By on May 30, 2012

There’s a liberating feeling when you have to fix some interior component on a beater transportation car (e.g., my destined-to-become-a-track-car 1992 Civic DX) and you don’t care about color matching. Item #3,491 on the list of Parts Whose Failure Doesn’t Stop You From Driving, But Still Drives You Crazy: the glovebox door latch.
My Civic led a rough life before I bought it five years ago; its previous owner was a blues bass player who lived in Chicago and then San Francisco, parking the car on sketchy side streets near sleazeball blues clubs in both cities. Street-parked cars in San Francisco get broken into about once every two weeks on average, which meant that every lock on the car has been punched or pried out at least a dozen times, and every storage compartment in the interior has been pawed open by many desperate thieves in the throes of amphetamine psychosis and/or the DTs and/or the hippie hippie shakes (in Denver, they just try to cold steal the car itself). The glovebox in my car was always flaky, with a balky latch mechanism damaged by the scrabbling fingers of so many urban entrepreneurs, and last week it finally gave up completely.
Yes, the plastic handle finally snapped off when I opened the glovebox to grab my cassette of I, Fish Driver. I called my local Honda dealer and was quoted a price of just $17.95 for this piece, but it wasn’t in stock. I planned to do a junkyard run that day and shoot Junkyard Find photos, anyway, so I thought I’d do some glovebox-latch shopping at the same time. If I couldn’t find one, I’d just wait a few days for a new replacement part.
The first yard I visited didn’t have any fifth-gen Civics that hadn’t been completely gutted (I’m still waiting for 1992-95 Civics to show up in large quantities in self-service junkyards, but this hasn’t happened yet), so I looked at Integras, Accords, and Preludes from the same decade. Honda has been known to share components across different models, so maybe the Accord’s glovebox latch will fit the Civic.
This one has a lock, but the overall shape is identical to the 92-95 Civic unit. What the heck, it’s held in with just two screws and the junkyard wanted only $2.99 for the entire latch mechanism. As an added bonus, it’s even the correct gray color!
Unfortunately, the location of the striker is about 1/4″ different in the Accord latch, so it wouldn’t work without a bunch of pain-in-ass modifications. The good news was that I planned to do another photo expedition at a second junkyard that afternoon… where I found this fifth-gen Civic coupe.
The interior of this Civic was a very mid-90s beige, which was sort of horrible, but the latch was mechanically correct. This junkyard charged just $1.49 for it.
30 seconds of work and the swap is done.
In a non-beater, this would be a major fashion don’t, but I’m this car’s final owner!
Anyway, the latch goes well with the only-one-I-could-find replacement for the window crank I snapped off while loading 8-foot 2x6s in the car at the lumberyard. Now I’m tempted to get a green steering wheel.

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24 Comments on “Working On a Harlequin Interior For My Civic, One Junkyard Piece At a Time...”

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Mmm, green…

    Love it! Keep making that car your very own.

  • avatar

    Classy! Looking forward to watching the evolution of your patchwork interior Civic.

    It’s funny how satisfying it is to fix those little niggly annoyances. The coinbox in my Element fell out a couple years ago. It got lost for a while, then sat on the dash for about a year waiting to get replaced. It wasn’t a simple just pop it back in job, I finally resolved to devote some time to putting it back, anything short of removing the dashboard. Took longer than it should have–just figuring out how it was held in place took some doing–but sure was satisfying to have it back where it belongs, and no more hole in the dash.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      I recently made the mistake of going back to the official parts department to obtain a replacement dashboard bulb for the Roadmaster, only to discover that despite having used tens of millions of those bulbs in their vehicles over the past 20 years, GM couldn’t find a replacement part number no matter which vehicle’s dashboard we substituted. One bright morning, I headed to the local u-pull-u-pay yard, paid the entry fee and spent an hour tearing through scores of similar GM products. I ended up with 5 of the replacement bulbs, which the guy at the counter charged me $0.30 for. I paid him with some of the $1.57 I had come across during my parts crawl. Had I spent a few extra minutes on a more diligent search I’m certain I would have made a tiny profit including the yard entry fee.

      I’m going to spend a model crafting weekend with a local group in order to pick up some technique pointers and perhaps mooch some expertise in an attempt to get the Pacer’s rear storage door repaired. I’m guessing I can use some styrene dams and epoxy to hold everything together while I substitue some squishy nylon bushings in place of the crumbled ABS towers originally used to secure the original fasteners.

      • 0 avatar

        What’s so special about these bulbs? I really doubt GM had these bulbs custom made for the Roadmaster.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        I did find some via a UK supplier – but at a little over £6 before shipping, I was not yet prepared to spend that much to get the dashboard fully lit. I had checked the usual suspects as well (Sylvania, Philips, etc) but couldn’t track down the specific type used in that dashboard fitting. The problem came from the tight quarters for the climate control module: the bulbs used the 1/8th turn lock system, but instead of a protruding flange for hand fitment, the bases were set flush with the surface and needed a thin blade screwdriver for attachment. The parts stores are lousy with the finger-fit type of dashboard light bulb, but the flush fitting base types have stumped even the local specialty supply shop – and those guys were able to find all the oddball lamps used in my Haflinger in minutes.

        3 of the 5 bulbs I did find were of a different color (white plastic vs black) and the bulb itself was of a different length, although they were all of the same diameter (approximately 4mm in a 6mm base with a 1cm flange) but all of them functioned properly, giving me a decent supply of spares whenever another one fails. Perhaps they were sourced from whoever would build to spec that year and whatever supplies they had disappeared during GM’s reorganization.

  • avatar

    Johnny Cash, One Piece at a Time.

  • avatar

    on my old ’91 Taurus I actually made an effort to find non-matching replacement interior parts when I needed them. The car had a relatively uncommon tan interior, so finding matching parts was a pain. It was more fun to see how many different colors I could get in there. I think in the end I have 4-5 in various places. Plus a steering column/wheel that was a slightly different shade of tan due to being out of a Sable.
    How insane is that, two different shades of tan for the same basic interior?

  • avatar

    I always like when there’s CDs or cassettes in the cars from bands like “The Jackofficers”

    • 0 avatar

      That’s Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers (aka the singer on the Ministry song “Jesus Built My Hot Rod”) doing his own brand of dance music. Lots of Oliver North samples. It’s… not very danceable.

      • 0 avatar

        I thought it was fun back in the day, but Digital Dump did not age well for me last time I tried to listen to it. Paul’s solo album The History of Dogs has gotten better with age though IMHO.

  • avatar

    If you want the parts to match, SEM vinyl dye is what you want.

    SEM is the stuff that pro auto body shops use. Don’t let the rattle bomb application fool you, I’ve been using this stuff for years, and it really works.

    Order it online, or go to your local auto body supply….not a parts store. Auto body supply places generally don’t sell to the public, but if you can talk the talk, most will do business…just tell them that you don’t have an account and will pay cash.

    • 0 avatar

      Ditto this, I bought a can of SEM a few years ago to touch up a spot on my truck interior…. matched reasonably well for not being the factory color and has held up well for over 10 years now. All those years and the labels on the cans they are selling on that site are still the same.

  • avatar

    I like the fact that VW tried to claim the name “Harlequin” as some kind of special descriptor for a hooptie multicolored car, and we as the hooptie-driving majority have reclaimed it for our own nobler purposes.

  • avatar

    Funny how the minor broken things in a car can drive its owner insane. I bought a replacement sunglasses holder to replace the broken one in my friend’s Camry and he’s had much fewer road rage incidents since. He’s never used the holder in the time he owned the car, and he still doesn’t.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    The term “final owner” is a succinctly necessary phrase that will answer many questions in the future.

  • avatar

    My wifes grandmother gave us an old accord with the marroon/pink interior, it was stollen and stripped a week later. Really?

  • avatar

    Whatever you do, don’t Google Image search “harlequin” without descriptors, especially while eating, it can mean something else.

  • avatar

    Yup, been there, done that myself.

    I had to replace a fender on my 78 Ford Fairmont. Found a blue one with a tiny dent in the very front edge, but straight otherwise, got a discount on it, brought it home, installed it.

    Then I cleaned it with acetone and painted it white to match the rest of the car, why? to sell it of course! I also had to replace the driver’s door window when I got pissed off working on the car and slammed the door hard enough for the glass to shatter – and yes, that meant a trip to the Roy Y Auto Wrecking to get that.

    I had a an 88 Honda Accord who’s driver’s door handle got partly broken one night as someone I think mistakened my car for theirs, pulled up on the driver’s door handle hard enough to partly break the handle as it was attached at both ends. I kept on using it like that for a while and finally one day, it totally broke off so had to finally replace it.

    Went to the local junk yard near Mom and found one off a red 88 Acura Integra 4 door. However, there was an irony there, that same Integra also had one of the handles replaced, the front passenger door – and it was blue!

    So from that day until I sold it in 2006, that poor Honda had the Seattle Silver paint job but with this lone red door handle. Then later, someone tried to break into the car by jiggling the lock and damaging it so I had to unlock the passenger door, hit the power lock button so I could then go around and get in like normal until I could swap the lock cylinders, putting the damaged one on the passenger door, the good one on the driver’s side.

    The last bit of junkyard doggin’ was when I went to find some rear glass strap hinges from a wrecked first gen Explorer as they’d fit the canopy and rear glass that went with it that was on my 19 YO Ford Ranger. I think the cap was made by Gem Top, a frameless rear door with 2 T handles affixed to a fiberglass shell that matched the truck, which was badged as Navajo. Anyway, the original strap type hinges had apparently broken and the ones from the Explorer were found to fit by a canopy reseller place as replacements weren’t available anymore.

    I also found a working gas strut from another Explorer. I could only get one removed due to frozen bolts and mounts and it served me well for several years. Never got the T handles rekeyed though.

    I now no longer have that truck as I had to replace it back in January.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow – a fellow PNW junkyarder! Our species seems to be rapidly dying out, with one having to venture out ever farther from the city center in order to find auto carcasses to feast upon . . .

      I remember “the good-ol’ days” when Fitz had a yard for every major make in Woodinville, now all gone, replaced by the new Treatment of Sewage plant known as Brightwater (named after an Indian chief, possibly). The funny thing is, not only is the water not bright, it never even sees the light of day for several miles (underground pipeline) before being spewed into Puget Sound.

      And I am still perplexed by Pick-n-Pull’s parts pricing, where one can get a turbocharger for $39.99 (plus $9.99 core charge), while a supercharger goes for $199.99 (plus $29.99 core charge). And then they tack on over 10% more just for the environmental fees, sheesh!

      • 0 avatar

        The disappearance of auto graveyards is mostly the result of NIMBY attitudes from McMansion aristocrats lording it over their dominions of Oriented Strand-board Estates.

        For years I patronized a local junkyard that was run by the same family since the 1930’s. Back in the day the town was mostly farms; the junkyard was set up on a worthless piece of swamp. After WWII the farmers started selling to developers. By the 1970s the last of the farms was history. For over 30 years the yard owners were harassed by the town. Well, this past year the owners…third generation…threw in the towel. Insane property taxes, combined with ever increasing EPA regs and ever more harassment from local government finally did them in.

        Ebay can source most of the stuff that can ship in a USPS flat-rate box, but big stuff and the little odds and ends that used to fill my pockets are now a problem.

  • avatar

    It’s good to have company in the I-cannot-overlook-this-minor-component-which-is-no-longer-working-as-designed department. I’m fairly confident that someone reading this has suffered a cracked, marred or busticated dashboard of their own doing from chasing down something remarkably minor.

    I bought a 1995 2WD Chevy Cheyenne with 160,000 miles a few years back. One interior issue was the passenger side air vent with drooping horizontal fins. The doo-hickey that allowed you to swivel and point the vent had been pushed in and broken. A junk yard run netted me a new assembly from a nicer Silverado with the same dash layout. I was able to pilfer the little adjusting nub that sits in the center of the middle fin, though this one was blue to contrast with my gun-metal gray vent fins, dash, door panel, headliner and everything else in the world gray interior. No occupant other than myself would notice this harlequin touch any sooner than they’d notice the broken vent in the first place. But I’ll be damned if I don’t get a tremendous amount of satisfaction every time I survey my handy-work.

  • avatar

    I can’t stand broken stuff on a car either. Luckily, here in the land of road salt, there are MANY pristine interiored vehicles in the junkyard with gaping rust holes in them, just waiting to donate to the cause. Plenty of Hondas, the tinworm just LOVES Hondas!

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