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Honda Civic: Problems & Solutions

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  • This is a re-post from another board. I was told that Auburn96 might be able to help. Any advice would be helpful---


    I have a 96 Civic DX Coupe with almost 64,000
    miles on it. For the last 5 months, I have noticed
    when i check the oil between changes, it seems
    low. I've added 1/2 a quart here and there, but
    never gave it much thought. I changed the oil on
    9/3, put 600 miles on it this week, and now it is 1
    1/2 quarts low again. It's not leaking at all and
    I have had no problems driving it. No warning
    lights, nothing out of the ordinary. I have been
    advised to keep checking the oil and get rid of it
    ASAP before the motor dies on me. I have used only
    synthetic oil since day 1 and I never expected
    this car to last only 4 years. Part of the reason
    I paid more than I really could afford to for the
    civic was it's reputation. I had hoped it would
    last an easy 100,000 miles with no sweat. Needless
    to say, I am extremely disappointed that a 4
    year-old car has become so unreliable that I am
    afraid to drive it. My next car will be a Toyota.
  • auburn63auburn63 Posts: 1,162
    That is unusall for a Honda that young that has been well maintained.Do you see any smoke coming out the tail pipe? The only suggestion I can think of besides calling America Honda and speaking to customer service would be to try and see if you can clean the cylynder rings.If you can see smoke out the back on accel then you could try getting the motor to operating tempeture.Then drain the oil and refill it with Automatic trans fluid. Let it run at 1,000 rpms for about 10 minutes.Then take on short drive(5 min) and then drain fluid and refill with engine oil and new oil filter.We have used this method on Passports to clean out lifters and stop noises and have also used it on a 80,000 mile old Accord that was burning oil and it helped it.However results may vary for you depending on what your actual problem is.I would try to call Honda customer service first and see what they say.I think the phone number is in your owners manual if not call your local dealer for the number.Good luck
  • ec123ec123 Posts: 12
    I have a 2000 si with 2,600 miles on it. I know the owner's manual recommends oil changes every 3,750 miles. I'm so used to having an oil change done every 3,000 miles. Will I be okay in sticking to the factory schedule? Or should I do the oil changes at the conventional time...3,000 miles. And why the disparity in mileage? Thanks guys!
  • grdgrd Posts: 4
    Why don,t HONDA mention anything about replacihg timing belt in maintance book at 6 yrs. or 90000 mi.
  • rfruthrfruth Posts: 630
    Had the oil (& filter) changed at 3000 then 6400 miles in my Civic hatch but have read in newsgroups (alt.autos.honda & rec.autos.makers.honda)that they (Honda's in general) don't need the oil changed every 3000 miles, lots of RTFM (read the fine manual) and follow their suggestion messages.

    Rob Fruth - Houston, Tx
    http://freeweb.pdq.net/rfruth

    1981 Raleigh for commuting, errands & fun
    1997 Trek 2300 for real fun !
    2000 Civic DX hatch non v-tec 1.6 L 5 speed
  • smoresmore Posts: 25
    Regarding your oil change intervals, remember the 3750 mileage interval is a guideline AND it's a huge marketing tool for Honda! Everytime your car is in there for an oil change, it gives them exposure and an opportunity to sell you more things (accessories, parts, repairs, or even a new car). Be your own judge based solely on your driving. Heat burns off impurities. I drive the highway alot and have always gone very high mileage on all my cars with oil changes at 5 to 8k. But if you do alot of city driving, and the car rarely reaches normal operating temp, then frequent oil changes are a good idea. Whatever you do, do NOT exceed the recommended mileage in the owner's manual for normal driving (I think it's 7k) or you may void your warranty. By the way, how do you like your Civic?
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    I have a 1999 Civic EX sedan (automatic) with 43,000 miles. When I bought the car in November 1998 I was travelling 100 miles per day (99% on the highway) to and from work. I moved and now drive about four miles to work in stop-and-go traffic. While I have always changed the oil every 4,000 miles, I followed the "normal" maintenance schedule in the owner's manual when driving long distances. Now the dealer wants me to follow the "severe" maintenance schedule in the owner's manual. Is this really necessary? I live in central Pennsylvania, so it's not extremely hot or cold for long periods of time.

    Another question - I took my car in for an oil change and tire balancing today (every time the dealer rotates the tires it throws the tires out of balance - don't ask me why.) I made an early appointment and waited for the car. The service advisor comes in and asks me if I want this "new service" that cleans out the carbon and removes "varnish" from inside the engine. The dealer is now offering it to customers whose cars have passed the 20,000-mile mark. It supposedly improves performance, smoothness and fuel economy. The cost? Only $79, which was impressive considering that this "new service" couldn't take more than 20 minutes. (It was a little after 8 a.m.; he knew I had to be at work by 9 a.m.). I said no.

    What could he have been talking about? How can you remove carbon and varnish in that length of time? I never had this type of service performed on any of my previous Hondas (a '93 and '96), and they always ran well even and still got great gas mileage when I traded them (at 90,000 miles). I'm not going back to this dealer if the service advisor pushes unnecessary services. I don't have this much money!
  • smoresmore Posts: 25
    First: Frequent oil changes for a car which only goes 3-4 miles in traffic is not a bad idea.
    Second: Do NOT waste $80 on some new service which is probably nothing more than a can of fuel injector cleaner (if even that!). A good friend of mine worked at a car dealer and the only word he used was "unscroupulous". I believe it. I am not saying all dealers are bad; but my experience is most of them have their hand in you pockets and really push for completely unnecessary services.
  • my 98 Civic had an slowly worsening speed vibration that turned out do be bad hub on the front.
  • I do not know if anyone has broached this possibility with you, but I do not want to surf the responses to see. My wife's 1988 LeSabre started to shake in the front end like out of balance tires. At first, the shaking was intermittent; then it occured after 2 or 3 mies of driving. It only showed up above 30-35 mph.

    I asked all of the so called experts their analysis and replaced the (whatever took the place of a coil for fuel injection) ??? with one that metered good at a salvage yard. At first I thought the problem was gone.

    But, it showed up within days. I went back to the area Vo-Tech (they replaced a sparkplug at an earlier visit)(I did notwant to spent $60/hr at a shop that was telling me they would analyze the problem) and this time got a student about 40 years old. He was from Africa, where his arab parents had moved to.

    A long story, but guess what. The student called me and said your car's computer is faulty for plug or injector (memory dims after 65) and your car engine starts loading at higher speeds. So, for $90 (No labor charge) he replaced the computer. Walla, the car has operated smoothly (82,000 actual miles now, 72,000 then). I told him he knew more than all of the previous "experts" I asked and he apparently agreed. He quit school (think he got a diploma to work in the USA) and went to work.
    Whoever gets him as a mechanic will get a smart one.

    My point is, find out if your computer is o.k..
  • ec123ec123 Posts: 12
    To answer your question, smore...I really like the car a lot. I'm hoping to hang onto this car for a while... :-) I'm at student at the Univ. of illinois...and so a lot of my trips are short ones. My question was between changing the oil at 3750 or 3000...I guess I'll stick with the 3750 mi, since that's what the manufacturer recommends. The only problem I've noticed with the car is an occasional squeak that seems to be coming from the drivers seat when I do a "not-so-smooth" shift in the lower gears. Has anyone else experienced that problem?
  • Smore and Auburn63,

    Thanks for the comments. I've gone ahead and ordered the 1.5L remanufactured engine from Jasper (through the Honda dealer). The final estimate was ~$3500 -- engine at $2100, accessory parts at $300 and labor at $1100. The car will be ready late next week.

    As I said, the car prior to the camshaft break was in near-mint condition at ~240,000 miles. Throughout the years I've had regular maintenance, including major repairs resulting from normal wear.

    A little history on this dude: It was built in Tokyo. I ordered the car from Wilde Honda (Milwaukee) in February, '85 -- I waited ~3 months for its delivery. As you might guess, the car wasn't very popular, so the waiting period was a result of, "Gosh, who the heck wants that car?" The only accessories I ordered were automatic transmission, AC and an AM-only radio. The first thing I did when the car arrived was a trip to Ziebart for a "super" undercoating. As you might already know, Honda was still having rust problems with their cars in the mid-80s.

    I had no problems with the car until 55,000 miles -- failing floats in the carburetor. I had the transmission rebuilt from scratch at 130,000 miles; replaced the alternator at 140,000 (Bosch); replaced the front axle assembly at 175,000; installed heavy-duty seat covers at 180,000; replaced the ball joints (radius arms), and front and rear struts (KYB) at 210,000; and now, the engine at 240,000. I've gone through a few sets of CV boots, a clutch on the AC unit (still have original compressor) and three starters.

    Performance: What can I say? ~75HP and four Mic. tires will give the rednecks a run with their domestic junk on highway exit ramps. The car handles well, but I'd be lying if I said it could run a q-mile in anything less than 25s.

    I have an '89 Civic Wagon (175,000) that I'll probably get rid of next year. I may try the HX/CVT Civic. I also have a '98 Accord (4CYL/VTEC).

    Summary: I just spent $3500 for the deal of the decade [?]!

    j.w.
  • auburn63auburn63 Posts: 1,162
    That was our affectionate name for it for years because that is what it reminded us of. Glad to hear you have had good luck with it.I have several customers with 300,000 + and one that has like 450,000 so you have many more years of good luck to go :) ...Enjoy
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    Thank you for the feedback. I'm glad I said "no" to the dealer for that special "engine cleaning" service. How dumb do they think we are?

    Regarding the maintainence: I will continue to have the oil changed every 4,000 miles or so, but should I stick to the "severe" maintenance schedule outlined in the owner's manual for the other items, as opposed to the "normal" maintenance schedule? The main difference between the two schedules seems to be more frequent checks of certain items and minor adjustments.
  • smoresmore Posts: 25
    You have to do what you think is best. I am a huge believer in "A fool and his money are soon parted". I also have driven EXTREMELY high mileage on all my cars with virtually no trips to the dealers. Start with three things, first a good car. Hondas are excellent cars. Second, regular oil changes. Even if the interval is 5 to 7K, just make sure they're regular. Third, timing belt replacement, usually every 70 or 80k. Today's cars are so precise,they'll usually run a long long time without tune ups. SO to me all that dealer stuff is a waste of money, unless something actually breaks. But I'll stick with my methods as I've had three cars that ran over 200K almost trouble free with oil changes and timing belts only. That's a tough record to beat.
  • smoresmore Posts: 25
    Glad you like your Si. I am kind of sorry I went for the EX rather than the Si. Where I live, they don't discount Si's at all, and the EX I got about $1600 off sticker so it seemed the way to go. I live on the East coast,and SI's are very stealable here... so that was a consideration too. But, every time I really step on the gas... I think I should have gone for the SI. GOod luck to you with it. If you're a student, is insurance really high?
  • i was reading an article about the new civic. it said that there isn't any room to add a front tower strut brace. i've always found that a rear stabalizer bar and a front tower brace is all that is needed for the civic ex to give it great handling characteristics. tell me it's not true about the tower brace.
  • auburn63auburn63 Posts: 1,162
    I haven't really taken notice so I will have to remember to try and check.
  • My daughter had an accident in her 92 Civic as she rear ended someone and damaged the front of the car to the extent that it pushed the radiator and A/C fan back. The airbag did not inflate or appear at all. The firemen said that the impact was enough to activate it. I checked another web site and it said there had been some problems with them activating when they shouldn't. The manual says it only activates in severe conditions. Any comments?
  • What a name. A friend [?] at work calls it the "Rice-Bucket-Coffin-Box."

    I hope this new engine goes 300,000+. Too bad for me with this cam snap. The mechanic told me that the cam had no extra play, so it probably snapped from tension (old age). Oh well...

    I've been driving Civics since '74. I'd really like to get my hands on a mint 600-series sedan from the '70-72 vintage. Do you ever service any of these?

    Thanks again for your comments.

    j.w.
This discussion has been closed.