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Which car should my wife and I get rid of, and which one should we keep?

The wife and I are in the market for a new vehicle so we’re going to trade in one of our 2 old vehicles but we can’t decide on which one would be best to get rid of.

The Facts:

  1. one 1998 Honda Civic EX, 2door, Manual, 81K miles, Runs great but there’s a bit of rust under the left passenger side door, a bit of hail damage, and it was stolen a few years ago so the air bags have been disengaged (probably just needs a fuse to fix)
  2. one 2001 Honda Civic LX, 2 door, Automatic, 120K miles. A few dents here and there but it needs about $1k in mechanical work.

We want to start a family so the 4-door is more practical to keep. But the 98 has less miles and doesn’t need any immediate mechanical attention. Also, my wife can’t drive a stick.

as a trade in value we were trying to get $1k for the 98 and $2k for the 2001 (this was before we knew it needed so much work)

Any advice would be appreciated.

“stolen…air bags disengaged…” You sure they’re still there? Common target for thieves.

That, plus the rust, makes me prefer the '98 to trade in. Won’t get much, though.

What work is needed on the '01?

For every bit of rust that you can see, there is probably about 5 times more that you can’t see, so the '98 Civic has probably lost some of its structural integrity. That may not matter much in everyday driving, but in the event of a collision, that car may fold-up like a piece of cardboard as a result of that degradation. Combine that with non-functioning airbags, and that would not be a good vehicle for somebody with children…or even somebody w/o children.

And…if your wife can’t drive a stick shift, that would certainly be somewhat limiting in the long run. To me, it is obvious that you should get rid of the '98 model, and fix-up the '01 model.

I hope that, in addition to the $1k in repairs that the '01 needs, you are aware of the schedule for changing the timing belt, which–IIRC–is every 90k miles or 7 years, whichever comes first.
If the timing belt has never been changed, it is seriously overdue, and this puts the engine in danger of essentially self-destructing. If the timing belt has never been changed, it needs to be done…yesterday.

I emplore you to NOT assume that the airbags might just need a fuse to fix. As Texases suggested, they’re more than likely not there anymore.

Get rid of the '91… those airbags that no longer exist truly do save lives… and the lack of one could cost you yours. You may find that no dealer will give you a trade in value for the vehicle (they won’t want it), and you may have to consider unloading it privately. Please inform any potential buyer that the airbags are inoperative and may be missing. As a matter of fact, document that on the bill of sale. Normally I advocate “Let the buyer beware”, but this is too serious an issue to ignore.

Sincere best.

Thanks for all the advice, very helpful. The airbags are there though, just innopperable.

Inoperable is still…inoperable…and that situation leaves you and your passengers with limited protection in a car that is not up to modern standards of passenger protection–even if it did have functioning airbags.


Don’t take this question the wrong way . . . how do you know the airbags are still there?

There may be nothing under the cover

Have you seen them with your own eyes?

In any case, get rid of the 1998 and keep the 2001

By the way, I think a 4 door sedan would be more practical than a 2 door sedan

Unless I misunderstood, both of your cars are 2 door, correct?

Perhaps the next car you buy . . .

Ask Scotty Kilmer, at which he thinks is the better of the two. BTW, chances are 10 to 1 the air bags are GONE! In my opinion, I would hang onto the lower mileage older Honda because it’s a manual transmission Honda. Why? Ask Scotty - nationwide trusted mechanic for forty-five years. And, his advice is FREE.

I had an 88 Chevrolet Beretta (2 doors) when we started a family. Try putting an infant seat in the back of a small 2 door car and then getting the baby into the seat, it’s not fun. Fortunately my wife was driving a Taurus station wagon at the time. That was the last 2 door car I owned. Keep the larger 4 door sedan, you will need the space. These days a $1000 bucks is about 3 car payments.

Ed B.

No offense intended . . .

If Scotty Kilmer has any advice to give, he should join this forum and give the advice himself

We all joined and personally give advice

We don’t have other people give advice on our behalf

is he related to billy kilmer,

nationally famous wobbly pass thrower?

It’s difficult for me to put much credibility into Scotty Kilmer. From changing a timing belt on an older interference engine beater while ignoring the water pump/tensioners to a gallon of Lucas oil conditioner to a gallon of lacquer thinner in the fuel tank to fix a converter and repairing a modern era A/C by bypassing all electronics/switches and drilling a hole in the evaporator case for a universal thermostat are procedures that could be considered on shaky ground at best.

You mean Old Furnace Face?

BTW, Sonny, not Billy. But what a great choice it was.


If your wife can’t drive a manual transmission, that settles it for me. Keep the automatic.

Fortunately, the 2001 Civic is a 7th generation civic, and it didn’t have a weak automatic transmission like the 6th generation Civic did.

sonny jergenson, billy kilmer, if my memory serves

@wesw, I guess you aren’t really familiar with the Redskins of that era. There was a running argue meant all over DC about who should be the starting QB for the Redskins, Kilmer or Jurgensen. I was in the Sonny camp. But Kilmer was a great leader. The team would follow him anywhere.

oh. now I get it. I was a cowboy fan back then. now I just think football is pointless. I did not watch any games at all last year