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Honda Civic 4th Generation – Buyers Guide

March 8, 2011
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Honda Civic 4th Generation

Buyers Guide

By far the most popular and sought after 4th generation Civic is the 1.6iVT, this ensures prices for them remain strong and often above book value. Add to that the increasing rarity of good condition examples and prices for these good ones will continue to remain solid. The story is very similar for the 1.6i16v model it is very nearly as popular as its more famous big brother and, again, rarity ensures solid values.

Conversely, the GL model is available in much higher numbers and its less desirable specification means prices are much lower.

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

Check for the presence of the standard Honda space saver spare wheel under the boot floor and that the standard Honda tool kit is also present, along with the jack and its winder arm.

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, this probably indicates an owner who cares well for the car.

It is highly possible that the windscreen has been replaced at some point during the cars 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.

The distributor is known to fail on older B16a engines so when checking the history of a B16a powered model (JDM import or UK spec) look for evidence of the distributor being replaced, if there is no evidence, budget for a failure to happen within 3 years. It is usually the ignitor part that fails, this can be diagnosed by occasional starting problems, sometimes simple replacement of the ignitor is enough to solve the problems, but occasionally it requires the whole distributor to be replaced. Also specific to the B16a VTEC engines is slight oil seepage from the VTEC solenoid to the left of the engine next to the distributor, this is normal and is nothing to be concerned about. Only be worried if the oil seepage is significant.

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:
CV joints are known to wear and fail on the higher power 1.6i16v and 1.6iVT models so check for knocking or grinding on full lock slow speed turns, these are not expensive to have replaced at a Honda dealer.

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. If the components have been replaced with aftermarket items, check the brand, budget brands do not suit Hondas very well and you should look for a car with expensive brands like Koni, Eibach etc.. If the car has budget brands or is still on its original Honda components, consider replacing all shocks and springs promptly.

Rust:
The prime areas for rust are the wheel arches, the sills, around the edge of the sunroof 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.

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From → Honda, Motoring

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