Farewell to Project CRX

I guess this update is a bit late in coming, but quite a lot has been changing for me of late, so writing about this stuff has taken a back seat for a while. In any case, as you can probably tell from the title, I have sold the CRX and returned to a single-car way of life. It remains to be seen how well I will be able to autocross my daily-driver, but for now let’s take a step back and see how I got here.

When last we left the CRX I had serious concerns about the Hoosier R6 tires I had been running since the previous season. Those proved well founded at the very next event, when I noticed bits of belt showing on the outer edges of the tires on the right side of the car. From what I could tell the alignment on that side was just slightly off and when I lowered the pressures at the previous race, it caused very rapid wear on that outer edge. The left side, though, was fine, so I really only had one option. I opened up my wallet and let TireRack do its thing. Two tires are cheaper than four, but I still wasn’t thrilled.

In the mean time, the intermittent issues with starting were becoming more pronounced. When I ended up sitting in a Shop Rite parking lot for 45 minutes one evening, I decided it was time to do something about it. Step one was to replace the notorious main relay. At first that seemed to do the trick, but within a few days the old problems were all back. The car would crank and crank, but refused to start.

Since the relay was new, I dove in to deeper trouble-shooting. In the end, I decided the fuel pump was putting out low pressure (and occasionally none at all). Unfortunately, the pump on the CRX is in the tank and there is no internal access panel. Since I would have to drop the tank, I wanted to make sure I got it right the first time. Honda no longer offers the part, though, so I was forced to settle for a complete pump and sender unit from Autozone.

After about five hours on my back, the new unit was in and the tank was back in place. I was sore and tired, but pleased to have finally solved the problem in time for the next race.

Until the next day, that is, when the car refused to start again.

Now I was seriously concerned. This was starting to become a chronic, expensive issue — a project killer. Since every system I could test was passing those tests, the only option I had was to check the new main relay I had just installed. To my amazement and intense frustration, it failed. I had gotten a bad part.

With a large sigh, I went back to the dealer and got a new one. It fixed the problem; the car started like a champ every time. As for the new pump, well, a brand new pump would just be insurance against some future failure, right? Seemed reasonable enough to me.

With only six events on the shortened South Jersey region calendar, the fifth one was crucial to my class standings, since I had missed the fourth and placed second in the third (I blamed a killer headache for being off my game, but really it just wasn’t my day). The conditions were great and so was the turnout. I was feeling a little under the weather for the morning session, but I put in some respectable times and was in a solid second, with a very reasonable gap to the blue Si in first.

On the first run of the afternoon session, though, everything started to go wrong. Coming through a right hand hairpin at the top of the course, the car stumbled and the engine came close to stalling. When I got it back in a straight line everything went back to normal. I hoped it was just a blip, but my gut told me it wasn’t. On the next lap the car did the same thing in the same spot and on the third time around it so unsettled itself when the power cut out that I did a full spin. My day was over and I hadn’t even had a chance to contend for a decent time.

Long story short, the pump I put in was starving itself in hard corners if the fuel level was at half a tank or lower. If I wanted to keep racing the car, I was going to have to do the pump again, probably with an even more expensive unit. It was a gut check to me at a time when I had to make some other tough calls. The CRX had been mostly reliable for the first year I owned it, but now was looking more and more like a money pit. At the same time my daily driver needed a new clutch. Since my job situation was, shall we say, unclear, I came to the reluctant conclusion that I could no longer afford the CRX.

In one of life’s greater ironies, the one who stepped forward to buy it was the owner of the blue Si who was my only true competition for those two years. For a reasonable price he took the whole kit and caboodle off my hands, including all the parts, wheels and tires.

That was a few months ago now, and I can look back and consider things without the emotion of the moment. My feelings regarding the CRX are still mixed. I learned a lot about driving and my own abilities. I also got some experience diagnosing and repairing a different set of problems than I was used to. In many ways it was a great little car, but in the end I am glad I let it go when I did. Now that my job situation has stabilized some I can start saving again. I don’t know if I’ll buy a second car again soon, but rest assured: no matter what, you will be able to find me out on course this summer.

About Chris Nelson

Chris is a writer and communicator with backgrounds in public relations, communication, political science and automotive technology. He holds an M.A. from Rowan University and a B.A. from Susquehanna University in addition to a certificate in Auto Tech from Lincoln Technical Institute.

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