Help me decide whether or not to keep my 2003 Honda Civic LS...
August 9, 2018 10:48 AM   Subscribe

I have an oooold Honda and I'm trying to decide whether or not to keep it and put $ into it for repairs it immediately needs, or is it time to give up the ghost and look for a new (used) ride?

Can the gearheads of AskMe help me?

- 2003 Honda Civic LS
- one owner
- paid off long ago
- 80,000 miles on the odo
- I have probably put $3000 in total into repairs since 2003 (maybe? not a lot in any case)
- Has had no major problems like engine, transmission, etc. Usual stuff like brakes, body, random small stuff
- Mostly city miles

Right now, it sits after being in 2 accidents in one day(!), with some gnarly body damage that does not affect driving. (Deductible is $1000, the body work will surely cost more than that).

It also needs a new alternator immediately.

Is this a car worth saving, esp. given the low mileage? Or is putting more money into it smart, and I can essentially assume this car will go another 100,000K?

I can't really afford a new car, but will do if necessary.

Hope I gave enough info, thanks as always.
posted by clseace to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
80,000 miles is about 120,000 miles short of the normal lifespan of a honda civic. If the insurance will cover the body work beyond the deductible, then you're looking at something like $1500 - $1750 for the body work + the alternator. That's not a lot of money to keep the car running for a few more years. I would pay it, personally, unless I really wanted a new car.
posted by dis_integration at 10:55 AM on August 9, 2018 [17 favorites]

I agree with @dis_integration. This is short money to keep the car running, especially a low mileage on.
posted by Ferrari328 at 11:02 AM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah, that is LOOOOOOW mileage for a Honda. Very low, in fact. I've got a 2002 Toyota with 144K on it and our mechanic fully believes we can wring at least another 50K out of it easily. Definitely get the repairs and keep driving!
posted by anderjen at 11:30 AM on August 9, 2018

I'd be surprised if the mechanic didn't offer to buy it, if you took it in for repair and let them know you were on the fence. But yes, I would spend the money.
posted by CheeseLouise at 11:34 AM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

You can probably sell your used honda civic for a few grand. Think no more than $3000. It would be a long sale.

To buy a newer car (2015 or so) that's low mileage (under 50,000) it would probably cost about $10K.

Do you have $7K sitting around? If so, it wouldn't be a terrible QOL upgrade. You get safety features and bluetooth and stuff.
posted by bbqturtle at 11:35 AM on August 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Definitely worth fixing. That mileage is low! I have a 2004 Honda Civic EX with about 185k miles, and which needs a new transmission. People are always trying to buy it from me, especially all those guys who buy used cars and then fix them up and sell them, because Civics are immortal.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:48 AM on August 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's an old Civic with low mileage that's behaved like most Civics and will probably continue to do so with the usual basic maintenance. You know everything that's wrong with it or likely to go wrong with it. Keep it, pay for the pending repairs, put some money away for a timing belt replacement over the next year or two.
posted by holgate at 11:48 AM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

yeah, they'll want to put in a water pump when they change the timing belt - this is normal and makes sense to do it all at the same time. Budget for around $800-$1000 for the timing belt. Even with that and these current needed repairs, you're so far behind the curve on spending money on it that you'll come out ahead if you keep it.
posted by dawkins_7 at 1:56 PM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding holgate and dawkins_7 - you should get a new timing belt soon, too, if you keep it. Other than that, and standard maintenance, I agree you should theoretically be able to get another 100K+ out of this car.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 4:00 PM on August 9, 2018

My wife had a Prelude that went 175,000 miles on the factory clutch. 80,000 for a Honda is just getting warmed up.
posted by 4ster at 4:00 PM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

2003 is "oooold" for a hamster, not a Civic. My 1994 del Sol is rusty, but still strong at 256k miles.

If the body damage is cosmetic, i.e. the frame is still straight, by all means get it fixed.

If you have a 100 pc tool set and a way to stream videos on the Intertoobz, you can just about replace the alternator yourself. Just, uh, remember to disconnect the battery first.
posted by notsnot at 5:01 PM on August 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have been debating the same question about my own 2003 Honda Civic (112,000 miles). Mine is haunted, however, and loses power for a couple seconds every time it starts up, and then it stalls out randomly every couple months in colder weather. If I knew how to fix it, I would totally keep it for as long as possible (or at least another 5 years until my next timing belt change is due). But I am starting to look at newer cars with better safety features for my back seat child passenger, as well as better small front overlap crash test ratings for my legs. Do you drive alone or with passengers? Do you have the cash for an upgrade? Is your title still clean after these accidents, or will it be harder to sell?
posted by Maarika at 5:16 PM on August 9, 2018

I'm still driving a 2004 Civic with 200K miles - we treat it gently and don't take it on the highway any more but it's still doing ok - I would definitely put money into a 2003 with such low miles!
posted by leslies at 6:30 PM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Our Honda Civic is 1998, 160,000 miles, and I have no thoughts of replacing it. As long as the body is good, Hondas can live almost forever. Our 1980s-vintage Honda Accord's body finally fell apart at 330,978 miles. 80,000 is barely broken in.
posted by mmw at 7:48 AM on August 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

That said, if the gnarly body damage is likely to lead to major rusting out of the frame soon, you might want to look around. But that's true for any car, and less true for most Hondas.
posted by mmw at 7:51 AM on August 10, 2018

I sold my 1998 Civic with under 100K miles, single owner, mostly no major problems in 2015.

I sold when a few repairs came up right after another. When the air conditioner went out (black car, black interior) that's when I finally made the decision. But that was really about the fact that it was the a/c on top of the fact that a 2-door car wasn't cutting it anymore for me.

Had that not been the case, and had a friend not been selling an ultra-low mileage 2007 fit, I probably would have kept it.

I'd do the math on suspected need for repairs and compare that to what having a car payment or paying outright for one would do to your budget and see if you're at the point yet where you're even or behind financially by keeping it.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 8:29 AM on August 10, 2018

As always, great info, thank you. I think I'll see if the mechanic thinks the frame is solid after these collisions, and keep it if so. Sadly, I fucking hate this car, but function over fashion! Thx.
posted by clseace at 11:51 AM on August 10, 2018

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