Second-Hand: Honda Accord

It would be very easy to say look no further to anyone in the market for a used midsize car. After all, Accords are very reliable, they are fun to drive, and they manage family hauling with a minimum of fuss.


So what’s the catch?

If you have a pocketful of money to buy a used car, there shouldn’t be much to stand between you and an Accord. If you’re on a budget, though, you may find it next to impossible to find a bargain.

But Accords do at least warrant a look, because cars just don’t get much better than this. If you find one you like, it’s still a good idea to have your mechanic give it a thorough

once over. After all, you never know what might be hidden from view.

Be careful when buying a pre1986 model, as they can get pretty rusty.

This report does not cover 1994 and newer Accords, which comprise the fifth or current generation.


The first Accord that Honda introduced here in 1976 was about the size of today’s Civic. It was among the first cars sold here to combine the practicality of small size, front-wheel drive and a four-cylinder engine with all the features and comforts of a family car.

The second generation, sold between 1982 and 1985, improved on the theme.

The third generation was much larger, having grown to true midsize car status.

The fourth generation (199293) may be the most interesting of all. Engineered at a time when money flowed freely and the dollar was worth more against the Japanese yen, Honda didn’t cut any corners. Several automotive insiders have said that the fourth generation Accord was over-engineered. To you and me, that means even more than the usual dose of Honda quality.

All Accord coupes and wagons, along with most LX and EX sedans, are built in Marysville, Ohio. Some top of the line EXR sedans are still imported from Japan.

Body styles

* Two-door hatchback (pre1990)

* Two-door coupes (since 1989)

* Four-door sedan

* Four-door wagon (since 1992)


* 2.0L four: This multi-valve engine equips 1986-89 models. S and LX power plants were carbureted. EXi and Limited models received fuel injection.

* 2.2L four: Post 1989 Accords are fitted with this fuel-injected 16-valve engine. EXR models get electronically variable valve timing (VTEC in Honda speak), which is good for some extra oomph.


* Five-speed manual: A light clutch and accurate shift linkage make this transaxle a pleasure to use.

* Four-speed automatic: Optional on all models, standard on Limited. Although this transaxle works well, shifts are less smooth than on North American automatics.

Overall road behavior

Honda engineers have managed to combine precise steering, crisp handling and a civilized ride. This is no mean feat. Even though a V6 wasn’t offered on these cars, they offer up adequate power for any situation. The only intrusion into the serenity of the interior is engine growl, when it is being worked hard.

Highline models come with four-wheel disc brakes. Antilock brakes have been offered since 1991.

A low hood and generous window area help provide exceptional visibility all around.


The driver and front passenger get treated to firm but supportive seats. Dash gauges and switches are clear and easy to reach. The chrome-plated power lock switches on highline cars look like afterthoughts, though.

The sunroof cuts a few centimetres of headroom in front. The front seat cushions do not have a tilt feature, which would help support the thighs of long-legged drivers.

The rear seat will comfortably hold two adults, even three, if they’re good friends.

On many models, the rear seatback folds down to help carry long objects in the trunk. Although Accord wagons aren’t particularly spacious, they do offer more room for cargo than any other midsize sedan or hatchback.

What owners say

Accord owners love their cars. Period. The only strongly negative response from a reader concerned dribbling windshield washers (which is pretty much normal for these cars, by the way). A couple of other readers wished that their car’s engine were peppier. Several readers cited the need to service the front brakes frequently.

Scarborough residents Robert Syme and his wife “would prefer to buy a used Honda than almost any other car.” Why? They bought a new Accord in 1986. “The car has 400,000 km now. The fuel injectors have never been touched. The oil level never drops

between changes. The car is just as pleasurable to drive today as it was new.”

And with the couple of problems they did have with the car, Honda Canada took care of them quickly and satisfactorily.

David Rooke of Hamilton bought a used 1989 Accord in April 1994. Having driven over 65,000 km since buying the car, Rooke “would not hesitate to recommend the Honda Accord as an excellent used car buy, the only problem being that they tend to

retain their value and as a result are comparatively expensive.”

Internet responder David Bull has this to say: “We have owned two Honda Accords, the latest being a 1988 Limited. It now has 265,000 plus km and is as tight as the day we first bought it new. It still runs reliably and is the best car we have ever owned.”

Phil Fortier owns a 1990 Accord EX he bought new. He calls it “a great car. In the past I have traded every two to two and a half years. I don’t feel the need with this car. It has never not started. I like to rely on a car and when I get up and they won’t go I look to replace them.”

What to look out for

Warped front brake rotors and worn front suspension components are the only mechanical items of note.

The manual shift linkage works through a set of plastic bushings that wear out over time. Replacing these is not very expensive, and does a lit to restore a tight feel and precision to the shifter.

It’s very rare to see a rusty post1989 Accord. The only area to watch is the seam where the rear wheel well and bumper meet.

Body seams, especially the bottoms of doors, trunk lid and rear wheel openings, are vulnerable on older cars.

Replacement parts cost

The six commonly replaced parts listed below are for a 1991 Accord LX four-door sedan equipped with air conditioning and an automatic transaxle. Retail prices were supplied by Dalt’s Honda:

Front brake rotors $92.68 each; radiator $590.57; exhaust system (aft of converter) $338.24; water pump $64.86; fuel pump $272.26; engine control module $842.72.

Insurance claim history

The Vehicle Information Centre of Canada compiles insurance claim records for most popular passenger cars, minivans and some sport utilities. The history is based on 1992 and 1993 models, and has been converted here into a five-point scale, where one

represents much lower than average claims, three is average, and five represents much higher than average amounts. This information is provided for comparative purposes only. In order, the three claims categories are collision, comprehensive and injury:

* Two-door: 343

* Four-door: 333

Resale value

The values quoted below are average retail prices from the Canadian Red Book, which is the guide used by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to calculate sales tax on private transactions. The Red Book assumes the vehicle has been driven approximately 20,000 km per year, and is not in need of any major repairs. The older a vehicle gets, the more its actual condition will affect the resale value.

These prices are for an Accord LX four-door sedan with an automatic transaxle, air conditioning and AM/FM radio.

1994 $16,150; 1993 $13,600; 1992 $11,650; 1991 $9,825; 1990 $8,900; 1989 $7,750; 1988 $6,150.

We need your feedback on these models for future reports: Dodge Shadow/Plymouth Sundance by Sept. 21; Nissan Pathfinder by Oct.5; and Ford Escort by Oct. 19.

Send them to:

John Terauds, c/o Wheels, The Toronto Star, One Yonge St., Toronto M5E 1E6.

Fax: 416 8653996.


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