2003 Honda Civic Sport 1.7L non-VTEC from North America

Summary:

Overall the car is a good purchase in terms of materials and general reliability

Faults:

Within the last 4 months, there have been some pretty big issues with this car:

- A/C compressor bearing went. There is no way to bypass this, since the serpentine belt for the A/C compressor is also attached to the alternator (A/C compressors are expensive to purchase and install!)

- Exhaust manifold cracked. Very common problem, and is also an expensive part to purchase and install. The exhaust manifold also holds the catalytic converter in this engine.

- When replacing the timing belt and water pump, the crankshaft position sensor (CPS) stopped working by simply unplugging it, and then plugging it back in. This is a common problem for this engine. This is also a relatively expensive part to purchase and install. To replace a faulty CPS in this car, you need to basically do all the same labour work as is required to replace the timing belt itself! Needless to say, an unfortunate area of the car to have a sensor go bad by simply unplugging it.

- Extremely foggy headlamps (which happens on other cars as well, but not all!)

General Comments:

The car has a nice ride. The stiff suspension offers nice cornering and absorbs bumps quite well. The suspension is a plus for a car this size.

The seats and ergonomics of the interior are well thought out (control lay out, cup holder size and placement, etc.) Good lumbar support for a car of this size.

Options on this model Civic (heated power mirrors, power everything else except seats) make it hard to get rid of, since it has those options, while some more expensive cars do not.

This car is not overly prone to rusting, which is another benefit.

I realise that this is a smaller, lighter car, but it should be noted that noise is considerable. As well, if it is windy, it is very noticeable (and I am not biasing this against my previous car, as I have owned many other smaller vehicles).

While the fuel economy is good, and you CAN get away with using sub grade oils, coolants, etc., if you want to maintain the car properly and use the specified fluids, it can be costly to maintain for oil, coolant, air filters, etc. It is not over the top expensive, but noticeably more money.

Great fuel economy, but is shadowed by an underpowered drive train. The engine is sporty and runs well, but lacks the punch needed for highway passing and climbing up hills (notice how Honda keeps increasing the displacement from model year to model year).

The Honda Civic experience for me has been a mixed bag of emotions. The car handles well, is reliable, and has good fit and finish. The downside is the cost to maintain and the common problems that are a huge cost for parts and labour. I feel the good economics of day to day driving in this car is offset by the long term costs of maintenance.

You have to balance that if you like this car, it will be a good long term driver as long as you are willing to deal with the odd costly item; as opposed to other cars of this class, which are prone to having less costly, more frequent part replacement.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th December, 2011

2003 Honda Civic Hybrid 1.3 petrol from North America

Summary:

Gas saving, pocket draining lemon

Faults:

SRS light indicating seat belt malfunction - mechanic is stumped.

Hybrid system randomly failing - As usual, mechanic says nothing wrong and resets the vehicle ECU.

Hybrid batteries deteriorating.

Passenger side airbag malfunction indicator randomly lights up - mechanics find no trouble.

Body began rusting after only 6 years (garaged entire life), now a very real problem, destroying resale value.

Vehicle requires Honda software updates.

Interior light bulbs burning out prematurely.

General Comments:

The money saved on gas will be spent on costly repairs that require dealer specific service, leaving you to pay whatever they quote you with.

This car was reliable when my father purchased it new in 12/03, and has always been serviced by the dealer. It's just like other Civics. When the car was handed down to me, it was fine at first, but began its demise within a year. I baby my vehicles, and this car has always been very gently driven, never abused. Although the car has never left me stranded (yet), I feel the issues I have with it should have been corrected and addressed long ago by Honda.

This car is also PAINFULLY slow to the point of being outright dangerous. Don't expect to reach 60 MPH in under 20 sec, you're running on little more than a lawnmower engine, and Chicago drivers aren't exactly patient.

I don't recommend this car to anyone.

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

Review Date: 19th September, 2011