6 Most Common Honda Civic Problems (Explained)

The Civic is Honda’s best-selling vehicle of all time and continues to be an extremely popular choice all over the world.

Now in its eleventh generation, it continues to combine practicality, affordability, reliability and sportiness in an extremely attractive package.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the Civics most common problems…

1. Poor Paint Quality

The Honda Civic has always had a poor reputation for using soft and thin paint since the 1990s and it’s still an issue even in the newer models.

The eighth generation Civic, which was sold from 2006 to 2011, also had more paint fade issues than other generations, especially in darker colored vehicles.

Newer generations of the Civic also use water-based paint which are less durable than older paint formulas.

Some of the common paint issues you’ll find in many Civics include:

  • Paint chips
  • Cracks and scratches
  • Faded clear coat
  • Discoloration
  • Paint flaking off

Some of these paint issues can become noticeable after only one or two years. In a lot of cases, paint chips can become a problem after a few months of ownership.

Aside from looking more worn out and beat up, the paint issues can eventually lead to rust problems as the metal beneath the paint gets exposed to the elements.

Here is how some owners described their problems:

“Have a 2008 Honda Civic. Clear coat is peeling off the roof and the back. Estimate to have it fixed is $1800.” 

“I have a 2012 black Si coupe and had to pay to have the clearcoat burn issue corrected as it was out of warranty.”

“I have had my 2018 Honda Civic for less than 2 years and my paint is chipping off on my hood and doors for no apparent reason.”

Solution 

Honda extended the paint warranty of the 8th and early 9th generation Civics to 7 years from the original date of purchase to address the faded clear coat issues. 

However, dealers usually only respray the badly faded areas and not the entire vehicle, so paint issues might still be a problem down the line. 

Using Paint Protection Film (PPF) or ceramic coating adds an additional layer of protection for the paint and makes it more resistant to chips and sun damage.

If the paint is too far gone, you can either get the entire vehicle resprayed or just use vinyl wrap to cover up the damaged paint.

2. Air Conditioner Problems

A lot of tenth-generation Honda Civics have issues with their air conditioning systems. In some cases, the AC still works but doesn’t cool the air as much as it used to while others will just stop blowing cold air for no apparent reason.

Based on the complaints we’ve seen on different Internet forums, the 2016 to 2019 model years are more prone to air conditioner failures.

Although AC systems do have lots of parts that can potentially fail after a few years, they don’t normally fail while the vehicle is still under warranty or just shortly after the warranty expires.

Here is how a few Civic owners described their experience:

“My AC compressor on my ‘16 EX-t went bad in under a year. replaced under warranty.”

“Happened to my 2018. Condenser and compressor blew. They wanted $3,000. Called corporate and got it knocked down to $300.”

Solution

Honda extended the warranty of the AC condenser in the 2016 to 2019 Civic to 10 years because it found that the failures were caused by a manufacturing defect that eventually allowed refrigerant to leak out.

Unfortunately, the hatchbacks weren’t included in the warranty extension.

The compressor is another common culprit of the AC failures which isn’t covered by the extended warranty.

Dealers will typically charge around $2,000 to $3,000 to replace both of these if the car is no longer under warranty.

If the leak isn’t too bad, some people just recharge the refrigerant or freon whenever the AC stops cooling properly to avoid paying several thousand dollars for a proper repair. 

A lot of mechanics can also easily replace the compressor and condenser for much less than what the dealership charges, so you can always shop around to get the best price.

3. Cruise Control Issues

The eleventh generation Civic has had lots of reports of cruise control issues since it was first released.

Many owners of the latest generation Civic have complained that the car’s adaptive cruise control will switch off for no reason while driving on the highway and can’t be turned back on unless the car is restarted. 

When the cruise control disengages, the car will slow down if you don’t step on the gas pedal fast enough.

This should only occur in the 2022 Honda Civic since Honda has recently released a software update to eliminate the issue completely.

Here is how a few owners described their experience:

“My cruise control will randomly shut off and deactivate when I’m on the highway. It has almost caused me to have accidents due to the sudden deactivation and cars traveling behind me.”

“While driving on a freeway, the cruise control will beep and then abruptly turn off. To turn it back on I have to pull the car over and, sometimes, turn it off and back on to get the cruise control working again. This has happened multiple times and the frequency is about 2 times a week.”

Solution

Honda released a service bulletin and an update for the driver aid software in April 2022 to fix the adaptive cruise control issues in the new Honda Civic.

Those who have had their software updated by the dealer report that the issue has been completely resolved.

Newer Civics should already have the latest software, so it shouldn’t be an issue in the upcoming model years.

Cruise control issues in older Civics are usually caused by a defective cruise control button or an issue with the car’s electronics.

Mechanics who are good at diagnosing and fixing electronic issues should be able to figure out what’s going on with the cruise control systems in these older vehicles.

4. Grinding Noise on Startup

A lot of tenth gen Civic owners have complained about a grinding noise whenever they start the car and usually when the engine is still warm. It only comes on for a second as soon as the engine is started.

It’s similar to the sound that a starter motor makes if you keep turning the key after the engine has started. Consequently, it makes a lot of people concerned that it could be indicative of some kind of mechanical failure.

This particular issue is more common in the 2016 to 2017 Honda Civics and can start occurring even if the vehicle is relatively new. It should also only affect cars equipped with a CVT.

A similar startup sound can also be heard in a lot of other Honda engines when the VTC or Variable Timing Control actuator goes bad.

Here is how a few owners described the issue:

“When car is started, it randomly makes a mechanical grinding noise. It is getting worse with time and is beginning to happen more often.”

“I recently bought a 2017 Civic hatchback and I hear an odd grinding noise on startup.”

“I drive a manual 1.5t and my car also has a weird noise when being started while it’s warm.”

Solution

Honda released a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) in early 2017 that recommends replacing the CVT’s lower valve body to get rid of the strange startup sound.

Apparently, the sound is made when the transmission’s pressure control valve rattles inside the valve body when the engine is started.

Honda redesigned the valve body to minimize the vibrations and the sound that the valve makes.

However, although owners report that replacing the valve body does indeed get rid of the annoying startup sound, some have reported that it eventually comes back after some time.

The good news is that even if the car continues to make the startup sound, it doesn’t negatively affect the reliability of the engine or the transmission.

Many people who haven’t gotten their lower valve body replaced and just lived with the sound since the beginning say that they haven’t experienced any problems or complications that can be attributed to the startup noise.

5. Manual Transmission Issues

Some years of the Civic have fairly widespread manual transmission issues which can make them a bit unpredictable and frustrating to use.

The 2006 to 2008 model years of the eighth generation Honda Civic Si’s 6-speed manual transmission had lots of issues with its second and third gear even when they were only a few years old.

Transmission issues in this generation of the Civic include:

  • Grinding or crunching noises when shifting into 2nd or 3rd
  • Won’t shift into certain gears
  • Shift lever keeps popping into neutral

Early seventh gen Civics and even the tenth generation Civic Type R can also make grinding noises when shifting from first to second gear.

These shifting problems are usually caused by bad synchros which are responsible for matching the speed of the gears whenever you shift.

Too much grinding can also destroy the teeth of certain gears and eventually make them unusable.

Here is how a few owners describe their gearbox problems:

“I have a 2007 Honda Civic si, since day one I had problems going into 2nd and 3rd gear.”

“2008 Honda Civic Si grinds in 2nd and in 3rd and pops out of both gears, sometimes under power and others while driving at low speeds.”

“I’ve noticed my brand new 2020 CTR hates fast shifting from 1st to 2nd gear.”

Solution

Honda addressed the eighth generation Civic Si’s gearbox issues in 2008 by releasing a TSB that recommends replacing the problematic syncros and gear sets. A similar TSB was released for the seventh gen but only for the 2001 model.

Since these vehicles are no longer under warranty, you’ll need to get the transmission rebuilt which can cost a few thousand dollars.

Although some were able to get rid of the grinding by simply replacing the transmission fluid.

The tenth generation Type R doesn’t have any official TSB that addresses the 2nd gear grind, but many owners report that changing the transmission fluid and disabling the rev matching makes the transmission work more reliably.

6. Cracked Engine Blocks

Early model years of the eighth-gen Civic can suffer from massive engine failures due to cracks forming in the engine block.

Only the 1.8-liter engine used in the 2006 to 2008 model years are affected by this issue. Newer model years already fixed the manufacturing defect that caused the engine block cracking.

Cracks in the engine block can occur at any mileage. Some engines had problems very early on, while others are just now experiencing issues after hitting 100,000 to 200,000 miles.

Symptoms of a cracked block include:

  • Coolant loss
  • Pronounced coolant smell
  • Overheating
  • Air Conditioning problems
  • Check engine light
  • Reduced power

Solution

If the engine has already developed a crack the only way to fix it is to get a new engine block. Due to the age of the car, it’s usually much cheaper to just replace it with a used engine from an ‘09 or newer model.

Honda did extend the warranty on the 2006 to 2008 1.8-liter engines to 10 years and an unlimited number of miles because of the block cracking issue. But some cars only started developing problems after the 10-year mark.

To prevent your engine block from developing cracks, make sure the coolant is always topped off so the engine won’t overheat which stresses the block and is the main cause of the cracks and failures.

2006 Honda Civic

Honda Civic Model Years With the Most Problems

To get a better idea of which Honda Civic has the most problems the fairest way is to compare models based on the number of vehicles sold in relation to the number of reported problems.

We’re using Car Complaints PPMY index which means problems reported per thousand vehicles per Year.

For example, newer cars will have fewer complaints simply because they’ve been around for less time.

Based on this index, the most problematic years are:

  1. 2016 – 0.42 PPMY
  2. 2006 – 0.32 PPMY
  3. 2007 – 0.29 PPMY

And the least problematic years are:

  1. 2000 – 0.05 PPMY
  2. 2004, 2005 – 0.07 PPMY
  3. 2003 – 0.09 PPMY
Model YearProblemsSales Vehicle AgePPMY Index
2022106
202142166,28110.26
202091275,44820.17
2019151321,94530.16
2018269337,86740.20
2017406379,66850.21
2016881351,52260.42
2015342349,52570.14
2014289260,73180.14
2013352354,22790.11
2012562442,474100.13
2011201134,247110.14
2010475251,093120.16
2009442257,805130.13
2008961322,623140.21
20071,323299,160150.29
20061,499295,323160.32
2005356289,225170.07
2004364291,019180.07
2003492300,686190.09
2002849330,640200.13
20011,332343,378210.18
2000341341,321220.05
199938123
199849024
199745025
199638226

Source: Car Problem Zoo

Honda Civic Pros and Cons

If you’re considering a Honda Civic as your next car you might be wondering what its strengths and weaknesses are…

Pros

  • Extremely reliable
  • Fun to drive 
  • Available in different body styles
  • Good fuel economy

Cons

  • Paint issues
  • Some driver aids need improvement
  • No hybrid or AWD options

Related: 14 Best & Worst Honda Civic Years (With Facts & Statistics)

Honda Civic Reliability Compared to Similar Cars

Consumer Reports ranks the Honda Civic in 3rd place with a score of 55/100.

Make & ModelConsumer Reports
Reliability Score
Subaru Impreza77
Toyota Corolla75
Honda Civic55
Hyundai Elantra55
Nissan Sentra54
Volkswagen Jetta47
Mazda346
Nissan Kicks45
Mini Cooper37
Toyota Corolla Hatchback27
Kia Soul23
Kia Forte7

Source: Consumer Reports

Honda Civic Used Value

We’ve taken a look on Car Gurus to gauge the resale value of a Honda Civic, below are typical asking prices for each model year.

According to Car Edge, a Honda Civic will depreciate 16% after 5 years and have a 5 year resale value of $24,353.

Note: Used model prices will vary depending on trim level.

Model YearMileage (miles)Resale Price 
202213,521$28,992
202120,514$26,054
202042,385$24,994
201976,370$20,997
201850,462$24,499
201793,648$19,608
201663,878$19,995
201589,777$16,494

Source: Car Gurus

Related: Honda Civic: 11 Common Problems (Useful Guide)

What Do Owners Like and Dislike About the Honda Civic?

Based on owner feedback from the Kelley Blue Book site here are what real-life owners love and hate about the Honda Civic.

Likes

  1. Fun to drive
  2. Fast
  3. Sporty
  4. Fuel economy
  5. Attractive styling
  6. Handling
  7. Comfortable

Dislikes

  1. Dashboard rattling noise
  2. Requires high-octane gas
  3. Intrusive driver aids

Owners Reviews

“Fun, safe and just a good all around car. I would highly recommend this car for a daily commute or a fun car you can customize for a low price.”

Source: Kelley Blue Book

“Car performs well getting on interstates, handling is incredible. I’ve put 42k miles on car and I’m averaging 41mpg. Great overall value and the amount of cabin space is absolutely incredible for this size car. I’m 6’5” tall and wear logger boots for work and in most cars this size I simply would not fit. But in this car I easily fit and am very comfortable driving”

Source: Kelley Blue Book

“With gasoline prices soaring and scarcity of new car inventory, I was fortunate enough to locate ONE new Civic Touring Edition at a dealer 70 miles away.  The Touring Edition is LOADED with fantastic features, an entirely futuristic interior design, exceptionally comfortable leather seats, and a longer wheelbase making it very close to Accord size in appearance…”

Source: Edmunds

How Reliable Are Honda Cars?

According to a recent report from Consumer Reports, Honda are ranked the 6th most reliable car manufacturer out of 28 brands, with a score of 66/100.

RankBrandScore
1Lexus76
2Mazda75
3Toyota71
4Infiniti69
5Buick66
6Honda66
7Subaru66
8Acura64
9Nissan63
10Mini60
11Hyundai56
12Chrysler54
13Porsche52
14Chevrolet48
15Audi47
16Cadillac47
17BMW45
18Ford44
19Kia43
20Volvo42
21Ram40
22GMC37
23Mercedes-Benz34
24Volkswagen31
25Genesis30
26Jeep26
27Tesla25
28Lincoln18

Source: Consumer Reports

Sources

https://www.consumerreports.org/cars/honda/civic/

https://www.carcomplaints.com/Honda/Civic/

https://www.carproblemzoo.com/honda/civic/

https://www.kbb.com/honda/civic/

https://www.edmunds.com/honda/civic/

https://caredge.com/honda/civic/depreciation

https://www.cargurus.com/Cars/l-Used-Honda-Civic-d586