1998 Honda Prelude with 180k miles?

I have been looking for a nice Prelude for some time now and have recently found one that would suit my needs. The only problem I foresee is the fact that this car has 180,000 miles on it.

The only mechanical info I have on the car at this point is that the previous owner replaced the timing belt. Not sure how long ago however.

Typically how long should one of these motors last before needing to be rebuilt or replaced?

Thanks in Advance.


I failed to mention the current owner says the car has been well serviced and maintained.
It does have the 2.2L Vtech with the sport shift tranny, ABS, “all power”, etc…

The answer is it all depends on previous owner.

I personally would pass as anything past 7yrs/150k miles is worn and will require more expensive maintenance & repairs. For example your prospect has an auto tranny which is a likely candidate for pricey failure at this point in life.

It may be perfectly fine too but odds are your going to have put money/shop time into this ride. Is it worth it to you?

Does the current owner have copies of all those bills that were incurred by the “well serviced and maintained” activities. If he can’t provide them, I would walk away, unless you have avery competent mechanic who can check out the car.

Pepole tend to lie without guilt feelings about their sex lives and they way the treat cars. In most cases their statements barely resemble the truth.

Honda engine will run run run and keep on running if the oil gets changed. But he should indeed be able to provide evidence of these oil changes, and batteries, and tires, and several automatic trans fluid changes, and tune ups, and filters, repairs, etc etc. You should know exactly when the timing belt was replaced, find out. Have the car inspected by a mechanic. Test drive, thoroughly. I also think this car takes premium fuel only so have fun with that.

I would try to verify a few things first on the timing belt situation. If no one can verify this then it may have been due long ago. The current owner may have priced this job, which should also include tensioners, water pump, etc., and decided to sell it rather than spend money on it.

In spite of the reputation dealers have for lying, the general public is no different. If it can’t be verified on paper then don’t believe it.

It will be hard to say how long that engine will last as it is unknown how it was driven, if there were any overheating spells in the past, etc.
IF the engine is solid now and has regular, verifiable oil changes then I see no reason why it won’t go 400k or so; assuming a timing belt does not pop.

You should also assume that an 11 year old, 180k miles car is also going to need some other stuff. Suspension work, brakes or brake hydraulics, fuel pump, etc. It’s very hard to say on an aged car with this many miles so don’t overpay for it because you can safely assume something will crop up.

I had a 1987 Honda Civic 2-dr hatchback and generally the timing belt on these cars needs to be replace every 60K miles. 180K miles on a Honda is not bad as these cars can last a long time, especially if this was a one owner car. As with anything, if he changed the oil and serviced the car regularly, it should be fine. However if the guy just drove the crap out of it and did not do these things, then you never know. My honda had no major engine issues and other than normal wear and tear, it was a good reliable car. When I got rid of it, it had 225K miles and the engine was fine.

Unless the present owner can hand you a big pile of invoices to prove that maintenance was performed regularly and on schedule, you could be looking at a potential financial quagmire of repair costs with this car.

If he does hand you that pile of invoices, ask to keep them and the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule overnight while you chart the maintenance and then compare that chart to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. That would show you the reality of the “well-serviced and maintained” statement by the owner. If he balks at this request, offer him some collateral for the invoices, in order to ensure that you return them. If he still balks, RUN away from that deal as fast as you can.

Even the alleged timing belt replacement is up for debate. Even if you assume that it was changed once, it is already overdue for a second timing belt replacement. And, if that belt snaps, the car’s present mileage and book value would make overhaul of the engine a questionable investment. So, just on this one maintenance issue, it is vital to be able to document the date and the odometer mileage of the last timing belt replacement.

Remember, used cars are like commuter buses. If you miss one, there will be another one coming along shortly.

Caveat Emptor!