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91 Honda Civic

I have acquired a '91 honda civic that has been sitting in the driveway for about 6 or 7 years. What should I do before I try to start the engine? I don’t want to damage anything by just turning the key.

Have it towed to a garage and have the fuel drained and flushed. Have the oil, brake fluid, and coolant changed. Get a new battery. If it has an automatic have the fluid changed (use Honda fluid only for that, the brake fluid, and the coolant).

It is a manual transmission. does draining the fuel involve dropping the gas tank?

Not sure, it might.

Chalex, you probably have a mess on your hands. Extended sitting is, in my opinion, the worst case scenario for a modern vehicle. The whole fuel system is probably varnished, many rubber components in the brake system & trans have dried out. Take tex’s advice, drive it, & expect lots of nit-picky problems til things get ironed out.

"does draining the fuel involve dropping the gas tank? "

No. There’s a bolt on the bottom-front-center of the fuel tank. Loosen it and the gas will drain out. you can do this yourself, but do it outside, have a big container to catch the gas, and don’t hang around the area while it’s draining because you don’t want to be breathing the fumes any more than you have to.

thanks shadowfax. what is involved in flushing out the fuel system?

Which model do you have? Is it the hatchback? If it is a hatchback, check to see if it has a carburetor or fuel injection. I’m pretty sure that all the sedans are fuel injected.

After you flush the fuel system, I would recommend that you remove the sparkplugs and squirt a little “SeaFoam” in each cylinder. Not too much, 1-2 second burst if using a spray can. Let it sit overnight before you try to start it.

it is a 4 door sedan DX model

is it worth putting time and money into this car?

Impossible to say without seeing the car. I will say that that era of Civic was fantastic from a reliability standpoint. I’ve known people with Civics/CRX’s (same engine) from that era that have put 400 or 500 thousand miles on it. I’ll also say that parts are pretty cheap for it. If you make friends with a group of car freaks, you can get entire engines installed for under 500 bucks, including the money for the pizza and beer you buy for the people doing the work.

That said, that era of Honda was very prone to rust. If there is any on the car now, and it’s a small spot, get it treated immediately, or it will be a big spot within a year. Especially look in the area of the rear wheel wells. If it’s rust-free and seems to be in good shape, then it’s probably worth putting some money into the car because unless it was horribly molested, it has a good chance of lasting you a long time.

BTW, the timing belt should probably be changed. You’re coming up on the time-interval for it, and a broken timing belt can (and usually does) wreck the engine.

Is it worth it? Not likely. The car is 20 years old and has been sitting for the last 6 or so.
Cheapest and easiest solution would be to put it on a trailer and haul it to an auto recycling yard(used to be called junk yards) and let them deal with it.

I’d just try to start it and see what happens.

I’m guessing it’s carbureted so there’s a chance that old fuel has already varnished that up, but it’s not like trying to start it is going to cause any more problems.

I would change the oil, probably change the coolant and shoot some starting fluid down the carburetor to give it a kick. If it starts then that’s great and it’s time to look at the rest of the car to see what you’re going to need to bring it back to actual driving duty.

The secondary steps would be to probably change the belts and hoses, including the timing belt if equipped. A carb rebuild or replacement may be in your future here as well.

There’s no reason to put a ton of effort into the car until you know you can make it run.

Is it worth it? Who knows, but just automatically resigning this car to the scrapyard because it’s old is wasteful.

It’s fuel injected.

thanks! i think its worth a shot to try something. hopefully all goes well. will update how it goes.