Once recognized for its low entry price, trend-setting shape, and gas-miser powerplant options, the Honda Civic initially won the hearts of American buyers during the painful gas crunch of the ’70s. While domestic vehicles were steadily packing on the pounds, a tiny micro-machine produced by a company known Stateside only for its dependable motorcycles presented a viable alternative vehicle that was simply impossible to ignore.
Fast forward to the late ’80s/early ’90s, and an entire generation of young tinkering hot rodders began stripping these econoboxes down, then beefing them up with performance upgrades. Later, still known for carrying a lightweight chassis along with a lightweight price tag, the ’90s-era Civic was hotter than ever, earning praise from average Joes and media alike. It wasn’t until we jumped past the year 2000 that Civic prices began inflating almost as much as their curb weight. Looking to appeal to more buyers, Honda strangely deleted its U.S. hatchback lineup completely, alienating many of its most loyal fans. The company also decided to add power “everything” and previously unheard of amenities to the once barebones compact. On the bright side, with more weight came more efficient and powerful engines to help pull the additional girth, along with a roomier cabin and, most importantly, better safety.
If you asked me 10 years ago if I’d ever even ponder the mere thought of dropping $20,000 plus on a Civic sedan that weighs in at just under 3,000 pounds, I would have laughed in your face. My old ’93 Civic Si had crank windows, a cassette player with paper-thin speakers, a little SOHC motor, and the fenders would dent if you looked at them the wrong way. However, the car was very cheap, was able to be modified in countless ways with multiple engine options, and compatibility with its Integra cousin was just a huge bonus. However, now at the ripe old age of 30-something with a significant other and a child, my priorities have indeed changed dramatically. Instead of complaining about how tubby the chassis is or the high (for a Civic) price tag, I’m instead genuinely impressed by the factory K20, the surprisingly stout handling, and the safety features that remind me how much the Civic lineup has matured.
Before I actually purchased this used, 2007 Si sedan, I spent a number of late nights researching the vehicle, and even ran across a few new red flags during my dealer hopping adventures. Here are a few things that I dealt with before, during, and after the purchase. Hopefully this list will help any potential eighth-gen buyers in their quest to find the perfect used car. On a side note, one of the best resources for owner complaints and some very valuable information is 8thcivic.com. I highly recommend joining and doing some heavy reading, as many of the members are long-term owners who have a ton of firsthand experience with the ’06–’11 Civic chassis and might have already posted the answers to any questions you might have.
Used car pricing is a complete joke. “Stealerships” will always list their used car fleet much higher than current market value so they can turn a profit. They’re a business, and this is how they make their money. However, I don’t know anyone who has actually paid the asking sticker price for a used vehicle. All pricing is negotiable, no matter how stubborn the salesperson might seem. If not, then thank them for their time and move on. Just be sure to act surprised when they sprint after you as you head to the parking lot to leave (this literally happened to me twice). This isn’t a rare collector’s item, it’s a Honda Civic, and you will find others, you just need a little patience. When purchasing a used vehicle, most consult Kelly Blue Book, but I do so only as an approximation, rather than a carved-in-stone reference source. You can gauge the market by combing through Craigslist, Auto Trader, and your local newspaper, as well as browsing the used car section of your local dealerships.
In Southern California where I was searching, a clean title, good-condition Si sedan was averaging between $14,500 and $18,000. Some dealers were pushing ’10 models up to a ridiculous $22,500 depending on mileage and options.
Now on to a few well-known issues that seem to plague the eighth-generation Civics. Well documented on forums, blogs, websites, and even YouTube, beware of the following before jumping into anything. These are issues that can be as simple as a visit to the dealership or as complex as emptying out the rest of your savings in order to get back on the road.
If you’ve searched for information on the eighth-generation Civic online, you’ve no doubt read about the infuriating third-gear issue. There are reports of other gears giving problems, but none are as common as number three. The issue seems to stem from faulty synchros, and the result is a very choppy shift into third, with the occasional denial coming from your transmission that slaps the shifter right back into neutral, allowing you to look like a schmuck as you rev rather than upshift. This is a tricky one due to the fact that Honda does in fact know about the issue, but the dealership you visit must be able to replicate it, and you must of course be under warranty.
There was a slightly notchy shift into third during the test drive, and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t play into the final price negotiations, but the dealership I purchased the car from did take the car for three separate road tests and claims it couldn’t replicate the problem. My plan was to try a different dealer, and if that failed, go for an upgraded tranny build/rebuild a little later on down the road.
A few weeks later, I paid a visit to a high-quality dealership, Norm Reeves Honda of Cerritos, and not only was the problem recognized immediately by their expert technicians, they were able to make the repairs, and the transmission is as smooth as butter. Beware, not all dealerships are as good as Norm Reeves. Many will brush you off as crying wolf, and to say that it’s frustrating is an understatement. There is a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) for the problem, but again, it has to be replicated by the service technician, and the duration and type of warranty you have will come into play as well.
The Clutch Click
Every eighth-gen I’ve sat in has the same exact “click” when the clutch is pushed to the floor. There is a TSB for the problem, but it calls for a clutch master cylinder replacement. Many have reported that after the CMC has been swapped out, the clicking picks right back up again. Some have tried quick fixes which include adding lithium grease to the CMC, while others just live with it. The click in my car isn’t unbearable, but it is noticeable, and I’ll be giving the grease trick a shot to see if it eases some of the noise.
I know this seems completely absurd to some, but paint fading seems to be an issue with this generation, not unlike TSX owners who have complained of the same problem. Keeping a car’s finish protected, along with parking in a garage when not in use is standard in my eyes, but some don’t have the luxury of covered parking. Mother Nature and industrial fallout can lead to faded or damaged paint no matter how new the car. The strange thing is, I looked at three ’07 models in Galaxy Grey, and all of them had two faded paint circles just in front of the rear window and two spots just behind the front windshield. Faded window and windshield wiper trim lets me know the owner probably parked outside, so of course that factors in, but the fact that all of these vehicles shared the exact same fade areas was puzzling. Browsing online, a number of people shared the same stories, so it’s something you definitely want to look for when you’re tracking down a Civic of your own. When looking at an eighth-gen Civic, scrutinize the roof paint; even slight fading can turn into a full-blown problem, and rather quickly.
It might not seem like the most important item in the world, but if you’re on the road with the sun in your eyes and your sunvisor falls off, it’s going to seem like a pretty big deal. And fast. Most likely to save a few dollars during production, Honda decided to do away with sunvisors that screw into the roof liner and instead use a snap-in clip on most of the newer vehicles. I had this same issue with HT’s Project Fit, and it of course fails at the worst possible times. I can remember simply flipping the visor down and, boom, it was in my lap and I was pissed. The fix for this is a new set of visors supplied by the dealer if the problem is replicated and the car is under warranty. The subject has been touched on numerous times online, with many complaining that after replacement, the issue came right back. I haven’t run into this problem with my car yet, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t strike.
The first minor mod I made to the sedan is a simple intake system that requires removing the battery in order to route some of the intake piping. While buttoning up the engine bay after the install, I noticed the bolt to attach the positive battery terminal cable, though turned vigorously, would not completely tighten. Even when I reached the end of the threads the positive cable could still easily be pulled off by hand. The fix seems to be replacing the battery terminals themselves.
With the first few thousand miles under my belt, I’m genuinely impressed by the overall performance of the Si sedan thus far. As you’ve probably already guessed, this 2007 model will serve as a new project car for Honda Tuning. I’ll be dyno testing some basic bolt-ons, followed by a new set of cams and Hondata FlashPro, upgraded suspension, slight appearance upgrades, and of course a wheel and tire package. Stay tuned…