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Reliability is something that should be prioritized when shopping for used cars, as a car with maintenance issues can end up costing drivers thousands of dollars. Shopping for a used Honda Civic can save you money compared to buying a new model, but some Civic model years are known to have reliability issues. According to CarComplaints, the following are the top three Honda Civic models to avoid.

A 2001 Honda Civic on display at a car sales lot.
2001 Honda Civic | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

2001 Honda Civic

The 2001 Honda Civic is among the most notorious vehicles Honda has ever released, and CarComplaints ranks it as the worst Civic model year of all time. CarComplaints monitors how many complaints a vehicle has had against it, and the 2001 model year has had an astonishing 1,277 complaints. 

Breaking down the complaints further, CarComplaints highlights the 2001 Civic’s transmission as its primary problem area. Out of the complaints against the 2001 model, 898 of those were related to its transmission.

Transmission failure is the most common issue. CarComplaints notes that this issue happens when a 2001 Civic has an average of 104,000 miles on it, and it costs about $2,300 to repair. Other transmission problems like transmission slipping are also common for the 2001 Civic.

In total, the 2001 Civic faced 27 recalls, which CarComplaints states makes it the most-recalled car of all time. The transmission was not the only problem with the 2001 Civic, as it also became infamous for its airbags.

When activated, these airbags could explode, which could send metal fragments shooting out to passengers. It is safe to say that the 2001 Honda Civic earned the “Avoid like the plague” stamp from CarComplaints.

2002 Honda Civic

The 2002 Honda Civic followed the horrible 2001 model, and it inherited a lot of the worst features from its predecessor. CarComplaints states that the transmission is still a major problem with the 2002 Honda Civic.

Much like the 2001 Civic, the 2002 model experiences frequent transmission failure and slipping issues, and the problems often occur just past 100,000 miles, which is quite early compared to other cars. 

Also like the 2001 Civic, the 2002 model year has been recalled often, this time with 24 recalls. The dangerous airbags that were a problem before were still present in the 2002 Civic. Issues like this and the transmission problems were likely not detected until time had passed, which is why they were present for multiple model years.

2012 Honda Civic

While the first two Honda Civic models on this list shared many of the same problems, the third worst model jumps ahead to the 2012 Civic, which has its own issues.

The 2012 model year has 211 complaints on CarComplaints, which seems like a very small number compared to the infamous 2001 Civic. However, the 2012 model stands out because of the cost of repairing its primary issues.

According to CarComplaints, brake failure is a common problem for the 2012 model year, and it happens early in the car’s life. Brake failure occurs at an average of just 33,000 miles, which is just unacceptable. It is not a cheap issue to fix either, as CarComplaints lists the repair cost as $18,000. 

In addition to this major problem, the 2012 Civic has many other smaller problems. Paint chipping is common for it, and while fixing this is not essential, it is still expensive. Complaints about how uncomfortable the seats are also way too common for the 2012 Civic.

Even though this model is far removed from the transmission and airbag problems from before, if you are shopping for a used Honda Civic, the 2012 model is one to avoid. 


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