I was looking at cars for sale in my area recently, and there were a ton of early-2000s Honda Civics listed. I knew that Civics tend to last long, but I was surprised to see how many were still running from more than 20 years ago. I started wondering if there were some specific reasons why Honda Civics last so long.
A lot of the longevity of Civics is due to the quality of craftsmanship and focus on reliability. The engineers at Honda wanted to make a car that will always run when you need it to. Unlike other cars, the Civic isn’t supposed to be a fast or high-performance car. This allows for more reliability under the hood. When it comes to longevity, reliability is the biggest factor.
I did some research, and I came up with 10 big reasons why Honda Civics last so long. Take a look for yourself and keep reading.
What Does it Mean for a Car to “Last Long”?
I should clarify what I mean here. When I say that Honda Civics last long, I’m referring to how many miles or years the car can run before it gets scrapped. More specifically, how many miles the car drives before something big fails, the reliability lets down the driver, or a big repair is required to keep running the vehicle.
If you find yourself in any of these three scenarios, there’s a good chance that you’ll sell the car and move on to your next car. With Civics, it seems that drivers go a lot longer before falling into one of these categories.
How Long Do Civics Typically Last?
If you wonder why you’ve seen so many Civics on the road, it’s largely because the cars last so long. If you were curious, the average Civic is known to last about 250,000 miles before it gets scrapped. Since the average American driver goes 14,000 miles a year, that means a Civic will last 14 years on average.
Keep in mind, that 250,000 is just the average value. There’s a driver that got his to over 1,000,000 miles. Plenty of people I personally know have a Civic with over 500,000 miles and they don’t do anything special to keep it running.
As a point of reference, the average Chevy Cruze lasts about 150,000-200,000 miles. This is an American competitor to the Civic. In other words, Civics last longer than other cars on the market.
For people who take care of their car and get a little lucky on the road, a Civic will just keep going when other cars start to fail.
What Determines How Long a Car Lasts?
Before getting into why Civics last so long, I want to talk about what makes a car last long in general. It seems odd that some people turn in their car after 100,000 miles, and others can drive the same car until it has over 500,000 miles.
There are a few reasons why some cars last longer than other cars. Here are some of the big ones:
How Many Accidents It’s Been In
Every time a car is in an accident, the life of the car is shortened. This is obvious when the accident totals the car, but it also influences cars after minor fender-benders.
The truth is that it’s impossible to tell the extent of an accident. A small accident might mean that something pops loose 5 years down the road.
The Quality and Craftsmanship of the Car
Just like any other consumer product, a high-quality option will typically last longer than the budget version of the same product. Every time I watch an “inexpensive vs. expensive” product match-up, the winner is the expensive option.
With a car, quality matters across the board. Every part of the car’s assembly needs to be carefully manufactured, inspected, and assembled. In Honda’s factories, quality is a big focus.
When a car is created with quality in mind, you can expect it to last a lot longer.
How Often the Car Is Maintained
Suggested maintenance goes beyond just satisfying a light that pops up on your dashboard. Routinely changing your oil, checking the health of your tires, looking at your battery, and replacing filters across your car are very important. Did you know that changing your fuel filter can improve your car’s performance and fuel efficiency?
Failing to do some maintenance can actually total your car. I saw a video of someone who didn’t change their oil in years, and the engine seized because of it. They had to scrap the car and buy a new one just because they didn’t spend $200 for a few oil changes.
Most drivers don’t realize the impact of maintenance and might be tempted to ignore the maintenance indicators on their dashboard. By routinely maintaining your car, you’ll be able to drive it longer.
How Quickly Repairs are Done
In addition to maintenance, you should also focus on doing repairs. When something breaks, our instinct often makes us ignore the problem until it becomes something bigger.
A tiny crack on your tire can turn into a tire blowout. Fixing a crack is a lot less expensive and quicker than replacing all the parts damaged by a blowout. This is just one of many examples.
The bottom line is that you need to perform repairs as soon as you notice a damaged item.
The Driver and Owner
In a lot of cases, cars that last long are thanks to drivers that take good care of them. Driving at normal speeds and being safety-conscious will help prevent accidents and avoid overworking the car.
An owner that routinely maintains and quickly repairs their car gives the car the best chance of a long life.
This means that you can help your cars last longer.
Sometimes, a car’s life depends on the environment. This can be something as dramatic as a tree falling on it or a flood taking it away. It could also refer to the quality of the roads that the car is driven on, and how polluted the air is.
Highly polluted air and rough roads will cause a car to die faster since these contaminants will eat away at the different mechanisms of the car.
The Driver Is Tired of the Car
Another factor that causes a car to retire is if the driver doesn’t like it anymore. There are plenty of examples of life changes that might cause someone to turn in their car for another one.
One of the biggest reasons I’ve heard in my circle of friends is that the driver was tired of all the necessary repairs. They wanted a car that would reliably turn on every day and get them home after work.
Once a car stops being reliable, it’s easy to get rid of it and replace it with a more reliable vehicle.
There’s not a ton of power or performance that will excite you if you have a basic trim-level Civic. However, the car is highly reliable so you won’t have to worry about whether your car will start in the morning or not.
Reasons Why Honda Civics Last So Long
To better understand why Honda Civics last so long, take a look at the following 10 reasons. These reasons go hand-in-hand with a previous guide I wrote about why you might see so many Civics on the road.
1. The Engines are Forged
One of the big difference-makers happens under the hood. Honda Civic engines are forged rather than cast. What does that mean?
These are two different manufacturing styles. Casting involves pouring molten metal into a mold and letting it cool. This method lets parts be made very quickly and more inexpensively, but they’re physically a lot weaker.
Forging, on the other hand, uses force and compression to shape a car part, just like how blacksmiths make parts. This option produces a part that’s stronger, longer-lasting, and more resilient over time.
When an engine block is forged, it will simply last longer. This is great news since the engine is one of the most important and most expensive parts of a car. Once the engine needs to be replaced, the car is typically not worth fixing.
2. They Use Simple Mechanisms
There’s something to be said about simplicity in a car. As you add more features, gadgets, and needless upgrades, you have more parts that can break and need to be replaced.
With a Civic, you don’t have any fancy add-ons like single-touch open trunks, headlight wipers, or gullwing doors.
Across the board, the mechanisms used in a Civic are simple.
This works well for two reasons:
Firstly, it means that a part is less likely to break. The tried-and-true car door will open and close each time without an issue. The simpler a part is, the less chance there is for it to break.
In addition, these parts are easier to replace. If the car door gets damaged after an accident, for example, then it’s very easy to swap it out for another standard door.
By keeping things simple, Honda made sure their car will last longer.
3. The Engine Is Overengineered
Not only is the engine forged, but it’s also overengineered for what it’s supposed to do. That isn’t saying much, since Civics aren’t built to be high-performance vehicles.
All this means is that the engine never gets close to its designed peak performance. When cars start redlining and using up all the available power, then the life of the engine goes down. It can also lead to a disaster if it’s done too often.
To simplify things, let’s say that Honda engineers designed their engine to go 200 mph and then capped the car to only go 135 mph. Since the actual speed cap isn’t close to the designed cap, the engine will last longer.
4. Most Parts Are High Quality
Japanese car manufacturers take a lot of pride in their cars. One way they can make cars that last so long is by focusing on the quality of manufacturing and the raw materials.
Anecdotally, I’ve heard that the big Japanese manufacturers will often reject incoming material since it doesn’t hit their specifications.
You’ll find that the plans for a Civic include tolerances and specifications that you won’t find in a Chevy, for instance.
5. Civics Aren’t Overpowered or Performance-Heavy
Going back to the engine, it’s worth pointing out that Civics aren’t built to be fast, powerful, or record-setters on the track. With the exception of the Type R sub-model of a Civic, you won’t get a sporty car when you order a Civic.
They’re designed to be daily drivers that reliably run forever. Their design focus is on reliability, convenience, and ease of maintenance over time.
As a result, you’ll find that a Civic lasts longer than a Nissan 270Z (a car that focuses on performance and power instead).
6. Maintenance Is Easy
There’s no better way to say it: working on a Civic is easy. Parts are conveniently located, there’s space to remove and replace parts, and there are plenty of resources online to help you.
In fact, you’ll find blogs and YouTube channels dedicated specifically to maintaining Civics. Whenever you run into a problem with your Civic, there’s a good chance that a DIYer on the Internet has a solution for you already.
Maintenance becomes even easier if you build your own car ramp. Since Civics are pretty light and small, you can use a ramp to work under the car with ease.
7. Replacement Parts are Inexpensive and Abundant
When it comes time to replace a part, you’ll never need to dig too deep in your pocket. Civic replacement parts are very easy to find, inexpensive, and quick to get your hands on.
If everything else fails, you can always go to a junkyard and find countless Civics that you can take parts from.
Whenever something breaks on your Civic, you can probably get a replacement and fix it within a few days.
8. Insurers are Less Likely to Scrap Them
Here’s a reason that a lot of people don’t realize. Insurers are less likely to deem a car “scrapped” or “totaled” if the car is highly reliable. In general, imported cars will survive an accident more often than domestic cars will.
If a 2015 Civic and Ford Mustang get into an accident and have the same amount of damage on both cars, there’s a chance that the Mustang gets totaled while the Civic gets repaired if the insurance agency deems it repairable.
Obviously, this means that Civics will stay on the road longer since insurance companies are helping them get fixed back to normal.
9. They Attract More Conscientious Drivers
Another factor that determines how long a car lasts is the driver. If you look at this piece of the equation, things start to make more sense.
Stereotypically, Civic drivers are more responsible, a little safer, and more conscientious on the road than some of the other drivers. Someone who buys an M-series BMW isn’t going to take corners with the same grace that a Civic driver will.
A Civic is marketed towards someone who wants a reliable car, takes good care of their vehicle, and isn’t looking for a loud or powerful car. As such, the typical Civic driver performs routine maintenance and keeps their car tidy.
With the right driver behind the wheel, a car will last a lot longer.
10. The Power of Imports
It’s widely accepted that import vehicles are associated with reliability more often than domestic cars. It’s largely due to the combination of the higher quality, focus on reliability, and overengineering done.
The Civic is just another example to throw in the binder of imports that outlast domestically made cars. American-made cars are great and getting more reliable, but they can’t seem to catch up with the Japanese and Korean manufacturers.
Now you know a little more about Honda Civics and why they last so long. I reviewed 10 of the top reasons why they last long, but there are plenty of things to love about owning a Civic.
For more of your car questions answered, take a look at my blog. I also have a list of car products I highly recommend, so check those out too. If you’re a proud Civic owner, drop a comment below and let me know.