Whether you’re buying new or used, the Honda Civic is usually a solid choice for a reliable car. And the 8th-gen model, especially the 2009-2011 model years, is a great bargain recommended by Consumer Reports. However, the 8th-gen Civic had a few problems. And despite its CR recommendation, owner-reported satisfaction is strangely low. That’s because while the 2009-2011 Honda Civic avoids some issues, it also has a few of its own.
The 2009-2011 Honda Civic’s paint problems
The 2009-2011 Honda Civic isn’t the worst Civic model on CarComplaints, and it avoids the earlier models’ cracked engine blocks. However, it still has plenty of complaints. And, as on CR, the biggest problem is the paint.
CarComplaints presents multiple reports of paint chipping, peeling, and oxidizing. CR reports owners complaining of peeling and damaged clear coat as well. Based on CarComplaints’ reports, these issues were noticeably worse on the 2009 and 2010 Honda Civic than the 2011 model. And even worse on the earliest 8th-gen models, HondaProblems reports. However, even the 2011 Honda Civic suffers from this issue.
To be fair, Honda isn’t the only automaker that’s struggled with paint issues in the past. The Toyota Tacoma, for example, despite its reputation for reliability, has struggled with paint and rust problems. And even brand-new Tesla Model Ys are appearing with defective paint.
Honda issued several TSBs for the 2009-2011 Civic, as well as multiple other affected models, CR reports. But they were strangely selective, covering only certain body panels, colors, and sale locations, Autobody Review and WSCOCTV report. However, Honda also extended the paint’s warranty to 7 years and unlimited miles.
The 8th-gen 2009-2011 Honda Civic had other problems, too
Unfortunately, damaged paint isn’t the only thing that can go wrong with the 2009-2011 Honda Civic.
For the 2011 model especially, more widespread than damaged paint is cracked sun visors, CarComplaints reports. It’s a common 8th-gen Civic issue, Super Street Online reports, and even affected other contemporary Hondas like the Fit.
Another common complaint revolves around the 2009-2011 Honda Civic’s A/C. Multiple owners reported to CR that their A/C would turn on briefly, then blow hot air, or simply fail entirely. Other 8th-gen Civic owners have reported similar issues with their cars’ climate systems, according to CarGurus forum users. The issue continued even into the 10th-gen models, which were subject to a class-action lawsuit, CarComplaints reports.
Unfortunately, the exact issue hasn’t been identified. For some, it appears to be an outright A/C compressor failure. For others, it’s the relay to the compressor that fails.
Even the 2009-2011 Honda Civic Si isn’t immune to some problems. In addition to the sun visor and paint issues, it also had issues with its 6-speed manual. Although reviewers like Automobile and Car and Driver praised it, Torque News reports some of its synchros and its clutch master cylinder can fail.
Does this mean you should avoid these Civic model years?
Are these problems deal-breakers for the 2009-2011 Honda Civic? Not necessarily.
In the case of the 8th-gen Civic Si, the 2009-2011 models’ synchros are reportedly stronger, especially the problematic 3rd gear one, 8thCivic forum users, and r/CivicSi sub-Reddit users report. If you replace the transmission fluid with a heavier one and change it regularly, it’s not really a problem.
After a class-action lawsuit, Honda extended the Civic’s sun visor warranty, HondaProblems reports, and replaced them. So, if you’re shopping around for a 2009-2011 model, it’s likely you won’t encounter this issue.
As for the A/C, CarComplaints reports that independent shops may be able to source more robust compressors and components. However, it also appears that Honda’s newer OEM parts are better-built than the original ones.
The sticking point is likely the 2009-2011 Honda Civic’s paint. Replacing and repainting body panels can be an expensive and time-consuming hassle. That’s why we recommend getting a pre-purchase inspection before buying any used car. If the PPI finds extensive paint or rust damage, and you aren’t comfortable with the potential repair fees, walk away. However, if the damage is minor and localized, it’s possible to repair the Civic’s paint and clear coat.
But apart from these issues, the 8th-gen Honda Civic is a genuinely reliable bargain car. It’s also better-reviewed than the 2012 model, despite its popularity, Autotrader reports. It has a higher-quality and quieter interior, superior handling, and a better ride. Plus, the 8th-gen Si was the only model with a Mugen treatment.
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