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Honda Civics earned the invincible status long ago, not just in reputation but in construction. They are some of the most reliable cars over a decade, but they certainly aren’t without fault. The Civic Si takes the smug sedan to new heights. It’s performance-driven rather than efficiency-driven, though, to its credit, the Civic Si somehow manages to do both. Honda will release the Civic Si imminently, but before you buy one, it might be worth noting what sort of trouble the previous generations got themselves into.

The Honda Civic Si has a notorious gear grinding problem

Many owners have complained over the years of the Civic’s manual transmission. It grinds constantly, and if you’re facing that in a daily driver, it can get irksome. Drivers commonly experience the grinding with third gear and even finding it progressing to second. Watch the dealerships about this particular problem, as some may try to avoid fixing it. Replacing the synchros, shift fork, and gears themselves appears to fix the problem, but it’s a lot of work, and it’s a lot of money outside of a warranty. This is a systemic problem with Civics, spanning from a few generations back.

Keep an eye on the oil

Honda Civic Si racing at the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, TX
Honda Civic Si racing at the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, TX | Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 1.5-liter inline-four in the Civic Si tends to collect gas in the oil sump. It’s a common problem, though it doesn’t happen to everyone. The situation got so bad that Honda faced two class-action lawsuits, one of which settled in 2019, according to Top Class Actions. Honda agreed to fix the problem, but it’s still something to keep an eye on. If buying a Civic Si, and this problem happens again, Honda will likely wait three years before acknowledging it and only after trying to blame the customer.

Honda Civic Si has a temperamental clutch master cylinder

The eighth-generation Civic Si, between 2005-2012, has a problem with its clutch master cylinder. It will simply fail, locking the driver out of all their gears. Luckily the part only costs around $60. Still, a failed clutch can be a pain to deal with, especially while driving on a tight highway with dramatic elevation changes, like Highway 17 in California, on a hot summer day, while coming back from paintball.

The Honda Civic Si has enough problems

Honda Civic Si on display in Toronto
Honda Civic Si on display in Toronto | Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

We’ll repeat it, that the Honda Civic Si isn’t without fault. Many other issues plague the Civic Si, including paint issues and problems with the air conditioning system, especially in ninth-generation Civics. Of course, the Civic Si is also a common choice for enthusiasts who want to sink their teeth (and every last dime) into useless modifications. When you go looking for one, try to get it without any modifications and a clean title. The Honda Civic is one of the most reliable cars on the market, but don’t let its reputation fool you into thinking it’s the end-all-be-all, the one car that’s going to last a lifetime. Clearly, it won’t.


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