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The checklist for buying a Honda City (1998-2003)

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I've often thought of buying a Honda City from the first generation that landed in India, but at this stage, I need to know what I should ask, keep in mind and look out for when I'm buying one. The car in question is at least ten years old. The maintenance costs are apparently a lot lower than certain other cars in the segment. Fuel economy is decent, if not 15kmpl+, but can be managed, it seems. Reliability is also not much of a concern. I want a little power in the drive, so this is an option. That makes the OHC at present a hot option, but my questions still exist-

  1. What is the right price?
  2. Which year's model is best advised, keeping in mind budget constraints?
  3. Which variant (1.3EXI, 1,5EXI, 1.5VTEC) is the best variant to pick?
  4. What are the problem areas I need to check when I am near the car, or am set to drive it?
  5. In case the seller may try to rip me off (there's a somewhat famous case of a buyer at Delhi being conned into buying another Honda City (NHC) with the odometer rolled back thousands, and even had the big A.M. intervene), what should I ask for?
  6. What can go wrong (long list expected) and what should I keep ready in case?

Another option I have from the used market is a Ford Fiesta, but it is out of my budget.

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Hi Arjun M

Its nice to see that you considering buying an OHC. If serviced to schedule and kept well it should serve you well for years to come. I myself had bought an October 2003 model in 2006 so that makes it the last of the OHCs. To answer some of your questions:

1. A well kept OHC should be yours for anywhere between 1.8 to 2.1 lakhs

2. Look for a 2002-2003, the newer the better . A 2003 anyways is now 10 years old

3. If you can find a Vtec go for it but chances of finding a well kept one are less since most of them are abused. I drive a 1.5 EXI Automatic.

4. Check for suspension when buying the car. Apart from that do check for any differences in paint finish. That could be a touch up job. Also check for front shunts. They are pretty common in OHCs. I would advise to try and find a car which is sold by an owner directly. I would advise you to take the car to a Honda Autho service centre. They do a full check up for a small fee.

5. Check with the insurance company for history of any claims made in the past.

6. Things that go wrong in the long run: The fuel pump motor will conk. Apart from the the O2 sensor can fail anytime after 50k kms and that is expensive if replaced at the service centre. The power steering rack will start leaking oil on the other side of 60k kms. Get this also repaired from an independent mechanic.

Hope the above helps and hope to see you join the OHC club

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My suggestions on OHC

The 98-2000 something is called OHC Type 1 & 2000-2003 is OHC Type II.

Type I is an eyesore, so it has to be Type II, the differentiating factor is clear lens tail lamps in Type II.

In Type II, the 2002end-2003 will have biege interiors, so that looks roomy.

OHC VTEC is one helluva of car, but mostly ripped by enthus, so getting a decent one is next to impossible. Some of the 1.5s are fabricated to look like VTECs, so beware in that.

1.3 will be more FE & stay away from Automatics as it might keep bills high.

Budget should be in 1.5-2.25L range.

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Thank you PH and Bala for your inputs.

Yes, the Type II is what I'm keen on (I too don't like the Type I look, too much like the Baleno, itself a decent car). I admit being keen on the OHC amongst similar cars because of the look, and it seems more practical than the Lancer or Corsa or Ikon, and a better deal than the Baleno.

How much are the maintenance bills these days? And fuel bills?

The prices you mentioned (1.5-2.0 lakhs) are a good figure. There are several OHCs listed on Car Wale, which compiles all cars on sale from different dealers and individuals. Some decent deals there. What would you suggest when looking at those search results?

I am a bit wary of buying from individuals, since I don't get a service contract or financing options. I will need more advice on that. Even a link to a checklist will be fine.

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Even if you buy if from a dealer then you should only look for Carnation, TruChoice etc like authorised multi brand dealers. They offer 1 year service coupons and warranty along with the deal. As said, they may also provide help in finance as well but this depends on buy's credit score.

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