On a 1986 Honda Civic, of all things. A member of the local Saab club reached out, a friend of his in New York was considering purchasing this car in Thornton and needed some local eyes for it. I volunteered.

It's a carbureted 1986 Civic Wagon (Wagovan?), 4 wheel drive. It's listed at a surprisingly low price, so I understand his trepidation. I spent a good while going over all of the major and minor bits, took it for a spin in the snow to test the 4wd, and wrote up my report.

My report was done in the JalOppo review fashion, included below:

Exterior - 6/10
Not much clear coat left, but the paint is intact. Missing one center cap. Minimal rust on rear fender wells, less than other examples of its age. No rust on strut towers. No visible rust on hatch or hatch portal. Minimal dings, no major damage. It was dark so I may have missed a thing or two, but all in all it was pretty solid.

Interior - 7/10
All seats intact, driver shows wear. Some tearing on the fabric and foam is worn. Passenger and rear seat in remarkable condition. Carpet quite nice. Aftermarket aluminum shift knob, recommend replacing (it is COLD). Dash plastics are starting to curl a bit at the seams, did not notice any breaks. Heater works well. Pop-up vents still pop-up. Factory radio, works. HVAC and radio lights not working. Gauge lights work. Window tracks/gears could use lube. Courtesy lights work, front and back. Wiper stalk needs to be repaired/replaced - requires holding in place for front wipers to operate properly. Could just be mounting hardware. Spare tire (no wheel) in boot.

Powertrain and drivetrain - 6/10
Unknown age on timing set. Either well maintained or recently cleaned. Oil shows no sludge, recent change. Valve train looks good from the oil cap. No rattle, ping or clack could be heard. Carburetor needs attention - automatic choke not working quite right. Runs a bit rich. You'll need to re-jet it anyway I'm sure, coming down from elevation. Manual steering. Mechanical clutch, friction point near top of pedal. Strong engagement, if a little gritty on pedal action. Transaxle is solid. Shift linkage may need adjustment, 3rd/4th slightly vague. Engine mounts are good. Vacuum lines are aged, may need attention in the near future. Recommend replacement battery. Head gasket is not showing any signs of complaint. Valve cover gasket has been leaking for some time. 4WD works well. Quick engagement, slow to disengage. Driveshafts show no major wear, CV joints are quiet.

Suspension - 6/10
No major qualms, though components are aged. Not much brake dive, though I did not get to push it to fully test. Brakes are good, age unknown. Tires will last a couple seasons.


Verdict - for the price, I would buy it. Not sure if I would trust it cross country until the carb/choke is addressed, but would make a good little run around car. [The seller] said he has only owned it for a couple months, does not have any information about the overall quality of the car.

So what do you think? Was this a good write up, for an inspection done in the cold dark snow? What could I tweak or change for later reports?