Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Does this seem right for an 04 Honda Civic?

I’m not sure how welcome posts are like this but I really would appreciate any feedback. I want to make my car last as long as possible since I am on a really small budget, like itsy bitsy. I have a 2004 Honda Civic with approx. $140,000. I change my oil about every 3000 miles (not bad for a girl…well to be politically correct “for me”) but my poor car, car has been sick lately. It drives rougher these days, it hums a lot louder in the front end and at idle when the AC is on it rattles loudly. The estimate I got says I need a left motor mount (parts about 230 w labor 400), a front motor mount (parts 95 w labor 220), a right front wheel bearing (parts 150 w labor 430), belts including timing (parts 27 + 20 + w labor 690) although I replaced my timing two years ago, lower control arm bushings (parts 30 w labor 460), fluids (coolant 140, pls?? 150, brob?? 150 but all three for 390) and something else can’t make out out for $90. For a total of $2275. I can’t afford this! But again I need to make this car last so I am willing to take care of what’s most important first. Does this quote seem in line? What’s the most critical? Any thoughts? If you have any insights, please share and thank you very much.

That should say 140,000 miles…oops

That seems high. Why the repeat timing belt? Regardless, click on ‘Mechanics Files’ at the top of this page and find another Honda mechanic (not dealer) near you and get a second opinion.

Where did this quote come from? A dealer or an independent mechanic? I have an '03 Civic with 120K miles on it. Since your car is getting older it will need more repairs more frequently, therefore I suggest you find a good independent shop that works on lots of car including Honda’s.

Your Civic is pretty basic and most good shops work on enough Civics to do good work. I don’t see any reason for a new timing belt if the job was done just 2 years ago. Someone needs to tell you why this is needed again? Possible reasons are a bad water pump, that is leaking.

You need to get the motor mounts fixed. Bad mounts mean the motor isn’t secured in place properly.

Rougher driving is too broad a statement. Rougher driving in what way? You could have worn out struts, a bad wheel bearing, or simply old tires.

I would take the car to another shop. An evaluation of the car should include a ride with a mechanic where you point out issues you feel are a problem. That will help communicate your concerns and determine what is wrong and what is critical to fix.

I just looked at the labor prices in your quote and they are WAAAAY high. To replace some parts you take others off and it seems this job is priced as if every item was done start to finish. $430 labor to replace a wheel bearing!!! Yikes. You are right to question this and run away from this place and try another shop.

First, most of that stuff is not needed. In fact, none of it is needed. But what you might need is new spark plugs and/or a new air filter. The rattle could be due to a loose heat shield.

You need a new mechanic.

One more thing, you might be due for a transmission oil change, but that should not run any $150, in fact it shouldn’t be any higher than an oil change, but you do have to use Honda ATF ONLY. But this would not cause the engine to run rougher.

Honda uses pretty good motor mounts, you should not need new ones unless you’ve been in an accident. The real RED FLAG for me was the lower control arm bushings. When I see that on a car less than 30 years old, I immediately discount everything else as bogus. That tells me this place is a rip off.

Definitely go to an independantly owned and operated shop for a second opinion. Let us know how you make out.

Thanks everybody. Please keep the comments coming. I did click on “mechanic files” to search for another place. thx. The quote is from a dealer…I thought they would know honda’s best. And I was in an accident about four years ago…a flatbed trailer hitched to a pick-up was not chained so it unlatched and came flying down the highway and hit the front right side of my car. I paid a deductible but insurance covered the rest. This dealer says the lower control arm bushing is cracked through.

When I say “rough driving” I guess I mean it doesn’t have pick-up-and-go anymore and it hums loudly and the faster I go the faster and louder the hum goes…I thought I just needed a wheel alignment.

Ignore everything the dealership said. They’re trying to steal your money. If your timing belt was done 2 years ago, then unless you’ve put 90,000 miles on the belt since then, it’s not due now, and they know it. They saw a female who didn’t obviously know about cars, and pegged you as an easy mark. Frankly, you should report them to Honda corporate.

So, now, we’re back to square 1. We have no idea what’s wrong with your car. Take it to one of the mechanics on that list and see what they say.

Meanwhile, describe in excruciating detail exactly what YOU have noticed, without taking into account anything the dealership told you about what’s wrong with it. Specifically, what rattles louder with the AC on? Where does this rattle come from? What does “drives rougher” mean? What is humming?

If the answers to these questions are what I suspect, it wouldn’t surprise me if all you need is a $45 distributor cap.

Thanks. I’m going to pick up the car tomorrow and take it somewhere else. I don’t know where the rattling is coming from but when at a stop light if I turn the A/C knob down the rattle stops. So I thought it might be a fan in the a/c unit. I’m currently not using the ac because of the rattle.

keith wrote:
Honda uses pretty good motor mounts, you should not need new ones unless you’ve been in an accident.

I’m afraid I don’t agree. I have a 2005 Acura MDX. On the message boards that I follow, a lot of people are reporting that their motor mounts are going bad, for the MDX as well as other Acuras and Hondas. For the OP, it wouldn’t surprise me if this part of the diagnosis is correct.

@DriveItLongAsPossibleGirl; the critical part of this is that you know your car and you can tell it isn’t right. My mother’s father was a mechanic and while she never turned a wrench she could hear problems and often was correct about the problem. I think you know more about your car than you realize.

Diagnosing long distance is difficult, but lets try. The humming could be a wheel bearing, especially if the pitch and vibration changes with wheel speed. If you think the car needs alignment, then perhaps the wheel bearing is dragging enough to disrupt the straight tracking of the car. Have the mechanic check the wheel bearings and put the car on a lift for a complete inspection of the front suspension and steering gear.

The AC on causes the motor to idle less smoothly and if motor mounts are broken the motor will move too much and could cause rattling and clunking. Motor mounts are easily checked when the car is on the lift. A rattling noise is also very likely a heat shield on the exhaust system rusted out and falling off. I had this problem with my Civic.

Some of your problems maybe from that accident, parts weakened then could be failing now. I just hope you find a mechanic with a good ear who you can communicate with. Your “sick” Civic can be well again I don’t think it will cost anything close to that dealer’s quote.

Do this for me:

Start the car. Put it in drive. Stay stopped. Turn the temperature dial all the way to cold.

Now, turn on the blower fan to its highest setting, but turn OFF the air conditioner.

Now leave the blower fan on high, and turn ON the air conditioner.

Now turn the blower fan to low, and leave the air conditioner ON.

Now leave the blower fan on low, and turn the air conditioner OFF.

Repeat all of the above, but with the temperature dial half way between hot and cold.

Finally, repeat all of the above, but with the temperature dial all the way to hot.

At each step, note whether or not you hear the rattle. Tell me when the rattle happens, and when it doesn’t.

I’ve owned several of these cars. The lower control arm bushings, also call compliance bushings have a tendancy to crack. This will throw off your wheel alignment. Another issue I have had was a rough idle, it was caused by a stuck IAC motor (intake air controller) It is located on the throttle body. The AC system changes the IAC to compensate the extra power it needs to keep the engine running. I live in South Central PA, most of the items you need would cause your car to fail PA state inspection. They are safety issues. Wheel bearing, motor mounts, control arm bushings, Those items I would address first. The timing belt should be changed every 7 years or 105,000 miles, no need to do it again. The AC may be loud and will fail at some point. I’ve replaced several of these too. Good luck!

The pitch of the hum does change with speed.
My car is still at the dealer. I’m going to pick it up tomorrow when I can get a ride. I only have so many days left of borrowing a car to get to work so I’m going to get it into another shop fairly quickly tomorrow. I’ll try the fan test before I drop it off.
Yes, I doubt I need a new timing belt since I replaced the original two years ago and I haven’t put those kind of miles on it. Obviously the news of needing a new one was unsettling.
Thanks everybody for your input. Its really eye opening. It’s a terrible feeling thinking about being taking advantage because I just don’t know enough about this stuff. Fairness is such an issue these days. I am grateful for everybody’s time and attention to my situation. It’s really a good deed and I’ll be sure to pay it forward where I can be of help to another.
I’ll post how the next estimate unfolds…

When was the last basic plugs, plug wires, and fuel filter done on this car? The control bushings are a straight does this car drive in a nice straight line on a bumpy road issue. So You might want a different mechanic. These issues maybe things that are worn. But the noise and vibration start at the engine and good spark and fuel. Ac maybe a bad AC clutch but get the motor smooth first. Post more detail about what causes what noise if you can.


You only need a new timing belt every 7 years or 100,000 miles. I suggest you ask everyone you know what garages they think do good work. Eventually, a few will get mentioned several times. Try them out first. Hondas are common enough that any mechanic should be able to work on it.

The pitch of the hum changes with speed, but does it stop completely when the fan is off? If so, you may need a new blower motor.

Since you were in an accident, you could possibly need one or more motor mounts.

While driving down a road or highway, during a low traffic period, slightly turn the steering wheel back and forth, slightly weaving in the lane and see if the pitch changes. If it gets louder while weaving in one direction or the other, then you could have a bad wheel bearing. Do this with everything else off (fan, radio etc.