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Old 01-24-2019, 12:36 AM   #1
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2003 Honda Accord LX I4 vs 2019 Civic 2.0 LX

Hey guys, this is gonna be a long post, please let me share my thought/rant. If you don't want to read my months long car buying process, then skip to after where the line separates.

My car got totaled, so I have been driving my friend's 2003 Honda Accord I4 for a few months. I love the car. It's big, and comfortable but not soft, it takes corner with confidence for a relatively big car, engine is smooth and quiet for a 4 banger.

I test drove all of the cars in the compact segment, closest thing that resembles the 03 Accord in terms of ride, handling, NVH, and the smoothness of the engine is the new Civic. All of the other compact cars just didn't drive good after stepping out of the 7th gen Accord.

Is it in my feels? or has anyone felt what I did? It's crazy how a new car can't match pretty much anything in terms of driving dynamics that's from 2003 (Albeit I'm comparing an old mid-size vs new compact segment)

Like I said, The Civic is the closest thing to the Accord that I'm daily driving, It got it down in terms of NVH, and the interior space. Car rides smoother than the Accord, it's also quieter than the Accord, the 2.0 engine is as smooth as the Accord's 2.4, it felt it's got more low end torque and it felt peppier than the Accord driving around town from 0-60, it just felt lighter on its feet which is a plus also a minus.

Because it's lighter, the Civic didn't feel as good as the Accord when taking the corners, and curvy on-ramps. The accord felt more composed with less body roll when I took the corners. Ir just feels it has more solidity, more hunkered down when taking the corner, I don't know if it's just in my feeling in terms of the handling, or it's because the Accord's seats are better and more bolstered, maybe it has something to do with the double wishbone front and rear suspension or maybe I got used to driving the Accord? But the Accord still drives better when I get in after test driving other cars. I also test drove the 2017 Accord, the car didn't feel better than the 03 Accord, I actually liked the new Civic better.

So the handling is kind of a deal breaker to me, and also the 8 speakers sound system on the Civic is also a let down and a deal breaker, I played with the setting and turned the bass all the way up, the sound is somewhat clear, but it's totally flat with barely any bass. The base 6 speakers in the Accord has significantly more bass and is good for daily use. I listen to music 99.9% of the time during my commute, if the sound is that bad, I don't know if I can tolerate it.

Other small stuff that I noticed:

-Door closes with a more solid thunk in the Accord

-Seats are way better in the Accord, better cloth, and better bolstered. Same thing with the center armrest since Civic cheaped out the cloth quality

-Civic has the better steering wheel with soft, high quality plastic, I mean it's something that you touch everyday when you drive, so they got that down. Accord's steering wheel is hard plastic

-Civic's upper dash and door upper trims are soft touch, Accord's are soft, but not as soft and as high quality as the Civic's, to be honest I don't care about this, but people point out this a lot so I thought I should give it a notice

-Accord has chrome door handles in the interior, it just feels higher quality than the Civic's silver plastic ones, it's something that I touch everyday when I open the door, so I think this should be highlighted

-Civic has more features, even on the base model like heated seats, backup camera, auto headlight, LED DRL, and LED taillight. Accord doesn't have these features, but I don't think they are necessity items except the backup camera. Oh yea and Honda-sensing, but I hate those. As long as the car's got power windows, keyless entry and AC, I'm good.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




So now I'm thinking of buying a 7th Gen Accord auto with I4, most likely an 03 to 05. 06 to 07 is also an option.

My question is, the one that I buy even with low mileage will be between 100 to 150k, I'm expecting to pay about $1000 worth of maintenance/repairs per year of ownership, is this about the right amount that I should expect to pay or will the maintenance cost more or less per year? I'm talking about repairs like water pump, alternator, radiator, and suspension replacements, and other items that will go out because of age and high mileage. I'm excluding cost of tires, brakes and fluid flushes from the $1000 per year.

Can someone knowledgeable point out what items or common items that will need to be replaced at this kind of mileage? And how much for each service item?

I want to drive the car for about 5 to 10 years, car's mileage at the end of my ownership should be anywhere between 200 to 300k.

Lastly, can the car still be a reliable daily driver even when I'm willing to pay up for those maintenance costs when the car's mileage will be north of 150k or 200k?
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Last edited by anxiety; 01-24-2019 at 12:45 AM.
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Old 01-24-2019, 01:10 AM   #2
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overthinking it

just put in new fluids, budget for brakes and tires, set aside a bit for any non-operational things that may go, spark plugs and possible valve adj

that's all you need to think about in the next 5 years...youre not buying an aging subaru, vw or bmw
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Old 01-24-2019, 07:04 AM   #3
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Dont forget timing belt.
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Old 01-24-2019, 07:06 AM   #4
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Dont forget timing belt.
That particular year Accord has a timing chain, K series motor.
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Old 01-24-2019, 08:57 AM   #5
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I have an 03 accord v6 coupe and its been almost problem free after tranny rebuild 7 years ago.

totally agree with the handling and audio. for some reason, the stock suspension handles almost better than the tein coils, just taller, and the speakers pack great sound compared to a lot of new cars.

It's a tough choice considering a baseish new car vs a loaded old car for 1/5 the price. Both have pros and cons. You'll most likely lose more money in depreciation than what you'd spend on maintenance on this car.

That said, 03 is quite old, and I've been looking for newer/new for the past year, just because I think it's time and new features and tech is what I'm after.

edit: I would say $1000 for the first year would be quite safe for maintenance, and after that won't be close, but a good rainy day fund or savings towards your next car.
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Old 01-24-2019, 09:28 AM   #6
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That particular year Accord has a timing chain, K series motor.
Thanks! I realized that after posting.
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Old 01-24-2019, 09:34 AM   #7
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I doubt you'll be paying $1k a year in maintenance. Maybe 1/4 of that after you sort out any current issues.
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Old 01-24-2019, 01:49 PM   #8
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You are comparing a mid-size car to a compact car. Yeah sizes have grown to the point where they are close, but a midsize level car is going to pack more luxury build decisions than even a new compact. The midsize would be built to be more comfortable most of the time.

It almost never makes sense to buy a new car other than better finance rates. Something 3-5 older is almost always the better deal unless you HAVE to have a brand new car.
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Old 01-24-2019, 02:43 PM   #9
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I would also look at how the previous owner treated the car. Maintenance isn't what kills the ownership experience; it's the amount of deferred maintenance that does for a higher kilometers car.

I would also argue that the older Honda's were built to a higher standard.
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Old 01-24-2019, 11:40 PM   #10
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Because it's lighter, the Civic didn't feel as good as the Accord when taking the corners, and curvy on-ramps. The accord felt more composed with less body roll when I took the corners. Ir just feels it has more solidity, more hunkered down when taking the corner, I don't know if it's just in my feeling in terms of the handling, or it's because the Accord's seats are better and more bolstered, maybe it has something to do with the double wishbone front and rear suspension or maybe I got used to driving the Accord? But the Accord still drives better when I get in after test driving other cars. I also test drove the 2017 Accord, the car didn't feel better than the 03 Accord, I actually liked the new Civic better.
double wishbone vs mac strut, one gains camber in corner the other goes positive
hydraulic steering vs electric, need time to return to an eps setup
you can fix the civic handling by installing the Si springs and rear swaybar for fairly cheap
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Old 01-25-2019, 03:22 PM   #11
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The 2003 G35 sedan I was driving was falling apart, and terrible on gas. I sold it and had a good opportunity to buy a decent 7th generation 2004 Accord SE sedan with the K24A2 and 5AT. It was a 1-owner car with 170k. Paid 4100 with the aftermarket deck and set of steel wheels + winter tire. It has a couple minor issues as expected with an old car, nothing serious though and it had great service history.

I was considering spending more on something newer and "nicer" but like OP, I felt the 7G Accord was pretty comparable to other cars I looked and for a fraction of the price.


I have driven it for the last 6 months and it's surpassed my expectations in almost every way considering it's a middle-spec'd 15 year old economy sedan. It's comfortable; the 6 speaker sound system is alright, driving characteristics are actually pretty good too, and comes with factory K-swap. Also, K24 uses timing chain and doesn't seem to be prone to the automatic transmission issues that a lot V6 AT Hondas have.


I plan on getting something else eventually, but I have grown to like this car enough to keep it around if I have the space come time I get something else.
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Old 01-25-2019, 06:09 PM   #12
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When did you buy your Accord? I guess low $4k is about market price right now? Did you pay any maintenance to keep it on the road since you got it (other than the regular oil changes, brake, etc)?

^the 5 speed auto is my only worry (even paired with the I4).

If I buy used, I fear that I will run into some issue with the transmission down the line, worst case scenario, transmission failure. Other than that, what a great car.



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Test drove the 17 Accord and 18 Sonata today with the I4, both great car, quiet, good transmission response, decent acceleration. But both cheaped out on the speakers or maybe the tuning of it, even with the bass turned all the way up, there is barely any bass. And the cloth quality of the interior is worse than the old Accord. Trunk of the old Accord is massive, wide and deep. Even the new car can't compare.

After listening to music in the old Accord and then stepping into the new one, it's night and day difference.

Last edited by anxiety; 01-25-2019 at 06:15 PM.
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Old 01-25-2019, 08:32 PM   #13
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the 4-banger auto trans is bulletproof
only the V6 AT are notorious

just make sure you only use honda ATF and drain & fill every 50k
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Old 01-25-2019, 09:29 PM   #14
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When did you buy your Accord? I guess low $4k is about market price right now? Did you pay any maintenance to keep it on the road since you got it (other than the regular oil changes, brake, etc)?

^the 5 speed auto is my only worry (even paired with the I4).

If I buy used, I fear that I will run into some issue with the transmission down the line, worst case scenario, transmission failure. Other than that, what a great car.
Roughly around 6 months ago. I'm not exactly sure what the market value is, the car kind of just fell into my lap and seemed like a fair price so I felt ok. More than anything I just needed a reliable DD so I could sell the G35.

Even if there were cheaper ones out there most likely, or better optioned for the same price I liked the one I bought being a 1-owner car with good maintenance history. That, on top of it being the 2.4 rather than the 3.5 put any fear of transmission issues to rest.

The car had recent MPI records from the dealer showing the brakes and tires both in good shape, and no notable issues at the time either.

I checked the car out in the day and missed a lighting issue on the radio/climate control bezel/module. Intermittently the backlighting for that panel flickers, goes off and doesn't come back, or works completely fine.. I have read that a fix is apparently to remove the climate control module/radio and soldier the bad connection on a PCB board, rather than be forced to buy the entire module which is out of the question, used parts don't sound like an option either seeing it's a common issue apparently. It's something I can do, I just haven't gotten around to it cause it usually doesn't bother me that much and the controls still work fine.

A CEL code came up recently, I haven't had time to check the code yet. Then last it probably needs to have the wheels balanced, an alignment, or maybe a wheel bearing. I expected at least a couple things to pop up, it's a 15 year old car. The issues are minor, it's a pretty simple car and what I can't DIY usually isn't that much to have shop address, not that I am worried about keeping a beige 15 year old Accord in perfect condition anyways...
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Old 01-25-2019, 09:47 PM   #15
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Roughly around 6 months ago. I'm not exactly sure what the market value is, the car kind of just fell into my lap and seemed like a fair price so I felt ok. More than anything I just needed a reliable DD so I could sell the G35.

Even if there were cheaper ones out there most likely, or better optioned for the same price I liked the one I bought being a 1-owner car with good maintenance history. That, on top of it being the 2.4 rather than the 3.5 put any fear of transmission issues to rest.

The car had recent MPI records from the dealer showing the brakes and tires both in good shape, and no notable issues at the time either.

I checked the car out in the day and missed a lighting issue on the radio/climate control bezel/module. Intermittently the backlighting for that panel flickers, goes off and doesn't come back, or works completely fine.. I have read that a fix is apparently to remove the climate control module/radio and soldier the bad connection on a PCB board, rather than be forced to buy the entire module which is out of the question, used parts don't sound like an option either seeing it's a common issue apparently. It's something I can do, I just haven't gotten around to it cause it usually doesn't bother me that much and the controls still work fine.

A CEL code came up recently, I haven't had time to check the code yet. Then last it probably needs to have the wheels balanced, an alignment, or maybe a wheel bearing. I expected at least a couple things to pop up, it's a 15 year old car. The issues are minor, it's a pretty simple car and what I can't DIY usually isn't that much to have shop address, not that I am worried about keeping a beige 15 year old Accord in perfect condition anyways...
Cheers for the info, I don't care about the minor issues too, as long as car doesn't leave me stranded on the road, it's a 15 year old car like you said.

Did some research, looks like majority of the auto trans issue are for the 7th V6, only a few 7th gen I4 owners reported issues.

Thought about buying a manual accord, then looked up the price of a clutch job, ~$2000 for the 7th gen... no thanks...
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Old 01-25-2019, 09:49 PM   #16
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the 4-banger auto trans is bulletproof
only the V6 AT are notorious

just make sure you only use honda ATF and drain & fill every 50k
If the previous owner did a flush instead of drain & fill, would you still buy?

I have heard it could cause problems if you flush it, but it's purely anecdotal.
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Old 01-26-2019, 12:21 AM   #17
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probably does more harm than good but if everything else checks out and there's no hesitation during shifts, it wouldn't be a dealbreaker
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Old 01-28-2019, 10:25 PM   #18
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I own a 7.5G V6 Accord and this would be a really easy decision for me - I'd prefer the Civic.
The Golf might also be an option with the 6yr/72k warranty for those in the US.

We're looking to sell the Accord within the next 1-2 years for the following reasons.... hope this perspective helps.

1) Passive safety. The Civic is so much better it's not even funny - it aces the small overlap crash test on both sides.
In the meantime, the Accord is rated poor for seats, I know a few friends who were rear ended in seats rated good and they still had back problems.
As well, small overlap wasn't really something Honda designed for until their 2013 ish sedans. Pilot and Fit got Poor until 2015.

2) Active safety. I know this takes a while to get used to... but after driving through traffic a few times with adaptive cruise and pre collision system, I realized it was a lot less stress to have something watching your back.

3) Android Auto/Apple Carplay

4) Headlights. Though the IIHS rates the Civic's poor, I can't tell if my Accord's are on even with +100 Philips Xtremevision in.

5) Maintenance. A few things are starting to pile up... hood struts, shocks, sway bar links, control arm bushings, etc. PCV valve and rear axle seals have been the only unexpected repair so far.

edit 6) Brake Hold. I prefer not to keep my foot on the brake at stop lights, so the auto brake hold feature on the Civic is pretty killer for me.

Couple extra things I thought of...

- Stability control - I believe this was a 2006+ V6 only feature... are you okay to go without?
- Electronic Brake Distribution - I believe this was an EX-4 and V6 only feature..
- Heated side mirrors - AFAIK this was also an option
- Side airbags - AFAIK these were also an option

Last edited by AstulzerRZD; 01-28-2019 at 11:02 PM.
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