It’s been about seven months since I ran out of warranty in my 2014 Accord EX-L V6 6MT. We’re now just a touch over 45,500 miles at the third anniversary of purchase, and I’ll confess I’m starting to get a little itchy about the idea of keeping a new car for this long. Only four times in my life have I kept a street-titled car past the three-year mark: my 1990 Fox stuck around 67 months, my 944 was in my possession for the better part of 10 years, and I still have two Porsches I bought during the first term of the G.W. Bush administration. Other than that, it’s been churn-and-burn, usually somewhere between the 18-month and 30-month marks.
There are sound reasons to swap the Accord out, and sound reasons to keep it, as you’ll see below. I’ve also had a few interesting incidents with the car, one of which might even be considered a legitimate blotting of the proverbial copybook.
The sensible-shoes crowd likes to think of “prestige” car buyers as spendthrift morons easily distracted by shiny things and cynical marketing, but I’m starting to see a real benefit to owning something like a late-model Audi or BMW after three years taking pretty good care of my Accord. That benefit can best be described as “touchable durability.” Pretty much everything that I put my hands or feet on in this car now has serious signs of wear, from the fragile, easy-scratch leather of the steering wheel to the shiny metal cutting through the clutch pedal pad.
I regularly clean and condition the Accord’s interior from top to bottom, but that doesn’t stop the plasticized leather from creasing or the plastic from getting shiny. And the paint … well, it doesn’t bear mentioning. The 1986 Jaguar Vanden Plas that I owned from 1995 to 1999 looked better after fourteen years and 95,000 miles than this nearly new Honda does today. The front bumper and hood are a constellation of primer-colored dots and chips. Any bird droppings not cleaned within the first hour or so end up leaving a bumpy surface in the clearcoat. Not even a quadruple application of Zaino could stop the carnage, but I’ll be stripping the paint down again in April and quad-coating it with the Jersey plastic pseudo-wax just to slow down the pace at which the finish disintegrates.
To make matters worse, last week my son and I were stopped at a train crossing when we were hit in the rear bumper by an amiable, fully-insured stoner in a Mazda 3 with evidence of multiple previous low-speed crashes. The three of us became fast friends — he’s a harmonica player who is looking to play some gigs, assuming his roommate stops harshing his buzz by stealing his rolling papers — but the Honda’s back bumper is going to need some serious refinishing. Luckily for us I light-footed the brake and let the impact roll us forward a few feet; that saved us from a complete smash-up and kept my sons’s neck from being too sore.
This is all trivial stuff, however, and if you want a car that’s painted correctly in this day and age I can only recommend that you find a Silver Spur III or one of the South African kit cars that are sprayed in an environment that doesn’t need to comply with any environmental regulations whatsoever. I’m serious about that; the Superformance I owned back in 2001 was the best-painted sports car I’ve ever seen. It was like looking into a black lake at midnight. I had plenty of time to contemplate the excellence of the paint every time I was waiting for a flatbed.
Less good: the Mystery Oil Leak. A month ago, I swapped out the front and rear brake pads because they’d finally given up the ghost at the 45,000-mile mark. This included several trackdays so I wasn’t particularly bitter about having to spend $110 on new pads with the expectation of new rotors in the spring. It was 31 degrees outside and dark to boot when I finally got around to doing the pads, but luckily for me I had a head-mounted flashlight and all of the proper tools, including the machine to twist the Accord’s rear-caliper pistons back. What a crappy system that is, by the way. There’s no way that the calipers would survive more than about three pad changes without losing the integrity of the piston seals.
Anyway, when I backed the car out the next morning, I saw there was fluid underneath. I originally thought it was brake fluid, but it was oil. And when I put the Accord in the air, I found oil on the crossmember. There was nothing above it, however, and the oil level appears normal. Nor has the Mystery Leak returned. In 45 days or so, when I put the summer tires back on, I’m going to degrease everything and then check again after a month has passed. In the meantime, I’m remaining both both confused and watchful.
There’s been one final oddity; three times now the Bluetooth media interface on the system has decided to play music from the right speakers but not the left ones. It doesn’t affect the CD player or the radio, and it doesn’t happen every time. This would point to a problem with a stereo-conductor cable except the whole point of Bluetooth is to dispense with said cable. Oh well. It’s my problem, I suppose, since the warranty on that stuff elapsed now.
The rest of the Accord is as you would expect. The engine remains strong; during a recent Focus RS test, I discovered the Accord could match Ford’s hyper-hatch in a “60 roll.” The transmission is a bit notchy in the winter but the clutch shows no real signs of wear. The wind noise that has plagued the driver’s B-pillar is, if anything, getting better.
Which leaves me with just one question: Sell or keep? I’m now down to about $12,100 on the loan, so I’m in equity. This was a condition that none of my precious German sedans and coupes ever really reached. Should I just pay it off and keep it? Or should I sell it, get my money, and take delivery of a 2018 Accord coupe EX-L 6MT? That’s supposedly the last year for this engine/powertrain combination.
Pros of swapping cars: newer, better audio interface, a few more years where I’ll be able to drive a stick-shift car to work every day, could clear-bra the new coupe the day I get it, might get the pearl white instead of the plain grey.
Cons: would rather be spending my car payment on something is not an Accord in March of 2019, new front end of 2016-and-up Accord Coupes is pretty stupid-looking, might be seized with uncontrollable desire to buy Challenger T/A six-speed instead and thus derail the one aspect of my life that makes vague economic sense.
Feel free to offer your opinions in the comments. Or if you’re interested in becoming an Accord-ian yourself, right now, then I think I’d take $19,999 for the car post-bumper repair, with brand-new tires on the factory wheels and new rotors on all four corners. It would be nice to have someone take the decision out of my hands like that. But if that doesn’t happen, I’ll see you at the 42-month mark, where we’ll answer the questions: What was that mystery leak? Is the clutch pedal pad really the same one that’s found on the ’93 Civic, as one of my Instagram followers told me? And will the V6 get even stronger in its fourth year? Tune in half a year from now and find out!