Japanese-built vs American-built Hondas

Here’s a question I’ve been wondering…are Japan built Hondas (VIN starts wtih J) of a better quality than onest built in North American (VIN starting wtih a 1 or a 2)? I put 346,000 miles on my 1995 Civic with the original trans and clutch. It was built in Japan. The time has come to replace this car, and I’m finding that virtually all newer Civics available here are built in America. I’m a bit leery about buying one built here. Should I be?

Apples and oranges comparing a 15 year old model and the reliability you’ll get today. It isn’t at all the same car anymore. That said, the US made ones should be fine.

Why would an American-built Honda be inferior to a Japanese-build Honda? My 1998 Civic with 193,000 miles on the odometer was built in the USA, and it has been a great car. On the other hand, my 2005 Honda Shadow with 34,000 miles on the odometer, which was built in Japan, has had issues.

This is a non-issue. Forget about it.

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Agree; in fact the Honda plant in Canada has built many of the low volume specialty Hondas for the JAPANESE market! The Toyota plant in Cambridge, Canada is one of world’s best plants and usually rated the best in North America.

It’s true that Hondas assembled in developing countries may not thave the paint and assembly quality that those in Japan and the West have. Technically, however the design is just as good.

You may not know that Ford’s best plant worldwide is in Hermosillio, Mexico, and its worst plant is usually Dagenham, near London, England. However, the average Brit watching a Mexican-set movie will enjoy watching these quaint folks with their colorful costumes, blissfully unaware that his own country is de-industrializing.

No difference in quality what-so-ever…It’s been my opinion for years…the quality of cars is directly linked to Management…I firmly believe that GM/Ford and Chryco CAN build cars of the same quality as Honda/Toyota but they other things have a higher priority (i.e. obscene bonuses to VP’s and directors).

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I’d agree with those that say the quality is as good as if they’d been built in Japan. The aesthetics and the design seem to have become “Americanized”, but quality is still right up there.

Why would an American-built Honda be inferior to a Japanese-build Honda?

American built = American car = horrible car by default

The above may or may not be how the OP thinks, but one never knows.
So far my Japanese built Mazda hasn’t had any issues, but it’s only 5 months old

The Accord has been assembled in the USA since 1982 (1983 model year). The Marysville plant now assembles the Acura RDX, Accord Sedan, Accord Coupe, and the Acura TL Sedan. The East Liberty plant has been assembling Hondas since 1989 and currently builds Element, CR-V, and Accord Crosstour. Honda has been building Odysseys, Pilots, Ridgelines, and Accords in Alabama since 2001.

Ford’s best plant isn’t in Hermosillo - Ford’s best plant that produces vehicles for sale in the US is in Hermosillo. Slight difference.

But anyway, the Cambridge plant isn’t normally rated the best in North America. The previous winners have been:

2010 : Toyota Cambridge,Ontario
2009 : Honda East Liberty, Ohio (Cambridge not in the top 5, but Ford’s Kentucky Truck was (Hermosillo wasn’t)
2008 : Toyota Baja California, Mexico (Cambridge not in the top 3)
2007 : Ford Wixom, Michigan (Cambridge not in the top 3, Wixom also won best in the World)
2006 : GM Oshawa, Ontario (Cambridge not in the top 3)
2005 : GM Oshawa, Ontario (Cambridge not in the top 3)

The point that there should be no worry about low quality because a vehicle is made in the US is completely valid, though.

A Honda is a Honda is a Honda…arguably the biggest manufacturer of 4 stroke engines in the world; I don’t think where they are made is relevant. Except of course if they farm out another Isuzu fiasco with their name plate on it and that was a Japanese product…

Why Not Move To Japan ? Everything’s Better There, Right ? I’ll Bet Most Of Their Cars Are Built There. Besides That, You’re Exporting Your Money Anyhow, And If You’ve Got A Job You’ll Be Leaving Here, We Can Use It !


I have an '03 Civic and it was not build in Japan. At 100K miles same trans, and original clutch with no issues. I’ve changed the trans fluid using Honda brand fluid at 45K and 97K miles. Motor is great, body, and interior are great. Plan to keep it as long as I can drive it, 62 and healthy so that should be many more years.

I can’t directly compare Japanesse build vs American built. I bought the Honda for the engineering and the quality of the parts they use in the car. Those are the same regardless of where it is assembled.

My only complaint with my '03 is the OEM tires (Firestone somethings) were total junk at 22K miles. Michelins that replaced them are still going and I have a set of Nokia snows I bought in '03 that are less than 30% worn. If the built in Japan car came with better tires that might be the only difference.

I believe in the new Civic the auto trans may not hold up as well as the manual trans. The brakes seem to wear faster and need pad replacement sooner than the owners expected. Likely these issues are similar whereever the cars are assembled. Buy another manual you avoid issue #1 and they say Honda has addressed the brake issues in the current new Civic.

I’d buy another American build Civic in a minute, but mine is in too good shape so I don’t need a new one.

Thanks for the additonal info. I was trying to allay OP’s fears about North American manufacturing quality. I also have a house full of stuff made in China, but all of it was made to Japanese quality standards. And it works just as well as that made in Japan. I even have a Panasonic wide screen HD TV, made in Mexico “from imported parts”.

Our 16 year old Nissan made in Smyrna, Tenessee, was as well made as any and still runs reliably.

Besides That, You’re Exporting Your Money Anyhow,


And If You’ve Got A Job You’ll Be Leaving Here, We Can Use It !

The same people (like GM and Ford management) who want us all to buy American are shipping more and more of those jobs overseas…Talk about hypocritical…

CSA, if you want to stop the flow of exported money, you might consider buying Ford and GM stock (when GM goes public again) to keep it out of the hands of foreign investors. You might also consider buying some stock in Honda and Toyota to slow down the flow.

I’ve used this situation many times but here goes. A local plant makes engine and suspension components for Nissan, Ford etc among other foreign and domestic cars. According to the tour engineer, the quality is stipulated by the purchaser. So tight are the restrictions that when Ford was offered a higher quality part for the same price due to re-tooling costs, Ford turned down the offer. All parts were made by American workers, with both higher and lower failure rates as stipulated by the purchaser.

My Accord was built in Ohio. It has almost 150,000 and I haven’t had any major problems with the car.

Ohio! Have you heard anything more Japanese than that?

After about 2 decades of studying car quality, I can’t detect a significant reliability difference between a made-in-Japan Honda and a made-in-North-America Honda. That said, when my wife purchased a new car in 2007, we bought a Honda Fit, for two reasons: (1) We wanted a more versatile vehicle and (2) We both felt more comfortable with a made-in-Japan Honda.

However, the same appears not to be true for Toyotas. There seems to be a noticeable difference, especially in the early years of a vehicle’s history, between a made-in-Japan Toyota and a made-in-North-America Toyota (possibly because of the speed with which Toyota has had to expand to meet increasing demand and the global shortage of Toyota production Masters). I would discourage the purchase of the latter.

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Ohio is one of the lesser known Japanese islands! There is also a place called Usa in Japan. In the forties many cheap goods made there for export had the label “Made in USA”.