Author Topic: 03 Honda Civic: Repair or Replace?  (Read 694 times)

ministashy

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 103
03 Honda Civic: Repair or Replace?
« on: July 22, 2019, 01:44:38 AM »
My mechanic gave me some bad news the other day--my 03 Honda Civic (sitting at just shy of 178K miles) is showing signs of needing about $4K worth of repairs.  Specifically, the clutch is wearing out (to be expected), and a possible head gasket leak (he's not sure yet, and it's very much not expected and not welcome).  Plus some other minor repairs, but those are the two biggies. 

I've always kept up on the maintenance, and this Honda has been a good car for almost ten years.  The timing belt was replaced three years ago, and I just had all shocks/struts done.  Overall it's averaging about 15 cents per mile on maintenance costs.  Not bad, but not great.  So now I'm down to the big question: is this car worth investing another $4K into?  Or should I be saving that towards a new (used) car, possibly in the $7-8K range instead?

Doing these repairs myself is not an option--I have neither the expertise, the tools, the space, or the time.  What would you do in my shoes?

mies

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 473
Re: 03 Honda Civic: Repair or Replace?
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2019, 04:45:38 AM »
Where do you live and is the car rusty?  If you live somewhere where the roads arenít salted from November through March, and the car isnít rusty, it might be worth it. If you live in Ohio and it is a rust bucket special, buy a new car.

I live in Ohio and you donít see a lot of 2003 vintage cars left on the road. The ones you do see are disintegrating and about ready for the crusher.

ministashy

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 103
Re: 03 Honda Civic: Repair or Replace?
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2019, 07:33:07 AM »
Where do you live and is the car rusty?  If you live somewhere where the roads arenít salted from November through March, and the car isnít rusty, it might be worth it. If you live in Ohio and it is a rust bucket special, buy a new car.

I live in Ohio and you donít see a lot of 2003 vintage cars left on the road. The ones you do see are disintegrating and about ready for the crusher.

I'm in the Seattle area, so no real salt.  The car is pretty solid overall, other than a few small gravel dings on the paint here and there--no rust. 

mies

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 473
Re: 03 Honda Civic: Repair or Replace?
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2019, 07:43:56 AM »
Hmm. Have you looked at newer used cars too?  You might be able to find something newer with fewer miles and mechanical issues for the same price as the repairs. I understand being hesitant to do that. Sometimes the devil you know is better than the one you donít know.

I know we have some more knowledgeable car guys on here. Hopefully they will chime in and give some opinions too

cliner

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 35
Re: 03 Honda Civic: Repair or Replace?
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2019, 08:10:19 AM »
A couple things:
-$4k seems steep for head gasket and clutch replacement. I'm bet you could get both done for $1500-2000 if you shop around
-But even if $4k is the best price you could find, it's probably not worth putting that much into that car. What's the KBB value? $1k or less? You're better off taking that $4k you would otherwise spend on repairs, combine it with the $1k from the sale of the honda, and buy something for $5k. $5k would probably get you a very good condition newer civic with fewer miles.

FIPurpose

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1047
  • Location: WA
    • FI With Purpose
Re: 03 Honda Civic: Repair or Replace?
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2019, 08:17:41 AM »
A couple things:
-$4k seems steep for head gasket and clutch replacement. I'm bet you could get both done for $1500-2000 if you shop around
-But even if $4k is the best price you could find, it's probably not worth putting that much into that car. What's the KBB value? $1k or less? You're better off taking that $4k you would otherwise spend on repairs, combine it with the $1k from the sale of the honda, and buy something for $5k. $5k would probably get you a very good condition newer civic with fewer miles.

If the car has 4k of needed repairs, the car isn't worth 1k. He could dump it for scrap I'm sure for 300.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3875
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: 03 Honda Civic: Repair or Replace?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2019, 08:24:45 AM »
Definitely shop around - a clutch shouldn't run much past $1000 or so, though Seattle prices may inflate that a bit.  And before replacing the head gasket, verify that it's acting up.  Are you losing coolant?  Puffing white smoke on startup?  Milkshaking the oil (that one's a good bit more important to fix than the others)?

If it's a minor leak, I'd be inclined to try a can of head gasket repair in a can at that mileage.  I've had decent luck with it on older vehicles with a minor head gasket leak.

But... $4k?  Are you having the dealership do the service on a 15+ year old car or something?

MayDay

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4019
Re: 03 Honda Civic: Repair or Replace?
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2019, 01:21:24 PM »
I have an 03 Civic with 199k miles. Similar replacement of the timing belt, and so far it still has the original clutch.

I definitely plan to replace the clutch. I have had almost no maintenance on it that wasn't routine so I am fine investing 1000$ to get another few years. But I wouldn't do the head gaskets.

I guess I'd want to figure out for sure what is going on with the head gaskets. We've been thinking our van's transmission was about to go for 4 years now and it is still a little slippy but ok. If the head gaskets aren't actually broken, it still might be worth it to do the clutch.

My oldest is almost 12 and I'm hoping he can learn to drive a stick in the Civic-that-never-dies, before we have to replace it. We'll see!

Car Jack

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1262
Re: 03 Honda Civic: Repair or Replace?
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2019, 01:41:37 PM »
Boy, I hate hearing these kind of prices.  Hondas are such legos and things swap so easily.  My first thought was to swap in an Integra GSR engine/tranny that are still good.  Couple grand for these and another $500 for swap mounts and you're not only good to go, you're going much faster.  But I'm a DIY guy, so labor would cost zero.

At $4k, I'd drive it till it doesn't go anymore, if you're stuck paying someone else. 

Rubes33

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 30
  • Location: Canada
Re: 03 Honda Civic: Repair or Replace?
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2019, 02:43:34 PM »
Replace.  I know a lot about cars.

ministashy

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 103
Re: 03 Honda Civic: Repair or Replace?
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2019, 02:03:18 AM »
Thanks everyone for all the advice--it lines up from what I'm hearing elsewhere.  I also lucked out in that I have a gearhead coworker who said he would be willing to do the repairs for less than what my mechanic was asking.  How much less hasn't been determined, but since he's routinely swapping out performance parts and such on his vehicle, he's at least a decent alternative to paying full shop prices.

I also spent some time finding youtube videos that showed what I could expect as far as symptoms for these various problems, and my car doesn't seem to be exhibiting much of any of them yet.  (It idles a tad rough at times, that's it.)  Which tells me that the car probably has some life left before things get critical and I have to decide whether to take my coworker's offer or invest in a replacement ...