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Honda Civic 3rd Generation – Buyers Guide

March 8, 2011
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Honda Civic 3rd Generation

Buyers Guide

The third generation Civic is now a very rare sight on British roads and so finding one for sale is very unlikely nowadays.

When looking to purchase a model it is essential to examine the car closely as age will have taken its toll on all areas.

Body:
Open the bonnet and check for the original Honda stickers on the frontal member near the top of the radiator. If these stickers are not present it could mean that this member has been replaced so look for frontal accident damage.

Check all panel gaps to ensure they are even and constant, varying gaps will require further investigation as to the cause. If the gaps around the doors vary, open the door in question and lift it gently to check for excess play. If there is excess play, examine to the hinges for a cause.

Stone chips are par for the course on cars this age so don’t be at all surprised to see any. If there are none, then look for re-spray evidence, if the re-spray is not due to an accident then this probably indicates an owner who cared well for the car.

It is highly possible that the windscreen has been replaced at some point during the car’s life, examine all the way round the windscreen for a good fit and pay special attention to the bottom edge and the corners for evidence of sitting water and muck. Be especially concerned if there is visible damage to the rubber, a well fitted replacement windscreen should continue to drain as well as the original.

Engine:
Check the service schedules for regular servicing and scheduled cam belt changes. Honda engines are interference engines so if a belt breaks expect it to be expensive. Having said that, there are numerous examples of breakages not causing any damage, however, do not rely on this being the case and always get cam belts changed on schedule, if there is no evidence of a scheduled change, ensure that the belt is changed promptly.

Look for blue smoke on engine start up and hard revving, this indicates the engine is burning oil. While the engine is running, listen for overly noisy tappets, check for slack in the accelerator cable.

A full dealer service history is not essential, so long as the service schedules have been maintained and nothing has been missed.

Mechanical:
If the car is still on its original Honda suspension components, they may be on their way out and due a change, so check the shock absorber rebound.

Rust:
The prime areas for rust are the wheel arches, the sills, around the edge of the sunroof (if present) and the leading edge of the roof where it meets the windscreen. Check all these areas carefully, especially the sills and the ends near the wheels. Take special care around the rear nearside wheel as that is where the fuel tank is and if the fuel line joints have corroded they will cause a fuel leak. Replacement arches and sills are not always easy to get but if you can find a good local motor welder they will have the skills to sort them for you so rust need not be the end of a car.

Other places to look for rust are around the door handles and any point where there is a grommet; like the wash wipers and water jets.

Other points:

Check the struts that hold the tail gate as these can fail, meaning that the tail gate will not remain up when opened.

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From → Honda, Motoring

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