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2004 Honda Civic Hybrid with 93K miles & manual 5-speed?

Discussion in 'Honda Hybrids and EVs' started by Nords, Aug 5, 2011.

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  1. Nords

    Nords Junior Member

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    Spouse's '97 Nissan Altima, with 111K miles, is looking at a new A/C compressor and maybe a few hundred bucks of "other" repairs. The car was in a 2005 collision and it drives fine today, but I'd estimate its current value at about $600. We bought it over eight years ago (with 58K miles on it) so it owes us nothing. We're looking for a different (not "new") car and we'll donate this one to Goodwill.


    Spouse and I are retired and she drives "her" car maybe 3000 miles per year. I change her car's oil every six months more out of habit than necessity. A typical drive is 10-15 miles each way or a round-trip errand run of 15-20 miles. The car rarely sees a rush hour. It sometimes sits in the garage for 2-3 weeks between trips. Her replacement vehicle doesn't need to have a lot of hauling capacity or a hatchback or folding rear seats, and if I had to take the car surfing then I'd use a roof rack for my longboard. She'd prefer a beater car so that she doesn't have to worry about parking lot dings or other wear & tear. (Yes, I'm very fortunate to have such a low-maintenance spouse!) With those criteria, we prefer older used cars with higher mileage.


    The Civic caught our eye because the owner seems to be having trouble selling it. It's been for sale for over a month and it's well below blue-book value. He claims that the hybrid batteries were replaced under warranty in 2009 and that the A/C compressor was replaced this year.


    Of course we're buying a car with an ICE approaching a 100K-mile checkup, but IMA ICEs probably have much gentler run hours on them. If the batteries and the A/C compressor turn out to be as advertised, are we looking at any other Civic-specific issues? How's the five-speed transmission holding up? Any other recommendations?
  2. seilerts

    seilerts Battery Curmudgeon

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    The 5 speed is a point of weakness. The input shaft bearing tends to go out. Repair means pulling the transmission and opening the case -- 10 hours of labor to fix a $25 part. Of course, you will do the clutch while you are in there, another $500. When you go to test drive it, watch for noise in first and second gear.
  3. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster HID Guru

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    Anything less than a 2006 civic hybrid, forget it. This is coming from an owner of a 2001 Honda Civic EX Coupe and a 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid 4DR. There is a reason why it is not selling. Buy yourself a real car and get a Prius.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Nords

    Nords Junior Member

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    Thanks-- we'll listen for that.



    I'm hoping to hear specifics about your experience with the 2004 model that would help us make a decision.

    Our last Honda was a '90 Civic which we finally sold after 13 years, and it was on the road for at least another five.

    One reason for the slow sale could be that Oahu's an island of fewer than a million people, most of whom don't understand hybrids-- let alone appreciate a decent vehicle with a new battery & new A/C compressor. But we'll learn more when we see the car.
  5. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster HID Guru

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    The 2004 (auto) has transmission problems. When you press the go pedal, it makes horrible gurgling sounds before it starts moving.

    It has no power and cannot climb I-70 into ski country at highway speeds (80mph, it slows to 50-55 by the top and if you let off the gas, you can never get back again).

    It has no trunk space, nothing fits back there. The 2001 civic coupe has great trunk space, the hybrid sucks.

    It cannot "creep" forwards without the engine. If you move, the engine comes on. This makes it is a useless hybrid.

    The AC stops blowing cold when you are stopped because it is belt driven.

    The drivetrain is very traditional. Standard transmission, standard torque converter, everything. This makes it have lots of normal car problems that superior cars like the Prius don't.

    The list goes on. Buy a Prius, be happy.
  6. Nords

    Nords Junior Member

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    OK, thanks. We have two stretches of road with 60 MPH speed limits for maybe 5-6 miles. We also have the country's second-worst roads, making even 60 MPH an interesting exercise in shock-absorber assessment.

    I think we can live with anemic hill power. We'll test-drive it up the Ko'olau on H-3.



    I don't disagree with the sentiment, but there's also quite a difference in price. I'm pretty familiar with the Prius' benefits and there's no shortage of them around here-- selling at top dollar.

    If you have more specifics that would help assess the Civic's deficiencies (let alone advantages) rather than laud the Prius' benefits, then I'm all ears.
  7. seilerts

    seilerts Battery Curmudgeon

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    The HV battery is the other point of weakness. A replacement in 2009 implies a 5 year lifespan in that climate, which isn't at all surprising. If you buy this car, consider getting a grid charger from someone in the Honda Insight community, as an occasional charge/balance will help extend the life of the pack. When you test drive it and take it up a hill, watch for a negative recal, where the battery meter suddenly drops to zero. That's a sign of a weakening pack.
  8. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster HID Guru

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    It sounds like you are set on it, so I doubt anyone will sway you. 1st hand experience says DO NOT BUY IT. If you are going to buy a car, get a good one. And if this is your first hybrid, then why get a crappy one? Again, there is a reason why the Prius retains its value and sells for top dollar.

    I would think living on the island having the AC die when the car stops would be a killer too... Not to mention the lacking battery which is already overstressed and now it is going to be hot which is early death to batteries. Note that Honda's current "fix" for failing battery packs is to reprogram the ECU so that less battery is used, which makes it less of a hybrid, and less fuel economy.
  9. Nords

    Nords Junior Member

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    The climate's tropical-- certainly better weather than most of you Mainland owners put your cars through, and at both ends of the bell curve. Thanks for the recal advice-- we'll look for that too. I don't know what to expect from a two-year-old battery pack. If it's v2.0 then maybe we don't have to expect any trouble. A below-blue-book car, even with a $5K battery issue, is still cheaper than a comparable Prius.



    When the facts change, I'll change my mind. You've been very strong in your opinions, and you've offered a fact or two, but I still need to check the actual vehicle. I'm set on doing the due diligence and getting the whole picture before I make a decision. If you have more facts to share about your ownership experience then I'm open to changing my mind. More opinions... well, I heard you the first time.



    Again, people may have an overly conservative opinion of the need for A/C around here. Year-round weather is usually 75-85 degrees with Aug-Sep occasionally getting into the 90s. Tradewinds keep things pretty tolerable year-round. We've lived here since 1989 and didn't even own an A/C car until 1993. Plenty of highway drivers with their windows down, although that must make it hard to hear the radio.

    I'll see how the car does going uphill with full-blast A/C at stop signs. It might not make enough of a difference for us to care.

    The Civic owner hasn't responded yet, so we're looking at a 2005 Prius in an hour. But the Prius owner is pricing it at top dollar.
  10. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster HID Guru

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    Climate swings are bad for batteries, but heat is worse than cold. When cold, just dont charge it. When hot, don't use it.



    If you want facts, both cars are approved by the DOT and NHTSA for sale in the US. Therefore they meet the minimum requirements to be safe and tolerable on US roads.

    Everything else, is opinion.
  11. seilerts

    seilerts Battery Curmudgeon

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    Battery repair cost is around $1200, but you have to ship it to NY. DIY battery repair is cheaper but requires expertise. New batteries installed are generally $3,000 or less. $5,000 would be an outrage. It can be driven with a non-functioning HV battery, of course, but it would be best to install a high capacity deep cycle 12V battery that gets charged every night, as without the IMA system, the 12V runs all electronics and there is no alternator.

    But the actual vehicle will be the make or break. You may find that 2K1 is absolutely correct, that the car will be endless problems, because they do not tolerate abuse well. If it just doesn't feel right, flee.
  12. Nords

    Nords Junior Member

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    Y'know, I was hoping for info like "my tires lasted only 25K miles" or "the oil filter is hard to reach" or "the Civic's road noise is louder than the Prius".

    But hey, thanks for stopping by.



    The $5K was just an example of the price difference between an older used car and a more recent one. I'm hoping I never have to learn about battery-replacement pricing. I don't know how this owner's battery managed to get replaced, but for Honda's sake I hope their warranty didn't include a 10,000-mile trip.

    And yes, I agree the test drive is very revealing. We've bought all our cars used (including our Prius) and don't have any worries there.
  13. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster HID Guru

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    The civic is louder than the Prius, but not by much. But everything else you mention is fluff, like buying a car because of the colour. I would rather buy a car that lasts forever and works better daily but takes an extra couple minutes to unscrew the oil filter every few months.
  14. Nords

    Nords Junior Member

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    Just to cap off this thread, the Civic owner hasn't responded to Craigslist e-mails. Must've moved off the island or sold the car.

    The 2005 Prius was a nice test drive. Fewer miles on it than our 2006, worth the seller's price. I'll update that in another thread.
  15. Kevin123

    Kevin123 New Member

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    Honda civic 2004 is a nice family car smooth car
  16. Bodgerx

    Bodgerx Junior Member

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    I'd mostly agree with this.

    I had a 2004 manual Civic Hybrid a couple of years back. Owned for a couple of years, bought with 45K on the clock, sold it with 75K. 30K of faultless miles. The only thing I replaced was the 12v battery after a -13C winter beat the stuffing out of it. I never had any issues with battery re-calibrations, or anything else nasty. I have a pretty decent commute (1 hour each way) across some quite demanding road, with lots of elevation changes, and the battery always performed well.

    Plus points:

    1. Really nice, solid, interior with heated leather seats.
    2. Good handling, with good steering feel.
    3. Slick gear change.
    4. Fuel economy, although not up to Prius standards was excellent (I averaged 54mpg (UK Imp gallons).
    5. Smooth driving - auto stop silently spools the engine back up.

    Negative:

    1. Rear seats don't fold down, which is the only reason I sold it.
    2. Regen braking takes some getting used to - not entirely consistant.
    3. It is not a sports car - slower than a Prius even. The low torque nature of the Honda VTEC doesn't help here - if you want to overtake anything, you have to rev the nuts off it, which is what Honda engines love I suppose.

    I would have gone for it, if it worked out cheaper than an equivalent aged/miled Prius. Its a nice drive.
  17. Bodgerx

    Bodgerx Junior Member

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    Just to respond to some of this...

    I had the manual (as per the car the OP is talking about) and had no gearbox drive issues at all across 30K miles.

    Trunk space I found to be decent - about the same as my 2001 Accord. We fit a buggy in there and luggage for 3 people with no problem. More of an issue is that the seats don't fold down.

    Just because the engine spools back up when the car moves doesn't make it useless. It is a different thing to the Prius system. Granted, not as efficient as Toyota's, but not useless. It is an effective autostop system. It does have the ability to coast TO a stop and turn the engine off as you slow down. It regens pretty well under braking. It is an assist system, not a 'full' hybrid. You need to come to it with proper expectations. You will get better mileage than a standard Civic, for sure.

    The AC does stop, when you are stopped, yes. I seem to remember it has an ECO mode though, where it can still blow uncooled air. This was never an issue for me, because in the UK, 'summer' is foreign concept :).

    Last comment - we are talking manual here, so no torque convertor. It being a 'normal' car could be to its advantage as it ages - in terms of servicing away from franchised dealers etc.

    No doubt, the Prius HSD is a superior system, but the Honda system has it's place, and I'd argue that the manual Civic Hybrid is much more of a 'drivers' car than any Prius...

    It is what it is.
  18. silentak1

    silentak1 Since 2005

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    Glad I ran into this thread.. I was thinking of buying an extra car, an 04-05 Civic Hybrid but after hearing all these things I think i'll pass.
  19. Bodgerx

    Bodgerx Junior Member

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    It is still a good car. Internet forum posts can over represent a problem. I had many miles of fault free driving in mine....
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