1989 Honda Civic DX Hatchback 1.5 fuel injected from North America


Great little around the town car


Problems with car when acquired:

Bad valve cover gasket.

Bad front axle joints.

Bad brakes, front and rear.

Noises coming from the rear of the car.

Pressure low on tires low.

Dirty condition, inside and out.

Dirty engine compartment.

Seats very dirty and torn.

Rattles galore.

Car shakes when braking.

General Comments:

Wanted to share information on a newly acquired 1989 hatchback Honda car I just bought several months ago... Sold my 2003 Nissan 350Z because it was starting to fall apart on me, and was tired of putting 50-70 dollars of premium gas in it... the 379.00 monthly payment on it... the high insurance on it... also the parts to repair it were getting expensive... window motor $320.00 and 160.00 to put it in... rear struts... 300.00 and 120.00 to put them in.. front and rear speakers... 200.00 and 100.00 to put them in... and a host of other stuff...

A friend of mine said he had a 1989 Honda Civic hatchback for sale... and said he would let it go for 1000.00... Drove it from his house in the rain around 10:00 at night.. It was making all kinds of noises... steering was hard to move... rattles all over the place... brakes were bad... got it home at night, so really didn't see what I had... the next day I got to see it close up... and it was a little shocking... dirty interior... dirty engine... overall a messy, dirty, disgusting car...

I called my friend back and asked him what happen.. He stated he bought it from a old man who let his dog sleep in it... so that explains what happened to it... I said OK... and went back to look at it... since the thought of buying a new car wasn't on my radar, and having got rid of all those fees with the 350Z...I knew I had to make the best of it... and since I knew this car's value would never be over 1700.00.. I knew I had my work cut out for me..

First thing I did was to find out why the steering was so hard to turn.. Found out it only had 18 lbs of air pressure in the tires.. put 40 lbs in each one and it improved it a lot... even though it has no power steering...

Next thing I did was start on the engine compartment... I went to Pep Boys and bought 60.00 worth of cleaning supplies for the engine and interior of the car... pulled out my pressure washer and put simple green... engine cleaner and pressure washed the engine compartment... then did it again and again... three times... Now I could finally some hope for the engine compartment... Put some of that tire foam cleaner on it and started it up, and let it run for 20 minutes... even with all that water sprayed into it... the engine started right up... it didn't like the tire foam cleaner on it, but the rubber/gaskets/silicone fitting were so severely dry and dirty, I had to do something for it... Engine compartment was now clean and running good... time to clean was about 4 hours... and 30.00 invested in cleaning supplies...

Next went to the interior of the car... filthy interior... so I decided to take out the entire interior and see what I had... seats first... couldn't find the bolts, but had to remove little rubber caps that hid them... then removed the rear cargo carpet... and then removed the rear seats... took about an hour and a half to remove these... You could see that the carpet had never been cleaned, and it had the accumulation of about 22 years of everything you could think of... but mostly dog hair, old french fries and a host of other junk... took my strongest vacuum cleaner and went at it... about an hour later I got most of it out... I could see that I would need a carpet kit for it... so I went on Internet and looked up a carpet kit for it, and it was about 139.00 for a molded carpet kit and 40.00 for shipping, and if you wanted extra padding, it was 55.00 for heavy duty backing, and insulation was another 40.00... this was getting pricey... so as evening was closing in, I decided to sleep on it...

The next day I went out to look at the interior again... the carpet was worn and stained... so I took out my little Bissell Green Machine carpet cleaner... took some of the cleaner and stain remover I bought from Pep Boys and went at the interior... took some dry towels and went at the entire interior including windows, dash, door panels, vents, carpet rear plastics and rear hatch area.. using the towels to wipe down the plastic as it got wet... finally the interior was looking better... doing this three times it also had a little shine to it... just a little... time to clean 4 hours... open the windows and let it dry out to the next day...

The next morning I went out to see it dry... the interior was starting to shape up... it was also amazing that the cheap Honda carpet and cheap plastic interior that had never been cleaned or taken care of, was able to come out looking fairly well and clean...

Next was to wd-40 all moving controls in the car... again, took out a dry towel to clean up any drips... then finally using the Armorall from Pep Boys... Armorall everything including dash, vents, door panels, steering wheel three times... and again three times was the charm with the Armorall... interior was looking good except for the tears in the plastic...

Now for the seats... took out the Green Machine again and some stain cleaner I bought, and went at those seats... but unlike the other interior parts.. the seats just wouldn't clean up... called around at some junk yards/salvage yards for some prices on seats.. and the lowest was about 300.00... There again with a car with a possible high value of about 1700.00, it just wasn't in the cards... so went back at those seats for another round of cleaning... the front seats were finally showing some hope, but there was no hope for the rear seats, because the dog pretty much destroyed them with stains/dirt/tears and smells... so the rear seats were out with the trash, and the front seats installed back in the car... where they cleaned up to at least acceptable... the tears will have to be fixed later...

Now for the rear of the car.. I decided to convert the rear to a flat bench... like a large flat truck/bench... Bought some 5/8 wood plywood... used the pattern from old rear hatch carpet for an outline and a jigsaw, and cut out the pattern... bought some blue carpet and some what they call 6 lb 1/2 inch padding... also some hinges.. and now have a nice flat useful carpeted area to haul thing around... It's a two seater now, and I drive it everywhere around town..

Also getting around 31 miles to a gallon... also originally I thought I had a base model with the 1.5 70 horsepower engine... but found out I had the 92 horsepower version of the 1.5 engine... which is the DX model... which includes a 5 speed transmission and slightly upgraded seats, radio and air conditioning...

Very happy with the car... and will have to take care of all the other problems it has at a later time... as I get time and money...

Also I use this car basically around town, and use my full size Nissan truck for longer trips over 20 miles... the car is just too noisy and rattle for long trips... also the Honda is a big difference compared to my Nissan 350z's 16 miles to a gallon...

The Honda's body is also in rough shape... I made a few improvements in rubbing out the paint and waxing it... bought some bumper paint at Pep Boys and painted the bumpers/side protection molding and mud flaps... that stuff is pricey at 6.79 per can, and I used 4 cans... the can says it's flexible paint... also bought some trim paint for the around the window molding and side mirrors... only had to use 1 can at 6.79 a can...

Also bought some front side speakers for 50.00... plus spark plugs... smog was 65.00, which it barely passed... also getting pink/registration/new lic plates was 54.00...

Total investment so far is 1000.00 for the car, and 379.00 in supplies/smog/registration/carpet/plywood/speakers and other small items...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th December, 2010

14th Feb 2011, 22:35

Update on my 1989 Honda Civic hatchback DX model... started on the repair of the mechanics on the car... noise in the back of the car... which sounded like a howling/growling/popping sound... was getting worse... so I took it into a Honda/Acura place... Hoped on his test drive he could hear the same noises I did... luckily he was able to hear the same noises I did... and yes, he said he hear them and felt it was a bearing... he put it on the lift and started moving around the wheel, and said it was the right rear bearing... Fortunately it was only one bearing and not two... He also stated it was lucky that it wasn't the front bearing, which are a lot harder and more expensive to replace... Cost 143.52 for the bearing and 35.00 to install it and 13.99 in tax... grand total was 192.51... Also solved a little of the problem with the front braking and steering wheel shaking when I was braking hard...

Filled the front tires to 50 lbs apiece... which I know is not safe, but stopped a lot of the shaking steering wheel when I was braking... or braking into a corner turn... cost $0... for now...

Gas is up to 3.319 here in California... so I got this car in the nick of time... many people are predicting 4.00 a gallon... Hope they are wrong... because even with this Honda... things could get expensive...

11th Mar 2011, 10:04

Update on my review...

Got a great deal on some 14 inch wheels and tires for my 1989 Honda Civic hatchback... I realize that the car needs other things besides wheels and tires... but I couldn't resist... pros and cons of the wheels and tires:


Highway ride great improved.

Taller wheels and tires improved cruising speed (if I would have known about the improved gearing by having taller wheels and tires, I would have looked for 15 inch wheels and tires).

Cornering improved slightly.

Braking slightly improved.

Steering is improved... not sure if it's the wheel's lighter weight or the tires on them... Falken ze512...


Because of the open wheel design (they have alum spokes instead of the originals closed steel design)... they allow more noise through the wheels... I can hear the exhaust more than with the original's closed steel design.

Slow speed maneuvering is better with the smaller 13 inch tires and wheels...

1989 Honda Civic Wagon 1.5L OHC 16v I4 from North America


A tinny, solid car


It has had a bad front CV joint for the past 10,000km. I can't afford to fix it, and it doesn't appear to be getting much worse.

Oil is getting into the spark plug tubes, causing some sputtering.

Driver's seat bolster is worn.

Exhaust has a hole.

General Comments:

The manual steering on these manual cars can be heavy sometimes.

The car really handles, for a wagon.

The engine bay is easy to navigate, and it looks as if this will be a car that is fairly easy to repair. The way it's gone the past 3 months, I may not have to worry about that for a year.

My gas mileage is good, at 7.5-9L/100km (26-31.5mpg).

This car is very dependable.

It's getting cold out now, and it takes the car a long time to warm up.

There are plenty of rattles in this 21-year-old car. They add character. So does the huge dent in the passenger side, and the resultant broken coat hanger door lock.

I love this car for its utility and economy. I've taken 4 people and a whole whack of stuff to a concert. I've taken a living room set, I've furnished my house with this car, and it has never once quit. I can't wait to fix it up so that I won't have to live with the click-click-click from the front, which is the worst part of the car so far.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th November, 2010

16th Feb 2011, 01:08

Just a bit of an update, now that I've had the car for about 6 months. The car sputters a bit while driving, usually when wet out. That's probably electrical. The exhaust system needs to be replaced because emissions inspection's a-comin'. Driving it through snow up to the bottom of the car caused a heat shield to come loose and now it rattles. The CV joint still clicks because I still lack the funds to fix any of this.

And I still like the way the car swallows pretty much anything that gets put in it. In this past month: a shoot's worth of video gear, tuba, trombone and french horn, about 900lb. of garbage (in various loads), and all of a roommate's possessions in one load. I just got my best mileage out of a tank ever: 750km, or about 38mpg average. SUV drivers should switch to Civics. They'd forget about all of the grousing about size ("it's too small", "I can't fit 8 people in here", "I can't take it off road") when they did their first fill-up.

My only real, non-repair related gripe is cupholders. The lack of them is really felt every time I have a drink in the car. On the other hand, ginger cornering is good for the CV joint, I guess.