1996 Honda Accord Preventive Maintenance

At 147,000 miles with a Honda Accord 4-cylinder what are the key preventive maintenance issues that one should be looking out for ?

The owners manual spells out a lot of those things but the owners manuals (on most makes0 often make recommendations for services that are needed more often than the manual states.

Trans fluid changes, spark plugs, filters, valve lash adjustment, etc. are often needed more often than recommended and I would hope that your car is not running around on the original timing belt.

Nothing special at that mileage except confirm the timing belt has been changed 7yrs or 90k miles ago. If automatic you want to change that fluid if not done in the last 50k miles.

As ok4450 stated, the most important issue of all is the timing belt.

If this car was recently purchased, and if you don’t have documentation that the timing belt was changed in the past 6 years/90k miles (whichever comes first), then you have to assume that it was not replaced. Failure to replace an overage/overmileage timing belt will inevitably result in a huge amount of engine damage that will cost ~$2k to fix. It is not a question of IF it will snap, but rather a question of WHEN the belt will snap and no visual inspection can predict this event.

Once you have resolved the timing belt issue, then you can focus on the other items listed by ok4450. And, as he stated, the Owner’s Manual will spell out everything that you need to know in terms of schedules for these procedures.

If you don’t have a manual, get one! E-bay is a good source for cheap manuals.

Sounds like you need to find yourself a good garage to go to for your car care needs. I’m talking a family owned place not BIG-O or EZ-Lube, etc.

A good shop will most likely Talk you OUT of doing stuff, really.

Check the oil and engine coolant on a regular basis. Check the tire pressure. The air filters in these cars are easy to replace yourself, you don’t even need tools just a little common sense.

I have an '89 Accord with a lot more miles than that and can at least tell you some of the stuff I do. Follow ok4450’s advice and use the owners manual. Oil change . . . transmission oil change . . . brake fluid change . . . oil, gas and air filter change . . . valve lash check . . . spark plug, cap and wire change . . . timing belt and other belt change . . . coolant change. The one thing that nobody seems to mention (but I’ve found critical on a Honda) is a thorough check of suspension components, bushings and so forth. I’ve found this to be a real safety issue and not many folks talk about it. My Accord has almost 508,000 miles on it and except for a few oil leaks, it runs and drives great, gets good mpg and is a daily driver. But I’ve had more issues with suspension areas than other cars I’ve owned. Good luck with it! Rocketman

You start with the maintenance listed in the owner’s manual. That list is the minimun. You should consider those minimal. For the most part that is all you need.

You should be suspect of anyone (like the dealer or quick oil change place) wants to do more. You should also consider that many people have heard from their fathers and grand fathers that you need to do additional maintenance. Today’s cars are far better than those your father had. However it is better to do too much than too little.

When it list both time and miles it is which ever comes first!

I believe that automatic tranmission and brake fluid changes are the most likely to be abused and not maintained even if it is listed in the owner’s manual and both can result in expensive or dangerous problems!

Thanks for the information… great stuff and I sincerely appreciate your feedback. Timing belt was changed around 90K. Another friend of a friend for the same make, year, model had their radiator break down. Can one see a radiator failure before it occurs ? Is this a common occurrence around 150K and of more concern is this something that can normally occur without warning? Since I commute about 50 miles each way, this is my major concern. I was planning on taking it to a non-dealer, family garage kind of place that a couple of friends recommend. First visit to inquire if anything is looking critical. Then decide what to change/upgrade/replace.

Good idea, take it in there for something minor like an oil change and while it’s up in the air anyway, they should be able to tell you generally what kind of shape the critical parts are in.

The plastic radiator top cracked on my '88 Accord at ~160k miles. Stuff happens.
Add these to your list:
Change the thermostat every 4-5 years. Change the brake fluid every 3 years.
Check the CV axle boots at every oil change.

However, please make sure that you don’t take the car to a “Quicky Lube” type of place for that oil change!

Since so many of their employees lack the knowledge to know how to change oil without causing damage to (pick one or more) the engine/transmission/cooling system/brake hydraulic system, it would be foolish to assume that they could tell you anything accurate regarding the condition of the car.