1991 Honda Civic DX Sedan 1.5L gasoline from North America


OK, I suppose, but most of the car's reliability probably occurred before I owned it



Distributor (twice).

Front outer CV joints.


Automatic transmission.

Cylinder head.

Front brake pads, plus one brake cylinder.

General Comments:

Bought this car rather inexpensively ($1700). Seemed like a pretty good buy at the time, but in hindsight, if I could redo this purchase, I may have searched a little more before buying.

This car was the sedan version of the infamous Honda Civic. It was relatively unrusted for the year, and this model, along with its hatchback version, is still a pretty common car in milder climates. There was some rust on the rear fender area and rear hatch, but again nothing major for the age. A quick spray paint and some spraying with WD-40 or Rust Check, kept the rust from spreading for the little over 2 years that I owned the car.

The interior was a nice velour. I suppose it was pretty luxurious at the time. The back seat was still near mint, as it was not used as much. The driver's seat had a few small tears, but considering the driver's seat takes the hardest beating, that was very good for essentially 20 years of service.

One of the car's high points was its fuel economy. It was a very light car (under 1000 kg), so even in the city, I got 8 L/100 km. Even in cold weather, I never got worse than 10 L/100 km, and usually got in the 9s. Highway driving at 90-100 km/h gave me a consistent 5.5 to 6 L/100 km. In North America, for fuel efficient cars, the pickings are pretty slim: Outside of hybrids and diesels, there aren't many modern cars that can beat this. Europe and Japan have a lot more choices, though.

The car's layout was very good. It had a very low centre of gravity, so it felt very stable on the highway and in general around town driving. The interior design, was very well laid out. Honda knew what they were doing with this model. It's not surprising it was a big seller at the time. Plus, 1991 is all pre- the extra regulation crap that you see on most new cars. As a result, you have a very unweighted, light car where 92 horsepower is plenty. A new car requires at least 130 hp to accomplish the same thing because they have to pull around 1.5 X the weight!

Some weak points now: The distributor. This will stop you cold. Rrrr... but no go! I had to replace the distributor twice over a 1.5 year span. I got an aftermarket one, but it was still pretty expensive at about $300 installed. A Honda one would probably cost twice as much, but may be worth it if you plan to keep the car for more than 5 years. My mechanic even said that the distributor is a weak point for Honda and its higher end equivalent, Acura.

Another weak point: The automatic transmission. Clunk... clunk. I lost the two upper gears going up a hill. Fortunately, because of the car's plentiful nature, I could get a good used one installed for only $600. Getting a new transmission would be cost prohibitive for such an old car. Still, I wasn't a huge fan of the automatic transmission: quite clunky shifting through the gears. It also shifted somewhat hard down into first when you came to a stop. Also, going up hills, the transmission often “searched” for the best gear, so I often just shifted manually between 3rd and 4th. Even the owner's manual stated this, so it was still a problem when new. I would therefore personally recommend the manual transmission instead.

Also going up a hill (again!), I blew a valve. A huge loss of power. Fortunately, this could be fixed by installing a good used head for only $550. Solved the problem instantly. Again, this job would've been way too cost prohibitive with new parts.

Most other items were mostly just wear and tear. Had to replace the muffler ($200), front brake pads and a wheel cylinder ($200), radiator ($350) and outer CV joints (used) for $100.

One thing I noticed as well, is that when I had the transmission replaced, the odometer was unhooked. Pluck... that's it! This car was pre-electronic odometers, but because it was so easy to unplug, I imagine it would be incredibly easy to do odometer fraud on this car. And because this car had 17 years of ownership before me, who knows what the actual odometer reading may have been. I had no way of telling one way or the other.

All in all, this car was okay, but it did have some rather serious issues that would've been really expensive had I not had access to a good pool of used parts. I may have kept the car if I only drove about 3 times a week, but because I drive nearly every day, reliability is of utmost importance. The car also developed a stalling problem uphills when I sold it. Having bought another car, paying for 2 insurance policies, and not wanting to pour any money into it, I wound up selling it cheap ($400), which was really just the scrap metal value of the car. The new owner seemed to be somewhat mechanically inclined as well, so I think they got a really good deal. There are probably still a good number of years left in that car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 8th May, 2010

30th Mar 2011, 17:10

I have one now for about 4 years. At 157000 miles I travel every day about 100 - 120 miles. I bought the car for $1100.00. Best car I ever had. I do all the work on it myself and change the oil every 4000 miles.

29th Feb 2012, 09:19

Maybe it's just Honda, but every car I've ever driven and worked on, the speedometer runs the odometer directly - so if the odometer was disconnected as you say, the speedometer should not have worked.

1991 Honda Civic DX Hatchback 4 cylinder from North America


Best car I ever owned


Driver's seat a little torn.

A little rust around the fenders.

General Comments:

Good driving, great gas mileage, peppy and very maneuverable.

I loved that car, but my husband wanted to buy a newer Honda, and I gave the 1991 to my son.

I want to buy another 1991 Honda Civic DX hatchback with 5 SPEED in original condition. I can't find one anywhere. Does anyone know of one available?

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd April, 2010

3rd Apr 2010, 13:56

I think the DX only comes in a 4-speed manual, because the DX is the base model. I had a '91 Civic hatchback DX and it was a 4-speed manual, maybe get an LX with the 5-speed. Either way, you're getting a great car if it hasn't already been raced out or beat up by the younger generation.

7th Apr 2010, 11:18

The 1991 Honda Civic DX hatchback I had definitely had 5 SPEEDS. When I gave it to my son, it had 230,000 miles with the original motor, clutch and had only the alternator and water pump replaced except for normal tires, batteries and exhaust. It now has over 260,000 miles. It got 36 mpg during the winter when I used the heater, and up to 44mpg the rest of the time.

I have looked everywhere for another one, but most have been souped up, or are in really bad condition. I know there must be one hidden in someone's garage somewhere. I guess I will keep looking. I hate spending money on gasoline.