COAL Dust • The Rest of the Stories + Afterword

Believe it or don’t, I didn’t do a complete job of bitching and moaning about my ’07 Accord. I’ll try and remedy that here and now, but I can’t guarantee.

I got tired of quite so many blue-white LEDs glaring at me from the dashboard after dark (because some wanker at Honda was way too tickled at their availability, and that person’s supervisor failed to yank the leash and holler NO!), so on a whim I applied kapton tape, which helped quite a bit. I’d do the instrument cluster lens if I were less busy and more inclined to futz with this car.

Among the many examples of lousy ergonomics, there’s something strange about the driver’s footwell that makes me want to park my left foot behind my right one while driving. There’s a left-footrest thing, kind of a half-effort at a dead pedal, but in this car more than any other I’ve driven, I have to constantly move my left foot out from behind my right one. To leave it there would be unsafe in an emergency: muscles tense up, left foot moves forward on stiff leg, blocking right foot from lifting off the accelerator and moving to the brake. So I move my left foot again and again.

There were distracting reflections in my sightlines when I got the car. The Honda H-logo in the middle of the steering wheel was this bright, shiny chrome thing very efficient at shooting sun-rays into my eyes, and the chrome strip on the leftmost dashboard air register handle reflected off the inside of the driver’s door window, right in the middle of the sideview mirror, creating a creepy corner-of-eye sensation that there was another car hanging out at the border of the blind zone. These are two completely stupid, utterly avoidable screwups. Seriously, did nobody at Honda actually try driving one of these cars around the block before signing off? I remedied their half-baked work with a small paintbrush and a little glass bottle of Testor’s matte black model paint, which matched the black plastic steering wheel centre pad and rest-of-HVAC-register-handle just about exactly.

And speaking of black plastic, the interior door panels are made of genuine hard black plastic. Y’member that scene in “The Money Pit” when Tom Hanks, having slept on the floor because the furniture hadn’t yet arrived, says When they advertised hardwood floors, what they really meant was hard…wood floors? These door panels are like that. The “armrest” (Hah! Oh, I slay me) might be correctly placed for someone with forearms numerous inches longer than mine, or I suppose I could lower the driver’s seat until I’m driving like my grandma in her ’71 Cadillac, peering out at the world through the crescent between the steering wheel and the dashboard. That might work if I were to drop the steering wheel to its lowest setting. But even if my elbow could reach it, the “armrest” only looks padded. My elbow can reach the top of the door panel okeh, but that’s not even pretending to be padded. In exasperation and with an elbow ache one day, I went into an Office Despot and bought a keyboard-and-mouse wrist rest set. Wound up gluing them in place with trim adhesive, which sorta worked. The stretchy covering is coming off the upper one, and stained on the lower one, but they make the arm accommodations somewhat less inferior to those in the AA-body Mopars I drove.

I got new tires on the Accord yesterday. Looked into replacing the 17″ alloys with 15″ steelies for some more sidewall cushioning, but although the rotors are the same size on the cars with fifteens, the calipers are ever so slightly different to clear the 15″ wheels. Shishkebab. By reflex I started an overly-involved search for optimal tires; this quickly threatened to get out of hand. I closed most of the browser tabs, and found a highly-rated reputable-brand tire conveniently available and not made in a country whose products I try to avoid. They’re General Altimax 365AWs, made in America. The shop says I really got my use out of the previous Pirellis, and I guess they must be right—not long after carping on here a few weeks ago about this car’s lousy fuel economy, I found all four tires very underinflated (the least airy was at 16 psi / 1.1 bar). The car’s much quieter inside with the new tires, and feels more stable. I’m not expecting a miracle, but I’ll be interested to watch the fuel consumption.

Mine and two other silver Japanese sedans at the tire shop yesterday morning. I’m so excited…and I just can’t hide it…

I got almost exactly 50,000 miles from the Pirellis, and when I swapped the old tire invoice for the new one in the glovebox, I did a little reckoning: in constant 2021 US Dollars, I paid about 16 per cent less yesterday than I did in 2016, for tires that are at least as good and very likely better. The shop also said there was no indication that an alignment was needed. They do alignments; they could easily have sold me one, but no. Get that: 50,000 miles and counting on an alignment! They just don’t make ’em like they used to, I tells ya.

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