chuckles New Reader
March 18, 2010 1:48 p.m.

Bought new for daughter. Five years ago, at 67,000, light came on, no symptoms. Dealer replaced auto trans and converter for free, even though long out of warranty. Car now has 84,000 and has never had another problem.

I'm an old guy, traded a much newer car to daughter, so now the '97 is my DD and I'm really enjoying having a responsive car again. This is the lesser 2.2 engine, I think 130 hp. Question is: what do I need to know about the car? Are the trannys weak? Are there basic performance mods any enthusiast would do first? Many thanks in advance.

JFX001 Dork
March 18, 2010 1:56 p.m.

Pay attention to the maintenance schedules regarding the timing belt, transmission and valve adjustments...add gas and oil when needed...and drive forever.

skruffy
skruffy Dork
March 18, 2010 2:20 p.m.

Springs and shocks would be my first mod, I'm sure the stock shocks are long gone at this point. Then I'd move up to a 16-17" wheel/tire to get a better look with the lower suspension. Then I'd do a manual transmission swap. I wouldn't even bother doing anything with the motor if you aren't going to ditch the auto.

That being said, if I were in your shoes I'd just drive it forever until something expensive broke and then get a more fun car.

March 18, 2010 2:29 p.m.

Really depends on what you're after and how much you're looking to spend. I'd start with the basics, though:

Performance air filter/CAI

Exhaust

Wheel/Tire combo

Shocks/Struts or maybe even Coil-overs.

To be perfectly honest, I don't know that many enthusiasts would pick an automatic 4-cylinder Accord, but as it's a Honda, I'm sure there's still significant aftermarket for it. You'll probably have to figure out what more popular chassis various parts are shared with, and find parts that way (e.g., the motor is likely shared with the Prelude).

Cone_Junky New Reader
March 18, 2010 2:33 p.m.

In reply to chuckles:

It's a low mileage Honda, a DD, and an auto. I have to agree with others- stick to the book on maintenance and drive it forever.

chuckles New Reader
March 18, 2010 3:21 p.m.

Thanks to all.

I'm hearing what I suspected about mods but that the transmissions aren't notorious for low reliability. Good advice, I'm sure.

Great forum.

93celicaGT2 SuperDork
March 18, 2010 3:35 p.m.

Swap it to a manual, using an "H2B" conversion, run a GSR transmission.

Slap an H22A head on there. Add an OBD1 chipped ecu and tune it.

Enjoy having the most badass sleeper in your state.

I'm a little strange. But those are the "basic mods" i would do first.

Junkyard_Dog HalfDork
March 18, 2010 5:13 p.m.
93celicaGT2 wrote: I'm a little strange. But those are the "basic mods" i would do first.

Strange for here or for the world in general? Cuz strange for here is downright bizarre for the rest of the world

digdug18 Reader
March 19, 2010 9:46 a.m.

Yeah, I'd leave it an auto. You can still do the basic performance mods, intake, exhaust, header. But I do personally think you'll be happier dropping a H23 from a prelude in there, the 60hp jump wets the appetite as well!

andrew

Brotus7 New Reader
March 19, 2010 10:47 a.m.

I had my GF buy a 92 with the same motor and auto transmission 4 years ago. I've had to do little maintenance to it, and because of that I love it. Do be congnizant of the transmission, though. Change the fluid according to the schedule and you'll be ok. Otherwise, as in my case, the shift and lock up solenoids crap out intermittently and she won't shift right. Thankfully they're both external and I have spares, so it's just a matter of finding the time to install.

The more you try to do it, the more you'll have to do to it over time(if that makes any sense). Because of that, I'd just enjoy it for what it is, a cheap reliable DD.

gjz30075 New Reader
March 19, 2010 1:17 p.m.
chuckles wrote: Are the trannys weak?

Could be for that year. My daughter's 2000 Accord had the trans replaced at 50k under warranty but was warned the trans could break again if not maintained. They warranted it to 100k. Trans is still good at 125k but our maint schedule for the trans is very lax now. I'm urging her to sell it now.

autoxrs Reader
March 19, 2010 5:13 p.m.

Owned a 94 EX w/leather/5 speed for many years - best car I had. That car was unstoppable, I miss it.

Change t-belt/water pump at 90k. Unlike the newer ones those are 90k mile services.

Starter - known problem area. The later years fixed it, so yours may never act it. If it does, replacing is a 15 minute job.

ABS - older ones had an ABS problem. Usually a pump overrun caused by minute hairline cracks in the canister.

I put 100k+ miles on mine, aside from the usual servicing and the starter problem I didn't change a darn thing.

March 19, 2010 8:50 p.m.
93celicaGT2 wrote: Slap an H22A head on there. Add an OBD1 chipped ecu and tune it.

What are the differences between the f22 block and the h22 block?

93celicaGT2 SuperDork
March 20, 2010 10:18 a.m.
jwdmotorsports wrote:
93celicaGT2 wrote: Slap an H22A head on there. Add an OBD1 chipped ecu and tune it.

What are the differences between the f22 block and the h22 block?

F22 has ductile Iron sleeves vs. the FRM crap in the H22. F22 is slightly smaller bore, but longer stroke.

Woody SuperDork
March 20, 2010 8:38 p.m.

I had a 95 EX automatic. I never really thought of it as a responsive car. But, it was dead reliable. I never had any transmission trouble at all. I bought it from the original owner (a friend) with 107k miles on it and sold it with about 150k. The only problem I had was a little rust ahead of the passenger side rear wheel. If it has a sunroof, make sure that the sunroof drains are clear and you have a good seal around the sunroof glass.

I added some decent tires and the fattest rear sway bar I could find to reduce the understeer and balance out the handling.

pres589 Reader
March 21, 2010 9:19 a.m.

Suspension: When it's time to freshen the shocks & springs, Koni's STR.T struts are available for not a lot of money (Tire Rack lists them) along with H&R OE Sport springs. I've seen Hondas of that age with broken springs, not sure if it's a corrosion issue or what, but they aren't that expensive and lower the car very moderately, they're listed at .25". Maybe do a wheel upgrade at that time, but I would probably step up to whatever the V6 cars used, possibly getting used stock wheels from a junkyard. May also look for a stiffer rear anti-roll bar as someone else mentioned to reduce understeer.

Engine: K&N drop in filter, ignition maintenance as required (plugs, wires) with stock parts. And I would probably do a transmission fluid & filter change now and every 40k or so miles from here on out just to try and help it live a little better.

That's really about all I could think to do with one of these.

fastmiata Reader
March 21, 2010 1:29 p.m.

You cant always make a pig fly.

4cylndrfury SuperDork
March 21, 2010 1:39 p.m.
fastmiata wrote: You cant always make a pig fly.

yeah, but sometimes you can throw them far as hell!

93celicaGT2 SuperDork
March 21, 2010 1:47 p.m.
fastmiata wrote: You cant always make a pig fly.

Doesn't take much to make this pig fly, though.

I can think of some far worse platforms that a lot of us love.

daytonaer Reader
March 21, 2010 1:52 p.m.
skruffy wrote: Springs and shocks would be my first mod, I'm sure the stock shocks are long gone at this point. Then I'd move up to a 16-17" wheel/tire to get a better look with the lower suspension. Then I'd do a manual transmission swap. I wouldn't even bother doing anything with the motor if you aren't going to ditch the auto. That being said, if I were in your shoes I'd just drive it forever until something expensive broke and then get a more fun car.

My non-automotivly gifted uncle bought a 97 4 or 5 years ago. Dealer did some recall work for FREE a bit after he bought it, which included wires, plugs and fluid changes. He bought it used, with 110,000 miles on it......

Anyways, we got him a set of 16" acura wheels, he loves them and the bigger tire. We put a K&N CAI on for his birthday, he says it feels like a rocket now, but it is noisy. Only gripe I have with it is the center console keeps getting loose from the arm-rest to the radio connection. I'm not impressed with the interior quality and I have many American cars.

Other than that its just routine maintenance and its been a great car. mid to high 30's mpg on the highway, smooth comfortable ride. His is an auto and has stock suspension which is rather firm. he loves the over-boosted steering, says it is easy on his shoulders. I think its a great car. I think you should leave it as is, except wheel/tire size if you want a different ride, unless you planned exciting things for it.

chuckles New Reader
March 22, 2010 8:26 a.m.

This is great. Just what I needed to hear, some back-and-forth, with explanation.

"Responsive" is relative, I know. It doesn't remind me of the Europa I sold in '77 but it's a big step up from the station wagon.

I'm pretty good about maintenance and have been keeping everything fresh. Shocks/struts, rollbar and wheels will probably be enough to enjoy something a bit above average. Sincere thanks for all the thoughtful replies, meaning all of them.

Woody SuperDork
March 22, 2010 11:01 a.m.

FYI:

As I recall, you can't just pull the front brake rotors off, as they come off with the hubs. It makes brake jobs a little more involved.

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