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Honda Civic Quality Control Issues

hondasmondahondasmonda Posts: 28
edited March 2014 in Honda
I have noticed the considerable discussion generated in the Accord forum of the same topic, so I decided the Civic deserves a forum too.

I own a 1999 Honda Civic SI Coupe (EX in the US). This is my first Honda. My experience with the car has been below average. My intention is not to slander Honda on the basis of my experience.

Generally speaking, I have noticed the body of the Civic is very flimsy. I see a lot of dents on Civics that I don't see on other cars. Also, body panels are not aligned properly compared to most Toyotas, Nissans, and Mazdas.

Piston slap is a common problem with the Civic engine (a good indicator of poor workmanship/cheap components). The auto tranmission is known to have a number of problems as well as premature wear of the rotors/brakes. 2001 Models present a whole set of new problems.

I know, I know, some of you will say that every car manufacturer makes a lemon. I agree with that proposition. Nevertheless, I'm not certain that the Civic is as good a car as many of us believe.

I'm sure Honda built a really good car in the late 80s through to the mid-90s. Since Honda, however, has moved its manufacturing to North America, I have been hearing a lot about a decline in quality (not only in workmanship but in other areas).

Let's think about it: Honda is now using the same US and Canadian based parts suppliers as GM, Chrysler, and Ford. Honda Canada and Honda America basically assembles the car, but the majority of componenents come from third party suppliers who don't implement the same quality control standards as the japanese do. These North American components, in my own opinion, are not of the same calibre of japanese components, which are much better.

Pet Peeve: How do publications such as Consumer Reports give the 2001 Honda Civic a best buy (the rating was based on the reliability of the car) when the car has just come out? I find it difficult to believe that someone could accurately predict the reliability of a car on the basis of a few months. Is it possible Honda's reputation is preceding them?

Talk amongst yourselves.


  • lugwrenchlugwrench Posts: 213
    I definitely agree that the Civic metal is flimsy. (likewise for the Accord may I add). Honda did cut corners on the 2001 Civic went it went to McPhearson struts on the front end and eliminating the wishbone suspension that was a Civic trademark. You are definitely right regarding Honda suppliers of parts. Quality will be questionable even more so down the road. Honda's latest "marketing plan" seems to be manufacture as many cars as possible and cut corners when building them. The Civic back in the late 1980's was an excellent automobile but I agree that a Japanese built car is better than a mass produced car built in North America.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Honda has never really excelled in body integrity. They are kind of "flimsy" because, well, they are a pretty inexpensive car. I think their reputation was won mostly on excellent interior design and ergonomics, and mechanical reliability. But really, you could total a Honda will your bare hands and feet, just as with most small, inexpensive cars.

    As for quality control issues, which could be real, this is mostly a plant issue, a management and training issue. A quality product can be built anywhere in the world by anyone who is intelligent and hard-working. If you think Mercedes Benzes are all built by Germans, think again--but the quality control standards are (usually, not always) very high for Mercedes, as is the training standard.

    I think Consumer Reports is focusing on value for the money spent, and really, for the MSRP of a Civic, you do get a lot of features, a good service and parts network, and good economy, engineering, etc.

    If the Honda is really slipping in quality, this will show up soon enough in owner surveys, crash tests, warranty costs. No manufacturer gets away with a shoddy product in America for very long. Americans don't forget when they've been screwed. Just try and sell a Fiat or a Peugeot or a Lotus here anymore...even Jaguar is still dogged by their past sins, and GM and Ford continue to lose market share due to the rather bad products they produced in the late 70s and 80s.
  • While I agree that Honda's reputation was built on mechanical reliability/ergonomics/design functionality, the fact remains that with cheaper components the car will become less reliable. Let's remember most Honda models are in the upper range in price for their particular segment. The Consumer Report article I am referring to specifically refers to mechanical reliability as a big factor in awarding a best buy.

    As for Mercedes quality - the Big M's SUVs are produced in Kentucky or Alabama (I believe) and the build quality on these vehicles has been less than stellar. The plant as I understand is owned by Mercedes. The staff is also trained by Mercedes (maybe they caught Chrysleritis). The likelihood is that reliance on suppliers such as Delphi, Magna, and the likes will typically yield lower standards.

    8 years ago I lived in Japan for over 10 months. In comparision to North American culture, the Japanese pay much more attention to detail and work is given a high priority over other values (for better or worse).

    Don't get me wrong, Honda still makes a decent car. For one, they are better engineered vehicles (although the newer Civic may have taken a step backward to cater to North American tastes). It is typically better than what the Big 3 have to offer. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that consumers pay a premium for vehicles with the Honda nameplate. For example, in Canada a Base Civic Sedan costs approximately 19,500. A better equipped Chevy Cavalier goes for $14,500. The Civic is a better car, but it all depends on how long you will own it. A 20% difference in price is significant. I have heard, aside from build quality, the Cavalier is a relatively reliable form of transportation. You do, however, lose big time on the resale with the GM product.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think, real or not, the public perception is that a Honda is worth the extra money, and compared to the lower priced competition, that might be true. Maybe the little Civic isn't perfect, but some of the cars in its class are very very mediocre in comparison.

    Perhaps we've just set an unrealistic expectation for Honda...we want them perfect. You've noticed, I'm sure, how people even on this board expect perfection from a car selling under $20K...every little speck of a defect, every little sunvisor squeek, and they are talking "LEMON LAW!". 15 years ago people were grateful to make it home from the dealer.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Somehow, they were able to make it more powerful, larger, more economical and produce lower emissions...all at the same time.

    They changed the suspension whiloe improving the handeling.

    But...They'll never make everybody happy.

    Increase the thickness of the sheetmetal?

    Not a problem! BUT...the car will weigh more, use more gas and the price will increase.

    Honda (or any other manufacturer) will never be able to please everyone so they try to please the masses.

    The consumers want it all...Oh, but don't raise the price!

    A fine line to walk!
  • I agree you can't make everyone happy. Many consumers do expect perfection for an economy car and that is unfortunate. Let's not forget the reason why this topic is even being discussed is because at one time Honda built a really solid car. If Honda had built below average cars, we wouldn't be talking about a decline in quality.

    As each year progresses the art of producing a well-built car should be easier. A car is equal to sum of its parts. If the parts are not up to snuff, then neither will the car.
    Technological improvements are expected to occur in vehicles every generation or so (i.e. power, fuel economy, emissions etc;).

    Advances in technology have lowered the cost of producing cars. My contention is that Honda has started getting chintzy and is essentially milking its reputation earned in the late 80s and early 90s. Keeping a car under $20,000 is a lot easier today than it was 5 or 6 years ago. Honda, in my opinion, instead of passing the savings on to the consumer in the way of price or maintaining the quality of components used has chosen to pad the bottom line. In fact, Honda, in a number of business journals, is very boastful about how each generation of car becomes cheaper to manufacture. Decontented, I believe, is the word they like to use instead of skimp. I can't blame Honda because shareholders are constituents that they have answer to as well.

    The common theme, in my experience, seems to be that the Civic has declined in quality. Even the Service Manger at the Honda dealership where I service my car has told me that Honda's produced in North America are less reliable and not as well-built as the Japanese made models (i.e. Prelude and CRV). Many of the service techs are thoroughly disgusted to even work on the newer Civics (it has become a Cavalier in Honda clothing --> pun intended). I agree with Mr. ShiftRight, the American public will not be so forgiving if Honda is actually slipping. These things usually take 5 to 6 years to bear fruition. But then again many people are leasing today and may very well not experience the unreliable years (Years 4,5,6 and onward).

    Volkswagen is already starting to feel the effect of producing cars with outdated mechanicals and suspect build quality.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    But you are entitled to your opinion.

    I guess time will tell...
  • lugwrenchlugwrench Posts: 213
    I think time has all ready told the fate of the new Civic. Didn't the Yugo have McPhearson struts?
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    Many cars use Mac-Struts, including "The Ultimate Driving Machine" BMW.
  • For the majority of individuals, the distinction between wishbones and struts is a non-factor. Nevertheless, when my car was in the shop for an extended period of time, I was given a 2001 sedan as a loaner. The ride was brutal. In fact it was quite bouncy and lacked any sense of control or purpose. ISELLHONDAS: Sorry but I have to disagree handling has not been improved in the model. A lot of cars have struts, but I believe Honda has done a poor job in the implementation for the Civic. I have heard that a lot of struts have been replaced due to some weird sound (poor components).

    Build quality was very suspect --> loud squeaks from the glove compartment area, misaligned door panels, and a weird sound coming from
    the tranny. It drove rather sluggishly. I felt like I was driving a Pontiac.
  • lugwrenchlugwrench Posts: 213
    You are absolutely right! The Chevy Cavalier, Dodge Neon and Dodge Stratus also use them! What I was trying to say, Honda took a proven excellent suspension in the "wishbone" and cheapened it up by using McPhearson Struts to save on cost.I can guarantee that the McPhearson Strut on the BMW are a German Quality Strut and the new Honda Strut came from the same suppliers that sell them to Chevy and Chrysler. There is no comparison in handling between the "wishbone" Civic and the new 2001 Civic! I have driven both and it is like night and day.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    lugwrench and a couple of others love to pounce on anything they can to degrade Hondas.

    and...that's fine. Lots of other cars out there they no doubt would like better.

    The change in the suspension allowed the Civic to do even better than before in crash tests. It also allowed more interior room. did NOT detract from the handleing even one bit! They made other changes at the same time that actually IMPROVED the suspension.

    I drove the 2001 Civic on a closed test track, weaving it through pylons. I also drove the competition. I TOTALLY disagree with your opinion, but you can think what you wish.

    And, many buyers do you think would even care?
  • pklaspklas Posts: 20
    Who do you think you are kidding? I test drove a 2001 Civic Coupe and the ride quality is definitely inferior. I agree with HondaSmonda that the ride is very bouncy and uninspiring. Porsche, Mercedes, and alot others are moving away from struts and going wishbone. That's not to say that Honda used the best quality wishbone suspension available on the market for the sixth gen Civic.

    In any event, the handling, in my opinion is far better on the previous generation Civic. There is a perceptible difference.

    Even the steering felt very awkward and build quality on the Test Drive model was less than stellar--> akin to a GM built car.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    I really do.

    I also disagree and I drive LOTS of Hondas.

    And it's OK to disagree.
  • gasguzzgasguzz Posts: 214
    This is my 2nd Honda, my last was an 86 Accord (with Nissans and Toyos in between). I remember back in 86 when I bought the Accord was that the body fitment was impeccable (definitely something you couldn't say of an american make - back then). Now, looking at my 2k Civic's build (the last of the 6th gen - said by several members here to the best Civic "so far"), and I must say "Yep, it's made in the USA". Acceptably, it's a $14.4k car. However, I could say that even back then the Civic would have the same build quality and manufacturing standard as the then Accord (as much as many here have also noticed the lesser build standard of the current Accord). Sure, times have changed but I can definitely attest that quality is down from the 14yr span. Also, I have been to projects between 96-98 to the Mercedes-Stuttgart/Hyundai-Seoul/Toyota-Tokyo manufacturing plants, and there is indeed a cultural environment that can produce a quality product. No pun intended, but I will not buy a Kia/Hyundai/Daewoo (and I'll leave it at that). I did have the impression that the Honda standard of manufacturing would prevail throughout, even if made in Canada/USA - apparently not.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Even the slightest difference. We will get a few Japanese built Accords and Civics once in awhile.

    Some customers will swear there is a difference but none of us can tell one iota of difference.

    But...hey, I had a customer buy an Accord the other day from me because he couldn't find a Japanese one at the dealerships closer to his home.

    I'm glad he felt that way!
  • pklaspklas Posts: 20
    I didn't mean to have a sensitive tone. I am glad that this forum has thus far remained civil (as it should always be).

    My experience with my 2000 Civic Coupe EX has been well chronicled on these forums. I have been very unsatisfied with my particular car (i.e. loose bolt, not even a part of the car, in the intake manifold which caused the engine too overheat and essentially destroy the entire engine. Sabotage or poor workmanship? You choose. Engine has been replaced - so we will have to wait and see) Other people seem to be entirely satisfied, and others are not.

    The important thing is many of us can share our ownership experiences and observations about a particular car and Company that may or may not be building a lower quality product.
  • mdrivermdriver Posts: 385
    Let's assume for the sake of arguement that the 01 Civic's handling is the same as g6 - there's really not too much difference. But the ride is defintely subpar on the 01. Bounce in the rear is an understatement. The first Civic I test drove back in December stalled as soon as I drove it off of the lot. I had to keep restarting it to get it back to the dealer - it had plenty of gas. The second car had no working radio and a grinding sound coming from the blower motor. Inside the showroom, I sat in a Civic, closed the door and heard a loud high pitched whine coming from the dome light as it "faded" turned off. Then the seat height adjustment knob almost came off in my hand on another EX. After the test drive, my g6 Civic rode like a limousine in comparsion - supple, but well controlled.

    If you drive a g6 and a g7 back to back, you will immediately notice the difference in favour of the g6. Most people may not notice any difference because they don't currently own a g6 Civic and cannot do such an immediate comparison.

    Instead of concentrating on improving the ride and handling of the 01, Honda used their time flattening out the rear floor - poor allocation of resources in my opinion.
  • tlindeman1tlindeman1 Posts: 23
    I have to agree with the disappointing suspension on the '01 Civic. I recently purchased a 2001 Civic Sedan LX 5 spd. and although I am happy with the performance and thrilled with the fuel economy, the suspension just plain sucks. Especially the rear...soft as a marshmallow...bottoms and bounces terribly. I have tried in vain to locate a replacement rear shock to try to improve if not alleviate the problem but none of the major manufacturers have developed a replacement yet. My Honda dealer says there is no revalved shock available and has had "no other complaints" about the rear suspension...I suggested he read the posts in this website. Other problems I'm noticing are a wacky fuel gauge (reading empty with the light on with 5 gals. left in the tank-a common defect from what I'm reading) and a driver's window switch that sometimes doesn't work (I have to work it back and forth a couple of times...intermittent problem). Also, the A/C seems marginal during the middle of the day in our recent heat wave. Planning on bringing it in to the dealer next week for it's first "visit" to have these problems checked out (car has 1500 miles). If anyone is aware of a replacement rear shock currently available, please let me know. In the meantime, I'm gritting my teeth and hoping that this car proves to be as "reliable" over the long haul as I hoped when I bought it.
  • The consensus seems to be that Honda has really dropped the ball. Sales are down for the Civic.

    I should reiterate - a double wishbone isn't the end all and be all of suspensions. The Civic with the wishbones isn't going to run circles around a BMW, Porsche, or Vette. The Civic was never intended to be a SPORTS CAR!!! But consumers do expect their econocars, for a lack of a better word, to have a decent ride. This is where the new Civic fails miserably.

    It seems Honda's penchant for cheapness these days has caused them to develop an inappropriate strut system (re: GM quality struts). I can't remember the last car Honda has produced with struts.

    The marketing whiz bangs at Honda tried to mask the cost saving measure by claiming that a strut design was required to increase interior space. Who cares about that stupid stump in the rear? Let's be realistic how often do you see a Civic loaded up with five passengers? Not often... How stupid do they think the buying public is? The auto consumer with above average knowledge isn't buying this patethic excuse for a story. Most of these consumers have been able to read between the lines (Hence the slower than expected sales - even in an environment where Honda's sales for other models keep increasing). Goto for the numbers, if you don't believe me (I now expect Isellhondas to say that they have been flying off the showroom floor --> hahaha)

    I can't point out what the problem with Honda is--> Could it be that Honda America has actually gained some influence with the Japanese Head Office and hence changed the corporate philosophy of the company. Let's face it, American companies are widely regarded, for better or worse, as big cost cutters in the production of goods. It seems to be showing in Honda's latest models produced locally in North America.

    It's too bad --> This is a company that used to produce high quality fun cars like the CRX. It seems Honda has taken the fun factor from their entry level models.
  • mdrivermdriver Posts: 385
    The front (struts) suspension seems fine, it's the rear that seems to bob and gyrate and that's a wishbone design. This is not a strut vs. wishbone problem, this is simply poor suspension calibration.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Why do you "expect" me to say anything?

    Sounds like you might be trying to put words in my mouth.

    It is interesting to read these postings. I learn of "problems" that I never knew existed.

    I'm sure some of these troubles are real. I also know that misery tends to love company too.

    I've only heard of a soft rear suspension here, at Edmunds, in these forums.

    A set of aftermarket shocks such as Konis should stiffen things up for the folks that think they have a problem. People modify cars all of the time to make them more to their liking.
  • Isellhondas.

    As someone in sales, I'd assume, you would spend more time focusing on the marketing end of things. I'm impressed that you actually spend time on these forums.

    The suspension "issue" has actually been pointed out in a number of publications (online and print).

    Most people who purchase Civics actually don't bother or even want to modify their cars. It is only a very small percentage of individuals who will take the initiative to modify their cars. I don't think it is acceptable for Honda to believe that if you don't like the ride, then put aftermarket shocks. This type of philosophy will ultimately hurt Honda's credibility.

    As an aside, the wishbone/strut discussion is pointless. Implementation is the key. There is one car in the same class that has done it right. The Mazda Protege ES 2.0 with struts has a really sweet ride. The build quality (made in Japan) is significantly better than what I have seen on the latest generations of Civics. Even the materials on the Mazda seem to be of a higher quality than the Civic (ZOOM, ZOOM).

    Honda has two choices to make in the coming years: (1) Improve the strut design or (2) Admit they had made a mistake and go back to the wishbone design. For many years, Honda's marketing literature would point out the superiority of the wishbone design over struts. What are people suppose to believe? Many people are repeat buyers of Civics and have been raised on the wishbone is better than struts philosophy.
    Talk about a classic case of shooting yourself in the foot.
  • anselmo1anselmo1 Posts: 163
    At one time the Honda Civic was a benchmark in its class. Today, with the 2001 Civic, Honda definitely took some short cuts with the suspension. Come on isellhondas, no noticeable difference in the 2001 Civic with let's say a 1999 Civic suspension? You must be reading to much of the Honda sales literature. A wishbone suspension anyday is far superior to McPhearson strut suspension. Honda will probably put McPhearson struts on the next generation Accord to save a few dollars!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Maybe one out of 100 will even care.

    You are making a big deal out of something that few people care about.

    You can continue to think and believe whatever you wish. If you want to think the handling has deteriorated (which it has not) good for you.
  • mdrivermdriver Posts: 385
    The reason that I believe the suspension has deteriorated is: 1, I have driven several varieties of 01 Civic, all with bad rebound in the rear, 2. Many auto reporters have found exactly the same problem. Not just here in the US but two articles in the UK (Autoexpress and What Car?, both on the web), one in Canada and Austrailia (can't remember their site addresses). They all specifically point out how the suspension is less controlled than previous years, particularly the rear.

    I agree with Hondasmonda, the Protege ES is light-years ahead of the Civic in terms of driving dynamics, but still has a fairly low resale value due to limited popularity not reliability.
  • lugwrenchlugwrench Posts: 213
    You will sell them anything won't you? A lot of people that compare the vehicles will care. New Civic looks nice but the suspension isn't the same. Why don't you compare them by driving them and give us your Honda report. I bet though you will say that the 2001 handles better though!
  • The Protege's resale value is actually quite good in Canada. Canadians seem to buying the Protege in droves. This is one market where Mazda is actually experiencing an increase in sales.

    I have recently test drove a variety of Mazda cars (since I am considering replacing my below average Civic) and have been quite impressed with their product lineup. The build quality on the Mazdas built in Japan appear to be considerably better than the Civics produced domestically. I have no issue with the fact that the Protege has struts. I have also been reading in a couple of publications, that the Protege has fewer reliability issues than the Civic.
  • fritz1224fritz1224 Posts: 398
    My 2k ES protege has had 0 defects or problems. My 2k lx v6 accord has had several defects and problems. Hands down, quality control for the pro seems much better than the accord. Both cars serve different purposes. The pro's a commuter car and the accord is a road car. On the hiway, the accord gets almost as good mileage(30) as the pro(32). And I have even gotten 32 in the accord on occassion.
  • gasguzzgasguzz Posts: 214
    Nice tech argument on Honda shooting itself on the foot.
    "Well,...we...can't...really...tell...the...difference". My mom said that it seems the bodywork on her 2k1-Camry had a lesser quality fit than her previous '96. Before I told her, she didn't know that the last year for the Japanese Camry was '96. Again, reiterating my previous point that even on the same model, the Japanese-made version was of higher quality than the USA-made. "That's the first time I've heard that". Well, what does that tell you. When was the last time you walked into a showroom/shop/store and you knew more than the rep. The fact remains, there are those who still care about nuts and bolts, and what we say is worth $XX,XXX.00 every 4 years.
This discussion has been closed.