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A closeup of a blue 2022 Honda Civic is focused on the wheel.

4 Common Honda Civic Repairs and How to Avoid Them

By nearly any measurement, the Honda Civic is a success story. As America’s best-selling passenger car for six years running, the humble compact has dominated the segment for over a decade with no sign of letting up. In fact, Honda estimates that the Civic accounted for as much as 25 percent of sales in the compact segment in 2021, a jaw-dropping stat proving that even after 50 years on the market, the Civic is still a force to be reckoned with. Drivers have flocked to the Civic for its seamless fusion of performance, fuel economy, design, and reliability, with the compact earning a 4.5 out of 5 ranking from RepairPal. That figure places the Civic as the third-most reliable car in the ultra-competitive compact segment, offering drivers tremendous peace of mind behind the wheel.

Even should complications arise, Honda car repair is notoriously affordable and the Civic is no exception. The popular sedan has an impressively low cost of ownership, totaling $1,851 less over a 10-year period than the average sedan. But even the most reliable vehicles have repairs creep up from time to time, and the Civic is no exception. I’ve compiled some of the most common issues Civic drivers face, as well as a few tips on simple maintenance tasks you can do to ensure your vehicle stays on the road for as long as possible.

Faulty Transmission

Civic repairs usually skew toward the lower end of the spectrum—with minor issues like misty headlights, wobbly hand brakes, and failed hood release cables leading the list of common repairs. That said, a doozy of a mechanical issue is bound to pop up from time to time, as was the case with 2001 and 2002 models. These Civics were prone to some very specific transmission-related issues—which, given the importance and labor involved in replacing the transmission, is one of the more serious repairs a driver could ever expect to deal with.

Common signs of a faulty transmission include a dragging clutch, shaking and grinding while changing gears, difficulty changing gears, gear slippage, noise when parked in neutral, and a distinctive burning smell. Early warning signs include an engine that revs higher when shifting, so if you notice some unusual noise when you’re changing gears, it might be time to make an appointment with a trusted mechanic. A transmission replacement isn’t cheap—at an average of around $2,300—but failure to deal with it in a timely fashion could irrevocably damage your engine.

A blue 2020 Honda Civic Coupe Sport is shown from the front at an angle after leaving a shop that specializes in Honda car repair.

Cracked Engine Block

The other major issue facing some used Civic models is a cracked engine block. Luckily, this problem was largely limited to the 2006 model, meaning that a majority of Civic owners can breathe easily. A cracked engine block is most commonly caused by an overheated engine, which causes the engine block to crack due to what’s known as thermal stress. Signs of a cracked engine block may include anything from leaking coolant or oil to discolored oil—or antifreeze or excessive smoke from the exhaust. It would also trigger some overheated engine warnings on your dashboard, so make sure to keep an eye out for that bright red thermometer icon or a high reading on your Civic’s engine temperature gauge.

The prognosis isn’t great when it comes to a cracked engine block. They may occasionally be brought back to life by a qualified mechanic who can glue or weld the cracks, but more often than not it’s going to call for a full replacement of the engine block or engine itself. That sort of overhaul can add up quickly, costing about $3,000 on average, but Honda was kind enough to extend the warranty by 10 years for affected models. If you’re shopping for a used 2001 Civic, make sure to ask if the repairs have already been performed under warranty.

Airbag Sensor

A faulty occupant position sensor has caused the airbag warning light to illuminate improperly on some Honda Civic models. The occupant position sensor is embedded in the front passenger seat and is tasked with detecting whether there is someone riding shotgun. If this pressure-sensitive sensor doesn’t detect a passenger, it will not deploy the airbag in the event of an accident, which can save you a lot of money when it comes to post-collision repair costs.

A faulty occupant position sensor is usually easy to spot, as it will usually cause the passenger airbag warning light to randomly illuminate or extinguish—regardless of whether there’s actually someone sitting in the passenger seat. Less commonly, the light might not illuminate at all, which can be harder to detect if you don’t know what to look for. While this sensor has nothing to do with the actual mechanical operation of your vehicle, it should never be overlooked; failure to deploy the airbag could result in serious injury in the case of an accident. This occupant position sensor itself is a somewhat pricey part, costing more than $800 with labor—bringing total repair costs up to $950.

Bad Engine Mounts

Like every vehicle, your Honda Civic’s engine isn’t connected directly to the frame itself and uses engine mounts to create a shock-absorbing bumper between the two metal components. These mounts hold the engine firmly in place while cutting down on excessive vibrations and producing a much smoother ride. The Civic has faced engine mount problems across a few model years, with cracked, failing engine mounts causing issues for some drivers. There are numerous factors that may cause these engine mounts to go before their time, including overly aggressive driving, weather conditions, and collisions.

Symptoms of failed engine mounts include excessive vibrations, as well as a tell-tale noise, lurching when starting the vehicle, and some visual cues, which are easy enough to spot if you know what you’re looking for. It’s not safe to drive a vehicle with compromised engine mounts, so this issue should be dealt with as soon as possible. Thankfully, engine mounts are a relatively affordable fix, with the components costing around $400 and labor and fees adding on about $100.

How to Keep Your Civic Rolling

So how’s a driver supposed to prevent these costly issues from creeping up in the first place? Preventative maintenance is the key. Every vehicle on the road comes with a detailed maintenance schedule that’s basically a roadmap to keeping your ride out of the shop. Following this maintenance schedule for your Honda Civic will not only reduce the likelihood of future repairs but can also be a great asset when the time comes to sell your vehicle. Providing a potential buyer with a record of all regular maintenance you’ve performed can go a long way toward building confidence and generating the best possible return for your vehicle. Maintenance schedules are broken down by mileage, so read on to see what type of work needs to be done depending on your odometer reading.

7,500 Miles (and 22,500, 37,500, 2,500, 67,500, and 82,500 Miles)

  • Change oil and oil filter
  • Inspect brakes
  • Check all fluids and replace if needed
  • Inspect tires
  • Rotate tires

15,000 Miles (and 45,000, 75,000, and 105,000 Miles)

At 15,000 miles, perform all the maintenance tasks listed above, as well as:

  • Lubricate chassis and hinges
  • Replace oil drain plug
  • Balance wheels
  • Inspect undercarriage and shocks
  • Check clutch pedal and adjust if necessary
  • Inspect A/C and heater
  • Service transmission
  • Replace spark plugs
  • Inspect differential oil
  • Inspect steering gearbox
  • Inspect brake lining
  • Replace windshield wipers
  • Replace A/C filter
  • Inspect steer and fuel system

30,000 Miles (and 60,000, 90,000, and 120,000 Miles)

Again, you’ll want to perform all the tasks listed in the two sections above, in addition to:

  • Service PCV valve
  • Inspect battery
  • Replace differential oil
  • Inspect fuel tank cap gasket and fuel lines
  • Check transfer case oil
  • Lubricate propeller shaft
  • Lubricate wheel bearings
  • Inspect propeller shaft flex coupling

A white 2020 Honda Civic Type R is shown from the front.

Protecting Your Investment

With a little T.L.C., you can keep your Honda Civic on the road for years to come. The popular compact may very well hit the 300,000-mile mark if given proper care—and now that you know what sort of issues to keep an eye out for, that shouldn’t be a problem. Best of all, the Civic’s reputation for reliability has earned it an excellent five-year depreciation rate of just 41 percent; this means that when you decide to swap out your trusty old Civic for a new model, you’ll likely get a healthy return on investment.

This may be the case for years to come, as the Civic is especially popular with a younger generation of drivers. The sedan has captured the title of best-selling vehicle among Millenials and already has a strong showing among Gen Z, who have come to appreciate the Civic’s reliability and style—as well as Honda’s claim to being the automaker with the highest average fuel economy and lowest CO2 emissions in the industry.