A More Perfect Fit: Working Out the Bugs


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Jackman's "More Perfect" Honda Fit

A More Perfect Fit: Working Out the Bugs
by Michael Jackman

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Welcome back to A More Perfect Fit, my Auto Channel’s column covering how to make a nearly perfect car, The Honda Fit, even more perfect.

Spring arrived in Louisville, and my sister-in-law in St. Louis invited us for a visit. Great! Not only would we see her and my adorable niece, but I would get an opportunity to take the Fit on the highway for a longer haul. If you read my first column, you know I was now ready for some more comfortable driving after installing a dead pedal and armrest from Zeta Products Inc. of Union, NJ (zetaproducts.net). But before braving the bug-breeding season, I had another item in mind: a hood deflector.

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This deflector is also available from Zeta Products (Part # HD9M07S, $105.95). It’s a smoke-colored, form-fitting model, made by Focus Auto Design of Calgary, Alberta. One unusual and enticing aspect of its design is that unlike many other deflectors you see, its airstream flows both over and under. Since Angelo Marzullo, Zeta’s sales manager, said that it would make a cool car even cooler, I hoped the model would not only help me work the bugs out of my driving, but help me in my quest to make my auto sportier.

I’m satisfied with the ease of installation and the quality of Zeta Products’ offerings for the Fit, so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the company before going into installation. Zeta began in 1977 as a plastic-injection molding operation for the film industry, but needed a new direction after the rise of digital filmmaking slowed sales. About 12 years ago it expanded into the auto aftermarket sector.

Marzullo explained, “We started out selling bolt-in third row seats for SUVs. At that time, none of the Detroit brands offered anything like this. Our sales were very strong for a while until Detroit started offering third row seats as a option, then making them standard. We saw the writing on the wall, so we decided to get out of that area. I decided to concentrate on the fast-growing Sport-Compact market. Our first big hit was an armrest for the 2004 Scion xA and xB.”

An article in Car and Driver lauding the Fit, just released in the U.S., got Mazullo’s attention.

“The Honda Fit was just starting to trickle in on dealer lots so we got a hold of one. We put all our efforts in making a dead pedal for the car.”

The dead pedal was a hit for the company, which then focused, said Mazullo, “on items that make your car easier to live with. As you can see from our offerings, most are easy to install and are fairly inexpensive.”

I have to agree–the products I’ve seen so far (I’ve got some more for future articles) are well-made (the dead-pedal and deflector are super well-made) and require nothing more complex than a nut driver, screwdriver, cleaning cloth, marking pen and tape measure.

Marzullo added that Honda offers this deflector in Canada, but not in the US, which is why Zeta Products put the pedal to the metal on this one.

The evening before our trip to St. Louis was sunny and mild. I carried the deflector box to the back door.

“Are you going to put that in now?” my wife asked.

“Yep,” I said.

“Is it going to put more holes in the car?”

“Dunno.”

Dana was alluding to the armrest I installed for my first column. While she’s happy to now have a place to rest her right arm while driving, at the time she wasn’t thrilled about me poking four holes in the rear-facing storage nook. Without asking first.

She shrugged and went back to packing. Any scolding would be reserved for later, if and when needed.

This installation is easier with a friend to help out, if for no other reason than to offer moral support and to encourage you to read the directions. Fortunately, Dana’s friend Joy showed up, and being mechanically inclined, abandoned my wife to help me out.

Installation is not complicated. First you clean the area. Second, measure two spots 100mm (remember, Canadian directions) up from the lip of the hood and 120mm to the right and left of center of the Honda logo. That’s where you place the stick-on bumpons on the hood (not on the deflector, or they’ll wear through the paint).

The remainder of the installation involves installing a system of spacer clips, sliding two over each side of the hood, and four over the front edge, lining up the device, and securing with pins and screws. Two expansion plugs under the hood replace ones presently securing the hood seal (the instructions say to discard the old ones, but I never discard).

There’s one trick to installation: four of the cubic clip bodies have a screw hole on one side. Which way should the screw hole face? Facing toward you as you stand to the left and right of the hood. Not facing the way I first installed it. (This is the stage where being encouraged to finish reading the directions and receiving moral support helps out.)

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Now I was ready for the road test—would the deflector keep the bugs off the windshield? During the five-hour drive to St. Louis, hardly a spatter disturbed my vision. But maybe the bugs weren’t yet breeding. I needed a more scientific approach. So for at least an hour, each time I spied a car sans deflector I would instruct my wife, “Look at the car on the left and count how many bug spatters you see.”

“A lot,” Dana would report back.

“What about that one on the right?”

“A lot.”

“Seems to be working,” I’d say.

“I concur,” she’d say.

But a few days later, on the highway back from St. Louis, our splatter count began to rise, and I worried I’d have to give this product a so-so rating.

Until I stopped to fill the tank and wash down the windshield. And that’s when I saw, caked to the front bumper, fog lights, grill, and headlights, evidence that we’d just driven through one of the Egyptian plagues. This deflector had survived the bug shield test-of-tests with flying colors. Performance Rating: A+.

I also offer as a completely unscientific observation that our mileage averaged a couple of mpg higher this trip than our last. It’s possible the deflector’s over/under airflow increased the aerodynamics. But it’s also possible we’re learning to drive the Vtec engine more efficiently, which will be the subject of my next column.

One more more-perfect Honda Fit is ready for the long haul, with bugs worked out, thanks to a sporty hood-mounted deflector.

In the meantime, I recommend the Zeta Products’ hood deflector. It’ll help you work the bugs out of your Honda Fit while making it look great, making an almost-perfect automobile even more perfect. See you next time.

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