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Need help fixing up... what do I do?


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Ok, my introductory post/guidance for help.


I just purchased a 1998 Honda Civic LX... (unfortunately no, not the VTec engine)... I didn't even know what it was until I bought it... Am I screwed from the start since I dont have the VTec Engine?

It is automatic transmission. Do not judge me... I work for Papa Johns, and automatic is just easier to drive when you have a traffic based work.


So I purchased it with 135,305 miles. It is a lot, how-ever I have heard many good things about Honda's (Previous vehicles were (1st) ??yr Ford Escort, (2nd)1994 Toyota Corolla, (3rd)2004 Mitsubishi Lancer... last two cars taken away by dumbass drivers... totalled) I only got $4600 from my insurance for the Mitsubishi, and decided to buy an aged Honda, and use the extra money restoring it/re-maintaining it. Bought the LX for $3300.. KBB price pretty much.


This is what is known about the 98 LX...

-Has new tires (kind of) They make sound when driving about 49 mph, loud humming sound, if not gone in next 2 months, you'll see me on this forum more.

-The Timing Belt and the Water Pump was changed at 97k miles. (Was supposed to be changed @ 105 as the Haynes Manual says.

-I am getting beyond TERRIBLE mpg... about 20-22, worse than the Lancer I had, which for a 4cyl Honda is unheard of.

-Need new front break pads.

-The turn signal lights for some reason blink at different frequency... Left one blinks A LOT slower ... the right one blinks normal as it should.

-Idle speed in N is a bit high... over 900 rpms... (should be 700 +-50 as the manual says)

-Valve Gasket recently replaced per say he said he did... not that I trust/distrust him.

-It looks like the right headlight cover has been replaced... looks much newer than the left (left one is quite yellowish).


I have invested quite a lot of time and effort into learning about Hondas. I have the 98 civic Haynes Manual... not that I am a mechanic who understands any of it...


This is what I already bought and will change today (using my awesome mechani-geek friend who loves cars... or I would be financially screwed.)

He says the reason the left turn blinker mis-blinks is because the light bulb in it is incorrect... so hopefully easy fix.


-Mobil 1 Oil and Oil Filter - fully synthetic.

-Fuel Filter

-Air Filter

-Spark Plugs

-Turn Blinker lights...


Plan to get:

-Spark Plug wires

-Cooland flush (fluid change)

-Break fluid flush (fluid change)

-Honda ATF tranny flush/change (I heard drain and fill only... not that I will do that... my friend says take to dealership to avoid risk and pay the 79.99 for it...)


I read up on bad mileage on my car...

So should I replace these???:::

-Distributor rotor & Cap?

-Dirty Injectors??? (I dont know what that is)

-Manifolds??? (I dont know what that is)

-Combustion Chambers ?????? (Sounds expensive and complicated)

-Fouled O2 sensors ??? (How do I know if they are bad?)

-PCV Valve ??? (No clue on what this is - but seems to be a common problem in aged 98 civics, how do I know if needs to be replaced??)


What is Spark Timing and should I be concerned?

ECU Memory???

Does buying a new battery do anything to benefit the vehicle?


Do I have to take the car to the dealership to fix the high idleness.... should I be concerned and is this expensive???


Also read to run Techron through the car... I am guessing a gas additive?


What is valve clearance?


Manual says to lubricate all locks and hinges every 15k miles... I bet this hasn't been done... should I be worried??


Breaks make sounds even when I drive (accelerate ... and only sometimes... is this a loose break? How do I find out....)




Basically you see I have a lot of questions, and need and excessive amount of guidance. I know this is quite a lot to answer, but I looked up many Honda Forums, and you guys seem to be the best.





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Well of text hurts my eyes. Too many things to read and remember to write answers to. So here is what I have to input. Maybe you can strike these off the list:


90's honda's had poor quality timing belts prone to premature breakage. Standard practice became to change the original belt with a Honda replacement at ~80k. The new belts were redesigns and supposedly good for the 100k recommendation, yet most people still replace them at 80k.


if brakes are squealing even when not braking, and the sound goes away when you hit the brakes you may have a caliper dragging or possible a chipped or cracked pad that is constantly rubbing. It is also possible you are hearing a wheel bearing. a knowledgeable mech can usually tell the difference in sound, you however probably won't be able to and may need to have one of the free diagnostics done at midas/tuffy/firestone or whatever you got near you.


get a can of white lithium grease and spray the hinges and locks. it is water insoluble and will not freeze up. don't use wd40, it washes away too easily. just be sure to clean up any over spray or it may damage paint finish.


is the car idling high when in park and sitting, or when in gear and coasting, sounds like when it's sitting. you can adjust your IACV, Idle Air Control Valve to tweak your idle if everything is otherwise working correctly.


does the car have a check engine light on?


thats all i got time for atm.

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vtec does NOT equal more power.. its slow either way.. vtec is just another form of variable valve timing that every car company has.. its a way to keep low end torque while not losing too much high end power


135k isnt bad


tire sound is probably from a crapty compound.. you can buy new ones from a place like tirerack.. they normally have good tires and decent prices


timing belt question has been addressed


hawk pads are quite good.. brembo blank rotors and hawk pads offer decent stopping power.. you do not need high end brake pads nor do you need slotted or drilled rotors.. if someone says you do they are dumb.. some very good brake setups dont work well on the street because you dont get them hot enough daily driving for them to work to full potential

you can also try rockauto.com before you ever go to the auto part store.. their stuff is normally a lot cheaper... dont think you need something like hawk either.. OEM grade stuff would be fine for you


blinker is probably just a bulb about to blow or a blown bulb.. check all lights including brake


what do you mean by 'valve gasket'? the valve cover gasket? it should have been replaced when the belt was replaced.. if it wasnt it could have begun leaking a bit.. that is not a hard thing to do at all


if you dont like different color headlights get new ones


careful trusting 'car friends' as well.. I've known quite a few people who 'loved' cars and claimed to know a lot.. they didnt lol



be careful using full synthetic as sometimes older cars can develop leaks.. and mobil one isnt as great as many people think.. honda owners swear by it for some reason.. i use royal purple in all my cars but $8/quart may be out of your range.. make sure you always use a good filter.. I personally only use k&n oil filters.. I dont use k&n air filters though (again they are not as great as many people think lol)



I dont know why you'd need to flush brake fluid.. will be a lot of bleeding brakes but if you want to do it go ahead


I hate auto trannys but a fluid drain and refill shouldnt be hard for you.. dealership would probably change filter as well


use ngk for plugs and wires.. i order my wires from partsgeek.com because the only car part store i'll go to doesnt carry the ngk wires


coolant flush is always a good idea.. if you want get some of the cleaner and run it for like 50 miles i think (follow instructions).. make it nice and clean




is it throwing any codes? that would tell us a lot about the milage problem... get some seafoam and follow the directions (use in oil before change, fuel system, and intake system).. it'll probably smoke like crazy when you put it in the air intake but its funny and it'll stop after a while.. sounds like it might be dirty injectors and its having to idle higher to get the fuel needed to it.. also could be 02 sensor (would be throwing code)

1) get seafoam and follow instructions

2) any codes?




new battery only helps if you need one.. battery only starts the car and runs accesories.. alternator keeps the car going.. you can take the battery out with the car running and it will continue to run


only reason to be worried about timing would be if its messed up (which could be from the belt change)... i'd do the seafoam (instead of techron) and see if it helps.. then you can worry about timing.. unless there is a skip in idle the timing shouldnt be messed up



google valve clearence


i've never lubed hinges lol good that your following manual though!


as far as brake sounds.. change the pads.. rotors might need changed as well (again check rockauto.com and tirerack.com).. if it still continues the noise then we can help diagonose.. and again you dont need anything high end for brakes.. oem will do you just fine

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addition on the trans: honda transmissions really should only be drained and refilled. It is not difficult to do but you do need to buy a couple of special $0.49 crush washers from the dealership to do it properly. Your generation of car has an internal non-replacable filter which should be backflushed during the draining process (you don't do anything, it is part of the draining method if I understand correctly - I have never opened one of the transmissions, ssr would know that answer for sure)


brake fluid flushes are indeed a scheduled maintenance item for most cars. generally you can skip it as long as the fluid in the reservoir has not turned a blackish color. black indicates moisture intrusion.

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