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First car advice. 89 Honda Accord

So I just bought my first car. It is an 89 honda accord, with 202,000 miles, manual. I was wondering what type of maintenance I should to on this car. It has apparently been sitting in someones driveway for about 6 months. The Battery has been recharged or replaced, and the breaks have a horrible scraping noise when you apply them.

FIRST…have the brakes checked out. Sounds like you need new pads and possibly rotors. Rear brakes are shoe brakes…I’d get them checked also.

This engine has a timing belt…and it’s an interference engine. So unless you know when that belt was replaced I’d consider getting that replaced…It IS expensive though…anywhere from $300-600. Find a good independent to do the work…and also have them do a complete check of the car. It’s well worth spending $100 or more on checking the car out.

If the car was well maintained…it could easily another 150-200k miles.

good luck

If the owner’s manual is still with the car check the maintenance schedule that came with it. The schedule will tell you when periodic maintenance is needed. As MikeInNH said, the timing belt is a major concern, because if it breaks the engine will suffer internal damage. Unless you have proof the belt was replaced sometime in the not too distant future I think you should consider having it done very soon.

How hard would it be to change the brakes myself? I mainly want to because I want to know how to do things like this. Also I am a poor college student, and I don’t know how to drive a stick yet… so if I have brakes before I start driving it(even to the mechanic’s). The timing belt I can see having to go to a shop to do that. I have no clue when that was last looked at, but I will find it funny if it cost more than 600, because thats how much I paid for this car.

Go to a book store or auto parts store and buy a Haynes service manual for your model Accord. The manual will have step-by-step instructions for replacing brakes, doing basic maintenance, and lots of other things you may want to do yourself. These manuals don’t cost much, and are well worth the investment.

You may be able to find an inexpensive used manual for your car, or an owner’s manual if it’s missing, at

I also have an 89 accord and would recommend joining the website it is a website dedicated solely to 1986-1989 Honda Accords and you’ll find a lot of very useful information on this car from there.

There are a couple of ways you can go with this car. For $600 you can just drive it as is with minimal maintenance and when it dies you are just out the $600. Under this method you’d get oil changes about every 5,000 and then replace or repair whatever comes up.

The other method is to get all the maintenance up to date and keep it up to date. This method will keep the car going for a long time, but will cost much more. Is the car body in good shape, no holes in the body due to rust, and no rust in the frame and suspension components? Rust is what will kill the car, mechanical items can be repaired or replaced if you can afford the costs.

With this method you’d drain and refill all the fluids with fresh fluid. Brake fluid, coolant, transmission, would all be changed in addition to oil. You’d get a tune up with new plugs, wires, distributor cap, and fuel injector cleaning. If the struts are soft and spongy replace them, get new tires, etc., etc.

The real world will likely be in the middle. The brakes could be making noise because the rotors are rusty from sitting still. In a couple of brake applications if the noise goes away then the brakes maybe OK. It is a good idea to take the car to a mechanic for a “safety inspection”. This means checking belts, hoses, brakes (by pulling the wheels), brake lines, fuel lines, lights, suspension, steering and all the critical systems of the car. Based on the mechanics findings you can deal with anything that is critical now, and defer other items until you have more funds. Mom and dad can give you a tune up for Christmas for example.

I’ve got an '89 Accord with 495,000 miles on it, runs great. Maintenance? Things you can do yourself . . . oil & filter change (about $15) . . . tranny oil change (about $10) . . . air filter change (about $6) . . . brake fluid change (about $5) . . . brakes (about $30 per axle) . . . spark plugs and wires (about $60) . . . gas filters ( about $20) . . . thermostat and coolant flush (about $25). But before any of that, I’d get a mechanic to do your timing belt and water pump, have him do a compression check, look at your brakes and exhaust system and one very important thing with this era of Accord . . . check the suspension, bushings especially . . . front and rear. A real safety issue. The stuff I mention you can do yourself is easy and will cost you only about $150, but will help your Accord last for a long time. The other stuff I mention is important, if the timing belt breaks your engine is toast. If the suspension collapses, the exhaust leaks or the brakes fail . . . you’re toast. Glad to help if you want . . . I’ve had this car since new and know it pretty well. BTW . . . carb or FI? Rocketman

Thanks, It is an FI (model LXI), 4 door. It’s cool it has a sunroof. I will get that timing belt checked out before I start driving it regularly. It actually came with all the stuff for an oil change, but I need to get some jack stands first.

How far have you driven the car since buying it? If it was only a short distance the scraping sound you hear could possibly be rust build up. If that’s the case, take it to a deserted parking lot and do a few quick stops which will remove any build up. Please don’t do it on a public road because if it’s anything other that what I said, you could have a serious issue if you can’t stop.

It’s been a while since I did the timing belt on my '86, but IIRC, the water pump is externally driven so it need not be done at the same time as the belt, but there’s an odd little oil pump that’s driven by the timing belt that should be changed.

Timing belt replacement is the major one to have done.

Otherwise just change the oil every 5000 miles and forget the rest of items and wait for them to be repaired as needed. Find a cheap independent mechanic.

150k-200k additional is a dream world for a car this old.