2009 Honda Civic Long-Term Road Test

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2009 Honda Civic GX: An Afternoon at the Pump

July 02, 2009

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Riswick Chillin at the Natural Gas Pump -- Photo by Mark Takahashi

Yep, that's me chilling out while the Civic GX gets filled up with clean natural gas at our local station. With only a quarter tank remaining, it took 24 minutes before I finally gave up and stopped the pump. Before explaining that, lets go back a bit.

Riswick watching the natural gas video -- Photo by Takahashi

Since I hadn't filled the GX in about a year, I had no idea what the code was assigned to my credit card from the filling station. Without that code you need to watch a little movie that explains how to use the pump. Not a bad idea since explosion is bad, but it would be nice if I could hear the video without putting my head up to it, thus making it impossible to see the screen. The photo at right wasn't staged. I then properly secured the pump handle to the Civic, lifted the required handle and waited for the pump to do its thing. And by thing I mean make a scary noise before sending gas into the pump. Again, photo below not staged.

Riswick wondering if he'll explode -- Photo by Takahashi

While a gasoline pump provides a constant stream of fuel, natural gas differs in its flow. Sometimes its quick, but most of the time it's glacial, with the thousandths of a gallon increment moving about every half second. As I sat with my issue of Classic Cars, I kept peering over at the gallon equivalent read-out moving ever-so slowly. After 24 minutes, I noticed the Percentage Filled read-out. It read 100. Then I read underneath it that I should have shut off the pump when it hit 100 -- there is no automatic shut off like a gasoline pump. The damn video didn't say anything about that. Who knows how long it had been on 100, but the gallon equivalent read out was still slowly going north. I stopped the pump, didn't explode, packed up my chair, magazine and Dr. Pepper.

Turning on the car, the fuel gauge slowly added little digital Chiclets. It finally rested on one short of completely full -- after 5.423 gallons and 24 minutes. This has something to do with pump pressures optimized for the tank, yada yada.

Now, yesterday I mentioned how buying a Phill unit is a difficult prospect these days. Yet even if I was parked in John O'Dell's house with his Phill unit, I wouldn't have got the job done any faster. Far from it. According to Mr. O'Dell, it would take about 8 to 10 hours to fill up on an average day, starting with more fuel in the tank than I had. To Phill it completely, it would take 20 hours. Awesome.

I'm not sure what any of this says about the viability of the natural gas Honda Civic, or the Phill, or the Pickens plan in general, but I know I wouldn't like living with the GX as my only car. At least I'd get in some good reading, though.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 32,665 miles

Photos by Mark Takahashi

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