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Interior modifications--not worth it?

I posted earlier about my 09 accord being uncomfortable to drive. The seats and steering wheel are awkward and after a while, somewhat painful for me (I’m on the road a lot). I’m getting ready to trade the car at a loss, but would an automotive trim shop be able to modify the seats and steering wheel–or is that avenue likely to fail? If you vote I should give it a try, do you know of a good auto trim shop in the Boston area?

You need to visit a local van conversion shop that does handicap work or find a car that fits you needs as it comes from the factory.

What kind of modifications are you thinking about? Keep it in mind if you can’t explain to us what you want then why would it be expected you do any better with the “trim shop”?

Modify the steering wheel?

Have you tried adjusting the steering wheel?
At the very least, you can raise and lower the height of the wheel, and it is very possible that it also telescopes.

If you are not aware of how to perform these adjustments, you need to read your Owner’s Manual. Other than the adjustments that are made possible by the manufacturer, I can’t imagine what other modifications you might be thinking about.

As to the seat–yes, an upholstery shop can modify the seat. Just don’t expect miracles.

And, on your next car, be sure to begin with an extended test drive (perhaps overnight) of the exact same model that you intend to buy, in order to assess the comfort level. Also, be prepared to spend the extra money for a top-level model in order to get a 10-way adjustable power seat with power lumbar support. On a long drive, being able to vary the seat adjustment can really help to relieve discomfort.

If driving comfort is what you are looking for, then modify the emblem on the back from “Accord” to Crown Victoria" or “Grand Marquis” All of the pain will be gone…

Right, that is one of my concerns, how to explain it, what to ask for. All of that makes me lean toward trading the car instead.

I have played with the steering wheel tilt and telescope for the past 16 months. I think part of the issue is the rim is either too thick for my hand and/or lacks a sufficient indent/gripping surface in the steering position I normally favor on a straightaway, leading to wrist and lower arm strain after a while on the highway. So position doesn’t entirely solve it. I just wondered if someone could build a grippy area where I need it, and/or (if I determine shape isn’t the issue) simply recover it with something more grippy.

I agree completely that I need an extended test drive and/or a rental before buying the next time.

I do have 8 way power and lumbar. I got all these features because I’m on the road so much. The issue on the 08-10 accord that bothers some (including me) is the actuator (activator?) plate in your mid-back that would send the head restraint forward in the event of a rear impact. It’s quite prominent, I think made of metal, and not in a natural position.

Thanks. I kind of thought those sorts of shops might be the way to go if I try modifications. I just wasn’t sure whether they just add adaptive equipment or whether they can alter your existing equipment too.

There are steering wheel covers that you can buy at Auto Zone, Advance Auto, and other retailers that are designed to improve your grip and/or give you a softer area to grasp.

The potential problem with that solution, as well as with “build a grippy area where I need it, and/or simply recover it with something more grippy” is that the rim of the wheel will then be thicker than it was previously, and you already told us that the wheel rim may be too thick for you.

Truthfully, the trend with most manufacturers nowadays is to use thicker steering wheel rims, simply because the ones of yesteryear were simply too thin for comfort. I’m not really sure that there is a solution to your problem.


Right, I must be one of the few that liked the old thinner rims…But I will say that on some of the other makes I’ve test driven, there is a suitable indent on the back of the wheel at the position where I need it. I’m making progress in exploring other makes/models, I just have to find a car that optimizes performance, comfort, and cost to own (I’m not looking for perfect, just the best combination of all three aspects). Again, though, agree with you I’ll need to rent first if I can to be sure it’s comfortable.

I am forced to wonder if your hand position needs to change. Wheels are usually designed to be comfortable to hold from just about any reasonable driving position. If the wheel were a clock, what numbers would your hands be on?

Regarding the plate mid-back, I’m not sure that’s what you think it is. Look behind the seat position buttons - there should be a rocker switch. That’s the lumbar adjust. It sounds to me like it might be fully extended. Retract it, and it should get more comfortable.

I don’t think that you’ll find anyone willing to do seat or steering wheel modifications to that car. The reason is the SRS (airbag) system.

I did try other driving positions, but simply can’t stay comfortable. I have been a 9 oclock 3 oclock driver since my 20’s (in my 40’s now), and never before driven a car that was not comfortable to drive in this way.

I know how to use all of my adjustments including power lumbar. Retracting it causes the lumbar support (which is lower down than the actuator plate) to flatten, which does not help. The way you can tell it’s connected to the active head restraint is if you pull the head restraint forward (as it would be in a rear impact) then the offending part in the mid-back (higher up than the lumbar) flattens. Dealer confirms it is not the lumbar.

Test the CV or GM well first. I find both uncomfortable. You may find that either works for you, but I don’t care for them at all. The message is that it’s personal preference. BTW, what did you drive before the 2009 Accord? That may help find a car that works for you.

I wrote a long reply and now I’m frustrated b/c it disappeared. But that’s okay it was probably too long anyway:) I owned a 93 accord for 16 years (whole different generation, much smaller, no active head restraint, etc) and loved it. I never thought I’d buy anything other than a Honda. Borrowed and rented various other models/makes (most often it was late 90s corolla or 2003 prius). I actually am one of the few who finds the prius (current generation included) relatively comfortable (I’m female and 5’5"), I just think with the amount of highway driving I do and my driving style that I need more pick-up than a hybrid engine. I didn’t find anything else I loved in the current Honda/Acura lineup. I have yet to look at Nissan or Hyundai (plan to test drive altima and sonata). Never borrowed or rented anything from either maker that I can recall.

A Vic or Marq with the LX interior (6 way leather power seats with lumbar function) will make almost ANYONE comfortable. These also have a two-way adjustable steering wheel, up and down, in and out…800 miles a day, arrive refreshed. 25 MPG at 70 MPH.

Perhaps it could be the suspension is what’s making you uncomfortable and it’s just being transferred through the seat. The Accord sits pretty low to the ground so it’s easier to transfer road noise and bumps into the car. Perhaps a small crossover/SUV might fit the bill. With being on the road a lot I’m sure fuel mileage is important, but if the car is comfortable for you, wouldn’t it be worth it for a few less MPGs?

Let’s face it–some people don’t fit in certain cars. My wife did a lot of traveling for our institution recruiting graduate students. There are Honda Civic Hybrids in the fleet and she didn’t find them comfortable. I had one assigned to me to drive to a convention and I didn’t find the car very comfortable either.

We bought a new 1985 Ford Tempo and the car ran fine and was reliable and economical,but wasn’t a comfortable car for trips. We traded it for a 1988 Ford Taurus that we really liked. My wife found the Taurus very comfortable to drive even though it didn’t have a power driver’s seat. We inherited a 1989 Mercury Sable which was essentially the same car. The Sable had power seats, but my wife could never get comfortable in the Sable. I think you might as well bite the bullet and trade the Accord.

Thanks. I’ve checked out some small crossovers and SUVs, and would gladly sacrifice some mpgs for comfort. My accord is the EX-L and actually is supposed to have (and seems to have) a more “luxurious” suspension than the other trim levels. It rides quite nicely (especially compared to the 93 I drove for 16 years), so I don’t think that is it, it really does seem to be the seat contour and maybe also just how the whole thing is laid out inside relative to my body proportions.