About two months ago, we drove into work separately. The maintenance light on the Civic had come on. We were not sure whether this was just the routine oil change or some other issue. Though in the middle winter, the weather was looking good, and by circumstance, my first client of the day had cancelled for the next day. I called up the Honda service department and arrange to drop the Civic off early and catch a ride back to work. They could call me once they knew what needed to be done.
Sounded like smooth sailing. I left about 6:30, long before dawn during a mid-winter, new moon cycle. The traveling was pretty dark. I was going on the slow side for the stretch of road that I was on, only about 50 MPH. But, by the time the 6 point (maybe it was 8 point, but let’s just say I only got a glance at it) buck showed up in my headlight, it had taken out the driver’s side headline and mirror. The driver behind me dropped off pretty quickly.
I did a quick auditory survey as I coasted… no hissing or rubbing of auto-body parts on moving parts. Fortunately, I knew that section of road, and anticipated that the best place to pull off was about half-a-mile up the road at the local fire-station. It has a wide paved area with good lighting. I would rather be stranded there rather than in the ditch along a dark section of rural road.
The Civic buzzed along nicely, as nothing had happened other than the mirror being torn from the door. When I came to a stop, I found that the door had more issues. I could not open it from the driver’s seat. Up-and-over the middle console of gear-shift and coffee-travel-mug, I hopped out the passenger side of the vehicle (which I left running, just in case it would not start again.)
I confirmed that no fluids were leaking from below. The driver’s side wheel-well was dented, but not touching the wheel or other moving parts. The front light was blind in standard mode, but worked fine with bright lights on. It did have a bit of an alignment issue, some type of strabismus, I would say. And, that mirror was nothing more than a traumatic amputation of a stub. Well, the Civic would be road-worthy, at least to get it to the dealership.
I crawled back through the passenger door and over the gear-shift. Back on the road in the dark. Time to eat my breakfast on the road (PBJ sandwich, milk, and coffee). Winky-winky, as I turned the bright lights on and off each time a vehicle approached me in the opposite lane.
When I arrived a the Honda service department, I told Lisa, “Ignore the body-work, just change the oil and check on that service light. I have to call the insurance when I get to work.”
I took the delivery van to work, treated my morning clients, then call State Farm. Claims-department, claims-numbers, referral to Caliber Collision… which happens to be across the street from the Honda service department. I gave Caliber a call to let them know that I planned to bring the Civic over before they closed at 5 p.m.
My last client at 4 p.m. cancelled. As we had the Subaru at work, because the Mrs. drove it in separately, I hopped in it and drove to the Honda service dealership. I got there about 4:20. The oil was changed and the service light was nothing more than a reminder. I drove the Civic across the street to the body shop and had them lock it up in their lot before they closed at 5 p.m. They would be in touch with us in a day or two. I drove the Subaru back to work, finished paperwork, and we headed home to wait the verdict.
We confirmed the inevitable: a 15 year old car with 300k miles on is was not worth the body repairs (though there was no damage to the frame and the engine was running just fine). With such a great vehicle experience from Honda, we cleared out all of our stuff from the former Civic, and drove across the street to the Honda dealership.
I walked over to the service desk, found Lisa, gave her the obituary, and asked her to connect us with a sales rep. Of course, we were going to replace the Civic with another Honda hybrid vehicle. In a minute, we were outlining to Tony what we wanted: a Honda Insight, touring edition (we are practical and the Mrs. had already done the research for a replacement vehicle).
In minutes, Tony had two models from the lot for us to test drive. The dealership did not have the exact model on the lot, but they could order one for us. We did a local loop around the neighborhood, up and over a rural hill, dotted with dairy cows, passed by the chicken factory, pulled into the hair shop parking lot to switch driver, then returned to the dealership. A little paperwork, got our order in and we headed home to sort out the financing.
After a trip to the State Farm office to turn over the Civic title, and some on-line paperwork, we got the insurance claim funds into our checking account. Selling some stocks (no, we did not try to time the market before Covid19 sent the stock markets into panic selling) brought our accounts up to cash-on-the-barrel-head payment (also fortunately to not have a monthly car payment now that a paycheck is questionable for the near future).
Tony contacted us when our Honda Insight was delivered. We completed what seemed to be dozens of pages of paperwork, wrote a check, shook hands (pre-social distancing behavior), and headed home with our new navigation system questioning why we drove home without getting on the highway (I’ve been arguing with that sweet sounding, pushy woman in my dashboard about routes ever since… but my hands are on the steering wheel, so I always win those arguments).
Vehicle technology has changed a bit in the past 15 years since we purchased a car. No key, just have the car opener fob with you and push the start button. Because the hybrid, electric engine powers the vehicle when under 20 MPH, and the engine is silent, the car hums a tune to alert pedestrians that it is moving. A sweet tune it is. Official MPG rating is around 47 MPG, with careful driving and optimal conditions (no wind, rain, and around 65F to 75F) we are getting around 60 MPG. More sweet tunes. So far, even before gas prices dropped, filling up the tank would just break a $20 bill with a dollar or two of change.
Then there all those driving assistance sensors. Lane detection, distance detection, variable cruise control. Look no hands on the wheel. Ooops, it knows you took your hands off the wheel & scolds you. On the other hand, the central bar of the steering wheel has so many buttons on it, that I am constantly changing something without trying, just because I rest my hands on the central bar. Ooops, changed the radio station. Oooop turned the volume way up. Oooops increased the cruise control speed. Ooops turned on the voice activate features for which I have no idea what they do…. How did that seat warmer get turned on!