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Old 23rd April 2022, 19:34   #1
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Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

DECIDING WHAT TO BUY:
I wanted something fun to drive and something that will help me improve my driving skills and also a car that I will be able to work on by myself mostly. The budget wasnít much so the obvious choices were; Esteem, Baleno, City (Vtec was sadly out of budget), and old Octavia 1.8t. I always liked the sx8 Honda City so I was more biased towards a City.
Hence the search began for a City. After a few days of searching, I stumbled upon this car:

Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-1st-glance-1.jpeg
Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-1st-glance.jpeg
Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-side-profile.jpeg
Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-interior.jpeg
Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-rear-seat.jpeg

A 1998 Honda City 1.5exi with 6 previous owners the car looked clean, had minor underbody rust and all the documents were available. The car had 87k km on the odometer, but the speedo-cable wasnít working, and it had coolant leaks from the upper hose which at the time I thought made the car overheat, minor engine oil leak from the valve cover gasket, ac blower made noise and the dealership said it needed new engine oil. My father and I decided to buy this car because we thought that the problems wouldn't be that expensive and they won't be that hard to solve either.

MY 1st CAR!!

Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-honda-city-yes-bonnet-open.jpg

Upon bringing it home, our first job was to properly wash it and detail the engine bay.

1st wash:
Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-1st-wash.jpeg
Engine bay before cleaning:
Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-before-cleaning-engine.jpeg
Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-original-condition.jpeg

After cleaning:
Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-after-wirebrushing.jpeg
Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-current-condition.jpeg

Then the engine oil and filter were changed. I also order pair of master brake cylinders for the rear drum brakes and new brakes shoes, fuel filter, new control arms (because the old ones were making noise), new bush for the anti-roll bar, new battery as the old one was having issues starting the car, new valve cover gasket and new high-pressure coolant hoses, new V belts for the car because they were making squeaking noises and new air filter. After doing a bit of research I found out that the spark plugs which were currently on the car were wrong rating so I ordered a set of new NGK BKR6EGP spark plugs. The spark plugs along with a new air filter made the car significantly smoother and faster than it previously was. I also ordered a pair of new headlights assembly from a brand named Depo, with Osram 90/100 bulbs.

Picture with new headlights:
Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-new-headlights.jpeg

I also tried to change the bulbs in the instrument cluster to led bulbs, managed to successfully do it but also found out that the check engine bulb was removed from the car.

LED instrument cluster:
Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-fiting-led-bulbs-intrument-cluster.jpeg

But now, after driving for a few minutes the car would show a check engine light, and since this car wasnít an obd2 so checking codes was very difficult, but thankfully Tgo a teambhpian from the forum helped me by linking a thread which showed that we can short the 2 pin connector with a piece of wire and then reading the blinks of the check engine light and identify the fault codes.
Source: https://forums.autolanka.com/topic/1...y-type-z-2001/
So after checking the codes it turns out that the car had two issues: Speedometer Cable and O2 sensor.
Problem 1: I was surprised that the car can detect if there is a speedometer cable attached to it or not because the cable just rotates inside its housing and doesnít carry any information. The speedometer cable was being delivered so that wasnít a big issue.

Problem 2: The O2 sensor code scared me a little bit because O2 sensors are pretty expensive so I decided to check if the O2 sensor had any connection issues and thankfully it was. It turns out that the connector was not working so, as a temporary fix, the wires were connected directly. After turning the car on and off and checking the codes, only the speedometer code remained which also got resolved in a few days.

After the check engine light was dealt with, only one problem remained, the overheating issue. Even after fixing the coolant leaks the car used to overheat really easily, even while idling and I could not think of a reason why this would happen, as the radiator fans were working and the car had coolant in it. So I decided to talk to Debdeep Uncle who has had many Honda city sx8s over the years, and the first thing he told me to do was to check if the radiator was clogged, and as it turns out, it was. So a new radiator had to bought for the car and it completely solved the overheating problem. Now the temp gauge always stays below the halfway mark.
We had to change the engine oil of the car after changing the radiator because the old engine was completely burnt because of the overheating.

We decided to give the car a set of new shoes because the old tires had gone bald. We chose 4 sets Continental UltraContact 185/65 r14, this significantly improved the handling characteristics of the car.

After resolving almost all the issues of the car we took it on a 15hr long road trip and the car performed flawlessly and for the first time I calculated the fuel economy to be 13kmpl on highways with around 80kmph average. I also tried to push it above 120kmph on an empty highway but it felt really floaty at around 120kmph so I didnít push it further.
Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-1st-long-road-trip-after-resolving-all-issues.jpeg


Future Plans:
The Next I would do is replace the timing belt because I have no idea when it was last changed.
The Second thing that this car needs is a set of aftermarket dampers in the fronts and rear to improve high-speed stability (need some suggestions on this).
The third thing would be to take care of the rust in the underbody.
The fourth thing would be a set of new alloy wheels
(in the photo below the rims are edited, but this is the kind of alloy I would like to install)
Name:  rims i want.jpeg
Views: 1045
Size:  104.7 KB

The Fifth thing would be new paint/wrap for it.
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Old 24th April 2022, 20:58   #2
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re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

Wow, man. The transformation is just wow after your magic on it.

The car looks gorgeous in this snap. Picture with new headlights:
Attachment 2299813

Quote:
Originally Posted by snehanshuchk View Post
The Next I would do is replace the timing belt because I have no idea when it was last changed.The third thing would be to take care of the rust in the underbody. The Fifth thing would be newpaint/wrap for it.
Yes, replace the timing belt and take care of the rust issues. The paint looks good as-is IMO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snehanshuchk View Post
After resolving almost all the issues of the car we took it on a 15hr long road trip and the car performed flawlessly and for the first time I calculated the fuel economy to be 13kmpl on highwayswith around 80kmph average.
Is this the standard FE of the City ? Seems quite low. A bad O2 sensor could have a bearing on the FE I remember reading.

My 17yo Baleno1.6 returns 16kmpl when driven hard (120 & above). Never could drive it at 80kmph on highways,
but if I ever do that without going to sleep, it would easily give 20kmpl I think.
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Old 24th April 2022, 23:10   #3
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Re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

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Originally Posted by supremeBaleno View Post
Is this the standard FE of the City ? Seems quite low. A bad O2 sensor could have a bearing on the FE I remember reading.
I am not really sure, I was expecting the FE to be a little better. I have read that someone in the forum got 16s in an exi without air conditioning if I am not mistaken.
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Old 24th April 2022, 23:20   #4
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Re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

Hey snehanshuchk, congratulations on buying the iconic Honda! Can you also share the cost of ownership including the base price paid (approximates/ballparks) would also be helpful. Are you also looking to remap the engine later (and not now since you mentioned that the car has been driving well).
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Old 24th April 2022, 23:37   #5
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Re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

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Originally Posted by youknowitbetter View Post
Are you also looking to remap the engine later (and not now since you mentioned that the car has been driving well).
I would love to but I think remaps on the d-series ECU is not possible. I would have to buy a standalone ECU for that and I am not currently looking to increase the engine performance, mostly focused on improving the driving dynamics of the car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by youknowitbetter View Post
Can you also share the cost of ownership including the base price paid (approximates/ballparks) would also be helpful.
Sure!
Parts were bought from Boodmo.com or some local stores in Kolkata

Car-80K
Tires-22k including 14inch steel rims and alignment
Headlight assembly- 3k each
Control arms-around 2k each
Suspension Bush kit-1k
Radiator-3.8k
Fuel Filter-550/-
Brake master cylinder-900/-
Brake shoe-660/-
V-belts-800/-
Spark Plugs-200/- each
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Old 25th April 2022, 07:35   #6
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Re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

Congratulations. You can't go wrong with this car. Maintained well it is unbreakable. A colleague of mine owns a Mercedes S and this Honda!! The S is for his partner and the Honda for himself - and I've seen him with it since at least C.2003! I kid you not. All the very best.
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Old 25th April 2022, 10:50   #7
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Re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

Congrats on buying one of the most iconic cars to be sold in India. Glad you got the 1.5L and not the 1.3L, although a Vtec would have been something else.

Due to the age & 6 owners, you can expect work to pop up on a frequent basis. As long as the fundamentals of the car are good (engine + gearbox + monocoque), don't worry about the small stuff. That being said:

- Don't go overboard spending money on it. End of the day, it's a very cheap old sedan. You will soon outgrow it. In all probability, you are perhaps the final owner of the car before it is scrapped.

- Don't take it on the highway. You are young and it's easy to get carried away with 100 horses. Not a good idea when you're so young.

- This car is fun <100 kmph and very scary over it. Due to your car's age, I'll say its fun <80 kmph and scary over it.

Here's my car. Small video for your aural pleasure


Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car-img_3286.jpg
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Old 25th April 2022, 11:30   #8
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Re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post

Here's my car. Small video for your aural pleasure
Wow! it looks and sounds really nice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
This car is fun <100 kmph and very scary over it. Due to your car's age, I'll say its fun <80 kmph and scary over it.
Yes absolutely, 80-90kmph is my limit when on highways, but this car is mostly driven in the city only.
Since you are advising me to not go overboard spending money on it, should I buy the new OEM dampers for this car and not go aftermarket?
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Old 25th April 2022, 14:21   #9
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Re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

Congratulation on your purchase of the timeless beauty! A few words of suggestion from my end as well (currently owning 3 vtec's, sold 1).

You have 2 options to get the driving dynamics sorted on the ohc

1. Get a pair of strut braces (1 for the front and 1 for the back), this will increase chassis stiffness and you will feel confident at triple digit speeds.

2. Get the current shockers re-worked with a higher grade oil, till you purchase a Geicko, GAB or a used set of JAnand coilovers!.

3. If you dont want to invest in a set of coilovers, get the grade of the oil changed and switch the springs from stock to a set of cobra's.

Ideally, you should have gone for a set of 195/60/14's but 185/65's are also fine!

Also, you can take the car to "Alok automobile's" as Suman da own's a vtec and he knows the honda city in and out! IMO there is not a place better than his place to get any car serviced in Kolkata!

Enjoy your ride and have fun!

Cheers
Shrey
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Old 25th April 2022, 17:40   #10
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Re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

Congratulations Snehanshu on getting this City as your first car. To see you evolve from being a friend's bright son to a fellow TeamBHPian is truly delighting. It was great to drive besides you to Tribeni last month.

The car looks in good shape & I am sure you will make many good memories out of it.

Drive Safe !!

Cheers,
Pawan
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Old 25th April 2022, 17:47   #11
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Re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssjr0498 View Post
Congratulation on your purchase of the timeless beauty! A few words of suggestion from my end as well (currently owning 3 vtec's, sold 1).

1. Get a pair of strut braces (1 for the front and 1 for the back), this will increase chassis stiffness and you will feel confident at triple digit speeds.

Shrey
Thanks!
Can you suggest to me some places from where I can buy the strut braces for the fronts and rear?
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Old 25th April 2022, 20:20   #12
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Re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

This is absolutely fantastic! I have a question though, how hard it it to obtain fitness certificates for 20+ year old cars like these? Also, how to comply with emission regulations?
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Old 25th April 2022, 21:32   #13
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Re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

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This is absolutely fantastic! I have a question though, how hard it it to obtain fitness certificates for 20+ year old cars like these? Also, how to comply with emission regulations?
This car had fitness certificate till 23 and I don't think obtaining FC for old cars is tough, I don't know the exact process though.
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Old 26th April 2022, 00:05   #14
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Re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

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how hard it it to obtain fitness certificates for 20+ year old cars like these? Also, how to comply with emission regulations?
Well, not sure about other states, but in Kerala, if the car is fit (exterior paint & interiors in good nick, all lights working, number-plates meeting specs etc) when produced for fitness test, it's a breeze. No need for any bribes or agents - I renewed the fitness of my 2005 Baleno in 2020 & that of Dad's 2007 Swift last month.

Emission regulation here is basically a joke. Most cars produced in the last 20-25 years that have been reasonably maintained (annual service etc) will have their emission readings at the bottom of the prescribed range. Case in point our 17 & 15 year old cars referred above.

But cops & MVD will line up around the corner like highway robbers to swoop on folks with latest BS6 cars/bikes asking specifically for PUC certificate. The same morons don't give a damn about the govt/private buses/trucks spewing black smoke. PUC is just a revenue source for state govts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snehanshuchk View Post
I don't know the exact process though.
It's no big deal - most of the paperwork & fees payment is online at the parivahan website. After which you produce the car for physical verification.

Last edited by supremeBaleno : 26th April 2022 at 00:07.
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Old 26th April 2022, 13:05   #15
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Re: Experience of owning a 1998 Honda City 1.5 EXI as a first car

Congratulations on your first aquisition!

This car is the one which made me fall for City nameplate when I was a kid
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