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2008 Honda Civic suspension

I have a 2008 Honda Civic LX Sedan which I bought new in August. It now has 3,000 miles on it. It has two related problems with which I am hoping you can help. The explanation requires a little detail, which I hope you have time to read. Thank you in advance for doing so.

The first time I drove it with passengers, my wife and I went for a day trip with a couple of friends. Three times during that day the rear suspension bottomed-out. This a loud and jarring, not to mention surprising, occurrence. One of the bumps that caused this was a transition between an overpass and the freeway pavement on either side. At that time we were traveling about 55 MPH in a 65 MPH zone. The other two times we were in town and going less than 25 MPH.

Here are some additional facts:

? The weight of the 4 of us is less than 600 lbs.

? There was nothing in the trunk.

? Honda says the maximum load, passengers + cargo, for this car is 935 pounds.

? I am 62 years old and have driven many cars on many roads and have never been in a vehicle that would have bottomed out in the places that this Civic did. In fact, I don?t drive off-road and have never been in any car that has bottomed out before ? and I have owned some real beaters, a couple that only cost me $10.

Here?s what I did:

? I filed a report with Honda. They said that nobody else has reported a problem like this, anywhere in the US.

? I took the car in to the large, local Honda dealer for service. They said there was nothing wrong with it, but they replaced the rear shocks anyway. They said there were no service bulletins regarding this problem.

? I went for a drive with the district rep and the service manager sitting in the rear (three people in the car total) and reproduced the problem going over a bump at about 20 MPH. The service rep said, ?holy S_ _ _,? when it happened, but then said it was ?normal.? Honda called me and said that the district rep?s report was final and that they thought that the car was performing as it should.

I?m not going to go after Honda, because I?m not willing to create all that stress in my life ? reminds me of that old curse, ?may you be involved in a lawsuit in which you are convinced you are right.? Instead, I am thinking about paying to have the problem fixed out of my own pocket ? and fixing another ?problem? with this car at the same time. The car is so low that the front air dam hits those concrete tire-stops that are in every parking lot. And if you tried to curb the front wheels when pointed downhill, the air dam hits the curb.

So, my solution is to have a local suspension shop raise the car up about 4? and replace the springs and shocks with ones that will properly suspend the car.

Here?s my question (at last!): how much will it affect the gas mileage by raising the car up this much, by altering the aero-dynamics?

What kind of car did you drive prior to buying the Civic?

Sure this is not a matter of simply not being accustomed to the car?

Exactly how large was the bump you drove over?

The Honda Civic sits very low in the front and it was obviously this way when you purchased it.
Losing fuel mileage is the very least of your worries if you’re planning on having someone screw your car up by raising it up 4".
Your best option if you don’t like the car’s stance and ride is to trade it off.

agreed, trade the Civic in for something a bit higher off the ground, like a CR-V

It really does sound as if you bought a car with a low suspension. Did you buy a sport version with 17" alloy wheels? Low profile tires can be extremely unforgiving on bad road surfaces.

Thank you all for your thoughts on this problem. In answer to your excellent questions so far I will say this:

The car is a completely stock Civic LX, no extras or changes.

When I say ?bottomed-out? I mean that the rear suspension got to the end of its travel, forcefully, not that the underside of the car hit the road ? this is happening on smooth, flat, paved, well-traveled roads.

On the only two occasions that I have driven the car with more than two people in it, it has bottomed out at least once (three times when I had three others in the car with me and once when I had two others with me).

I am 62 and have driven dozens of cars, on hundreds of roads in this city alone and well over a million miles total and I have never bottomed-out before in any car, anywhere, ever. So, what are the chances that this problem has anything to do with the type of bump I hit? I have been driving these same roads for over 46 years. It seems statistically unbelievable that I would hit four bumps in two days that bottomed-out my car?s suspension after 46 years of nothing. And the bumps were the kind of thing that I would normally avoid the next time I passed that way, but not big enough to even see in advance ? we?re not talking about potholes. I avoid those.

So, I am assuming that this car has the lightest weight, shortest travel suspension of any car I have ever owned and that I just can?t carry four people without having this experience occasionally. I?m surprised to find a car with Honda?s reputation that performs this poorly.

I?m still interested to know if anyone has raised a 2008 Civic and then monitored the change in gas mileage.

With a brand new car like this, my concern with raising the suspension is twofold:

*Your handling will likely be adversely affected by raising the vehicle.
*You will be putting stress on the front axle CV joints, probably leading to early failure.

It is very possible that the type of modification that you are contemplating might void the warranty. Rather than void the warranty coverage on a new car, I think that you would be better-off trading this car for one that was built by the factory to have better ground clearance.

Can you borrow another one from the dealer for a few hours and see if it does the same thing?

You all have convinced me not to mess with the suspension. Thank you! And the suggestion of trying another new Civic to see if it does the same thing is an excellent one. If it does, then I guess I either put up with this car or trade it for something else. Thanks again.

A few years back, I drove the Civic, Corolla, Accord and Camry while car shopping. The Civic had the harshest (some would call it sporty) suspension of the bunch. While I like sporty suspensions in my hobby cars, I want my daily driver to be more cushy.

Honda says the maximum load, passengers + cargo, for this car is 935 pounds

The maximum load allowed is based on not damaging the car or causing a loss of control. It has nothing to do with comfort level.

I took the car in to the large, local Honda dealer for service. They said there was nothing wrong with it, but they replaced the rear shocks anyway.

The shocks and springs work in tandem to control axle movement. Their compliance is a compromise between ride quality and control. A fast acting system will allow the wheel to be in contact with the road much sooner after a bump but will also bottom out much more readily. The shock itself has to dampen oscillation but still allow the axle to move fast enough to keep the wheel planted. If it were my problem and I really wanted to keep it and use the car with rear seat loads, I would probably invest in either an air bag setup or custom, progressive rate springs. Neither of which would alter the basic stance of the vehicle.

The air dam issue is a common one. I lived with that problem on a Camaro I once owned. It takes some getting used to but once you are conditioned, it becomes second nature to work around it.

I also purchased an 2008 Civic EXL. Within 13,000 miles the rear tires were shot and had to be replaced. I also was told I had overloaded the rear susp. from a long trip. I have been searching for bettter springs for the rear. All the after market springs I have found lower the car. I would like a progressive rate spring that would operate as it should. I also had no luck with Honda. I went from a string of new Mercedes to the Civic for my wife, I never though to ask if they were built as a normal car.

For a cheap to operate 2 place around car it is ok.

If this car has rear coil springs some air lift inserts in the coils could solve this problem effectively and inexpensively.

The suspensions in these cars looks like it was intended for the mechanism of a Paper-Mate Pen…Trying to re-engineer the suspension is loves labor lost. Honda’s reputation FAR exceeds their products…Live with it or trade it for a Crown Vic…