Honda Civic 1993 Should I replace or not ?

Hi, I have 1993 Civic and I payed $1700 CAN ( $US 1500 ) in repairs last year ( electrical, exhaust etc). Wandering if it is better to buy new $20,000 car - average cost per year is $2000 on 10 years -
pretty much the same as maintaining the old one. Any experiences with how frequently 1993 continue to break down once they start havinig problems ? Any thoughts on Honda Fit in Canada ? Is it coming any time soon ? Will they have 1.6 liter engine ?
Regards, Ranko
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How many miles do you have on this car?
What did you have done to it last year?
Is it an auto or manual transmission?
How rusted does the body appear to be? (Too much rust in certain places will preclude emergency jacking after a flat tire suddenly occurs.)
Have you followed the owners' manual maintenance schedule, particularly for fluids (engine oil, radiator coolant, transmission oil) and filters (oil filter, air filter, fuel filter, air filter)?
For Canadian driving, I suspect the most threatening item on your car right now is rust.
By reports here Honda Civics from the late 1980s often accumulate over 250k miles (~ 400k km) easily.
Elle Original owner, 1991 Civic, manual transmission, 171k miles, still getting over 40 mpg, driven in Northern U.S. for about half its life. Hoping to keep it another five years. Only major repairs anticipated (besides timing belt change): Replace camshaft holder O-rings (to be done soon as a DIY job); overhaul clutch (no signs of needing overhaul as yet). Though arguably I should do something about certain rubber suspension bushings.

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I have 120k miles on it. Last 6 months electrical system failed mostly ( ignitor; then distributor/rotating arm - can't start without these; replaced muffler twice in 4 years - Canadian weather, I guess; radiator was replaced - did not cause any problems but Midas needed cash flow I guess); at 60k miles regular maintenance - timing belt was replaced; breaks. This is manual transmission. It is not too rusty - I see no major problems. Oil/filter was done regularly. Gas consumption is perfect ( 35 mpg). I know it can run for much longer - I am just thinking if it will cost me the same to maintaing it as to buy new one.
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The distributor parts are the Achille's heel of early 1990s (and some other) Hondas. Thankfully, that's the only real weakness of these Hondas. Thus: A new ignitor will be needed about every five years. Same for the coil. The rotor set screws have a history of not holding. The bearing goes after a while. Ultimately, a new housing is a good idea. The housing is the big expense: Figure one every ten years. Then the distributor's good to go for some time.
Like you imply and IMO, mufflers are the price of driving in the North. Some folks here might have some suggestions about whether to go with a place like Midas, an independent, or a dealer. IIRC, an OEM muffler installed at the dealer's has been said to be worth it. I just use an independent muffler shop, though next time, I think I'm going to do it myself. I reckon my 91 Civic is on its fourth muffler. Needed one about every four to six years in the Northern U.S.
The radiators on early 1990s Civics are almost as notorious as the distributor. I think they're mostly or all plastic and prone to cracking. Your new one should last at least five years; maybe ten. (I lucked out: The guys at a dealership broke my 1991 Civic's in 2002 while messing up a distributor repair, and, without even telling me in advance, went ahead and replaced it. Guess that made their failed distributor repair worth it. I since gained a lot of expertise in distributor part replacement repair and so do those myself now.)
I would expect the manual transmission to last longer than auto transmission, based on general reading about transmissions. You may need the clutch overhauled at some point. (I assume it's the original.) I am figuring $500 American for that.
I think last year was the big year. Like High Tech Misfit said, the $1500 bill from last year isn't likely to occur year after year.
I also agree with High Tech Misfit about the Fit: It's supposed to arrive in the U.S. in 2006. I expect it will arrive in Canada about the same time. I thought it was closer to 1.4L or 1.3L. The net has a fair amount of info on its specs; google for "Honda Fit."
Given you just put a pile of dough into the Civic, that it has only 120k miles (that's pretty low for a properly maintained Civic), I'd see it as a very good investment and wait at least two more years. That way, the Fit may not be in such high demand, too. (I'm betting it goes on back order and so may be a tad pricey for its first year or so.) If you still like it after two years, maybe wait until the next major repair before giving up on it.
Recently ome guy here slapped a cheap-o Autozone distributor into his early 1990s Honda (a Civic, I think) for $200 (it included a new coil and ignitor). OEM for all that goes for closer to $500. Guy said he'd be happy if the cheap-o one lasted around a year, which it certainly may. It's something to consider in the future, depending on your timeframe.
I should have mentioned brake fluid and power steering fluid before, also, with regular changing of the brake fluid being highly important to keep moisture from causing rust in the brake system.

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The distributor parts are the Achille's heel of early 1990s (and some other) Hondas. Thankfully, that's the only real weakness of these Hondas. Thus: A new ignitor will be needed about every five years. Same for the coil. The rotor set screws have a history of not holding. The bearing goes after a while. Ultimately, a new housing is a good idea. The housing is the big expense: Figure one every ten years. Then the distributor's good to go for some time.
Like you imply and IMO, mufflers are the price of driving in the North. Some folks here might have some suggestions about whether to go with a place like Midas, an independent, or a dealer. IIRC, an OEM muffler installed at the dealer's has been said to be worth it. I just use an independent muffler shop, though next time, I think I'm going to do it myself. I reckon my 91 Civic is on its fourth muffler. Needed one about every four to six years in the Northern U.S.
The radiators on early 1990s Civics are almost as notorious as the distributor. I think they're mostly or all plastic and prone to cracking. Your new one should last at least five years; maybe ten. (I lucked out: The guys at a dealership broke my 1991 Civic's in 2002 while messing up a distributor repair, and, without even telling me in advance, went ahead and replaced it. Guess that made their failed distributor repair worth it. I since gained a lot of expertise in distributor part replacement repair and so do those myself now.)
I would expect the manual transmission to last longer than auto transmission, based on general reading about transmissions. You may need the clutch overhauled at some point. (I assume it's the original.) I am figuring $500 American for that.
I think last year was the big year. Like High Tech Misfit said, the $1500 bill from last year isn't likely to occur year after year.
I also agree with High Tech Misfit about the Fit: It's supposed to arrive in the U.S. in 2006. I expect it will arrive in Canada about the same time. I thought it was closer to 1.4L or 1.3L. The net has a fair amount of info on its specs; google for "Honda Fit."
Given you just put a pile of dough into the Civic, that it has only 120k miles (that's pretty low for a properly maintained Civic), I'd see it as a very good investment and wait at least two more years. That way, the Fit may not be in such high demand, too. (I'm betting it goes on back order and so may be a tad pricey for its first year or so.) If you still like it after two years, maybe wait until the next major repair before giving up on it.
Recently ome guy here slapped a cheap-o Autozone distributor into his early 1990s Honda (a Civic, I think) for $200 (it included a new coil and ignitor). OEM for all that goes for closer to $500. Guy said he'd be happy if the cheap-o one lasted around a year, which it certainly may. It's something to consider in the future, depending on your timeframe.
I should have mentioned brake fluid and power steering fluid before, also, with regular changing of the brake fluid being highly important to keep moisture from causing rust in the brake system.

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Yes, original muffler lasted 10 years. Then came Midas "warrantied" muffler that lasted only 2 years, and I couldn't find their receipt once it went bust. I am on third independent muffler now. Original parts sweem to be twice as expensive, but as you say, may be worth it. Clutch is original, and producing some squeeking noise for years now, I guess it is wire from clutch pedal to the clutch itself. When they replaced distributor and spark plugs at dealership ( $200 CAN ~ $US 160) they also wanted to replace ignitor, cables etc etc for total of $US 1000. I declined and said just make it start. Tha't what got me to think I should replace it. Re: Honda Fit: looks okay, but may be to small for winds & snow here ( Toronto ). I would prefer something well over 1 ton. There might be 1.5 Fit .http://asia.vtec.net/Reviews/JazzVtec / Too bad Honda isn't making any bigger hatchbacks ( my Civic is sedan, but I want hatchback next). Looked at Acura hatchback ( RSX ), very nice, but pricey ( $34k CAN).
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So I gather from your other posts you did replace the ignitor. If this is only your second (or even third) ignitor, this was not wasted money, from my reading here and my experience.
Plug wires (cables above?) are supposed to be replaced every 4 years, 60k miles for my 1991 Civic, according to its maintenance schedule. If you're at all handy, you could do these yourself. But definitely go OEM for these. Lots of warnings on the net about not going OEM. Yes, costs a lot more. Good plug wires are very important to good firing of the engine, if you will. It wouldn't surprise me if bad wires (meaning in particular very high resistance) could also adversely affect distributor parts and perhaps put more load on the alternator than is normal.
Shoulda mentioned the alternator before. Give it around seven to ten years, though some folks here talk about rebuilding it on one's own being much cheaper.
Battery is good for 4-7 years. Don't wait for it to die completely. This too puts more load on the alternator and may shorten the alternator's life.

Oh yes. Very tiny. Low power. But something like 50 mpg... :-)

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Ignitor was replaced once - not OEM, it was emergency first-mechanic-sighted replacement. How do I know if mechanic will be using OEM parts or not anyways? Battery was replaced once after it died on me one winter ( -32 C). Still original alternator. Plug wires were never replaced. It is just that I never know what&when is going to break, and if it could be dangerous ( sudden engine stop on highway middle lane ).
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Short of taking it out and reporting the marks on it, I think one can only ask the (independent?) mechanic. Call him up. They get questions like this a lot. If he's not sure if it's OEM, ask from whom he buys them; report back here. The marks will tell a person whether it is OEM or not. (Can't remember what they are exactly, but if you have a need to know this, just ask. There is a fair amount of information on identifying the ignitor's maker on the net and in the archives.) I don't think you can see the marks without taking it out. That's not too hard, but you must be a bit more than "a little handy."
I had the ignitor replaced once at Firestone. (It took them a full day to figure out what the problem was, so your mechanic is no dummy.) It was not OEM. It lasted at least six years, whence along with a coil replacement (and after a year or so of the aforementioned distributor problems) I decided to replace the ignitor, too.
Non-OEM ignitors are around 10% to 25% cheaper than OEM, so I think it's a shortcut some independents will take.
OTOH, if it is non-OEM, I wouldn't sweat it. I base this only on my own experience. If it's non-OEM and if and when the coil or ignitor next goes, consider replacing them both at the same time with OEM.

Do you have a voltmeter? You might want to at least check its voltage while running and not running.
Although if one is really attuned to one's car's start, one can hear and feel when the battery is going. Cranking takes longer...

Watch that one. Check that battery and, if it's at least four years old and showing signs of wear, consider a new, high quality one.

Replace them, again with OEM. Seriously, this is not hard. Just gotta get used to the little 'twist and yank' necessary to disconnect the ends from the plugs and distributor leads. www.slhonda.com sells the set for about $62 + maybe $7 for shipping (assuming they ship to Canada).
Some may beg to differ with the wire replacement suggesiton. If you have a multimeter, maybe check the resistances of the wires and report back. There are some other checks you can do, too.
Keep checking back to get others' opinions on all, so, you know, you feel good about your decision making process.
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Don't have any instruments or tools. Generally I can do stuff if I make up my mind to do it, problem is spare time - I don't have it. You've all being very helpfull, thanks very much. I hope ( or not, hopefully there will be no need ) we continue exchanging information in future.
Regards, Ranko.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Avoid Midas at all costs. I suggest a reputable private mechanic who specializes in Japanese cars and uses OEM parts. Labour rates will obviously be lower than at the dealer and even Midas.

Also keep in mind that if you buy a new car, you will pay more for insurance because it's new.
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Yes, Midas is not going to happen again. Have to find good Japanese car mechanic. And yes, I thought about insurance costs for new car. That will be a killer for sure. Even now I am paying $1600 CAN per year. It is ridiculous.
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I have 120k miles on it. Last 6 months electrical system failed mostly ( ignitor; then distributor/rotating arm - can't start without these; replaced muffler twice in 4 years - Canadian weather, I guess; radiator was replaced - did not cause any problems but Midas needed cash flow I guess); at 60k miles regular maintenance - timing belt was replaced; breaks. This is manual transmission. It is not too rusty - I see no major problems. Oil/filter was done regularly. Gas consumption is perfect ( 35 mpg). I know it can run for much longer - I am just thinking if it will cost me the same to maintaing it as to buy new one.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Just because you paid $1700 last year doesn't necessarily mean you'll pay that much every year. How many Km's does it have?
I have spent a grand total of just $700 (CDN) over the past 2 years for my '93 Accord, which currently has 224,000km (~ 139,000 miles).
As for the Fit/Jazz, Honda is supposed to bring one or the other to North America next year I think. Dunno about Canada, although I would tend to think that we will get it too.
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The garage I use will do a used vehicle inspection report. They inspect the vehicle from end-to-end, and then prepare a report of what is likely to be replaced when, and at what cost. While it is no guarantee, it is very good information that can help you make an informed decision.
In general, you get the lowest cost when you drive a vehicle until it has to be towed to the wrecker. However, if you need reliability, then a new or newer vehicle may be a better bet. Dan
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" snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com" ( snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com) writes:

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