Despite being 5 weeks since since I last made a blog post, I have still been busy doing automotive related things. Unfortunately, most of those things do not warrant a blog post, and quite honestly would be pretty boring to my average reader. However, in effort to get some content out, I will attempt to give you a quick recap of how the last five weeks have been going for me.
The last blog post that came out on June 28th 2020 was the conclusion of my Dads CR-V rebuild. It basically was a recap of the whole process, and a final photo shoot of the car at a cliche location in San Pedro, CA. Since my Dad lives in Torrance and I had to bring the car back to him, I thought what better of a place to shoot such a boring, bland car than one of the most Iconic areas to take automotive photographs. In case you missed the last post you can click on the link below to read.
After driving the CR-V for the better part of the last six months, it became apparent that I needed some sort of daily driver (Again). Yes, I do still have my 4 door EK, but if you recall I swapped a B16 into it, along with some other nifty improvements that would make the car a perfect target for thieves. If you’re not all caught up with my 4 door, you can get up to speed by clicking the link below.
I was going to be losing the CR-V as a daily, and this meant that I was going to have to figure something out quick. Obviously I wasn’t going to be able to drive my EG
Or my EK
Because those things would be prime targets for getting stolen. My temporary solution was… I was going to use my brothers Honda Africa Twin motorcycle. He has no use for it, and it was just collecting dust at my Dads house. So when I dropped of the CR-V at his house, I picked up my brothers motorcycle and drove it back to Las Vegas.
This seemed like a good enough fix for my problem at the time, as I’m no stranger to motorcycles.
After daily(ing) the Africa for a few weeks it became apparent that this was not going to work out long term for me. I had previously daily’d an FZ-09 for almost two year straight and it worked out perfectly. There was something about the Africa that just wasn’t working for me. As I got into my third week of riding the Africa, I could tolerate it no more and I began to weigh out my options for getting another vehicle. Currently, including the Africa I had three motorcycles in my garage, two Civic’s, and a ford ranger that I had parked at Ever’s house. This was WAY to many vehicles for one person, so I began to look into selling. Like most of us, I really want a FK8. Would this really be the best car for a daily though? For more than a week I played with the idea of selling some of my vehicles.
If I decided to get a FK8 I would have to park it in my garage, and that meant that one of my civics would have to be sold to make room for it. Since both my EG, and EK had a bunch of flashy things on them, leaving them parked in my driveway was begging for one of them to get stolen. Now on to which one I would part with… I would sell the EG before the EK (be that’s a surprise to most of you) and to be quite honest, having a FK8 would render both car useless because on track the FK8 would be quicker, and then as a daily the FK8 would be much better (and less likely to get stolen because of anti theft devices, can’t use a shaved down key on them, and their odd lug pattern would make stealing the wheels less desirable)
Ill be quite honest, I was VERY close to getting an FK8. On the end however I was just not able to justify the monthly payments, and insurance it would cost. Plus I was having a hard time letting go of my EG (and lets be honest, I wouldn’t get anywhere near what it’s worth) I did however really want to sell my truck that had literally been sitting at Ever’s house for nearly two years.
Wayyyy back in 2003 when I first moved to Las Vegas, I decided… When in Rome, do as the Romans and I bought a Ford Ranger. With in 2 years time I had outfitted it with Camburg, Deavers, Swayaway, and other cliches that made it a typical “prerunner”. This truck was literally my daily driver from 2003-2017 and worked without issue during that whole time, despite it’s regular thrashings off road.
I was able to sell the truck and had some extra cash in my pocket. Of course I really wanted to do CTR cams, Dual valve springs, and COP conversion on my 4 door, but I had to think logically here, after all I really needed a daily. I was also still on the fence about selling other vehicles to fund the purchase of a FK8. While still trying to figure out what my next move was going to be, an offer to good to refuse came up and I had to go for it.
Behold, quite possibly the best deal I have ever come across! A one owner 2009 Honda Civic EX-L, manual, with 100k miles. It was perfect, I had always loved the look of the 8th gen sedan. This happened to be a friend of my Dad’s which worked out perfectly because I could drive my brothers Africa back down to southern California, drop it back off at his house, pick up the civic, and drive back to Las Vegas.
Now I know what a lot of you’re thinking… Didn’t I already buy a 4 door civic 2 years ago as a daily? Well… Yes, yes I did and as you already know, I don’t drive it because I don’t want it to get stolen (again).
Of course this isn’t going to replace my lust for a FK8. One thing it will do is buy my some time to figure out what I want to do with my other cars/motorcycles. Endgame will always be a FK8 and how could it not be, but with everything crazy going on in the world and my crazy new work schedule, I haven’t even done a track event with the B16 swap yet. I figure its not like I’m missing much by not owning a FK8 right now (other then not having the awesome machine in my garage) since I don’t really plan on doing much track stuff in the coming months.
As you probably guessed, I’m going to be modifying the FA1. I just can’t leave anything stock! Plus I want to enjoy the drive to and from work, I want to be have a car that makes me smile when I drive it/look at it, and I want a car that is very agile and fun to drive. Sure I’ve already go two of those cars in my garage, but this is different. This will be a daily… Power steering, power windows, cruise control, heated seats, and yes… even A/C. I can honestly say that I have never been more excited about a car in my whole life. This is the newest car I have ever owned (with exception of Angie’s FIT, but that’s her car) Everything works on this car, the steering is still tight like a new car, the shocks and bushings aren’t worn out so the car rides incredibly smooth, the interior is nice and fully functioning. Hell, When I bought my 99 ranger in 2003 there were more things that didn’t work on it.
This car ushers in a new chapter in my life. No longer will I be a 37 year man that is driving a 90’s econobox for a daily. I have cup holders, carpet, I can hold a conversation with my passengers without having to talk loudly. It’s high time I became an adult, and what better way than with the most vanilla Civic ever made.
First thing I did to the car (even before I left my Dads house) was an oil change. That should be a no brainier, any time you buy a car form anyone you should always change the oil because you have no idea how long that oil has been in there. Next thing I wanted to do was a K&N drop in filter. Remember this car is very slow, and I didn’t want to make it noisy. Whether or not a drop in filter does anything for performance can be argued till the cows come home, but it makes me feel better and for 50 bucks is worth it. Next on the list of must do, was restore the headlights. Unfortunately, this would have to wait a few days until I was off work.
As you can see there is a huge improvement, but because the cloudy/haze is actually on the inside of the headlight there is a lot left to be desired. As of now I’m just going to leave it, but Im not going to lie, I have looked at the cost of new OEM headlights.
I managed to get the car out for a photo shoot.
As you can see the car is unbelievably clean, and straight.
Time to bring on the OEM parts!
First up was a new cabin filter since I wanted to retain A/C I wanted to help the car out as much as possible. The other OEM item in the picture is a new hood prop clip.
Below you can see the old broken clip.
And the new one.
Look at how gross that old cabin filter is. It’s also worth noting that the one I took out wasn’t an OEM one, which means it has been changed at least once in it’s 11 years of being a car. (you should check yours, its easy to check and change. Its right behind your glove box)
Next up were some new OEM spark plugs. Since the car had 100k miles on it I figured it was time to change them. The other small bag in the picture is an AC relay. When I bought the car I was perplexed as to why the AC didn’t work on the car. It was not like Honda to make a car that would have something break after only 10 years of use. Hell, even the AC in the CR-V works great still. After a quick internet search, it turns out that this is a common problem for the 8th gen Civic’s and the cure is a simple A/C relay.
To change the spark plugs on the R18A motor, is probably the easiest spark plug change I have ever done.
- Unplug the 4 plugs that go to each coil pack.
- use a 10mm to remove the nuts that secure the coil packs
- pull the coil packs out
- remove the old spark plugs
- install the new ones (don’t forget the anti seize on the new plugs, just a little bit will suffice)
- Reconnect everything, and you’re good to go.
Next the faulty A/C relay needs to get switched out.
Once removed, just simply press the new one in. A/C is working perfectly. You should know why I choose to get an OEM relay (about 17 bucks) over an auto zone one. If you don’t, then you need to read more of my blog.
The next thing on the list was “Window Visors.” I have always liked how these cut down the window noise, and allow you to keep the windows slightly down during the rain. I just never did this on any of my other civics since they were more purpose built. Yes, The window visors are the OEM Honda ones, I really wanted the Mugen one’s but couldn’t find them anywhere ( I believe they are discontinued)
Next its on to the interior. I had a spare Spoon duracon knob, so I threw it on. Unfortunately the OEM boot clipped into the OEM knob, so without the OEM knob there was a ring left on the boot and not to mention the boot was kinda gross and tearing.
So I ordered an OEM SI boot. This one is meant for a knob that doesn’t clip in.
Below you can see the comparison.
It looks so much better. (yes the interior is a bit dirty, eventually I will get the time to get it all detailed.)
Lastly, I took care of an issues that plagues not only the 8th gen Civic but most other new Civic’s/Rsx’s. The clutch master cylinder. On the 02-06 RSX and the 06-15 Civics, for some reason they decided to change the design of the clutch master cylinder and incorporate and fluid dampener to help alleviate fluid pulse vibrations that travel to the clutch pedal, and make the overall clutch pedal feel very dull. Not only is this not good when aggressively driving and can even cause slight grinding on high RPM shifts, but the newer style master cylinder is prone to failing much sooner than on previous “golden era” Honda’s.
When I first got in the car, I pressed in the clutch pedal and could feel a click half way through the travel as I applied pressure to it. I knew right away that the clutch master cylinder was bad. What scared me though was, how long had this been like this and did it cause any premature wear to the transmission? Rather than order another OEM unit that was prone to premature failure, I opted to do the EM1 master cylinder conversion on it. There are many conversion kits on the market, but as you can see above I chose to go with the Hybrid Racing one. I decided on the Hybrid one because it utilizes an OEM EM1 master cylinder and you know I love me some OEM
Most all of the kits only specify the SI model so I was a bit concerned about it working on my EX (R18A) model. After a part number reference check to compare a 2009 Civic SI clutch master cylinder to a 2009 Civic EX clutch master cylinder, I found out that both models do in fact share the same part number for the clutch master cylinder. Now as for the slave cylinder and clutch hard line these are not the same part number, which made me a bit skeptical that the conversion kit would work. Because the kit came with a SS line that ran from the master cylinder to the slave I knew that I wouldn’t need to worry about that. What did worry me though was the slave cylinder where the line threaded in… Was it a different size, was the orientation of the port not going to allow for proper alignment of the SS line. It turns out that everything worked just fine and despite not having an SI I was able to use the “SI clutch master cylinder conversion kit”
Along with the Clutch master conversion kit, I also decided to install some shifter cable bushings. I figured that it would be an easy thing to do since I was going to have the air box out of the way while doing the master cylinder.
Below you can see the difference between the two master cylinder designs. 2009 civic one on the left, and 2000 civic one on the right. You’ll also notice that I just cut the hard line. I had to do this because there was no way I was getting both of my hands way in there to use a 17mm to hold the fitting and a 10mm to loosen the hard line. Since the conversion kit comes with a whole new SS line I just figured it would be easy to just snip it off. *pro tip, If you use dykes (diagonal cutters) to snip the hard line you will also need to crimp it closed so no fluid leaks out.
To make this conversion work you will need to take the plunger rod from your 2009 master cylinder, and swap it on to the 2000 one. This can be done by using spring clip pliers to remove the C clip holding the rod in. TO make things simple, make sure the shorter rod (from the 2009 master cylinder) is installed on to the 2000 master cylinder.
Below you can see the shifter bushings installed.
Its best to pre assemble the new mast cylinder out side of the car because it’s going to be next to impossible to tighten everything once it’s in the engine bay. Don’t forget to bench bleed the new master. Do this by:
- bolting up the master to the firewall and connecting it to the clutch pedal.
- connect the rubber hose for the reservoir to the plastic reservoir.
- fill the reservoir with fluid.
- loop the SS line into the reservoir.
- Have someone in the car press the clutch pedal slowly, and repeatedly to evacuate the air from the system
- Have someone else hold the SS line in bottom of the reservoir maintaining the fluid level.
- Once no mare air bubbles are visible, take the SS line and now thread it into the slave cylinder.
- Lastly, fully bleed the clutch pedal.
Since I was already over at Ever’s house, I wanted to test fit his 17×8.5 +40 Te37’s with 235/40 tires.
Ill be the first to admit that when it comes to the 8th gen chassis, I have a lot to learn. So when it comes to what wheel/tire combo fits the best with out having to roll/shave or run too much camber I’m way out of my league. From what I’ve been reading, it seems like I’m going to go with a 17×9 +35 in front with a 245/40 tire. This seems to be max size that will clear the OEM front strut, if you convert to a coilover you can generally run a bit wider, or less offset. The rear is where is seems to get a bit tricky, because there isn’t as much fender clearance. I don’t want to roll or shave them, and I don’t want to run more than -1.8 camber in the rear. So for now I’m thinking I might be able to get away with 17×9 +45 with a 245/40 tire in the rear, but after test fitting Ever’s wheels I’m not so sure.
Since the car is a daily and I’m not looking for max performance, I do think about getting 18×8.5 all around but then I think of how much more 18 inch wheels and tires cost, and the fact that they will also be slightly heavier than the 17’s. I do think that since I’m only lowering the car a little more than an inch that 18’s would fill the wheel well a bit more. For now I’m just waiting on installing the springs so that I can test fit more wheels once its been lowered.
For now this is how the car sits:
Like I stated earlier in the article, I truly am going to try my hardest to keep this as close to stock and dailyable as possible. I have two other cars that are race cars and I want this one to be just enough to enjoy the commute to work, and the spirited drive. I also want a car that will be nice to look at too, one that will bring a smile to my face when I lay eyes on it from across the parking lot.
Future Mod List:
- Swift spec R springs
- SI front sway bar
- Progress 24mm rear sway bar
- SI axle back muffler
For now that is all the plans I have for it.
I want to thank everyone for your continued support thought this uncertain time. My goal has always been to get a blog post out every week and for the last three months I know it has been a little inconsistent. I promise that I will always continue to do the blog, and modify cars.
I realize the FA1 chassis isn’t the most exciting chassis to modify, and it’s probably not the most interesting thing to read about, but for now It’s my newest thing to focus my attention on. Hopefully the small maintenance mods and silly things I plan on doing with this car will help some others out in their journey to fix up their own 8th gen civic. I’m excited to see where this road takes me, and just remember that one day COVID will not be so prevalent, my work schedule will be better, and track days will be a thing again. I cant wait to take my EK out on track again and try out the B16, and get some real content flowing again.
If you have any questions about anything related to this post, or just want to ask me why I’m wasting my time fixing up a boring civic and not putting any money I have into getting a FK8… Please don’t hesitate to ask. fair warning though, I’m not even really sure myself.