What are standard ways I should take care of my Honda Civic?
May 18, 2015 8:21 PM   Subscribe

What maintenance do you recommend at different milestones for my 2014 Honda Civic? For example, oil change, tire rotations, have timing belt checked, clean air filter, etc? What should I be checking on and repairing myself, vs solely having the dealership/mechanic do? They could be things I need to do weekly, or every few thousand miles.

The car has about 12k miles on it, and I had the oil changed once and the tires rotated when the maintenance minder came on. I'd like to know what to check on before my car tells me something's wrong.

I don't know much about cars but am willing to learn and get my hands dirty....Details appreciated!
posted by watrlily to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have your owner's manual? The maintenance schedule recommended by the manufacturer should be listed in there, with exact service recommendations for various mileage milestones.
posted by namewithoutwords at 8:32 PM on May 18, 2015 [8 favorites]

We have a 2014 Accord, it has a built in system for recommended maintenance. On the dash it tells you a percentage of oil life left in percent. When the oil life gets to 15% left it prompts you to perform a particular type of service. A few weeks ago it said 1B which the manual said means 'change oil and rotate tires'. Does your car have this feature?

Honda has a well deserved reputation for making incredibly reliable cars, I don't think you really need to do more then the recommend.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:40 PM on May 18, 2015

Honda publishes its maintenance schedule online. Just pick your model and year. Apparently you can also get the company to send you reminders of what needs doing when.

That said, standard advice applies: don't just rely on the maintenance schedule, and don't necessarily believe everything the service person tells you. Just because it's a Honda dealer doesn't mean they won't try to upsell you necessary service.
posted by sardonyx at 8:50 PM on May 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

DO NOT have maintenance done at your dealership. They will upsell bullshit like engine shampoo jobs and charge you a figure that they will have pulled out of their asses.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:46 PM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yep. Inform yourself using your car manufacturer's recommended service program, and find yourself an independent local mechanic with a good word-of-mouth reputation. You might be lucky enough to find that your dealership does in fact employ such a mechanic, and is more interested in offering genuine customer service than in charging vast sums for unnecessary "services". But that would make your dealership the exception to a very well-established general rule.
posted by flabdablet at 9:56 PM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

The owner's manual, as others said, tells you exactly what needs to be done.

And at least during the warranty period it's better to go to the dealer for all the items, so they'd have NO excuse of denying you a warranty claim for "lack of maintanence". Just refuse the upsell and such.

I know many people seem to hate the dealership, that's why you need to check a dealer's reputation, at least their service department, on how honest they are when it comes to diagnosis and repairs.

And obviously there's always looking for your local ASE certified mechanic, and AAA refers them too.
posted by kschang at 11:29 PM on May 18, 2015

I have a 2008 Honda Civic. I've always had it serviced by my local dealership (not the dealer where I purchased the car). I know this won't be the same everywhere, but my local dealer has been absolutely amazing. The first time I went to them, there was an issue with the window opening mechanism and even though the car was just out of warranty, they fixed it for me for free. Another time, I had some weird issue where the battery died once. They ran a bunch of diagnostics, found nothing, and told me that it was probably a fluke (it was), and they didn't charge me a dime.

The oil change there costs about $35, but they also check and refill fluids, air pressure in the tires, etc. I've never done anything aside from getting the oil changed every 3-6 months, and rotating the tires about once a year, plus buying a new battery a couple years ago. They always offer to do the "official maintenances" at specific year/mileage intervals, and I always take a pass. No one has ever pressured me into doing anything beyond the basics.

A nice bonus of going to this dealer is that they have a super comfy waiting area with free coffee, TV, etc. On the off chance that you're in the Boston area, I go to this place in Newton, MA.

YMMV, but I wouldn't automatically rule out getting serviced at a dealership.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:38 PM on May 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

The car has about 12k miles on it, and I had the oil changed once and the tires rotated when the maintenance minder came on. I'd like to know what to check on before my car tells me something's wrong.

The maintenance minder isn't telling you something is wrong, it's telling you that it's time to have one of the regular services done. The car doesn't have sensors to determine when the oil is degraded or whether the tires are wearing unevenly. It's just using an algorithm based on elapsed miles and your driving patterns to guess at an appropriate time to do those things. Read the maintenance schedule so you know what regular services to expect. Do them.

Get familiar with the other indicator lights on the dash, because they *are* connected to sensors and some of them are there to alert you to serious problems should they occur. Many of these lights will come on momentarily when starting the car, because some check is being performed or just to confirm that the light is working, but if they turn on during normal driving then something is wrong and you need to deal with it promptly. There'll be either a temperature gauge or an overheat warning light, an oil pressure light, a light that alerts you if your brake fluid is low or you've left the parking brake on, a Check Engine light that illuminates if the engine is running poorly, an SRS light to alert you to faults with the air bags and related restraint systems, a light that lets you know if the pressure is low in one or more tires. Don't ignore any of these.

Pay attention to how the car sounds, feels, and smells. New noises, vibrations or other behaviors that can't be traced to changes in the pavement you're driving over are generally indicators of something being amiss.

Look at the pavement where you usually park. Aside from water that drains from your air conditioner in summer, you shouldn't see any evidence of liquids leaking from anywhere.

With a newish Honda that hasn't been in an accident, chances are you won't have much to worry about for a number of years.
posted by jon1270 at 5:06 AM on May 19, 2015

Seriously, don't go to the dealer. They will upsell all sorts of things you don't need. Signup for RepairPal for alerts and start going to a regular independent shop. Pick one (ideally from a personal recommendation) and go there regularly, rather than going to Jiffy Lube.

A 2014 Honda isn't going to need much. The most important thing is preventative efforts:
- learn how to check the oil and tire pressure
- wax or polish the car at least once a year to protect the finish, 6 months ideally
- wash the car at least a few times a year, especially in winter if you live in a snowy locale. the underbed wash is important if there's salt on the road. get bird poop off asap (they make wipes for this), as it can damage the finish, especially in hot weather.
- clean the interior regularly. cars are easy to detail yourself and it makes such a difference.
- get a sun shield if you don't have one, in addition to helping with temperature it will increase the lifespan of the upholstery.
posted by susanvance at 6:20 AM on May 19, 2015

I have taken two cars to well over 300,000 miles (one was over 400,000). The single best thing you can do to keep a car running is regular oil and filter changes. Like, religiously regular. Set an interval that you're comfortable with, and stick to it. I lean toward ignoring the maintenance minders in most cars, personally, and schedule changes a little more frequently than those things would indicate.

Use the proper grade of synthetic oil, too. This is important if you go to JiffyLube or some such place, because those places tend to take a one-size-fits-all approach and put the same oil in everyone's car. If your Civic is like my son's Accord, or my wife's Fit, your engine uses 5w20 synthetic oil. Most quickie oil change shops won't have that grade in stock. And, the oil they use is very likely not full-synthetic, either.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:59 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can have the dealership do your maintenance. Some suck, some are great. It will vary, but if yours is above average, you will generally get better service at a dealership than elsewhere. If your local dealer sucks, find another place - but I'd start with dealerships, myself.

You could in theory do all the work yourself. None of it is that hard. The manual will tell you what is needed and youtube and google have lots of instructions. That said, I take my truck in for fluid changes, because dealing with used oil is a pain. I do the tire rotations and filter replacements - it doesn't take long, and I can buy parts I need from Amazon for far less than the dealership charges.

The other thing you can do - and this is really easy: Inspect your car periodically. Pop the hood and make sure things are where they should be, and nothing is oozing or smoking or whathaveyou. Crawl under it, and check for loose/broken air dams and things stuck to the undercarriage. Look for leaks under the car, and do a walk around - check the lights, tires, etc. These things are easy, only take a few minutes, and can warn you well in advance if something is going wrong. I usually do this every few gas stops - it only takes a minute or two.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:43 AM on May 19, 2015

You have a 2014 Honda Civic. (Yay! Great choice - we loved our Honda Civics! Now we have an Odyssey, alas.) One of the selling points of this make/model is not having to worry about things. My $0.02:

- Do have the oil changed regularly, preferably at a reliable place that works with Honda vehicles routinely. I liked using a Honda dealer as long as my car was within the 7yr/100,000 mile warranty (bought used/certified), and then switched to a local 3rd party shop after that.

- Do NOT check the oil level regularly. You're likely to do more harm than good, by losing oil, or dropping the dipstick and introducing dirt into the engine. As long as you don't see drops of oil under the car, or black clouds of exhaust when you start, and you DO get regular oil changes every 6-8 months / 8-10,000 miles, there is no reason to check oil on a modern car. The car will tell you if something is wrong.

- Don't ignore any warning lights. See above.

- Do check your tires regularly, at least by walking once around the car and giving them a quick look once a day. Under-inflated tires kill your fuel efficiency, and they are an important factor in your braking and road safety. I was taught to measure tread depth by sticking a penny in the tire grooves ("if you can see Lincoln's head, there ain't enough tread") and that's something you might want to try once every few months.

- Pay attention to recalls. No one *wants* to recall a car for fun, they only do it because they are required by law for your safety. Specifically, the Takata(?) airbag recall is still expanding - are you subject to it?

- And I strongly second the comment above about learning how your car "feels". Is it rattling or squeaking in a new way? Is it wobbling? Does it sound raspy? Do you hear a clicking noise when you're idling? Is it pulling to one side? For reference, on a 2014 Honda, I'd be shocked - shocked! - if anything like this was an issue any time soon. But you might run a kerb, or hit an especially large pothole, and that might need repair work.

Enjoy your car without worrying about it!
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:33 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

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