4th generation Civic safety & roadworthiness

I would not want my daughter driving a car that her (current) mechanic boyfriend is suggesting, but does not even know much about the car, not even the year, especially for all the aforementioned reasons. So, if he is even around in the future, how is he going to care for this car. If he was much of a mechanic, one who really cares for your daughter, he should have done his due-diligence on this car before suggesting it. Since he is suppose to be a “car guy” why has he not taught her to drive?

Sorry to be such a nay-sayer, but someone has to be…

I’ll give some pro’s for the old Civic. If the girl in question is 30 years old and doesn’t know how to drive, I’m going to assume she isn’t going to be driving long distances for some time. I’d have no issues with my family members driving to the supermarket, etc in an old Civic. That will depend on the area you’re in, traffic, etc. Going to the supermarket here doesn’t even necessitate interstate travel, unless you want to take that route. The biggest pro- it sounds like the car is all but free. It might be a good vehicle to learn how to drive in. If the boyfriend has any mechanical sense about him, a free car will never turn into a money pit and he’ll sell it for scrap before it gets to that point.

The cons are really only one. Less safety features. Sounds like you’d sleep better if you just gave her the 2009.


The OP (Original Poster – davepsinbox_157004 ) said “Cheap,” he never said “Free…”

The concept of “Cheap,” Like “Beauty” is in the eye beholder. Perhaps the boyfriend has no common sense and then it comes down to who is paying for the cheap car, perhaps the boyfriend is a cheapskate and the car is available because it is just about to be sold for scrap. If the daughter is paying for it, she might not be able to just get rid of her “First Car” if it becomes a money pit.

Someone needs to do some due-diligence like taking it to a real Honda mechanic…

Else, we hope the boyfriend hangs around to help get that “cheap Honda” home…


The OP (Original Poster – davepsinbox_157004 ) said “Cheap,” he never said “Free…”

See below. “Give it away” implies free, in my mind.

quote=“davepsinbox_157004, post:20, topic:181915”]
The woman died recently, the Civic was hers, and the man just wants to give it away


The boyfriend may think like I do. If it’s indeed free, and it runs, I’d definitely take it. I’m not sure I’d ever want to depend on it as my only source of transportation, though. Might be ok for a knock around town car.

I’m considering buying a 1987 3/4 ton 4 speed manual suburban right now. Just because it’s cheap (it’s big, ugly, sucks gas, and has a manual transmission- so no one wants it), because it has a manual trans, and because it should be nigh bulletproof. If it’s cheap enough and runs well, I’ll do a little work on it, teach my kids to drive stick, and let them drive it around town (if they want) when they get their licenses. If it was free, I’d already own it :wink:


any mechanic worth his salt needs to have common sense to figure out problems. not everything can be solved by computers. just my opinion

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“Cheap” refers to the fact that the purchase price will essentially be whatever the two of them decide to pay. What he knows about it at this point is that a guy he knows is giving away a running car. I’d consider it too, at least for a minute. It’s not a done deal and he hasn’t looked that particular gift horse in the mouth yet. I would hope they’ll pass on it if he finds anything serious wrong.

They live together and he’s been around for at least a dozen years since she was still in school so he’s not going anywhere, much as I might want things otherwise. She couldn’t get rid of him with an exterminator.

He worked for a Ford dealership and received Ford training before going to an independent garage in a neighboring town so he does know his stuff, I’ll give him that. And he is teaching her to drive but she hasn’t exactly been a willing student. Plus, he has a regular schedule while she works at the local Walmart so finding time hasn’t been easy. My concerns aren’t about him but about the car. As a dad, I never thought I’d be defending my daughter’s boyfriend but life plays strange tricks, doesn’t it?

Sure, I’d sleep better if she drove the Corolla, and if the Civic doesn’t work out I’ll offer it again, but she’d probably survive the Civic in one piece. As previously noted, I drove cars without airbags or ABS for years and I’m still here.

Dude, maybe I’m misunderstanding . . .

But you seem to have a pretty dim view of the boyfriend in general

And I’m not sure where it’s coming from

I’m a dad. I’d have a dim view of pretty much any guy who was sleeping with my daughter, LOL. Do I think she could do better? Sure. But she’s happy and that’s what matters, and I have to give him credit where it’s due.


I have a 2nd gen CRX, which is based on the 4th gen Civic. It’s just as safe now as it was in 1991 when it left the factory.

However, there are some considerations to that statement:

  • Modern cars are inherently more safe than 30 year old cars. There’s been a lot of advances in engineering and systems that make them more safe than that old Civic could ever be
  • I’m a bad example, because I never drove mine in the winter, and it has no rust, so it’s in vastly better shape than most of its contemporaries.
  • I don’t drive it daily or even often. My much more modern daily driver is a lot safer, a lot more reliable, and if it ever does break, I won’t have to search the country for parts.

All that aside, the 4th gen Civic was a very, very good car for its day. If she is going to get a 30+ year old vehicle, that’s one of the better choices.

Thanks. I’ve never owned one but I keep hearing good things about Hondas. I feel better knowing it’s a reasonably good bet as 30 year old cars go. Lord knows, Yugos were around at that time.

I’m not saying that they make death traps, but safety doesn’t seem to be a high priority with Honda in general.

Modern cars have much better side impact crash protection. If the car is frequently used in the city, this is important. If the driver is not careful and could pull out in front of someone, it’s important.

The front crash safety is largely dependent on the weight of the vehicle. This is a 2000 pound compact car from 1990. Most of the smallest compact cars today are close to 2400 pounds. This one is comparable to the 2100 pound Mitsubishi Mirage, which is a modern light weight sub compact car with modern safety features which still has about the highest fatality rates.

Figure that the city driving fatality rate for this car is 3 times the Corolla, although city fatalities are quite rare to begin with for belted occupants (most of the deaths are unbelted).
Then figure that the highway driving fatality rate will be twice.

Over all say someone is 2.2 times as likely to die in this Civic. Is it worth it? If the person drives 1000 miles per year it’s not a big deal. If they drive 15,000 miles per year with a lot of highway driving it is a big deal.

On average it’s something like 0.000011 deaths per 1000 miles traveled. 0.00011 deaths per 10,000 miles in a year. 0.0033 deaths after 30 years of driving. That’s 1 in 300 on average die after 30 years of driving. That statistic includes unbelted people which account for half of the deaths, so if the person uses a seat belt it’s a 1 in 550 or so chance of dying after 30 years of driving. That’s why it’s the biggest killer for younger people.

The 1997 Honda Civic weighs around 2300 pounds and gets an acceptable rating from the IIHS. I consider acceptable to be the same as good. This older Civic would likely get a poor rating due to weaker structure. The newer one is over 200 pounds heavier and that’s appears to be just enough to earn an acceptable rating.

I hope you’re aware I was questioning @LoudThunder and not you

That wasn’t entirely clear in your response to me, imo

Such things don’t always come across very well in cyberspace

Honestly, no, I wasn’t aware of it. I thought your comment was directed at me. Sorry and thanks for the clarification. After all, I did say it felt odd to be defending him, LOL. But yeah, there were some definite assumptions about him that I felt the need to correct, such as that he doesn’t know what he’s doing and that he’ll walk out with the work unfinished and leave her with an overgrown paperweight.

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OK, I admit it that I was too hard on the boyfriend, but your initial posting was vague about the boyfriend and the car.

I am cynical about any used vehicle that is sold cheap. I spent over 30-years in the Air Force and supervised hundreds of young folk and in spite of my best intentions and advice, many still got into tons of financial problems for buying “cheap cars”

I especially found it irritating to hear that some of my folk bought something for a certain price because that was “what the owner had in it…” Especially a car that was way overpriced because it was financed upside down and the owner had to get what they owed on it…

Or they bought a used car from a fly-by-night dealer who also overpriced a car, “but it came with a 90-day warranty…” Look at it this way, the average life expectancy of a US male in 2021 is 78 years; yet you can see on TV every day AARP and Colonial Penn selling guaranteed whole life insurance policy on anyone up to 88-years old… So, if a car is running today, it will probably run for 90 more days…

You (Davepsinbox) have been around this web site for a few years and have garnered a boatload of badges, so I know you also have seen a lot of newbes posting, “I bought this car recently and I have this problem…” And I just wanted to again be sure everyone is going into this with their eyes wide open…

Speaking of commercials, my wife says that I am just like the character “Dr. Rick” on the Progressive Insurance commercial to “Not Become Your Parents…” So, I guess that’s me…

If those people were in fanatical trouble after buying a $250 car, they must have been under paid.

I think a 30 yr old should be able to afford 1 $10k car. And not a maxima or anything from Chrysler.

I also think you were out of bounds with that opinion .

I also think Dave gave too much info about his daughter and should have just stuck to the vehicle in question .


I may be wrong but IMHO Military or College is the first time many kids are away rom home and on their own a lot of them are easily influenced also in my travels around the country I have noticed that around Military base’s and College towns there seems to e a lot of buy here pay here car lots and payday loan places that can get a young person in trouble finanicial’y.

Look, I don’t mind you having private conspiracy theories about seatbelt load limiters or aliens running Area 51 or whatever else you believe. But I admit I start to get annoyed when your misinformation is directed at new members who are here looking for real answers.

Weight is not a direct factor in crash test safety ratings. The Smart Fortwo got “good” ratings across the board, and it weighed around 2k pounds, and incidentally was about the size of my shoe. But it also had some crazy crash mitigation engineering, including using its wheels as energy dissipation systems, which earned it a higher rating than you’d expect if you simply believed “weight = safe.”

Structural design plays a much larger part in safety factors, and pretending that heavier cars are automatically safer would suggest that you’ll be just fine in a 120mph-combined head-on if you’re in some 1950’s boat that weighs as much as a building.

Where this gets particularly important is that people who believe that weight is the deciding factor in crash safety run out and buy the biggest, heaviest SUV they can afford, and then weight does become a factor in crash safety because the people driving smaller cars get a lot more energy transferred into them when one of those behemoths hits them.

In other words, this belief has, along with the American “bigger is always better” mentality, sparked a vehicular arms race of sorts, which is not only bad for the environment, but also for safety in general.