A lesson on car mechanics

I drive a 2003 Honda Civic EX. I’ve had it since the summer of my sophomore year in college. It’s my second car (my first was a 1990 Honda Accord station wagon, a hand-me-down from first my mom, then my brother). 12 years worth of school and work commutes and road trips to LA/Portland/Seattle/San Diego. My napping, eating, and down time place when I hopped from student teaching in the morning, to part time job in the afternoon, to evening classes at CSUS. My moving truck between two apartments in Davis, back to my parent’s house, and to the 5 other places I’ve lived around the east bay. I’ve driven family, friends, pets, and students in it. It’s the longest relationship I’ve had with an inanimate object, and also the most trusted one. It’s kept me safe in hailstorms, fog so thick that you can’t see your hand in front of your face, black ice, blinding sun, traffic jams, pot holes, and 115°F heat waves.

I think I’ve treated it nicely. Religiously taking it in to a certified Honda service location for every maintenance from big to small. Making it a priority to save money so that all repairs can be completed without having to wait. I keep it clean and never leave junk in it for longer than necessary. The only thing I don’t really do is wash it, even in non-drought conditions I would let the dust and dirt create a patina on my car. It’s well-loved and well used.

And it’s not dead yet! Although I am facing a pretty large maintenance issue right now. The largest since I replaced the timing belt, etc., several years ago. It’s 12 years old. It’s bound to have some normal wear and tear. Hence a lesson on the front wheel drive suspension.

I had my brake pads changed recently, which was when a leak on the strut dust boot was discovered. The leak created extra stress on the entire suspension system, making the ball joint burst. Which in turn caused the entire car to vibrate extra hard. Which in turn loosened the front engine mount. (Thanks Honda Service Advisor Dude for the explanation!)


So the entire thing has to be replaced if I don’t want my engine to fall out of my car. Grand total: ~$1300. They gave me a ‘vintage discount,’ which I found to be hilarious. I have a ‘vintage’ car.

Service Advisor Dude expects the rear suspension to fall apart as well, eventually. I suppose I am loving my car to pieces, literally.

I would rather drive my trusty Civic to the ground before thinking about replacing it, although I know at some point, the maintenance cost will be so much that I might as well get a new one. Until then, it’s continued trips to the service department for me. I’m glad they give discounts to vintage customers.


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