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The Auto Channel
Louisville Bureau Welcome to A More Perfect Fit, The Auto Channel’s new column about how to make a nearly perfect car, The Honda Fit, even more perfect.
Go to any Honda Fit forum, like fitfreaks.net, and you’ll find that this small and aerodynamic teardrop by Honda inspires an international loyalty much greater than its size, weight and power would suggest. Sure, it looks cool, but after all, it’s just an LEV, a low emission vehicle, right? Wrong. It’s a fantastic, beautifully engineered LEV, that though small enough to disappear behind most sedans in the parking lot, has as much practical space inside as Mary Poppins’ carpet bag. Owners, including me, go righteously nuts about this car. But nothing’s perfect, and this auto’s no exception.
This column will be looking at how to improve the Fit’s performance, appearance, and comfort. Today, I tackle comfort. Consistently, Honda Fit reviewers and owners write that they wish their cars had two items: a dead pedal and an armrest. And after about a year driving my 2007 Fit I concur. You need a place to rest your left foot other than on the plastic kick panel or on the squishy carpet, and to rest your right arm other than across back of the passenger seat, especially on long drives.
Both items are available for your almost perfect Honda Fit at ZetaProducts.net of Union, NJ. The dead pedal (Part # FIT-DP, $46.95), attaches to the hood release latch’s own mounting bolts. Zeta offers two armrests, a heavy duty, folding armrest that tilts up so you don’t have to jam your hand in to latch your seatbelt (Part # FIT-F, $114.95), and a more capacious non-folding model (Part # FIT-N, 99.95). Angelo Marzullo, Zeta Products’ sales manager, recommended the non-folding model, but I checked out both.
Zeta's dead pedal is dead on. When it arrived, I found a sturdy, black steel pedal with non-skid tape and a simple and clear 5-step instruction sheet. All you need is a 10mm socket wrench and strong hands (Honda fastens those bolts tightly). Installation couldn’t be simpler and takes 10-20 minutes depending on your dexterity (with my big hands and body it took me 20, and I’m also left-handed, which explains all you need to know). First, you gently pry off the kick panel, then remove the two bolts attaching the hood release latch to the body. Next, with the dead pedal mounting legs over the release latch, line up the bolt holes and replace the bolts. Finally, replace the kick panel and add the non-skid tape. That’s all there is to it.
The instructions suggest pushing down on the pedal to help align the bolt-holes. This is a good idea. I also found it helpful to attach the bottom of the hood release lever loosely with one bolt to help keep it in place while aligning the pedal over the top bolt. Tighten the top bolt almost all the way, then remove the loose bottom bolt, align the bottom of the pedal to the latch and rebolt. Finally, finish tightening both bolts. I confess to scratching the paint a bit while lining up all the parts. If you’re smarter than me you may want to lay down some masking tape to keep this from happening.
Installing the dead pedal is a 100% gain proposition. But when you install the arm rest, you’re going to have to make a couple of sacrifices. First, you’re going to lose one cup holder and one square storage nook from the rear of the console. Second, both armrests mount in these spaces, so you’re going to put holes in them. You might want to check with your spouse first.
Then again, I didn’t, and we survived. She did ask if I planned on putting more holes in the car, to which I replied, “Yes, dear.” She then asked if I was planning on checking with her before putting more holes in the car, to which I replied, “No, not really dear.” But things did improve when I reminded her that the upside to using my—excuse me—our car as a guinea pig was that I was getting paid to write this column.
I decided Angelo was right. Though the non-folding armrest is made of thinner plastic, it is a good quality, sturdy component when attached. And to make up for losing one cup holder and storage nook, you gain a pop-out cup holder for the rear passenger, and the armrest’s deep storage container. There’s even a coin-holder, which is one convenience my wife thought our Honda Fit was lacking. We kissed and made up thanks in part to that coin-holder. The folding model, though a bit higher-end, lacks both coin-holder and cup-holder, and the storage is shallower.
As with the dead-pedal, installation is simple. Essentially, slip the armrest into the cup holder and storage space. Push down while screwing in four pointy-ended sheet rock screws. Add the tray, and you’re done.
So there you have it. Two easy-to-install components by Zeta Products that won’t cost you an arm or a leg, but will save you an arm and leg. And we’ve made Honda’s almost-perfect automobile a more perfect Fit. See you next time.
Surprisingly, more cup holders is a top request by Fit owners. The 2008 Honda Fit model has five. I hear the 2009 model Honda Fit has 10. Yes, 10.
With a place to rest your left foot and right arm, you have a more perfect Fit.
Michael Jackman is a Louisville, Ky. based writer and professor of writing at Indiana University Southeast. More info at www.mjfreelancer.com