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Buying an Older Civic



  • Hi, I am in college and I'm thinking about to buy a used car finally. I'm looking into getting '95 or (between 93~96) honda civic. I am curious what kind of possible problems I should consider before buying one.

    For example, I heard you have to change timing belt every 120,000miles. What about tire, transmission, oil change, brake pad, air filter, water filter, A/C& heater etc...? At what mileage, those need to get replaced or checked?

    Thanks in advance!
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Hi - this should help you determine the manufacturer's requirements: Maintenance Schedules, Recalls and Technical Service Bulletins along with giving you other helpful information.

    Good luck!
  • Okay, the car I thought I bought turned out to have some problems so it's back to hunting for me!

    So there's a (somewhat) nearby Honda dealership selling a 2001 Honda Civic LX with 175k miles on it for like $4700. In an effort to just end this seemingly endless search for a car I'm tempted to get it. But with that mileage am I just buying a headache (especially with the 01 Civic having a history of transmission problems, or would it having made it this far nullify that)?

    Obviously the car had to have passed the dealerships inspection and would have gone off to auction had it not passed, correct?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    With any car, Civic or not, with that many miles and no warranty, it's a crap shoot on future repair costs. Is there any info on how the car was maintained, or what parts have been replaced? Without knowing that history, it's really a gamble on your costs. For example, do you know the last time the timing belt was replaced (if ever)? How about the struts, exhaust/catalytic converter, brakes? How often was the transmission fluid replaced? And so on. Also, it's possible the car was in a major collision or was flooded, unless you have info to the contrary.

    I wouldn't buy a car with a lot of miles on it without knowing its history, unless it were really cheap, i.e. a throw-away car.

    At any rate, you should have the car thoroughly inspected by a mechanic of your choice.
  • Hi--

    I just purchased a 2002 Honda Civic LX. It was a former rental car. I had it checked out by my mechanic and he said it was in good shape. I just noticed, however, that there is this red light on the instrument panel. It sits between the cruise control switch and the power mirrror switch, to the lower left of the steering wheel. This light seems to be always on. I can't find it in the owners manual (at least, not so far). The mechanic didn't notice it or comment on it--so maybe it is nothing. What is this light?

    I hope this isn't s dumb question. Thanks.
  • In my opinion $4700.00 seems to be too much for a 2001,175K mile car.... Honda reputation notwithstanding. Too much for too little.
  • I am assuming this light is unlabeled? It might be a "cruise control ON" lamp...check under the cruise control section in the owners manual
  • Hi--

    It is unlabelled, but it is not the 'cruise control on' light. Someone on another forum said that it sounds like a light to an aftermarket anti-theft system, and that I should be able to find an alarm box under the steering wheel. I haven't found one, but I am not mechanically inclined, so I may not know exactly what to look for. I don't remember the dealer telling me that the car had an alarm or anything like that on it.
  • I need to replace a car asap and there's a local civic that leaks oil. Is that a death sentence for this car or worth considering? I suspect they would have had it fixed if it was easy enough because they've done other expensive repairs to the car (radiator replacement).

    It's a 89 model 3 door (manual). Oh it also leaks brake fluid. Both need topping off once a month when the lights come on (supposedly).

    (if you are wondering why I am even considering a car with such problems, I have a cash-only very limited budget)

    Thanks for any advice!
  • Short answer: I would not buy it.

    Long answer:
    I owned a 92 civic for about 15 years and finally learned that a car older than 12 years is not worth the hassle, because it costs more to maintain and you never know something is going to break down. 92 civic is a very well built car, and I kept it in an incredible condition!! + had everything maintained 100% but it still gave lots of trouble towards the end.

    See, the problem with a car that is older than 10 years is not just the mechanical issues, its that everything in the car is worn-out including plastics, seals, rubbers, bushings... on an on. When you buy an 5-6 year old used car you only encounter mechanical issues, but past 12 years you are dealing with the entire car that starts to slowly fall apart. At that time it is not worth the cost to repair it. And I would guess is the reason the current owners of the car you are considering have not fixed it because they are tired of fixing all the stuff thats failing..

    Cash Purchase
    I totally agree with buying a used car, and paying cash for it. But if a car already has problems, then the repair cost will make the car more costly. Example: if you buy the car for $2000, you will likely end up spending another $1000 on it (easy). And even then you will never know when the next shoe will drop and car stop working. Instead of buying a car with initial lower price but higher repair bills, I would recommend get $3000 car with no major problems and save yourself the headache.

    Purchase Options:
    Consider buying off Craigslist, or ebay from a private seller. You get the best price on the ebay because the cars sell at the whole-sale / trade-in prices. When I sold my 92 civic I purchased my current civic off ebay and am very happy with it. To pickup the vehicle I had to get to another city a few hrs drive from where I live but the $$ I saved off the private party (and retail price) made it all worth it.

    Buying Local and in Person:
    If you feel that you have a little less cash for the purchase, let me tell you that just by having the cash in pocket to close the deal on the spot puts you in the driving seat. You will be amazed how many private sellers are willing to talk to you if they know you will buy right now! Feel free to make a good offer and make your cold hard cash work for you.

    Good luck!
  • Thanks for the detailed reply - unfortunately for some people like me, spending that much is just not an option. And my town is too small to have anything decent on ebay (there aren't even any running cars of ANY kind in my town on ebay under $3500)

    I guess I should ask the question differently, "what can I expect to fail next on a 89 civic with 150k miles". I am trying to find out if the timing belt was replaced at all since the 120k mark since that's the next big one.

    So slowly leaking oil and brake fluid are failing seals?
    I guess that means it can get worse?
  • If you are seriously interested in this civic you can have it checked by a mechanic to determine what is causing the leaks, and the repair cost. I kept a detailed account of all repair & maintenance of my 92 civic and here is a summary of some big items that were fixed after 150K

    Timing Belt Package........ at 155K miles....... $700
    Brake Master Cylinder 159,000 miles....$750
    Control 165,000 miles ...$720
    Tires, brakes, filters etc... ...........................$300

    After I put in $2,500 in the car it worked well for about 4k miles but then it needed shocks + a whole lot more worth another $2000. At that point I was done putting money in the hole and sold the car. In hindsight, if at 150K miles I knew I would be putting so much in this car that I had babied for years I would have sold it and put the $2500 towards a newer vehicle.... which I ended up doing anyways, but only after burning my hard earned money. I have provided the details here so that perhaps my experience can help someone save some $$.

    Buying off ebay:
    I don't know where you live, but you should definitely expand your search area. When I purchased my current civic on ebay auction, there were no *good* civics selling in the city where I live (and am in one of the top 10 largest city in the country!) But back then the gas was $4.50 a gallon and no one was selling a good gas sniffing vehicle. I ended up buying from a private seller who lived 5 hour drive from me. Took a Greyhound bus to get there and drove the car home.
  • Dear all,

    I'd like to get your thoughts on a Private Sale for a used 2006 Honda Civic LX, 4 dr, Auto at $11,000. It already has ~ 55,000 miles.

    The person just recently purchased this car in late Mar'09 as a Honda Certified Civic, he's selling it so he can get some cash quick.
    Since it was Honda certified, it is qualified forthe extended warranty of 1 yr/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper and 7yr/100,000mi Powertrain under the Honda Certified program. However, due to the high mileage (he's driven ~10000 miles in 7 months!! ), the bumper-to-bumper has about 2000 miles left before expiring.

    I test drove the car and it felt to be in good mechanical condition, however, we did discover it has a few scratches on the rear fender, as well as some pronounced streaks on both front passenger door frames... More aesthetic than anything else, but one could say this may tell the kind of driver or cartaker the previous owner is...

    Considering that there's Powertrain warranty left 'til 2013 and that 7 months ago it was just Honda certified, I think mechanically this should be fine.
    But as a private party sale, is this still a good price?

    Thanks for your advice!

  • magee2magee2 Posts: 4
    Thanks for your in-depth advice. You are helping me as I want to maintain my car although it is a tight budget.

    Sincerely appreciate the time and detailed response. :)
  • loem01loem01 Posts: 2
    Hi all,

    I'm new to this forum and am looking at an opportunity to buy a used 1999 Honda Civic EX couple (5 spd), just want to see how much in general these Civics are going for right now? The car has a little over 150k miles on it, seems to be well maintained and runs well. There have been some repairs done on the car (belts, battery, distributor replacement, and the AC condenser was changed due to a minor front collusion). A couple of other things noted are: 1) there is noise coming from the cabin heat/ac fan motor, and 2) according to the owner, in heavy rains, water can leak into the trunk area, probably through some worn rubber sealing somewhere on one side of the trunk.

    The owner is looking for ~$4,000 or close to it. Is it worth it? What would be a reasonable price for it? Thanks for any opinion/suggestion.
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