Author Topic: Should I replace my '04 Honda Civic Hybrid?  (Read 1331 times)

El_Viajero

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Should I replace my '04 Honda Civic Hybrid?
« on: May 02, 2018, 10:36:33 AM »
I'm having some cognitive dissonance about this. My family of three has one car, a 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid. It's only got 92K miles on it, and we drive around 7-8K miles per year. I replaced the hybrid system IMA battery in 2015 ($2,500), and it's still under warranty for another two years. Neither my wife nor I commute by car, and we probably drive the Honda 3 or 4 days per week depending on circumstances.

It's a good car for most things. From time to time, I want more space for things like camping equipment (when we go on trips) and big things I get at Home Depot (only a few times per year, and we've always seemed to get by, so... yeah). I also want something with a little more room in the backseat for when my son gets bigger. He's 3 now. Maybe the extra backseat space is something I should only worry about if it actually becomes a problem?

If and it's a big "if" we get a different car, it would probably be a hatchback with less than 100K miles on it that I get for less than $9K. I'm looking at used Nissan Versas, Toyota Matrices, Pontiac Vibes, and Hyundai Elantras. If we get a a hatchback, I'd sell the Honda. So the net cost of the "new" car would be $3K-$6k or so. Paid in cash, of course. I don't really care about the extra gas we'd be buying since we don't drive a whole lot as it is.

Does this seem worth it? I'm not quite sure. I could add a hitch + carrier and a roof rack + box to the Honda for around $700 bucks, which is way cheaper. You know, turning a little car into a big car :).

Or should I be open to hatchbacks that have more than 100K miles on them, given how little we drive? It just seems a bit odd to buy a car with more miles on it than the one I've already got.

Regarding safety: Would these small hatchbacks be any safer than my small Honda? I guess they weigh more, so there's that.

Anyway, these are the questions I'm pondering. Any insights would be much appreciated!

ditkanate

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Re: Should I replace my '04 Honda Civic Hybrid?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2018, 10:42:04 AM »
I think I'd hold off, make your "little car a big car" for now and see how you feel in 2 years when the battery warranty is up.  Sounds like you might be talking yourself into a different car because you want one, not because you need one? 

El_Viajero

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Re: Should I replace my '04 Honda Civic Hybrid?
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2018, 01:10:31 PM »
Sounds like you might be talking yourself into a different car because you want one, not because you need one?

Could be true! It does seem like a hatchback would solve some problems for us, though: more cargo room and a little more space in the back seat.

Here's something else I forgot to mention: I might get more money for the Civic now when it's still got fewer than 100K miles on it and the IMA battery is still under warranty. If I'm going to replace the car in a few years anyway, maybe I should just replace it now instead?

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Should I replace my '04 Honda Civic Hybrid?
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2018, 01:40:28 PM »
My husband has an '06 Honda Civic Hybrid with 200k+.  He loves that car.

We fit 3 kids aged 8, 10, and 12 in the backseat with minimal complaining, even on road trips.  For reference, if your family is growing, we were only able to fit two booster seats + 1 oversized child in the car at a time.  Oversized child (she shot off the growth chart at age 2 and is 5'9 at age 12) complained A LOT when she was wedged between the booster seats.  We solved this problem by getting ear plugs for the adults ;)  Now that the little kids are tall enough to ride without boosters, everyone's a lot happier.

I have a newer Prius (which, surprisingly, has a slightly bigger back seat than the Civic).  When we need to haul lots of stuff, we rent a truck from Home Depot for $75 or have whatever it is delivered.  Way cheaper than a new car, considering we only run into that problem once or twice a year.

genesismachine

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Re: Should I replace my '04 Honda Civic Hybrid?
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2018, 06:43:16 PM »
I had a 2003 Civic Hybrid and I hated that car with a passion. I was too cheap to replace it though. I had to rebuild the battery pack with partial new cells, it was getting hard to find people to sell me cells. It took a month or so to do all the testing. 6 months later, I got another IMA battery code. I could buy a refurbished one for $2500, but those only last a few years - it was a major design flaw that eventually led to Honda discontinuing the Civic hybrid altogether.

Luckily for me, someone totaled my car when it was parked and I was forced to replace it. I was so happy when it got totaled. Literally any car would be an improvement haha.

(the rear seats don't fold down because the battery, the interior quality is garbage, once the IMA battery runs out on long steep-ish hills it is painfully slow with its 87 hp torque-less engine in a ~3500 pound loaded up car, I could go on forever)

El_Viajero

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Re: Should I replace my '04 Honda Civic Hybrid?
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2018, 07:31:20 PM »
My husband has an '06 Honda Civic Hybrid with 200k+.  He loves that car.

We fit 3 kids aged 8, 10, and 12 in the backseat with minimal complaining, even on road trips.  For reference, if your family is growing, we were only able to fit two booster seats + 1 oversized child in the car at a time.  Oversized child (she shot off the growth chart at age 2 and is 5'9 at age 12) complained A LOT when she was wedged between the booster seats.  We solved this problem by getting ear plugs for the adults ;)  Now that the little kids are tall enough to ride without boosters, everyone's a lot happier.

I have a newer Prius (which, surprisingly, has a slightly bigger back seat than the Civic).  When we need to haul lots of stuff, we rent a truck from Home Depot for $75 or have whatever it is delivered.  Way cheaper than a new car, considering we only run into that problem once or twice a year.

Well, I can't think of a better argument against getting a new car than that! Ha! So much for my "more space would be nice" argument. Thanks for this. Super helpful. You've got me leaning more toward not getting one, whereas I was leaning more in the other direction when I posted this.

The only thing that still nags me is the IMA battery. Eventually, that damn thing is going to die again and I'll either have to replace it or sell the car for practically nothing. Maybe I should sell it now while the new IMA battery is still under warranty?

I had a 2003 Civic Hybrid and I hated that car with a passion. I was too cheap to replace it though. I had to rebuild the battery pack with partial new cells, it was getting hard to find people to sell me cells. It took a month or so to do all the testing. 6 months later, I got another IMA battery code. I could buy a refurbished one for $2500, but those only last a few years - it was a major design flaw that eventually led to Honda discontinuing the Civic hybrid altogether.

Luckily for me, someone totaled my car when it was parked and I was forced to replace it. I was so happy when it got totaled. Literally any car would be an improvement haha.

(the rear seats don't fold down because the battery, the interior quality is garbage, once the IMA battery runs out on long steep-ish hills it is painfully slow with its 87 hp torque-less engine in a ~3500 pound loaded up car, I could go on forever)

Yikes. I actually like the '04 Hybrid fine. I don't care that it's dumpy looking inside. I accept that the battery makes it so that the rear seats don't fold down.

It definitely lost some oomph when the first IMA battery started dying, but it was still drivable. I actually drove it for almost a year with the battery on the fritz and only replaced it when the car had to pass its annual inspection. The "Replace Battery" light (or whatever it said) would have failed the car.

The IMA battery's finite lifespan is, without a doubt, the worst thing about the car. When it dies and you have to replace it, it erases (more than erases?) any savings on fuel. You could just have a normal Civic and save yourself the trouble. But alas! This is the car I have. I know there's a way to rebuild the battery pack as you seem to have done. Next time if there's a next time this is what I'll probably do. Interestingly, my replacement battery has all new cells. It isn't a refurbished one. I had to buy it from a third party.

El_Viajero

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Re: Should I replace my '04 Honda Civic Hybrid?
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2018, 01:59:31 PM »
So, we ultimately did a cost/benefit analysis of sorts and decided to buy a hatchback. We found a 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring w/ 88K miles on it and bought it. It was on a used car lot and I paid for the whole thing with my debit card. Did you know you could do that? I didn't.

Anyway, the reasoning was that the fatal flaw with the 1st generation hybrids is the hybrid system battery, which inevitably fails. Right now, the 1st replacement battery is under warranty from the manufacturer for another two years AND the car is still under 100K miles. I may as well sell it now while I'm ahead. Otherwise, I might end up needing to replace the battery again and having a car with 100K or 120K+ miles that I have to sell.

The new car has a manual transmission, so my wife is going to have to teach me how to drive it.

A Craigslist ad for the Honda is currently pending my learning to drive stick shift.