December 12

How Are Honda Vehicles for Reliability

Auto Repair, Honda


Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here today with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of award-winning, Best in Vancouver auto repair company, Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at How are you doing tonight, Bernie?

Bernie: Excellent. How are you?

Mark: I’m good. So, we’re gonna talk about Hondas.

Bernie: Yes.

Mark: Honda cars have been around for a long time, I remember when the Accords first came — or the Civics, I mean, first came out. They seem to have a great reputation. Have they always been good cars?

Bernie: Yeah. Honda cars are awesome. I mean, they and Toyotas are always cars that I recommend to people who want a solid, reliable car. We’ve serviced Honda for many years, and they just keep getting better and better. You know, in terms of have they always been good cars, you ask? Well, I think, not always. Some of the first Hondas that came to America in the mid-1970s, the Civic, were a huge seller. It filled that compact, economy niche that many people were looking for, but I don’t think they were really particularly well-built cars. They were kinda pieces of crap. Lots went wrong with them; timing belts broke, head gaskets failed, CV boots cracked, CV joints wore out. Compared to the Hondas of the past couple decades, they were really very different in terms of quality. Japanese cars have been amazing to watch over the past 30 years — when I consider having worked on them. They constantly improve. It’s like kaizen, the Japanese principle where they constantly make small improvements — and you can see it in their cars where every year they just keep getting better and better and better and better. To put things into context, I mean, a lot of cars back in the 70s weren’t built like cars were today, so maybe Civics weren’t as bad as they seemed.

Mark: Right, so I’m sure like everybody, I see a lot of Hondas on the road — you know, they have motorcycles, marine engines, and all sorts of stuff. Do they build trucks?

Bernie: Well, I’d say yes and no. I’m not sure what they sell in the rest of the world, but in North America, I’d say they don’t sell trucks. Some of our repair information book lists the Honda Ridgeline, which is a mini-pickup truck. There’s also the Honda Odyssey and the Pilot, but I’d say those aren’t really trucks, more like large cars. Honda doesn’t make full-size trucks like Toyota or Nissan do.

Mark: What sort of repair issues do you see with Hondas?

Bernie: Well, sadly for us [Pawlik Automotive], but not for Honda owners, we don’t see many. Most of the work that we do on Hondas built in the last decade is routine maintenance. So oil changes, a few fluid flushes, and services like break pads and rotors. On models equipped with timing belts, they need occasional replacement, although they’re making fewer and fewer timing belt models so that service is starting to disappear, too. A lot of their engines have gone to timing chains.

Mark: So timing chains don’t require service?

Bernie: That’s correct. But it does bring me to an important point. You must be more vigilant with your oil changes if your car has a timing chain. You can’t afford to skip oil changes. If the oil gums or sledges up, it can wear the timing chain and the timing chain guides start to fail early. All of these engines have variable valve timing, which have very narrow passage ways and solenoids to actuate things, so if anything gets gummed up these things start to fail, and it can cost you just an absolute fortune to fix. So you really want to keep on top of your oil changes. That applies to any other car with a timing chain, and there are lots of cars out there.

Mark: Don’t miss your oil change. Honda has a maintenance reminder system. Tell us how that works.

Bernie: Interestingly enough, when I think back on all the cars I’ve worked on, Honda’s maybe the first vehicle that I can think of that actually had a maintenance reminder system, even way back into the early Civics. The early maintenance reminder system consisted of a little green flag that appeared on the dash that said your oil change was due. These were just a mechanical device tied in with the speedometer, and every, I don’t know, five to six thousand kilometres, the oil change indicator would light up orange. You could simply reset it by taking the key and pressing a little button on the instrument panel right next to the flag thing that came up to shut it off. So that’s your early maintenance reminder. It’s funny how many people disregard those too back then.

Nowadays, they’ve got a very elaborate system. It’s electronic, and it’ll usually put up an indication of an A 1 or 2 or 3, 4, 5, 6 – I think they have up to A1 or B 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 service. These letters and numbers correspond to different types of services: Like an A service is an oil change; a B service is usually an oil change and a comprehensive inspection, what we call a Level 2 service at our shop; the 1s and 2s are your tire rotations and transmission fluid flushes. So everything’s timed, but it’s very sophisticated. It’s not just about milage, it’s also about time and how the car is driven. So if you were to drive very short city trips, the light might not come on for a year, but it’s going to come on at a very low distance, like 5,000 kilometres. But if you do a lot of highway driving, driving out to like, Hope and back every day, it might go 10,000 to 12,000 kilometres between oil changes because the oil doesn’t get dirty as quickly under those conditions.

The indication system seems to be quite accurate. I’ve noted a lot of our customers, if even if you tell them to come in every 6,000k, they just wait until the indicator light comes on at maybe 8,000 or 9,000k. At that point the oil seems dirty but not that bad, so I think they’ve got the system down pretty accurate.

Mark: Are there any major problems with Hondas?

Bernie: Well, there aren’t many. The only thing that leaps to my mind is some of the Honda Odysseys built in the first half of the 2000s, they had quite a few transmissions failures. Engines on all models seem to be rock solid. Most electronic systems are trouble-free. I mean, the odd thing does happen, but really, it’s rare.

Mark: Any thoughts in conclusion?

Bernie: Well, I mean, overall, as I said, Hondas are great cars; they’re very reliable. It’s interesting. Many Japanese cars start off small — like the Civics, and they keep getting bigger and bigger. The Civics and Accords back in the 70s and 80s were pretty small cars and they keep getting bigger and bigger until they’re the size we have today. If you look at a Honda Fit nowadays, that’s pretty much the same size of the Civic when it was first introduced, maybe even a little bigger. You know, I mean, Hondas are fairly expensive cars — they used to be cheap cars at one time — but as they get bigger and better, the price has gone up as well. Kia and Hyundai have taken in that lower end price point, and interestingly, they build very good cars. When Kias and Hyundais first came out, they were just pieces of crap, but they’re really nice cars. I’d say probably as good in quality as Honda or Toyota, so they’ve definitely got some competition. But I mean, if you’re looking for a good car, Honda Civic, Accord, they’re always reliable, well-built cars. You can’t go wrong.

Mark: Alright, so we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. He’s 12 times been voted by customers in two different publications in Vancouver, as the Best Auto Repair and Maintenance shop in Vancouver. So you can reach them at or give him a call (604) 327-7112. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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