I Love My 2000 Honda Accord EX w/ Manual Trans + Sunroof, But

now that it has 184,000 miles, a few things are beginning to happen. For example, sometimes the shifting is slightly stiffer than at other times. I wonder if I should be vigilant about only using Honda’s special manual transmission fluid? To be honest, I haven’t taken it to a dealer since the original warranty ended. I’ve had a new clutch put in, the oil changed regularly (though I’ve been inconsistent about where, how or by whom), a fan belt replaced, but nothing else major in all these years. I am now hearing some muffler-type sounds. Maybe the muffler pipes need to be replaced? As the car bottom seems to hang low, I sometimes accidentally make it scrape on a raised bump in the road or curb I drive over by accident if I didn’t notice that I had missed the correct driveway entry to somewhere. Will that be costly to fix? I am the original registered owner (though it had a few hundred miles put on by the dealer when I bought it, which allowed me to get a good deal). It has lived in Indiana for 2 years, then in Florida for about 10 years, now in Tennessee for the past 6 years. I have one last issue: the driver’s seat (leather interior) has significant wear, which was repaired once. Now the leather is splitting again. Everywhere else in the interior, the leather looks amazingly good. Should I check a salvage yard for a driver’s seat? How much should I spend? Will it be a difficult job for someone to disconnect the current seat and connect the salvage yard seat? What should I pay for that? The seat is power-controlled, another thing I love about my Honda. I am expecting to put another 100,000 miles on it. Is that realistic? Thanks in advance for any helpful input.

Car is paid for. I want to drive it for 4 more years and have no issues? Oh, and spend little to no money. Hmm.

None of these sound like major cost issues, except maybe the transmission (if there’s something mechanically wrong). So the first thing I’d do is have the fluid changed for Honda factory fluid and see if that helps. If it does, I’d then fix the other things.

Next would be the exhaust system, if it’s leaking that could be a safety issue. At this time I’d also have them give the car a good inspection, if corrosion is an issue it may be time to trade for a new car.

Next would be the suspension, sounds like you have worn shocks/struts and maybe sagging springs. I’d have the ride height measured, if it’s low you need both. If you’re handy I’d go to tirerack.com and get all the parts you need. If not, shop around to see what a good quality shop will charge.

As for the seat, that’s cosmetic - how about just a seat cover? Or go to car-parts.com and see if you can find a replacement near you, it’s not that hard to swap out, I would think.

Exhaust system, clutch, struts and shocks are all normal wear items. You should at this stage plan for $1000-$1200 per year to correct all these items, and others, as they occur. Replacing these items does not make it a bad car. That’s what the average US driver spend on maintenance, repairs and tires.

Also have the transmission checked out and the fluid changed.

These cars will easily go another 4 years with the proper care they need.

P.S. My brother still has his 1987 Honda Accord. He’s had the clutch replaced, the air fixed, struts and exhaust system and some body work. He’s at 350,00 miles by now, I believe.

yep. Sounds like your suspension needs to be overhauled so the bottom isn’t riding low. Your exhaust could have a hole somewhere, yes. Start with the flex pipe after the header and work your way back. Don’t forget to use an inspection mirror to look at the top side of the pipes - the hole could be there.

Instead of replacing the whole seat, get a replacement seat cover from somewhere like leatherseats.com (I recommend them because I got a leather interior kit to replace the cracking stuff in my MR2, and it’s fantastic. Worlds better than stock). You can install it yourself.

As for stiff shifting, when’s the last time you had the tranny oil replaced? Might be due. (I’m assuming by stiff shifting you mean it’s a little harder to move the gear lever, rather than it being a little harder to depress the clutch pedal).

I’m relieved the problems don’t sound major to you (Texases). I’ve been terribly blessed with this wonderful vehicle (which I love driving). No, I’m not at all handy with cars (as you might be able to tell from my saying I drive over curbs accidentally now & then-- LOL), but I do have a knack for doing thorough research and legwork necessary to make a good decision. So, I’m going to follow your very reasonable-sounding advice (with thanks). The closest dealer is about a two-hour roundtrip but may be worth going based on what you’ve said. Diagnosis will cost $85 but will be incorporated (i.e., go away) if I get the work suggested done. Lastly, a seat cover sounds quite wise, at this point in my dear car’s lifetime, especially since the leather can get mighty hot on legs during Tennessee summers. I’ll let you know what happens and will read other suggestions here, too. Thanks again.

None of this requires a dealer, and you’ll save money, besides. Click on ‘mechanics files’ at the top of the page and see if you can find a decent independent mechanic in your area. They should be able to get the Honda-specific manual transmission fluid. If not, then buy some at the dealer and have your mechanic put it in.

What you said about your brother’s car is very encouraging! It will be about 4 yrs before I can get a different car (“newer” but used). So, maybe my Honda will get me there, though I will need to keep the maintenance costs down to about $600 per year, at least for the next couple.
Yes, Shadowfax, I was referring to the gear lever (the stick), not the clutch pedal. So, I’ve just made an appointment to see the closest Honda dealer today. The repair mgr said the same thing you did–that the manual transmission oil probably needs to be replaced. How often should I have been doing that? I do think it was changed about 8 months ago.
Thank you both for taking the time to comment. I’ll share what the dealer says/does later this evening.

Have the transmission fluid drained and refill with Honda brand fluid. If you don’t go to a Honda dealer, either have the shop buy and use Honda fluid (my local shop actually stocks several Honda brand fluids) or buy the fluid from a Honda dealer yourself at the parts counter and have your shop install it as they do other work. At this age you certainly could have parts on the exhaust system rusted out, that can be easily evaluated with the car up on a lift.

You might be able to find another seat from a salvage yard (now known as auto recycler). There are also some aftermarket seat covers that fit some seats very well. It seems your problems are not major ones at this point.

Honda manual transmission fluid really doesn’t give a replacement interval. What it does say in my '03 Civic owner’s manual is that you can use general 10W-30 motor oil in the transmission as a temporary substitute for Honda transmission fluid, but the temporary fluid should be replaced with Honda Manual Transmission fluid as soon as you can get the proper fluid. If you had the fluid changed 8 months ago and the shop used the wrong stuff that might be a problem showing up now.

My '03 Civic has about 136K miles on it now, and I’ve had the manual tranny fluid replaced at about 50K mile intervals. It’s been done 2X times and I’ve always made sure it was Honda fluid going in the tranny. Running and shifting great still, also I’m still on the original clutch.