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Discussion Starter #1
We're looking for a car for our kids to drive, that would also work as a family vehicle, while being highly reliable.

I came across a 2012 Civic during our shopping. I hadn't been actively considering Civics, but I've owned one Honda in the past, an Odyssey, which gave me a couple hundred K of relatively trouble free miles. Reading up, the Civic seems to have one of the most reliable reputations even among Hondas, which is saying something.

So this car ticks all the desired boxes. It was a fleet vehicle for a year, and has been with a couple of owners since.
It's super clean and drives wonderfully, it's probably the most comfortable small car I've driven, and has plenty of space if we all want to pile in for a trip.
It's sitting at 83K now, a low miles example.
I'm really intrigued by the car, wouldn't mind owning it all, but spending 11K on a car I'm expecting something that doesn't give me any pauses. And there's been a couple of things with this one that seem a little off.

The dealer we're working with is a nice guy. He'll tell you all the issues their shop finds, and has steered us away from ones he says are going to be trouble. He loaned us the car for the weekend so we can get a buyer's inspection Monday, he wants customers to feel really sure about any car they buy. So I don't think the dealer is trying to hide anything, and when he says the car "checks out" he really thinks it does.

So of course this morning I emptied the glovebox of all those receipts and records that float around in any car's glovebox and started going through them. :)
There's been no apparent service drama with the car but interestingly enough there's a receipt for an ATF drain and fill at an independent shop at 52K in 2016, and then the carfax shows another ATF fluid service at around 66K a little over a year later at a Honda dealership while it was still owned by the same person.

It shifts fine on the street/highway. This sounds like somebody was probably sold a service they didn't need, goodness knows dealers will do that, but it strikes me as strange.
The fluid that's in the transmission is clear and reddish, but the salesman has told me they change all the fluids in the car when it comes in, this may be a fresh change I'm looking at today.

The second issue is me being a bit more paranoid, but I have a track record for buying cars (even certified pre-owned) that seem to check out then start giving us troubles within a year, things a mechanic couldn't even have put their eyes on (shift solenoids, input shaft bearings, inaccurate head bolt torque, various other hidden things).

So used cars trigger me, hard.
So I jacked the Civic up in the drive and started sniffing around. The dealer cleaned the engine off, and it's all shiny and clean looking, but they didn't spray off the underside. >:)
Most things underneath look clean, the boots seem dry, etc.
BUT, there's an opening in that big piece of plastic under the engine, near the front of the car, and through it I could clearly see a smudge of dark grime that's grown down toward the bottom of the pan. It's below and behind the heat shield on the exhaust pipe in front of the engine. The streak doesn't go all the way to the underside. Gravity's pulled it down maybe two or three inches.

Grime on an engine doesn't bother, especially one at 80K miles. The grime I could see wasn't wet, it was dry. BUT, if I ran my finger upward, following it, there's a metal lip (oil pan flange?) where there's kind of a "lump" of grime sitting on top of it, where it's been building up. And there is a faint hint of wetness to it. If I scraped some off with my finger and took it out in the sun it was slightly shiny. It did not smell oil-like, it just smelled like stale dirty grime.

The suspicious part of me says "slow oil leak somewhere up there".
The part of me that wants the car says "somebody spilled oil somewhere up there".
Grrr.... Why'd you have to do this, little Civic?

The third thing is that, at idle the engine seems to shake pretty good. Not like, oh my goodness it's gonna come loose, but it's a visible, back and forth shimmy. I looked up a couple of Civic review videos and they don't seem to do this. It's probably hard to assess these things, but I'm wondering if the mounts are on their way out.

Are any of these things around known issues for the 9th genners? Is a bit of engine shake just an indicator of age more than trouble?
Or is this more like "that's one not even the fans would go for"

I dunno. They're asking 11K for this base no frills model, due to the mileage, and for that money I feel I should get a nicer Civic that really checks out.
Yeah yeah, the moral of my story is "buy a new car with a good warranty", but everybody else gets to buy and drive reliable used cars that build large fan followings, why can't I? :)
 

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2012 Si. Black
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83k @11k seems to be the average selling price, but with 150-200k milage mark. glad your getting it at 83.

I would personally say go for it.
 

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Honestly 11k for a 2012 LX with 83k miles seems like a steep asking price. I'd be happy if someone would buy my 13 Si for that much.

Edit: I'm not sure how familiar you are with the changes to the 9th gen civic over its model years, but the 2013 is a much nicer looking car with a nicer interior and more features that your kids will appreciate like standard bluetooth.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks everyone for the thoughts.

11K does feel a bit high for what I get here.
I know there's no perfect used car out there, but I'm not feeling much like buying an example of a car with such a solid reputation that's seeping oil before it's even at 100K.
We'll try to get a buyer's inspection still, but my gut says return it and keep looking.

I'll probably pay more attention to Civics after this though. I have never heard anyone ever say "I hated that Civic".
I prefer the look of the 13's, but overall the 9th gens look pretty good to me.
Even in plain ole' rental white I like how it looks, and it drives really nice.
 

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keep huntin, one will come.

I have been eyeing cars for weeks now, and have came to realize the standard asking price is 8,000-13,000. I was looking at spending roughly 9 until i found the one I will be picking up next week.

2012 si, 141k for only $6,500. needs windshield and ac recharge for safety.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
keep huntin, one will come.

I have been eyeing cars for weeks now, and have came to realize the standard asking price is 8,000-13,000. I was looking at spending roughly 9 until i found the one I will be picking up next week.

2012 si, 141k for only $6,500. needs windshield and ac recharge for safety.
My limited shopping indicates the same range, that sounds like a good deal. No way I'm putting our son in an Si though. :)

If anyone's interested, we had the dealership inspection done today.
The supposedly very good tech (I didn't get to speak to him personally unfortunately) mentioned the ATF was a little dark, and smelled slightly off, and recommended replacement.
Best guess is that non-Honda fluid was used in the first D/F, but replaced with Honda at the second D/F just over a year later. I don't know if that would be enough time to harm it, or if "some darkness" is necessarily an indicator of internal damage. I understand some fluid is left in the system (purposefully) when drained to keep some components wet, so maybe the darkness is just residual fluid. I know it shifts smooth as butter, for whatever its internal state is.

My suspicion about the engine mounts was confirmed, one has partially collapsed but it wasn't indicated for repair, just makes for a rough idle (and I'm guessing an early replacement).

He said it appeared that an oil leak had been fixed at some point, but no leaks were currently active.
I'd forgive the other faults and just live with them but an oil leak well under 80K? I'm wondering if this is just one of those cars that was built on a Friday afternoon lol.

My wife admits the car is overpriced, but she'd probably take it if the price is right. She really doesn't want to pass on a car that might be just fine.

I'm still kind of eh. I'm happy to pass on a car that's fine if it lets me sleep at night.
And the 11K they're asking for this car can buy cleaner nicer Civics if we shop around.
 

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I know pricing can vary widely depending on the specifics of a particular car and the geographical area, but $11k for what you call a "base, no-frills" 2012 Civic does seem a bit steep to me, as well. I assume that it is an LX. Does it have the iMid screen in the dash to the right of the main gauges, or does it just have a few fixed digital displays there? Because if it doesn't have the iMid screen, then it really is a base model. Almost 2 years ago, I bought my 2015 LX Coupe, with the iMid display, for about $11,500. At the time, it had about 54,000 miles, which puts it at more miles per year than 83,000 miles on a 2012, but not by far, especially considering that my car is an early 2015, made in late 2014. Otherwise, on an 8 year old car, their asking price is almost what I paid for a 3-4 year old car.

Granted, with tax, dealer fees, and the extended warranty I bought, it came to significantly more, but the basic asking price was about $11,500. And additionally, the body of the car isn't perfect, with a couple small dents, but nothing outrageous -- I didn't even see the largest one until I had the car a few days.

Does the $11,000 you're being quoted include the various taxes and fees? If so, then that's a little better. Is the seller offering any kind of warranty? If you do pass up this car, seeing as you are very concerned about long-term reliability (which is very understandable), you may want to check out a Honda dealer and see how much a 9th gen Civic would cost with a 5 year (or at least a 3 year) extended warranty, or see what other options they offer. Yes, it will add to the cost of the car (the 5 year, 75,000 mile warranty -- and that's 75,000 additional miles from time of sale -- that I bought cost me about $2800), but I figure it's worth it for the peace of mind. You just want to make sure it is a good, comprehensive warranty with low or no deductible, and the extended warranties offered at reputable new car dealerships that also sell used cars often tend to be decent warranties (though be aware that they may offer lower cost warranties that don't cover as much). I bought my car at an AutoNation dealership, and as long as I get warranty work done at an AutoNation dealership, then there is no deductible, and the warranty is almost bumper-to-bumper, mainly excluding the exhaust system and cosmetic stuff. I've already used it to replace a bad A/C evaporator, and everything was 100% covered.
 

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I'd keep looking. You might want to look at what Hertz has available in your area. When you factor in their bankruptcy (therefore a need to sell cars), and if you're an AAA member (Hertz used to give you a $500 credit - don't know if they're still doing it in the bankruptcy), and their maintenance records are super. It's where I bought my last Honda. And no, I'm not a Hertz employee.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
To follow up, I did pass on the car.

I jacked it backup the morning of the day we were set to return it and took a closer look and there was definitely some drama around a bolt down there.

I took some shots of the suspect bolt that seemed to be producing the seep. I'm genuinely curious about what was going on there. It's had time to build up quite a bit of grime.

20200804_071604 - Copy.jpg 20200804_072911 - Copy.jpg

It might have been something easily fixable, but I wasn't going to pay full price plus TTL for anything that needed fixing.

Anyway, we wound up getting into a 2012 CRV with more miles but a clean bill of health, just needs some fluids changed.
My wife was way more interested in the crv than any car, and I have to admit it's probably a better fit for our younger drivers.

I much preferred the Civic though. It only took me a few miles behind the wheel to sort of fall in love with the multi-level dash. Minimal distraction, maximum ease of use while driving. I'd say it's one of the best instrumentation arrangements I've ever seen in a car.

It wasn't the quietest ride, but everything about it was just so darn easy on the driver. Very comfortable, but I didn't feel disconnected from the driving experience like in a big mushy land yacht. If I was picking a practical car for a long trip I think I'd go with a Civic.
 
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