July 28, 2009
There's not much new to say about the Civic GX - it still runs like a top, albeit one that's a bit slow to wind up; hasn't given us any trouble and except for a little body work after a fender-bender hasn't been in the shop other than for oil changes and one brake job (a problem with Civics).
The first major service isn't scheduled until 100,000 miles - that's about 67,000 miles from now - and I've every reason to believe it will get there just fine.
Not sure about its home fueling companion, though.
Our Phill is about 25 percent through its apparently artificial lifespan of 6,000 hours.
The installer pointed this out to me when he hung the unit on the garage wall: FuelMaker programmed the software to shut the system down at 6,000 hours to ensure that nothing bad would happen - and, probably, to make a little more money as the approved route was to ship it back to FuelMaker for a $2,000 rebuild.
FuelMaker's gone now, and a new company - Fuel System Solutions - has taken over, promising to continue making home units and repairing Phills.
We don't know yet how FSS is going to handle stuff, but we're hoping that its installers and repair people will be allowed to reprogram the thing so that it keeps running as long as its parts allow.
I ran the "hours of service" check this morning - for the first time - and found that our Phill has somewhere between 1,500 and 1,749 hours on its clock (instrumentation is minimal, just a set of lights that come on in a coded sequence to tell you the range of hours that the pump's been operating.
If anyone at Fuel System Solutions is listening: put a real clock on the new units, please, along with a gauge that records how much natural gas flows through. The lack of either is a big flaw on the present model.
Back to the Civic GX - I haven't been driving it much lately because I've been working from home for a bit and haven't been commuting.
But I'm headed to the airport in the morning and unlike the other 50,000 or so people who'll be crowding the freeway about then, I'm looking forward to the drive - CNG cars here in California are considered "Clean Air Cars" because of their very low emissions and for that reason get a single-occupancy carpool lane pass.
John O'Dell, Senior Editor, Green Car Advisor
April 14, 2009
Yes, we've still got our long term Honda Civic GX and it's managed to crest the 30,000-mile mark. Soon after meeting that impressive milestone, we got a warning lamp in the shape of a wrench and a flashing counter displaying the miles elapsed since we were first warned. (You can see that in the picture, I managed to catch it during a flash.)
The GX's 30,000-mile service is the big one in the GX schedule. Air filter, AC filter, oil change, transmission fluid change, tire rotation-- you know, the usual dealer stuff that we certainly could have saved a few bucks on by doing it ourselves.
The car was left with Honda Santa Monica at 9:00 this morning and we picked it up at 15:15 this afternoon. Zero days out of service.
Total Cost: $468.68
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 30,700 miles
November 21, 2008
The Civic GX's odo says it has traveled 25,611 miles, and the last posting about the car on this blog was at 19,683!
Apologies. It is hard to regularly find something new and exciting to write about when you drive the same car day after day. At least it is when the car is a 2007 Honda Civic GX. Barring a natural gas incident (the car, not the driver) , the GX is wonderful but unexciting basic transportation. Period.
This posting is occasioned by three things: The GX's first brake job, a mileage and fuel-cost update and a Honda transmission idiosyncrasy that we've discovered.
We got the brake job -- $183.85 for front pads and rotor resurfacing, after we noticed a slight noise -- not grinding, but not right, either -- when braking hard at freeway speeds.
Turned out the rotors weren't warped, but were glazed and discolored from excessive heat - the result of all the braking we do in our 100-mile-plus round trip commute in rush-hour traffic.
The service advisor at our local Honda dealership told us we were actually doing pretty good: that the range for a first front-end brake job was 5,000 to 25,000 miles, with an awful lot of people coming it at under 15k. The composition of the Civic's brake pads, he said, can make 'em wear out pretty fast.
On the fuel economy front, we're still averaging around 33 miles per gallon-equivalent, not bad for a car that's EPA-rated at 28 mpg and is usually driven in the worst of all conditions for decent fuel economy - Southern California freeways during morning and evening rush hours.
It should be even higher.
One thing I should have written about a while ago but have been too embarrassed to tackle is my inability to drive the car in the proper gear.
I'm constantly finding myself roaring down the freeway in 3rd instead of in the far more fuel-efficient "drive," which gives you 4th and 5th gears to play with.
Actually, I'm told (by guys at Honda, no less) this can be a problem with many Hondas with automatic transmissions .
The console-mounted shifter is all the way forward in "Park" and as you pull it back through "Reverse" and "Neutral" you'd think the logical stopping point would be in "D."
But Honda's engineers, for reasons known only to them, designed the shifter mechanism so that it easily pulls right through the "drive" position and locks into "D3," which locks out 4th and 5th gears.
If you shift by feel, which I do all too often, you can easily end up winding it out in 3rd, which I do and which gulps fuel .
Fortunately, with a Phil natural gas pump in the garage, our fuel costs are well below market rates - even with gasoline and natural gas prices at the retail pumps down around the $2 per gallon mark now.
We've been averaging about $2.10 a gallon all along, even when retail pump prices were nearly $3.25 for natural gas and over $4 for gasoline.
John O'Dell, Senior Editor, Green Car Advisor @ 25,611 miles
April 02, 2008
When I bought the 2007 Honda Civic GX for the long term fleet last year I remembered hearing that one of the advantages of this car, besides low pollution and low fuel costs, was that you could go a long time between oil changes. The Honda brochure said that the natural gas it runs on is less corrosive than gasoline so the oil remains uncontaminated longer. And, since it has a maintenance minder, it just tells you when you need service.
When I got into the car I noticed the little wrench light icon and a "B1" in the odometer window. Looking in the manual, I saw that this called for an oil and filter change, a tire rotation, check fluids and various inspections. I emailed my local Honda service department to ask if they could work on the GX and what this would cost. They replied that the B1 service was $104 but that they also recommended two other filter changes that would run $165 so the total would be $269.95. There was nothing in the manual about these other filter changes so I decided to skip it for now.
As consumer advice editor, I'm going to be beefing up our "how to" section, so I decided to tackle this modest mechanical task myself and call it research. I was also inspired by reading Dan Edmunds' excellent post about performing a similar service on the 2008 Scion xB. I used to really enjoy working on cars so I cheerfully headed to the dealership for supplies. I purchased a Honda oil filter, four quarts of 5W-20 oil and a special wrench for removing the filter. Total after tax was $31.89 (oil from an auto parts store would have been much cheaper but I didn't want to make two stops).
The only tricky part was getting access to the filter and oil pan drain plug. The clearance is low and there wasn't room to simply silde under there. I had to jack up the car, put it on a jack stand and remove the filter and drain plug, then lower the car to make sure it drained properly. That was a hassle, but I had to rotate the tires too, so it wasn't wasted motion. I also did the inspections and checked all the fluids. The old oil I put into containers provided by the City of Long Beach to be picked up along with my recycling stuff.
I'm puzzled about whether this is the first or the second oil change. At 14,411 miles, that would be an awfully long time. But there were no records in the maintenance book or posts about an earlier oil change. I'll check further and report any findings.
It took an hour and a half to do all the work which doesn't break any records. And with the expensive dealership oil and the special wrench I didn't save a lot of money -- this time. Next time around it will be faster and I'll trim the costs down even further. Still, the best part of it was actually working my own work on a car. There's precious little chance to do that these days.
Philip Reed, Edmunds.com senior consumer advice editor @14,411 miles
December 17, 2007
We received a letter in the mail from Honda today regarding an open safety recall on 1998-2007 Civic GX compressed natural gas vehicles. A faulty fuel tank heat insulator is to blame.
In the event of a severe interior fire in the area of the rear seat, the CNG tank may be heated unevenly, preventing the pressure relief device from venting the contents of the tank properly. This could result in a tank rupture, or its ejection from the vehicle.
This situation was discovered after studying an act of arson on a Civic GX earlier this year.
Parts are not yet available, but a secondary notice will be sent once they are.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Coordinator @ 6,800 miles