Time to retire my '93 Civic?



It has only 125,000 miles, one owner (a timid driver), maintained by the book and garaged all its life; but in the last 17 months it has racked up $4,000 in repairs. I’m still way under what Consumer Reports’ current issue gives as the typical maintenance/repair cost for a Civic kept 15 years, though.

FYI, it took more than 13 years to accrue the first 100,000 miles, which were 99% short trips in town. At that point I started commuting 65 miles a day, 90% on L.A. freeways.

Also, first five years were in mild San Diego, last 10 in the very hot San Fernando Valley.

Considering how I’ve cared for the car, and that it’s a Civic, I’m very disappointed that it has suddenly started costing me so much despite such relatively low miles for its age. I was hoping to get to 200k.

Should I keep it or replace it?


First take a good look at those “repairs” I suspect if you are honest many of them are really maintenance and normal wear.

No matter really.

Now look at what you have. You have a '93 Civic that is likely in better conditions (after those repairs/maintenance) than the average. At best you will be able recope the value of an average '93 if you sell or trade.

I see no reason you can’t make 200,000 miles. I say go for it.


It really depends on what your objectives and tradeoffs are.

  1. If you want the lowest cost of ownership, your Civic should be it. Depreciation is essentially nothing, you probably won’t have major immediate repairs.

  2. If you want the most reliability, and can pay for it, you should buy a new car. Any 15 yr old car will have issues, and even if not expensive, they can be aggravating

tell us what you do


You left out the interesting part. Reply to the original post if you want people to be informed or entertained. Right now, only you know the relevant stuff. When I go through the stargate, I want to know what planet was dialed up.


Contrary to popular opinion, the more miles a vehicle gets on it, the MORE maintenance (and $$) it will need.


It’s starting to sound like I should replace it. Much as I hate to give up on it at only 125k miles, I really need reliability, since I’m commuting 65 miles a day on L.A. freeways…


I think your missing the point that this vehicle is 15 years old in model years. Cars age by time or mileage whichever first.

If you want to keep it expect to pay money for repairs/maintenance.


Well, take your '93 and say that you’ve got 4000 in maintenance (could you list what you’ve had done to it?) Let’s say in the next few years you perform another 4500 in repairs. That’s 8500 dollars, and by that time, you have replaced enough parts to keep the car on the road for another 5 years.

Or, you sell your car for $3500, buy a good used 2003 Accord for $15,000, that puts you at 11,500 for a car that won’t have to have major service (you hope) for another 10 years.

If you’re not absolutely in love with your current Accord, it probably makes sense to be looking around for another.


(It’s a Civic, not an Accord.)

April 2006:
– 105,000-mile service
– replace all 4 axle boots
– replace trailing arm bushings
– install rebuilt power steering rack
– 4 wheel alignment

parts, labor & tax for the above: $1,750.07

June 2007:
– 120,000-mile service
– replace front pads and turn front rotors
– replace rear brake shoes and brake shoes
– replace brake mater cylinder

parts, labor & tax for the above: $1,308.87

Sept. 2007:
– replace A/C compressor and reciver (sic) dryer

parts, labor & tax for that: $1,068.98

And now I have an oil leak they haven’t been able to solve, though I’m not losing enough to be a real problem, other than to my garage floor.


Is it a standard or automatic transmission?


It’s an automatic.


The failure of that component (transmission) sends many otherwise serviceable cars to the bone-yard. They all fail sooner or later, it’s very hard to predict when…Since the car has little value now, you might as well stick with it until it dies.


You may be spending a lot of money on repairs that could be done cheaper if you price it around.
Some of it sounds a bit steep.
And hopefully through all of this you have not suffered a misdiagnosis on certain items or just flat been ripped off.

Here’s something I question. What about the timing belt, water pump, and tensioners? If this has not been done then you own a ticking time bomb.


Timing belt was done before this last $4,000 batch of repairs. The others you mention, I’ll have to check on.

Believe me, I’ve been very suspicious that I’ve been ripped off in these last 3 repairs. But the April 2006 and June 2007 work was done by a shop someone recommended to me, and the recent AC work was done by a shop recommended on this site. (I decided to try out a mechanic recommended here, instead of going back to the other one, because I was afraid I’d been ripped off by them.)


The truth is people deny it on this board and in general is that to run a vehicle with really high mileage (>150k) or old age(>10 years) it likely takes a lot of money for the preventative maintenance and repairs. Unless you have incredible luck. My wife/I ran Civic’s to 190k and 225k however past 150k we went to the change the oil only maintenance program and critical repairs.

The items you list are all legit and expected of a car that age. It all seems pricey but your locale and pool of mechanics may not be great.


Now that you are putting on at least twice and perhaps three times the number of miles you were previously, it should come as little surprise that your repair and maintenance expenses have jumped.

In addition, the heat in the San Fernando valley will be accelerate the aging of many of the rubber and plastic components on your car. Heat is also hard on batteries.

It is likely that keeping your Civic will be the low cost option at this point. Never the less, you should expect significant repair and maintenance expenses going forward.

Only you can decide whether the hassle of dealing with the maintenance and repairs is worth your trouble. The hassle factor can be reduced if you find a reliable mechanic near your place of work so you can drop the car off in the morning before work and pick it up after.


We had a 93 Civic once, would probably still have it if it hadn’t gotten totaled. I thought it was interesting that ours was a DX model, so the AC was a dealer installed option, and the whole thing cost about what you paid for the repair of yours.

In the first repair, I don’t understand why you needed a PS rack, they are pretty rugged and usually last 2-300k or more. You were charged a fair price for that work though and all the rest was to be expected. If they did the timing belt the second time, the 120k service, then that price looks right. I don’t think a timing belt would have been due though, it should have had the second belt on 05.

Considering inflation, the third repair looks about right.

Your oil leak could be the front seal, they are a common problem for engines this age. At this point, I’d just keep an eye on the oil level. You should rule out the oil pressure sending unit, and oil filter gasket and the valve cover gaskets first though. If you lucky, you might be able to wait for the front seal until the timing belt needs to be changed again.

I think the car should be good till 180k now. At that point, you maybe looking some major PM costs again and may want to reconsider at that time. You may find that worth it too though, but the next big hurdle will be 210k. If you do the 210k, you will be lucky to get over 240k. Anything beyond that like gravy.


Thank you, everyone, for weighing in.

It’s going to be a tough decision. The ordeal of the new-car-buying process – all the research, test driving, dealing with sellers, the pressure of deciding on a car and having to pay real money for insurance again – will probably be enough to keep me pouring money into this one for a while.

I just wish I could find a mechanic here like my old one in San Diego, who – after doing LOTS of work on my previous Civic – one day sat me down, looked me in the eye and told me it was time to buy a new car. Now, THAT was a mechanic I could trust.


Of those items you mentioned only the steering rack and trailing arm bushings really stand out as an early failure, and even those are maybes. The steering rack and trailing arm bushings could have been beaten to death by rough road surfaces, winter salt, water/grit, or all of the above.

Everything else is to be expected, wear and tear stuff that one would do on any car. Even in regards to the master cylinder that’s not bad considering the MC is 15 years old.


It’s a California car. No winter, no salt. Rough roads? Well, it’s true we have a lot of potholes in L.A., and the 5 often feels like off-roading.