since it has a few fragile plastic pieces that like to break.

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The rat’s nest I get to deal with…

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Here, I drilled the hole for the iPod cable to come through the back wall of the cubby. I used a 3/8 spade bit on my drill. The plastic was VERY soft and drilling took no time at all.

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I fed the cable through and then wrestled with the rubber grommet to get it to fit over the hole.

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Here’s the back of the cubby with the AUX cable installed above the iPod cable.

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When I finished with the cables, I used some basic car polish to bring the shine back to the faux carbon fiber finish.

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Here’s the USAspec integration unit installed and cables hooked up. The data cable flawlessly hooked up to the factory stereo as well as the AUX and iPod cable.

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By now it was getting dark, but I soldiered on and put everything back.

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And here is the finished product. The cable can be freely pulled out for use and then pushed back in as needed. I probably won’t use the AUX port much, if at all, but I like the option. Overall I’m happy with the outcome. I wanted it to look like a factory setup.

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And the best part? This unit allows for text display on the factory stereo, and I can control everything from the steering wheel buttons.

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Hope this mod gives some inspiration for other folks looking to install iPod/iPhone integration. Cheers!

Still modifying…

This week has been pretty quiet for me. After being on the road for practically every weekend these past two months, I decided to stay in and do a few things around the house as well as for the Accord. After the great drive last week to White Sands, some cleaning was in order. The windy day at the dunes meant lots and lots of sand to collect everywhere. It blew into practically every crevice on and in the car. An alarming find was around the oil dipstick opening. This was when I was about to check the oil this past Thursday. I just happened to spot several nasty little sand particles gathered around the bottom of the dipstick handle, just anxiously waiting to fall and take up residence in the engine block. Not good. I sprayed with compressed air and followed with a thorough wipe down to remove all the sand.

Other areas I discovered sand was being an uninvited guest, were the window tracks and the rubber door seals. The windows would make a spine-tingling screatching noise every time I lowered them, so the window tracks/channels had to have a thoughrouh cleaning. I just used a wet microfiber towel wrapped in a credit card to get into the narrow channels.

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After the first pass, this is how much sand clumped up on the end of the towel.

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Another area of concern were the inner window seals (where the window snuggles up against the frame when rolled up.) If I’d left the sand stuck there, I’m sure it would eventually start scratching my newly installed tint as the window is opened and closed repeatedly with time. Lesson learned from my Acura RSX as that’s exactly what happened when I neglected it. Both windows are now quiet and smooth going as they should be. Call me crazy, but all this cleaning was fun, necessary and the results were satisfying.

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Here I caught a pic of me filling her up at the local “Pic Quick” in town. The Accord, even with the V6, gets pretty good mileage. I’ve been getting a rather consistent 26-27MPG in the city and I’ve topped 32MPG on the highway at one point. But more realistically highway driving yields 29-30MPG. The fact it doesn’t require premium grade gas is another plus! I have read on the Accord online forums that the V6 models can have oil consumption tendencies. I haven’t been a victim of such a inconvenience yet and hope I never will.

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Visual news: I’ve made a recent purchase that’s going to start the process of making a rather drastic transformation of the Accord. I bought the Accord an OEM Honda Factory Performance (HFP) lower front spoiler! The HFP package came with an entire body kit (front spoiler, extended side skirts and rear skirt) and a sport tuned suspension which lowers the car 1 inch, sharpens steering and decreases body roll while obtaining a factory-like ride. All of this I eventually plan to install and if purchased new, it comes with Honda’s standard 3 year warranty. However, cost is an issue and I’ll go little by little. This front spoiler is the start of this upgrade package. It came brand new, pre-painted and it’s a hard item to come by since Honda doesn’t make the HFP body kits anymore. I was lucky enough to snatch this one up from a Honda dealer in Ohio. The other body kit elements will be tricky to find too, but I’ll deal with that later. Suspension upgrade will come much later on.

Here’s the box the front spoiler came in. It was nearly as big as the doors in my house!

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They did a nice job of packing it to protect the paint.

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The installation was simple. About 9 bolts/screws and some automotive double-sided tape. No drilling, cutting or even removing the front bumper was needed. So, here’s the front of the Accord before:

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And after:

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It actually doesn’t look too out of place with the stock side skirts, but I will still be on the search for some HFP ones.

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I love how the front spoiler lines up nicely with the RSX wheels—the offset is a little more aggressive than the stock Accord wheels, I believe.

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Overall, I’m very happy with the results and look forward to getting further into my HFP upgrade. Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

e46 and Taillights

Every once in a while, I start thinking about the past cars I’ve owned and one in particular always comes up. My old 2000 BMW 323i. This is a car I miss greatly. It’s hard to put into words why I miss it so much, or why (in my mind)  it was better than others I’ve owned. It wasn’t the best looking, not the fastest, not the most comfortable and it smelled of crayons. German cars have a habit of emitting this sort of scent as they age. The source of this smell is the rubberized insulation material…not harmful or toxic, just a characteristic. (Now I need to do a post on car smells)

Here’s the reason why I sold it: my neighbor gave me a very generous offer, and the 5-spd auto-tranny was starting to get a little sloppy at 130,000 miles. I’ve tried fluid changes, new filters and updated software and it still acted up every once in a while. Even when I disclosed this potential fault to my neighbor, he still wanted it. So I let him have it. My plan was to pick up another e46 BMW someday with a manual. That plan is still lingering in my head. As I do with many of my cars I own, I’ve done numerous little visual and performance modifications to make it “mine.”

Here she was when I first bought her. It had 104,000 miles and I sold it with nearly 130,000. (parked next to my buddy’s 2001 330i)

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I got it with two broken window regulators, missing trim pieces, fading paint/trim, fading/mismatched window tint and fatigued suspension. It was clear this car had sat outside for some years. Several (LOTS) of dollars later, I turned her into this:

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I absolutely loved the Stahlgrau Metallic color. 

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My carbon fiber wrapping job which I had to do twice due to my impatience and incompetence:

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But sadly, I had to wave goodbye in late 2011:

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It’s no secret I tinker and tweak my cars to my linking. Just enough to where they aren’t obviously stock, but not so much they are repulsive. Not everyone’s taste, I understand, but it’s a hobby that I enjoy. Taillights tend to be something I can’t leave alone. Nearly every car I’ve owned I’ve done some kind modification to them. My most common method is tinting the lens. It’s not illegal here in New Mexico and I try to make sure it’s done within reason. I’ve gone to the full extreme of actually blacking out the lights like here on my ’95 Pathfinder:

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And a very subtle tint like on my BMW:

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I’m not a big fan of the taillights on my Accord, to be honest. They are too big and a little bulky looking. Bland is actually the word that comes to mind. So I figured I’d try out a thin tint layer like I did on my BMW. In person, a light layer of tint tends to bring visual interest in basic red taillights. Darkening areas of the lens will reflect on the reflective bowl on the inside thus, giving the depth I want. I used VHT Nightshades. Overall, I was happy with the results:

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Here’s how it looked stock:

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First, I start off with a redneck sort of method of masking the area off in preparation of the spray tint. Also, I masked off the backup light portion of the lamp as I wanted it to stay clear. I’m generally not a fan of seeing any clear portion of a tail lamp tinted. It takes away from any crisp OEM-like appearance. I did a generous wipe down with Rubbing Alcohol to remove any wax/oil residue that may have been on the surface. Then I did a final wipe down with a clean, dry microfiber towel to make sure all lent and dust (as much as possible) is off.

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I applied several coats including making sure the edges were well covered. I wanted to apply more than needed because I would be buffing some away to get the final results I wanted.

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After it dried-to-touch, I removed the masking.

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Looks bad (borderline ricer) tinted like this but I had to leave it to dry and cure for 24hrs before I started the buffing/polishing stage.

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After the tint cured, I used Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound with a clean terry cloth to rub and polish away the excess tint. My goal was to purposely leave the tint uneven and thin to create an illusion of depth in the taillight. Careful attention was used to leave a decent amount of tint on the edges of the taillight. Again, for depth.

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Here’s the final result. Overall, I’m happy with them. In my opinion, they look better than aftermarket at least.

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I also got a fresh oil change and inspection this past Friday at Borman Honda in Las Cruces. This is when it was ready to pick up. Maybe it’s a placebo effect, but I always feel the powertrain runs smoother and more in harmony after a lube/oil.

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…and today after a trip up to see family in northern New Mexico, she rolled over to 110,000. So far, I’ve been averaging close to 1,500 miles a month with all my little exploratory trips around my area in southern New Mexico.

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Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Shift knob rejuvenation

Completed a mini project this week. I decided to take the stock shift knob and spruce it up a bit.

I often wonder how the previous owner shifted gears…bang on the shift-knob while wearing a spiked ring? There were several nicks on the top with the shift pattern. It looked dingy and really didn’t help the overall look of the interior. Even the factory finish from new was dull and unexciting.

Here’s how it looked before:

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I started off by (of course) taking the shift knob off and then masking off the leather portion to prevent abrasion from sanding.

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Then I started by sanding with 400 grit paper. This took off the factory clearcoat and got those nicks smoothed out. This was basically me taking a thin layer of aluminum off. Here’s how it looked half sanded.

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After about 30mins of sanding away:

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I followed by sanding with 1000 grit paper to further smooth out the surface for polish prep. I then polished with Meguiar’s Rubbing Compound, and then did a final polish with Meg’s 205 Finishing Compound. All of this was done by hand since the knob is too small for my rotary buffer, and I can have more precision.

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The bottom portion was polishing up nicely:

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The final step in my little project was applying some Meg’s leather conditioner cream to the leather section. Here’s the final product:

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Overall I’m very happy with the results. I plan to look into a topcoat of some sort to help protect the new finish. Either a clearcoat or Opti-Coat. Next mini project? Taillights. More on that this next week.

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Tint

Just got some 3M 20% tint all around. With the harsh desert sun here in the southwest, any other brand I’ve used have discolored or faded within a few years. The extra cost of 3M is well worth it.

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Took a break from the Interstate on my journey back home this weekend. I drove a beautiful strip of route 66 from Grants, NM to Mesita, NM. Travleing this back road is the only way to pass through several little villages that don’t even touch a map. The most impressive part of this highway is from Laguna to Mesita. Towering red rocks surrounded by juniper trees make for wonderful conclusion to the highway before you’re forced back on Interstate 40.

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New Headlights and LED Fogs

Even though I got the stock headlights looking pretty good, I wasn’t happy with the chrome housing inside the headlight. It didn’t look all that crisp and if you want you car to look good, it’s got to have mint headlights with a slightly darker tint on the housing for contrast. Here’s what I bought for mine…blackhoused headlights with a clear reflector. Personally I think amber reflectors can ruin clean lines of (not all) but some cars.

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And while I was at it, I installed some Audi A6-style LED light strips in the lower front bumper. It took some cutting but I got them to fit pretty well. I have yet to wire them up.

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2006 Acura RSX Type-S Wheels Installed for a different look…

I swapped my stock Accord wheels for my RSX wheels. I really liked the outcome and hardly anybody has this combo.

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