To buy it or not to buy it

I want to downsize from a van to a smaller economical car. I have been offered a 2003 Honda civic hybrid (115,000) in good shape for $5000. Blue book value is 5470. It has been really well maintained, but my husband is concerned that it will soon begin to have issues due to mileage, being an early hybrid, etc. He’d rather buy a newer used car that still has a warranty, etc, maybe not a hybrid. Any thoughts on this?

Have it checked out by a Honda dealership as a pre-purchase inspection. Check and other sites for accident reports. Sounds like it’s priced right if it has no accidents and all service records. If fuel mileage is a consideration, I’d look at VW TDI diesels – 100 year old technology.


You’re buying a 9 year old car. You’ll likely encounter some “time-age” related maintenance.

A few years ago I was trying to decide on a choice like yours (10 year old car vs newer-used car). After doing the math and cost of expected repairs, I opted for the newer car. Give your husband’s idea serious consideration.

Update: I mistakenly wrote “9 year old car” above. It’s more like 7 years old. 2010-2003 = 7.

Is this the only car you’re considering? There are LOTS of economical used cars out there. I suggest you shop around a bit.

There’s nothing wrong, in my opinion, with the Civic hybrid, especially if the maintenance history can be proven, it’s just that there are so many other good choices without the complexity of the hybrid drive train.

The reliability of the '03 Civic hybrid is rated as “better than average” by Consumer Reports magazine, which is pretty good for a 6 year old car. There may be some issues with the transmission, however, as it shows up as a potential trouble spot on this car.

The reliability of the standard '03 Civic, however, is rated as “much better than average,” with no major trouble areas reported. The same can be said of the '03 Toyota Corolla, an equally reliable and economical car.

Unless you REALLY want a hybrid I’d shop around some more.

The institution where I am employed has Honda Civic Hybrids in its fleet. These Hondas seem to have held up well with all the different people that drive them. I used one for a 500 mile round trip. It ran flawlessly, but it didn’t have quite enough leg room for me and I didn’t think the seats were comfortable for me for long distance driving. However, my research partner, who herself owns a Honda Civic (non-hybrid) thought the car was great. She is short, so the leg room wasn’t a problem. Try the Hybrid on for size just as you would try on a pair of shoes. If your driving is mainly local, this might be a great car for you.