When should I replace my Honda Civic?

I have a 2002 Honda Civic with 136000 miles on it. I have owned it for approximately eight months. I’ve replaced the brakes and the tires, and it needs the belts (including the timing belt) replaced as soon as possible. There are cracks on the engine mounts (or something like that). I’ve been told that this is not dangerous, but I don’t know anything about it and it is a costly repair. Once the belts have been replaced, I will have put about $1200 into this vehicle. Should I continue to repair it? Trade it in? Sell it and buy something else? It is not the car I would have chosen for myself; it has a standard transmission and is a bit small for my taste, but I got a deal I “could not refuse”. At what point is it no longer worth putting money into a vehicle?

Those are maintenance items except for the motor mounts. If you really want to trade it in you wouldn’t get much for it. I wouldn’t bother doing the belts if you’re going to get rid of it. On the other hand if they’ve never been done they’re overdue and they could wreck your engine if they break.

If it were me I’d do the belts and drive it for another 10 years or so.

Brakes, tires, and belts are the cost of driving any car on the road so I wouldn’t take a dim view of the car over that.
As to motor mounts, it could be that the cracks are weather check cracks and if so they are nothing to worry about. A bad mount will usually cause a thump or vibration so you will generally know if there’s a problem in that area.

You have just replaced parts that are expected as normal wear and tear on an '02 car with 136K miles. If you expected more, perhaps you should buy car new instead of used. The manual transmission is a good thing. I’d drain and refill the transmission with Honda manual transmission fluid in the next couple of months. The motor mounts might not be an issue at all, small cracks are normal and some shops scare folks into replacing them when the mounts are sound.

The timing belt on the '02 is scheduled for replacement every 105K miles or 7 years whichever comes first. If the belt breaks there will be extensive and expensive (multi-thousand $$) repair bills. A timing belt job on a Civic with tensioner and water pump is a $500-600 bill.

I have 136K on my '03 Civic (manual trans) and expect many more years and miles. These are durable cars and relatively inexpensive to own and drive. I’d keep it, anything you get to replace it is likely to cost you more $$$ in the long run.

If the clutch has never been replaced, that job might not be far off…Depends on the former owners driving habits and yours too…If you are looking for zero cost per mile transportation, that car does not exist…

I have a different position. If you don’t like the car and it is not serving you as good transportation (size/comfort etc) then you can replace it, that is IF you can afford to.

Odds are, the motor mounts are fine, but it’s best to get a second opinion on them. Everything else is standard maintenance and wear and tear you can expect to need to perform on pretty much any car pushing 12 years of age. Much of your post suggests that you don’t like the car. If you don’t like the car and can afford to replace it, that is fine. If you plan to replace it soon, do not spend any more money on upkeep, particularly on motor mounts, timing belt, or accessory belts. You will not get a return on this when you sell the car or trade it in (especially on trade in). Instead, spend that money on bringing your next car up to date on maintenance and repairs. This will be necessary unless you buy new. Also keep in mind that pretty much anything you could replace this car with is going to be more expensive to own, maintain and repair. Civics of pretty much any vintage are among the cheapest cars to own due to their good fuel economy, ease of repair, and above average reliability.

The average US driver spends $1100 or so per year on maintenance, repairs and tires. I would fix the car as required, and since it is only halfway through its normal life span, just keep driving it.

This car needs no more than probably most of the used cars that you could look at, after you invest $1,200 this year you could only spend less than half that depending on how you drive and take care of the car. If it hasn’t been checked out from nose to tail that might help you decide if you should look around for something else. As long as the car continues to provide reliable transportation I would keep it.

The good news is once the timing belt is replaced, you won’t have to do it again for another 100,000 miles. Which engine do you have? The 1.7L uses a timing belt, but the 2L has a timing chain. If you have the 2L engine, you don’t have to replace the timing chain. If you have the 1.7L engine, consider replacing the water pump, serpentine belt, and coolant at the same time. I have an Accord with the 6-cyl, and you have to take the timing belt cover off to get at the water ump. If it is the same for the 1.7L engine, it makes sense to replace the water pump, too.

Yes, these are generally routine maintenance items, and you can be thankful you have a Civic. We had a Mercedes that needed similar routine maintenance items, and many not-so-routine repairs, and it cost us far more than $1200 ! That much money might represent only about 4 monthly car payments. If you are happy with the safety, and you really “could not refuse” the price, why would you want to replace it? On the other hand, it sounds like you are not happy with the comfort of the car, so if you are really dissatisfied, why not just buy another one?