Should I find parts for a 1985 Honda Civic 4wd Shuttle/Wagovan?

My little Honda has multiple problems. The most recent problem killed the car entirely. I might tow it somewhere to find out the problem - only if it seems feasible (AKA affordable) to fix the other problems, too. The problems:

  1. The wiper blades turn on with the slightest bump in the road. Not only that, but the intermittent and low speeds no longer work. It’s all or nothing. And the wipers squeak - loudly.
  2. The speedometer does not work, which I’m guessing is why the odometer is also not working. I do know that there is a gear deep in the engine that has broken. This is from the mechanic who fixed something near said gear, but claimed his fingers were too fat to reach it, and he didn’t have time to tear down the engine further.
  3. Cruise control. It is a necessity for the 7 hour drive between work and home. Not a typo - a 7 hour drive one way. The car came with a module that “should” work, according to the previous owner, “should” it be installed. Having it installed would be a waste since the control lever on the steering wheel column snapped off and took a chunk of the steer wheel column cover with it.
  4. The heat/AC/air does not work on the lowest settings. It’s full blast or nothing.

Is this car destined for a junk yard, or should I bother towing it to the mechanic to find out why it died completely and then tackle the other problems?

If I do opt to fix the car, then I would like to fix what I can myself. Where would I look for parts for an older car?

A junk yard may be just the place…

To get all the repair parts to fix it with !

On a car that age, used parts are just the ticket AND make it affordable to repair.

If you go to RockAuto they list parts for your vehicle. Although not very many. And if Rockauto doesn’t have it! Time for the scrap heap.


I just did @Tester’s suggestion, and has very little for this car. With so little support for spare parts, it may just be time to let it go. It’s lived a long and useful life, but not everything is destined to live forever. No matter what is wrong, if replacement parts cannot be found, there is very little anyone can do about it economically. And rigged-up solutions are not reliable, especially for a 400-500 mile commute. If you do this commute back and forth even once a week, a small apartment or renting a room near the job would cost less than the gas your burning every trip. If you must do this drive, finding the most fuel efficient car you can afford is in your best interest. And don’t consider Hybrids. They offer very little benefits to highway travel.

Civics are great cars mind you. But I think it may be asking a little too much from this 1985 Civic to ask it to routinely and reliably deliver 7 hour drives between home and work. If you can xfer that job to a newer vehicle, and convert the Civic to a car that you only need for short trips to the grocery store and the like around home, then you’ll have more flexibility on what you repair and what you don’t. You need to make this into a car in which you can Mickey Mouse when you need to fix it.

Assuming you can’t afford another car and are able to fix the issues yourself, I vote for getting parts from the junkyard. I have done it for my car more than once and saved a lot of money that way.

How much rust? If any I’d let it go. And with the long trips you’re taking I’d rather have a newer/safer car, regardless.

Kudos for keeping it going as long as you have. It’s now time to retire it to the bone yard. Get something new like a late 90s Prism…they should be cheap.

Thanks for the suggestions. I have toyed with the idea of getting junk yard parts - or an entire hulk and merge the best parts into one FrankenCivic, The commute is a necessary evil once a week - I do have a place to stay at each end - so any vehicle other than my 2002 Dodge Ram diesel would be nicer (cheaper)! I may have the chance to get a hybrid (used, excellent condition), but will have to look into that further given @BustedKnuckles suggestion.


On second thought, either move or quit this job.

I think the point about hybrids is that the fuel economy benefit is more significant for local stop and go driving. At least I think that’s what BustedKnuckles was suggesting. When a hybrid stops at a light, the engine shuts off and saves gas, unlike conventional cars. So the hybrid won’t really be a particular advantage, and might not be cost effective.

I’d suggest that you first get a professional body shop to check the rust situation which texases mentioned. If that results in a genuinely a clean bill of health, then park this little honey, buy yourself the most practical econo car you can find that’s in excellent mechanical condition, and use it for your crazy commute. (why don’t you just move???). Gas is not going to get significantly cheaper, you’re spending a fortune on gas, not to mention the extra housing cost, and the 14 hours you lose every week just driving.

Hmmm, where was I?? Oh right…Then, on your 6 hour long “weekend”, you can use the factory shop manual you bought on eBay to begin learning how to fix the Civic yourself.

If the car is rust challenged, it definitely is not worth the effort to repair it, even if you could find a donor vehicle as you suggested. Don’t do it.

If you really have to drive that much, get a great car…Porsche, Corvette, etc.

Just found your other post…you have quite the interesting vehicle collection! You MUST keep this little Civic and learn to fix it yourself. But please, get a better car for that long commute. Maybe restore your '76 Corvette first (to cut your commute time to five hours instead of seven…), and spend the time saved for work on the Civic??

Guys, that was my exact thought on Hybrids. The advantage is city commutes, with a lot of low-speed stop-n-gos. The electric motors in the system work until you hit 45 mph. Then, it is all gas motor. Since the OP’s needs are all highway, there is no advantage and potentially expensive repairs. The better option is a small, fuel efficient car, like a Toyota Corolla or a more common Honda, like a regular Civic. I have a '92 Celica with the 1.6L, smallest engine they offered. That thing is rust free, sips gas, and I can easily locate any part I need. Even at the dealer. And it has 386,000 miles on it and passes emissions year after year.

The Civic is a good car for a long commute, but I’m not sure this Civic is the answer. The wipers is a bad switch, or a wire somewhere in the circuit. Could be hard to track down, and even harder if you aren’t familiar with schematics and using a meter.

The speedo should be repairable. The speedo will need to work in order for any cruise control to work. If this cruise control is an after market unit, at best it won’t be very good.

If the body isn’t too rusted out, and the motor seems strong it should be worth some time and money to repair the car. Fix the speedo and wipers. Forget the cruise control. If that isn’t enough for the long commute, sell the car and find another. Don’t get a hybrid. Your 7 hour trip is mostly highway miles and not where a hybrid is advantageous. Just get another Civic, or Corolla, or Sentra. Dodge Neons are plentiful and cheap to buy, but just awful cars and will be more problems will all the driving you do.

Ok - the moving thing. I live in a town where hubby and I own 2 commercial buildings and 8 residences (my 1884 Victorian, 1 for sale, 2 that I am renovating, and 4 rentals) that I have to maintain. We also deal in antiques, and I have two retail spaces (one an hour away, the other 3 hours) to routinely stock. The hubby has the day job - 7 hours away - with parks and I can’t move a 50 mile trail system over here, nor create a such a job close to home (budget cuts have eliminated all parks with job openings within a 5 hour drive from home). The commute includes a mountain pass, high desert, rainy forests, and has long stretches of 60-70mph highway.

The Civic doesn’t have any rust or major body issues, so I might look into fixing it. I bought a Haynes repair manual hoping to have time in the near future to do some fixing.

I do have the unfortunate opportunity to get a used Toyota Prius (grandparent going into assisted living) in the near future. It may not be the best choice for highway fuel economy, but it’ll be better than the Dodge Ram diesel I currently drive for my work needs, if I decide to drive the Prius. You see, the hubby is currently driving our 2004 Subaru Outback (needs both catalytic converters). It sounds like our best option is to give him the Prius (his driving is mostly within 30 miles of the park) and I’ll take the Outback for commuting (since I’m the one with the most “flexible” schedule).

@Mangaboo2 I’ll go a little off topic here

Considering all the property that you and hubby own, you should have more than enough income to justify buying a new car.

I have just 2 houses. And the rental property is generating decent income for me. Enough so that when my old car wasn’t worth fixing anymore, I just bought a decent used car outright.

Why not just buy a nice new 4-cylinder Accord or Camry? The fuel economy is fairly decent nowadays, they’re reliable, comfortable, roomy and have good resale value.

Now about that 1985 Civic

Even if you get the “small things” fixed economically, you’ve still got no cruise, which is apparently very important to you.

The Prius has outstanding fuel economy on the highway, too. I picked a year at random (2003), but it doesn’t make much difference. The Prius for that year gets 42 MPG city and 41 MPG highway. Both are excellent. You might look into using that one for Mr. Mangaboo2’s commute.

Yow, yow, @ Mangaboo2, you 2 are busy! The Prius makes good sense as the commuter. You can fix the Civic in your spare time. You do have spare time, don’t you (I doubt it)? Anyway, best fortune in your many business endeavors.

a car this old will require considerable patience and perseverance in finding some parts. but it can be done. i have frequent successes with e-bay these days to keep my 1981 civic in top condition, but that’s what i do for fun. your situation may be different, in which case you might want to find a new home for your’s.