Concerning cars

I just got my CA driver's license, having passed both the written and the driving test (without once referring to any instructional material, I might add... I am quietly proud). I am also pleased that they re-took my license photo. The first one was taken after a 2 hour wait at the DMV and without access to a mirror. If I want to know what I'd look like in twenty years after a nasty crack habit and being arrested for disturbing the peace at 3 AM, I now have a reference. Even the DMV lady said "Whoa!" when she saw it. Or maybe it was "Woe!" Either fits.

People wash their cars here a lot. Like, once a week. Perhaps as a consequence, car washes have evolved strangely. You drive your car up to the "vacuum station" and give it to the care of the attendants. Then you while away the wait in the fully appointed gift shop. This one reminded me of Home Again on Broadway. Clothes, hats, shoes, all kinds of candles and scented unguents, tchotchkes, a wall of wine, wine accessories... and the wall of the corridor to the cashier is glass so you can watch your car proceeding through the cleaning process. The cashier's room looks more like a hotel lobby; comfy chairs, coffee and tea. You pay the cashier for the car wash and whatever else you picked up, then stroll out to your shiny-clean car. It's positively decadent.

Upon reflection, car washes like what I'm used to (a la the PetroCan) are probably poorly suited to the climate. They probably had one too many cars roll out with their occupants parboiled and dead.

And the oil in my car is still there after the weekend's driving, and still even a reasonable colour! After my old "Check the gas and fill up the oil" Civic, this is a pleasant surprise indeed. I'm planning on making an exploratory call to the Honda dealership here, to see what's involved in replacing the speedometer plate (though I'm getting pretty good at the km->miles conversion) and maybe even installing air conditioning. Hey, it might be possible. Allow me my dreams.


  1. Terry said...

    Almost all cars are set up for factory air conditioning these days. That means the ducts and the wiring are put in there at the factory when the seats and steering wheel go in. If you decide later on that you want a/c, you can simply order a kit from the manufacturer which contains the compressor, the condenser and everything else you need. And that stuff can be installed later on. I've never done it myself, but I'm told it's very easy, albeit time-consuming. If you want a craft project... :)  

  2. Amy said...

    This is heartening, since I just received almost the opposite advice (impossible and/or hideously expensive) from another friend. :)

    And to clarify another point, my speedometer does actually have mph on it, in small painted letters. The trouble is that they're invisible at night.

    By the way, I had a complete stranger walk up to my door here and offer to buy my car. Honda's not making hatchbacks any more, but I guess there's still a demand.  

  3. Terry said...

    What year is your car? I found online installation instructions for 2001-2004 civic models at (look for the 'Air Conditioner Kit' and the links underneath) You could take a look at those instructions and see if it's worthwhile. But wouldn't you rather do it than some stranger?

    The kits seems to sell for under $1000. "Hideously expensive"?

    (P.S. I would NOT buy from the site I linked. 'Handa' was my first clue they're bogus, but the A/C installation instructions they have seem to be copies of the genuine article.)

    (P.P.S Who was the other friend who said impossible? Cars are not impossible. Only extremely frustrating Not that I'm trying to knock good mechanics... But have you seen some of the mechanics who are making a living at this? I doubt they could figure out )

    (P.P.P.S. From looking at the instructions, there doeesn't seem to be anything hard about it... But there sure is a lot of stuff. One do-it-yourself site I hit said to make sure you leave yourself at least a whole weekend to do it.)

    (P.P.P.P.S. I'm on several Toyota auto forums. If only you were driving a Toyota, I could give you prices and help! :) )  

  4. Amy said...

    I have a 2000 Civic CX, so I think I'll ask a dealer.

    "Handa" appears to mean "H & A", by the way, as in "Honda and Acura". I don't think that illegitimises them.

    Toyota's a fine company, but they don't make a small, economical hatchback, to my knowledge. Sure, the Celica's technically a hatch, but it doesn't have the cargo space and access of the Civic.

    I really really really miss the split hatch of the '93 Civics, though. Le sigh.  

  5. MikeH said...

    Hi Amy! Mike (Haug) finally checking in from Ottawa. I do believe this is my first post to a blog. Ever. Next thing you know I'll be using electric lights and sending telegrams just like everybody else! But seriously, the blog was a great idea. Glad to see you and Randy are settling in as nicely as can be expected.

    I know for a fact that you can have an A/C kit installed in your 2000 Civic, because when I purchased my 2000 Civic DX hatchback, it came without A/C and I had the dealer install the kit. The cost was in the neighbourhood of $1000.00. The only potential snag with DIY is that you probably won't be able to charge it with refrigerant yourself. I'd guess almost any garage could take care of charging the system for you.

    Either way, if your car is like mine, you'll be amused at how the car turns into a dog with the A/C on. I have to turn it off on long hills. Sheesh. It still beats simmering in one's own juices, so I'm coping one snappy downshift at a time.  

  6. Amy said...

    Squee! Hi Mike! Welcome to the 20th century! :)

    Good news about the A/C, thanks! I don't think DIY is really an option for me... I don't have the tools or the experience. I don't even know enough to know what I don't know. Also, it's been 100+ here pretty steadily and my mental acuity is inversely proportional to the temperature.

    The hills thing is unfortunate to say the least, seeing as how the Bay Area is rather hilly in the same way that Saskatchewan is rather flat and the ocean is rather wet.

    Maybe I'll get nitrous put in at the same time. :)  


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