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1996 Honda Civic Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 1996 Honda Civic based on complaints from actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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29
Known Problems

When your windshield wipers will not stop in the proper place, or they will not turn off, it's very common that windshield wiper motor is the issue. To address this the wiper motor must be replaced. 

The hood release handle will commonly break while trying to open the hood. If the cable is OK and the hood latches are not binding, you can replace just the handle. You will find that many people use a pair of pliers to open the hood and that's always an option if you chose to not fix it. We recommend replacing the handle at the very least as it's an inexpensive fix that simplifies the opening of the hood. 

Honda Civic power windows may stop opening or closing due to defective window switches. The issue may be intermittent with no obvious reason as to why the issue started or resolved itself. Sometimes if you press or pull the switch with a little more force than normal it may operate. All these are signs the electric window switch may be failing. While it's most commonly the switch make sure you or the mechanic at the shop verify the switch is bad and not the window motor before replacing any parts. 

Damaged engine mounts can lead to vibration and roughness felt in the steering wheel. A rattle in the dash and engine area may also be heard. Replacement of damaged mounts will commonly correct these issues.

The 1990-2005 Honda Civic commonly have issues with radiator leaks due to normal operation. The leak usually starts small with the engine running slightly warmer than normal, but may/will eventually cause:

  • Coolant puddling under vehicle
  • Engine overheating
  • Unexplained coolant loss (only at first)
  • Vehicle in “limp mode”; loss of power
  • Cylinder head or head gasket failure
  • The coolant leaking can have a severe effect on your vehicle if left in disrepair. If the radiator is diagnosed as the leaky part, it will need to be replaced, or resealed if that is an option.

    Note: coolant is toxic to animals, but tastes sweet. Any coolant spills should be cleaned to protect animals and children.

    The shift control solenoid externally mounted on the automatic transmission (non CVT) can fail and causes a harsh 1-2 shift. Replacing the shift solenoid and flushing the transmission with genuine Honda automatic transmission fluid may eliminate harsh shifting characteristics. A broken internal spring can cause the same issue. If the shift control solenoid does not repair the problem, the transmission will have to be replaced. 

    Cracked exhaust is common on both exhaust manifolds and manifold/catalytic converter combination. Replacing the cracked component will repair the problem.

    The 1990-2001 Honda Civic has a known issue with ignition distributor shaft bearing failure, which causes:

  • Failure to start 
  • Engine randomly misfires 
  • Check Engine Light Illumination
  • OBD Trouble code(s) P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304, P1336, P1337 
  • Engine vibrations  
  • Hesitation or stalling 
  • Oil leak from distributor cap 
  • The ignition system uses the distributor to send high voltage electricity to the spark plugs at the right time. It accomplishes this timing mechanically by a shaft, which connects the crankshaft and ignition distributor, so they spin at the same rate. That shaft, part of the distributor, rests in a bearing inside the distributor.This bearing, the distributor shaft bearing, is known for failing, and allowing the shaft to move slightly.

    As the bearing fails, it allows the shaft to move away from the shaft seal, and oil pours into the distributor cap, causing misfires.

    The play in the shaft can also cause contact with the crankshaft position sensor, causing a no start problem.

    Total bearing failure will be most evident from the grinding noise that changes with engine speed, and oil in the ignition distributor cap.

    If the bearing is making noise, driving or running the vehicle can result in catastrophic engine failure.

    To correct this issue, the ignition distributor and shaft must be replaced. Any damage to the crankshaft position sensor will necessitate replacement as well.

     

    The 1993-2005 Honda Civic commonly has problems with the EVAP canister vent solenoid. It stops responding to commands to open and close, and the following occurs:

  • Illumination of the check engine light
  • OBD trouble code P1457 is stored
  • Engine takes longer than usual to start
  • Fuel mileage decreases noticeably
  • The valve is located on the charcoal canister, and is meant to open and close upon command. It fails due to corrosion breaking one of two internal seals, which allows air to escape the system, signaling the OBD trouble code P1457.

    Correcting the problem can be done by replacing the vent valve, or, in some cases, cleaning and resealing the vent valve has been successful. You can get an estimate for this repair here.

    A worn, missing, or loose gas cap can cause the same issues.

    The camshaft seal, located at the end of the cylinder head, has a reputation for failure on the 1990-2005 Honda Civic.

    This seal wraps around the camshaft to prevent engine oil from leaking where the camshaft exits the cylinder head.

    Replacing the leaky seal requires timing belt removal, so timing belt and water pump may be recommended if your vehicle is near the service interval.

    The 1990-2005 Honda Civic has a known issue with engine oil leaking from the ignition distributor shaft seal.

    Leakage from the shaft seal coats the electrical components of the distributor with engine oil causing:

  • Failure to start 
  • Engine randomly misfires 
  • OBD Trouble code(s) P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304, P1336, P1337 
  • Engine vibrations  
  • Hesitation or stalling 
  • Cleaning the distributor cap and rotor can help or resolve driveability issues temporarily, but the mentioned issues will return shortly.

    Once this issue is diagnosed, the ignition distributor shaft seal must be replaced, and the distributor shaft bearing must be inspected.

    The front brake rotors can warp and cause a vibration when braking. The rotors will need to be machined or in cases where they are worn to thin, replaced to correct this issue.

    Some models have an issue where a faulty thermostat does not allow the engine to reach normal operating temperature and because of that the computer will not allow the torque converter to operate in the lock-up mode. Replacing the thermostat will repair this issue.

    Impact damage to the front of the vehicle can cause the primary oxygen sensor to blow fuse 15 and cause the Check Engine light (MIL) to come on. In most cases the primary oxygen sensor needs replacing and a new fuse installed to repair the issue.