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Old 02-03-2009, 12:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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My new Civic VX

I've been working as a freelance courier, using a bike 90% of the time and using an hourly car rental service when I needed one. This year I've gotten enough business to justify keeping my own car handy - but I wasn't going to settle for anything except the most fuel efficient car I could get.

I learned about the most fuel efficient Honda Civic, the VX, from this forum and a couple other places and set out to find one. It took me about three months to find a good deal - plenty of owners out there know exactly what they have, remember the recent $5/gal gas prices, and want double the blue book excellent value for their less-than-excellent VX. One guy wouldn't take a dime less than $4000 for his 95 with 110k miles on it. The blue book said $2500 max, if it's 'excellent'.. so I kept searching, and ended up (through a 'wanted' ad I placed) finding a great deal one one that had 1 owner, all records, new tires, and had gotten regular service at the Honda dealership it's whole life.

I've been reading the posts here for a long time but this is my first time writing, since I've finally got something to talk about. Since I know there's at least a couple 5th gen. Civic owners on here, and probably a few VX owners, I figured it might be a good place to start.

Here's what I've experienced so far - the fuel economy right from the start, despite needing a tune-up, has been incredible. The last car I owned was a Geo Metro but it never came close to this. I gave it an oil change, new plugs/cables/dizzy cap and air filter, and it runs much better. The only problem I had was when I let the guys at Shucks talk me into fancy Platinum spark plugs. It doesn't like the performance plugs, misfired until I put the low-end plugs in, then it ran great.

I do hear a little.. tin-can sounding rattle.. from somewhere when accelerating through the lower gears. I haven't checked the transmission fluid yet, but it shifts just fine. My next stop is to get it's valves adjusted, I figure that could be the cause of the rattle sound and should help things. Maybe the timing adjusted too, I guess.

The one issue it has is that the speedometer cuts out at random times, and the odometer, trip meter stop with it. I'm not worried about it's actual miles because the records the owners kept are consistant (new tires bought years ago). It's basically been sitting for a long time. Has anybody else seen this? I would jack up the car and test the sensor with a DMM but it's so random, it might take a half hour to quit working suddenly.

I've seen the elaborate DIY body kits people have posted on here, pretty cool but I can't really do that with all the hills and chunky roads in Seattle. I'm thinking a belly pan, rear wheel covers, smooth wheel covers in front, and maybe a partial cambak would help improve aerodynamics. Besides that, engine mods like 5th gear replacement? fuel/oil additives? I want to put in the MPG display but it sounds like a lot of work when I can just use the tripmeter.. at least I could if it worked all the time.

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Old 02-03-2009, 04:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hey Deft,

Welcome and congratulations on finding a VX for a reasonable price! I went through the same pain trying to find a decent used one at a reasonable price that you did... almost gave up but then I found it. Pretty happy with mine too. Persistence makes it possible!

I'd recommend checking all the electrical connections between the sensors and the instrument panel as a first step... This is where a factory service manual would be invaluable so you can see which connectors the speedo / odo signals travel through. I have one and would be willing to help you out if you've got questions.
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Old 02-04-2009, 12:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome aboard fellow VX owner!

The speedo thing is a common issue with 5th gen Hondas. First thing to check is the VSS (Vehicle Speed Sensor). It's located on the back-top (towards the firewall) on the transmission. Check for any corrosion on the pins on the sensor itself and the harness plug that goes into it. After cleaning it, if the problem persists, remove the instrument cluster and check the plastic printed circuit board on the back for any cracks in the traces. If all else fails, you can get another speedo cluster off of Ebay and then swap in just the speedometer portion into the VX cluster.

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-04-2009, 03:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for chiming in TomO!

Based on the amount of information that I've found related to the Honda VX either authored by or consolidated by TomO, he's the guy you want to listen to...
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well now, don't go making me out to be the VX God, lol. I've learned everything that I know about the VX through various readings that were given to me by several people on a couple of different boards. That, and spending some time with my own VX tearing apart and tinkering and putting things back together.

Let's just say that I'm good at getting VX info localized into one (or two, or even three) areas to share with others. Thus increasing the VX knowledge for the good of Ecomodder humanity!


Ok, I'm going to stop now, lol.

PS - It's kind of embarrassing to have such a bad average MPG on my VX as well. but I have a few things going against my car though; Bad thermostat (just replaced it the last week in Jan.), the weather was really cold for a month (Avg -10F), a clutch that is on it's way out, and more than 370K miles on my motor now (the valve stem seals leak a tad of oil and the rings are going)....This spring the rebuilt D15Z1 goes in...along with the new drive shafts, new clutch, and new lower balljoints.


PPS - I've found that the NGK V-Power plugs work out the best in the D15Z1 (VX motor) NGK V-Power Spark Plugs No. ZFR4F-11

You've probably already read that in other posts but I'm just covering bases.
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Old 04-02-2009, 11:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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stolen, recovered

I can't believe I didn't post about it here since I posted everywhere else, but after barely having the car for 1 month it was stolen on the 20th of February. To make it even worse my best bike, a 92 Pinarello Galileo with good stuff on it, was locked up in the back of it and stolen with it.

I posted non stop about it on craigslist and local blogs, put up -hundreds- of flyers, combed through the area's known stolen car dump spots, followed several false leads, even tried to track it down by posing as a used civic parts buyer with no results.

After about 5 weeks I had lost most all hope of recovering it in any decent condition and was shopping for the next car. I got reminded then just how hard to find Civic VXs are, especially with around 100k miles and one owner. Then one night a cyclist wrote me saying he saw the car at 45th Ave. NE and NE 55th St., I headed straight for it and found it there INTACT, WITH THE BIKE STILL IN IT.

They had only stolen the battery, stereo, and some random things that were in the car. Best part is that the people right next door to the little dead-end (right next to a very popular biking trail, the burke-gilman trail) had seen some kids taking my stuff out of the car and recognized them - because these kids were THEIR NEIGHBORS. So currently the cops are looking into all this and I expect they will likely arest the punks and hopefully recover some of my stuff.

Now I'm making the car basically theft-proof with a few simple additions which makes it into a very hard car to steal; locks/switches/alarm, and a one-way ticket to jail for anyone who does -- see baitcar.com, it's something like that. I love the car more than ever now and am planning some mods to it after the anti-theft stuff is finished.
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Old 04-03-2009, 12:05 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Congrats on the luck of finding it mostly intact!!
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Old 04-11-2009, 11:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The speedo thing

Hi,

We had the same issue on the VX that we got last fall. Changed the speed sensor and it was still intermittent. Couldn't find one on eBay at the time, so I paid too much at a local salvage yard for one with 98K. Ours had 225K on it when we got it, and the guy at the salvage yard, who drives a FifthGen himself, said that he's seem them all fail around 200K, including his own. It does make you wonder what the mileage really is when you get a car that's doing that intermittent thing - exactly how long has it been like that! After the replacement it's been rock solid.

Scott
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Old 04-22-2009, 02:37 PM   #9 (permalink)
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speedo

yeah I decided to let it go, I plan on being the final owner and I don't really need it. I can use the GPS for speed and add up the miles when I need to know from it's 'tracking unit' (hidden phone). see http://crudehacks.com it's the first hack I put up. fortunately I know from the last owner's records exactly what miles it had when, and it all adds up. they put on new tires at 107,000 miles and show little wear at 109,000. The speedo guage was just starting to break when I bought it.

also I put in an alarm with a pager, left out the siren and hid it very well. if it gets broken into, stolen, I want to catch them in the act. All sirens do is annoy people and tell the thief to run away. I'd rather they stick around and get caught.

this guy has some great advice on kill switches and stealthy alarm installs; http://causeforalarm.thecarthing.com
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Old 04-22-2009, 02:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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So I'm guessing you never fixed the speedo? Sounds like just get need a new one, not too hard to buy on ebay and swap into the cluster.

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