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What maintenance should be performed on older low mileage Accord purchased recently

Hi everyone! I’m not a mechanic so I apologize for the long question. I recently bought a 1997 Honda Accord from the family of an older woman who passed. The car is a base model with only 45K miles. It was apparently babied as it looks brand new and even smells like it! :slight_smile: I have family who has owned this model before and I know they are tanks! My question is what sort of maintenance should I perform to ensure longetivity? ie trans fluid flush, coolant flush, timing belt, etc.

I am a poor college student and therefore wish to perform the least maintenance necessary while ensuring the car drives forever.

Thanks SO much for all the help!

Do you have any records of what maintenance was done on it and when it was done?

none at all. :-/

At a bare minimum at this point in time I’d say a fuel filter, transmission fluid change, and unfortunately, a timing belt/water pump/tensioner job.

The latter is a bit pricy but if it cannot be proven that it was done then it should always be assumed that it has not. If that’s the original belt then it’s 15 years old and it’s been a ticking time bomb for about a decade.

After that you might consider a new set of plugs, air filter, coolant and brake fluid change, etc. as finances permit.

OK called it. I just helped on a T-belt job this weekend where the old belt was so bad that every tooth was cracked. We broke it just getting it out. On hondas, when they break, they cause significant engine damage that’s very expensive to fix.

Are there any stickers from oil change places with dates/miles for next change?

The most important and likely a $500+ endeavor is the timing belt.

Otherwise your peach will turn to junk or a $3000 repair in an instant.

I had the oil changed recently myself… So that much is covered at least! :stuck_out_tongue:

Old folks who put few miles on a car tend not to keep up with maintenance. Since you have no records all you can assume is oil changes were done. Everything else is in doubt.

First, is you need to get the timing belt changed. It should be done every 80K miles or every 7 years whichever comes first on a late '90’s Honda. It is due for a new belt, if the belt breaks the motor stops when the pistons collide with the valves. This means about $3,000 to get the car running again. Since a poor college student can’t afford $3,000, you’d better figure out a way to come up with about $500 for this job.

If the tires are original they are old and dangerous, so new tires. All the fluids should be changed, coolant, transmission, power steering, brake, etc. If it is fluid change it with the exception of windshield washer fluid. I’d replace the top and bottom radiator hoses, and have the heater hoses checked. The serpentine belt should be replaced when they do the timing belt.

Check the air filter, and replace with a new one if it looks dirty. I’d replace the spark plugs. When you have done these things you should be able to get a lot of good miles and years out of the car. These Accords are good cars, but like all cars they need maintenance if you want it to last.

The weak link in the Accord is the automatic transmission, so getting new fluid in the trans is important. It is also important to use the Honda brand transmission fluid. Other fluids could damage the transmission. Do not let any quickie lube place service your transmission. These places use flushing equipment and refill with improper fluid and are to be avoided. Take the car to a Honda dealer to be sure the transmission is serviced properly.

So, timing belt and proper servicing of the transmission are your most critical priorities. These items should not be put off, since that could lead to a very expensive repair you can’t afford.

You really need a trusted mechanic to look this car over. In the long run, it could save you a ton of money. Next, do a little research on the vehicle. If you bought it directly from the family, ask them where the woman lived, where the vehicle was bought and if they knew who she might have used as a mechanic.

The timing belts in these cars are very difficult to change and require special tool, so there is a good chance that if the belt was changed, it would have been done at either the dealership where she bought it or a dealer close to where she lived. You could call around to the dealers and give them the VIN, they would have a record if they changed it.

If it was changed on the 7 year cycle, its due for the second change. Call any Honda dealer, give them the VIN and see if the two recalls on this vehicle have been done. If so, they may be able to tell you who did them and that would be a clue as to who might have been doing maintenance on the vehicle.

Old people tend to follow dealer advice and dealers usually send out reminder postcards when maintenance is due. It is possible that this vehicle may have been very well maintained, if you can find that dealer. Wouldn’t it be nice if you found this dealer and discovered that all maintenance was up to date, including the second timing belt.

BTW, this vehicle has a 14 year, 150k mile warrantee, but the 14 years are probably up, or almost up. One of the recalls that gives you this warrantee also gives you a free tune up, so if it hasn’t been done, you could save a little there.

Since you are a college student, you should know how to do a little research, so do it. BTW, I have one of these too, 175k miles.

Thanks for the all help. I have an appt this weekend to replace the timing belt and hope to complete the remaining recommended services ASAP!