September 9, 2009

Buying an Integra set me free, so I’m doing it again.

I am in the market. I have had a terrific year with my 2000 LS so far. My previous post mentions that it was broke down for a while. I was without it for about three months. I thought my automatic transmission had broken, but I was mistaken. After towing it all over town and spending hundreds of dollars on professional help, I fixed it myself in my driveway for under twenty dollars.

This was a huge revelation for me. I didn't need any shop or dealership to fix my problem. I needed only the internet and some patience. The forums for car troubleshooting and advice are priceless. Since fixing my electrical problem in May, I have decided that I want another Integra.

Not because I found the solution to my problem, but because I have decided that this car is under my complete control from now on. I removed a remote starter and alarm to troubleshoot my electrical problem, learned how to use a multimeter and a great deal about car electronics. I replaced my front wheel bearings and discovered how to find and buy Honda/Acura parts based on schematics and part numbers direct from a dealer. I replaced a power window motor and learned why the rubber inserts in the rails make them go bad. I have begun changing the timing belt, tensioner and water pump, and discovered that there's not many parts besides the engine internals that I am not now familiar. I have new oil pan gasket on the way, and my new cam seal plug looks great now that it is installed.

I have made so much progress working on my car this year that I want another one so I can always drive one, too. I take my time. I wait for parts to ship from California. I decide to do more than I originally planned. I enjoy it thoroughly. What I don't enjoy so much is riding to and from work in the rain on my motorcycle.

So, I am going to buy another Integra.

I have a 2 door automatic, so I want a 4 door 5 speed. This really narrows down the amount of cars that I can consider. Integras are for sale everywhere, day and night. I am using a feed reader to pluck craigslist ads containing "integra" from the six closest craigslist sites. I watch the Honda-Tech.com marketplace and the B20VTEC.com for sale section, but these forums are full of car lovers like me. I don't want someone else's custom car, and I don't want someone who loves Integras as much as me putting a price on one. For some reason, the B20 sellers are snobs. I find myself asking each of them, "If you can tell me what is in the car that makes it worth X$ to you, I might agree." The answers are usually, "If I sell it I want X." Testing the waters, or the label "T/W," is code for, "I want more than this car is worth, and I know it."

The clean ones are bought up quick, and the ones owned by teenagers are abused and ugly.

I find about one serious prospect a week that is at least one hour away. This trend is not amusing. One car I consider buying each week that is usually two hours away. Not to mention that each car has it's own history of possibly disappointing decisions by previous owners.

Body kits are a waste of genuine Honda bumpers and fenders. Seventeen inch wheels are simply pointless. Rust is rampant in Pennsylvania.

My friends and family are bewildered.

"You want to buy the same car you already have?" Yes.

"You are working on your car all the time so you want to get another just like it?" Yes.

"Are you going to sell yours?" No.

I suppose it is hard to explain.

Most people don't want to work on their cars. Throughout my life, things that I have needed the help of others to satisfy have consumed me. I am a web developer today because I wanted to make a website the day I got on the internet 1998. I knew nothing. I used a free website builder that generated HTML code for me, but I wasn't going to let that tool stand in my way very long. I love working on my car because I decided to fix it myself on day one. The dealer told me the radio/CD player was showing "COdE" after he replaced the battery before I picked it up. He called the local Acura dealership and they said I would have to take it to them to determine the security unlock code. I wasn't satisfied. An hour later I had become familiar with Honda-Tech. I used it to track down an Acura dealership in California that would give me the radio code over the phone if I gave them the unit's serial number. My radio unlocked. I fixed my Integra for the first time in my driveway, and when I started I knew nothing. That feeling was tremendous. It comes back each time I finish another project.

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