Help me evaluate this used car inspection - 2003 Civic LX (Long post)

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Looks like a $1,500 car to me. I wouldn't buy it. Too nice for a 16 year old.
 
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Why are you repeatedly redlining a 16 year old car that you don't own? With an automatic transmission and an unknown timing belt no less. I'm not sure this thing will last through your test drive. All this for a $1500 car. My opinion is don't buy it, but continue to post about future test drive abuses of other cars, they are kind of interesting to read.
 
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Originally Posted by JamesBond
Why are you repeatedly redlining a 16 year old car that you don't own? With an automatic transmission and an unknown timing belt no less. I'm not sure this thing will last through your test drive. All this for a $1500 car. My opinion is don't buy it, but continue to post about future test drive abuses of other cars, they are kind of interesting to read.
I think he was being sarcastic. It's the son that the car is being bought for that is 16 years old. Only a coincidence that the car is too.
 
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Probably a long shot, but my old '01 Civic had an SRS light issue that I troubleshooted to be a bad alternator (or more specifically the voltage regulator). The alternator tested acceptably at Autozone, but I was reading a slightly high voltage. In my testing, I had measured over 16V. I was also burning through headlight bulbs. I replaced the alternator and all was fine. I had read that high voltage can trigger the SRS light without throwing any codes.
 
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Originally Posted by atikovi
Originally Posted by JamesBond
Why are you repeatedly redlining a 16 year old car that you don't own? With an automatic transmission and an unknown timing belt no less. I'm not sure this thing will last through your test drive. All this for a $1500 car. My opinion is don't buy it, but continue to post about future test drive abuses of other cars, they are kind of interesting to read.
I think he was being sarcastic. It's the son that the car is being bought for that is 16 years old. Only a coincidence that the car is too.
I'm not sure where the abuse is. Engine that can't hit redline in the unloaded state (or first gear) has problems. IIRC emissions inspection stations will floor the car to do emissions tests.
 
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Originally Posted by supton
Engine that can't hit redline in the unloaded state (or first gear) has problems. IIRC emissions inspection stations will floor the car to do emissions tests.
Emissions inspections only do the OBD computer thing now. KOEO, then KOER at idle. There is no more tailpipe testing, and no redlining. And even when they did, they only went up to 2500 rpm. And most modern engines do limit the rpm when unloaded, or when the engine is cold. You can only get it up to redline when the engine is warm and in gear.
 
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Originally Posted by supton
Engine that can't hit redline in the unloaded state (or first gear) has problems.
I'd think that would be a benefit if you're giving the car to a 16 year old.
 
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Originally Posted by slacktide_bitog
Originally Posted by supton
Engine that can't hit redline in the unloaded state (or first gear) has problems. IIRC emissions inspection stations will floor the car to do emissions tests.
Did CA give up sniffer testing? I've only ever lived in states that did OBDII checks, but I know the sniffer stations existed in CT and CA. I thought they did WOT, albeit not to redline, for the test. Idle and WOT. I could be wrong though. IIRC my Saturn would only do 4k if neutral (or park on an automatic model). But the OP said it wouldn't hit redline while driving. He was concerned that this was a problem with the cat, as a plugged exhaust would limit rpm; later on he realized it was a hard stop, not from exhaust issue. Still. It's a test. Does the engine pull cleanly to redline, or does it lay down at some point? Points to issues.
 
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Originally Posted by atikovi
Originally Posted by supton
Engine that can't hit redline in the unloaded state (or first gear) has problems.
I'd think that would be a benefit if you're giving the car to a 16 year old.
Won't disagree with that!
 
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Originally Posted by dishdude
That's a really clean $1500 car. That will sell fast.
Agreed... What are you waiting for, just buy the car and start fixing its relatively minor issues? Replace the timing belt, tensioners, water pump (or not on the WP) and you've got many miles of happy motoring ahead...
 
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Originally Posted by supton
I've only ever lived in states that did OBDII checks, but I know the sniffer stations existed in CT and CA. I thought they did WOT, albeit not to redline, for the test.
WOT on an emissions test? Find that hard to believe for liability reasons alone. Will the station compensate the owner if they grenade the engine?
 
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Originally Posted by atikovi
Originally Posted by supton
I've only ever lived in states that did OBDII checks, but I know the sniffer stations existed in CT and CA. I thought they did WOT, albeit not to redline, for the test.
WOT on an emissions test? Find that hard to believe for liability reasons alone. Will the station compensate the owner if they grenade the engine?
Why? If it's stated right up front...? Plus most cars have ECU's that will protect the engine these days--long gone are carbs. Anyhow, I must be wrong, 'cuz I've yet to hear of any cars blown up at the sniffer station. Anyhow, on a semi-related note, I just learned tonight that my car goes emissions-exempt next year (this year?). NH doesn't require OBD checking on 20 years and old. Ya-hoo! Somehow I missed that in the rules, probably because this is the oldest car I've owned in a long time.
 

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Originally Posted by atikovi
Originally Posted by supton
I've only ever lived in states that did OBDII checks, but I know the sniffer stations existed in CT and CA. I thought they did WOT, albeit not to redline, for the test.
WOT on an emissions test? Find that hard to believe for liability reasons alone. Will the station compensate the owner if they grenade the engine?
When enhanced emissions testing started in the late 90's, they did a "cruising speed" test for approx 5 seconds at 2,500 RPM. Not sure if any states still do such a test.
 
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Originally Posted by supton
Originally Posted by atikovi
Originally Posted by supton
I've only ever lived in states that did OBDII checks, but I know the sniffer stations existed in CT and CA. I thought they did WOT, albeit not to redline, for the test.
WOT on an emissions test? Find that hard to believe for liability reasons alone. Will the station compensate the owner if they grenade the engine?
Why? If it's stated right up front...? Plus most cars have ECU's that will protect the engine these days--long gone are carbs.
Loose timing chains, worn rod or main bearings, tired piston pins. Don't need to get anywhere near red line to throw a rod on a engine like that.
 
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Originally Posted by atikovi
Loose timing chains, worn rod or main bearings, tired piston pins. Don't need to get anywhere near red line to throw a rod on a engine like that.
Wouldn't most of that make a racket at idle and serve as a good clue that the motor has issues? Although if a motor has those issues, the end is near anyhow. Just put it out of its misery already. Loose chain won't cause a thrown rod though. Jump time and bend a valve, I could see that. Not sure how common dropping a valve is though.
 
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Originally Posted by supton
Originally Posted by atikovi
Originally Posted by supton
Engine that can't hit redline in the unloaded state (or first gear) has problems.
I'd think that would be a benefit if you're giving the car to a 16 year old.
Won't disagree with that!
+2 If the A/C is cold, that car would easily bring more than $2500 where I live. With this car being for your son to drive, you NEED to get the SRS issue resolved. Besides the well-known seat belt buckle issues, Hondas from this era also have passenger seat sensor problems. Simply dumping a cup of water on it or having the seats shampooed can cause the sensor to fail.
 
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Thats a nice car for the price. I would take it to a shop and have them diagnose the reason why it won't rev up higher. It's more than likely something very simple. Even an aftermarket cat converter would be cheap. I had an 05 Civic that had the airbag light on and had the code cleared at the Honda dealership for $0.00. I knew the mechanic and he cleared it in about 30 seconds with his handheld tool. The light came back on about a year later and I sold it that way. Those Honda's run forever if they are maintained and this one sounds like it fits the bill. My little brother had an old Honda that he bought for almost nothing and he kept it a couple years. The floor was so rusted out when he bought it that my dad got out his welder and welded in a new homemade floor pan on the drivers side. You could literally put your foot through the floor before my dad repaired it. There is just something about Honda engines and for some reason they seem like they run a lot longer than other makes and models. Especially the little 4 cylinders. Anyway, I would buy the car and start fixing those little things that are wrong. Hondas are fairly simple and easy to work on for them most part. Good luck!
 
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My 2005 Civic has the SRS light come on about once a year. It is an easy fix with instructions on you tube. The problem is the switch in the seat belt buckle gets stuck. Take it apart, clean it, shoot some electrical connection cleaner on it, reassemble, clear the code. It takes me about 15 minutes around once a year now. I brought it to the dealer the first time it happened and the mechanic told me the fix. He said that they would have to put a new buckle on it for few hundred bucks.
 
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