1992 Honda civic-what to expect? (long..please help)

JulieOSeptember 7, 2005

We are the original owners of a 1992 Honda Civic-the very basic automtic transmission model (roll down windows, no cruise control, dealer-added AC at the time of purchase), Has about 91,000 miles on it.

I drove it and my 2 kids around town in it until about a year ago, when I upgraded to a Pilot (which I love). We kept the civic because my daughter just turned 16. During the past year the civic was driven often enough to keep things going-short errands, etc.

Well, the daughter has been liscensed for 2 weeks now, and in that time I have paid to have the alternator replaced (result of the battery charge light not going out when the car was moving), and had a full tune up -because the car wouldn't start at work over the weekend (I think we had original spark plugs) as well as replacing a valve cover gasket.

We know nothing about car repair. This work done at a local service station. Diagnosis was done by the mechanic there.

We have always changed the oil and fluids at recommended intervals. We replaced the timing belt when the (only repair up until now) carberator needed repair at about 60,000-this was done at the dealer. Replaced the original muffer about 2 years ago. (Don't you just love Hondas?)

Aside from that the only trouble we have is that we appear to have some sort of wiring short in the electrical that causes the fuse that controls the dashboard/rear tail lights/rear liscense plate lights to burn out. I simply swap out fuses when this happens, but I went through 3 fuses with daughter yesterday. It happens very randomly.

Today after school, daughter calls from the parking lot and car won't start. I THINK that perphas she just flooded the engine, because after clearing with the pedal to the floor and waiting a few minutes she got it to start.

But what I don't really know is what to expect?

How much should you worry if the car won't start up right away? Do you think that the recent repairs were diagnosed properly, or is the garage not quite getting the problem and just treating the symptoms? Are there other things that are "likely" to go wrong soon just due to the car being 13 years old? Husband and I both know nothing about these sorts of things, and this is the oldest vehicle we have experience with. I don't want my daughter stranded if there is something easy to do to avoid it.

Or is just waiting until something brakes and then dealing with it what we need to do? If it is (and I think it might be), do you think we are getting good advice and care at our currrent shop, or are they seeing a worriesome mom and her visa card and just fixing things that might be better left until later?

Thanks for any and all advice!!!

Julie O-worriesome mom

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lets see a 13 year old vehicle and a 16 year old driver hmm that makes perfect sense to me, since most of the time by the age of 17 they will have beat all four corners off the vehicle anyway. So what if it occasionally fails to start? Just be sure that the tires/brakes are good and have the short repaired that blows the fuse, if you don't trust this mechanic find another one, and do not be afraid to spend some bucks to have the vehicle repaired properly, you will still come out way ahead dollar wise than buying a new one and trying to insure it with a 16 year old driving it LOL. Now of course if you have lots of disposable income get this kid a brand new vehicle maybe a Lexus or something nice so they can bang the fenders up in style.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 8:24PM
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What DNT1 said. Chances are good that the engine & transmission will go 200,000 miles. You're not quite half-way there. Somewhere you have a wire with cracked or worn-away insulation. The first place to check would be wiring that is subject to chafing, either from a door opening or maybe a trunk lid being opened/closed.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 9:45PM
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Vehicles with carburetors are more temperamental to start than fuel injected ones. I think you may be right that she just flooded it.

Honestly, if this were my daughter, I might think of getting her something that's a little less costly to repair. Honda parts are pricey, and there are fewer shops that are really good at working on them. Because so many believe the nonsense that Hondas never have any problems, you could probably sell this for an excellent price, and then turn around and buy something that's newer, more common and less costly to keep on the road for not much more money than the Honda would bring.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 10:12PM
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Well, the daughter has been licensed for 2 weeks now, and in that time I have paid to have the alternator replaced (result of the battery charge light not going out when the car was moving), and had a full tune up -because the car wouldn't start at work over the weekend (I think we had original spark plugs) as well as replacing a valve cover gasket.

Amazing , unbelievable - the Honda quality is NOT a myth.
For a 13 year old - these are normal service items, that are normally done at year 7 to 10...
Have you figured out how much this Honda cost to operate on an annual basis ?
I think an average could be $300 -$600 per year** for a Chevy or Ford, more for a Saab or Volvo..
Bur this $450 "average" varies so much, a conclusion is impossible to draw..

**less gas,depreciation, and tires, at an indie, NOT the dealer..
I would follow the advice on this forum..as much as I like the Honda..

    Bookmark   September 8, 2005 at 1:11PM
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First thing, ALL 1992 Civics are fuel injected, so flooding is not the issue. Very common failure in older Hondas is the MFR (Main Fuel Relay) When the vehicle won't start, turn the ignition ON (but don't start the engine) and listen for the fuel pump. It will make a slight humming noise from underneath. If you don't hear the fuel pump, your problem is with the MFR. Other common problem that causes a Honda not to start is the distributor. Check to see if you are getting any spark.

How much should you worry if the car won't start up right

Personally, I wouldn't worry at all. Chances are, the problem is minor and can be fixed relatively cheap.
Are there other things that are "likely" to go wrong soon just due to the car being 13 years old?>>

With only 91,000 miles, I wouldn't expect anything to go wrong... but I would expect to have to put some maintenance into the vehicle. Many parts that don't last forever. These include hoses, belts, fluids, gaskets, seals, brakes, sensors, etc. These are things that you will have to have serviced on ANY vehicle. Hondas are very reliable vehicles and will generally require less than the average in repairs during their lifetime. Their 4-cylinder engines have been proven time after time to remain solid and reliable even with high mileage. With only 91,000 miles, I can assume that it has plenty of life left to give... especially considering the service it's been given throughout the last 13 years.

Continue with the service you've been doing, and also keep tabs on the CV axle boots. Replace them if they've never been replaced. The boots are relatively cheap and not difficult to replace. It will be MUCH cheaper than having to replace the entire cv axle if the boot splits. If they are already split, it's too late. CV xles are about $60 each from your local Auto Parts store and any half-way decent mechanic can replace them.

Sometimes the plastic radiators have a tendency to crack along the upper tank and leak. Keep tabs on the radiator every time you have the oil changed or do an inspection under the hood every 3k miles. Radiators are about $80 for your Civic.

If you haven't already, get those hoses and belts replaced! Also check for oil leaks underneath. Only driving the vehicle short distances and then leaving it sit for long periods of time plays hell on the gaskets/seals.

Thats about it. I've got a 1981 Honda Civic wagon nearing 70k miles than I tool around town in (bought Christmas of 04 w/ 59k miles) I did the basics, and it's been running like champ ever since. My highway commuter is a 1996 Honda Accord, which has rolled over 220,000 miles and still going stronger than ever.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2005 at 10:50PM
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And if the tires are really old (whatever the mileage), replace those, too. Rubber oxidizes and very old tires are far more prone to failure when you need them most.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 8:34AM
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