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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've made the commitment to fix up my 1988 CRX Si. I just can't bear to part with it - still super fun to drive, still gets 33MPG. And it's paid for!

I'm thinking of restoring to factory new condition. Keeping it stock. Restoring it to its original magnificence. Is this even possible? Help me out here folks, if you will!

This is a long post, and pretty much every part of the car needs a little work, so read on if you dare - any bit of advice you can offer would be appreciated. Thanks! :)

I had some front end wobble developing, so I put new Fulda Assuros on the front, which mostly fixed the problem... love those tires. Not quite as much as those Yokohamas they stopped making for it, but pretty darn good. I've seen them on other CRXes out there, anybody else have a favorite tire that's both sticky and long-wearing like these? By the time I get done with this project I'll probably need a whole new set lol. At least tires are relatively inexpensive with those 14" rims!

I'm going to get an alignment also, but I suspect I may have a CV joint or some other issue like a bearing happening. I should probably have that looked at first before the alignement, yes? There's still a little bit of wobble on occasion, but the new front tires haven't "bit" yet, so it's really hard to tell. The other thing is that I had new front struts put on 30,000 miles ago, and I noticed that the front tires wore out on the inside edges. Some canter/toe issue here? Any advice on this one? Maybe they put on the wrong thing for this car?

The rear suspension is special in the 88 CRX Si. Anything I need to do to tune up the suspension and restore it to factory condition? New struts perhaps?

Had the catalytic converter replaced last year to pass smog. Muffler looks ok. Still has those corny stainless dual tips :)

She just turned 200,000 miles. I've been doing regular oil changes and using full synthetic for a while now. Do you think synthetic is still the way to go on this high-mileage CRX? Enquiring minds want to know :)

I was going to bring her in for a tune-up - can't remember when the timing belt was replaced last. I understand this is the most important item to make sure I get done. Then the water pump? Is that right? Any other tips on what to have the mechanic check out at that time would also be appreciated. Perhaps a compression test? At what point would you say a rebuild is in order? Or just new head gaskets? etc.? What else can I easily do to prop up the performance of this little engine, but remain fully stock?

The one thing that was added as an aftermarket addition was cruise control, which I loved, until it stopped working a few years ago. Any advice?

Oh and this is at least the second stereo that has crapped out or been stolen. I was thinking of doing Sony again (maybe CDX-GT310?) since Sony's what's in there now and so the wiring harness maybe wouldn't have to be changed, with Polk speakers (I like those). It's 6.5" in the front and rear both, right? Or did the rear speaker installation have some latitude? How do I get the rear strut speaker grilles of to have a look?

At some point I had a mild front-end collision and needed a radiator replacement. At that time we decided that the A/C was leaking and wasn't worth fixing, so we disconnected it. But now I see used A/C units complete on here for cheap. What are the chances of getting this working again? Is it worth it?

Speaking of heating and cooling, like so many CRXes, the climate control panel is broken and the temperature knob is screwy and I have to baby it to get it to work. I've seen a few climate control panels on here, but they do seem rare. Is it worth hunting one down and putting in a new heater core to get some heat going in this puppy? I live in sunny CA, for me heat is mostly optional, but my girlfriend doesn't seem to think so :)

As for the body, I've got someone sending me a sunroof assembly to fix that problem. Then I'm still looking for corner lenses - one is broken. One of the projection headlights has what looks like serious road gravel or BB gun impact damage, although you can't see it during the day, only at night with the headlights on. I should probably buy lenses and lights in pairs so they match, eh? I've heard fit can vary widely if they're not stock parts here.

I have a few dings in the hood from years back - can they be banged out or would it be better to fill them? The carbon fiber hood solution has been suggested, but doesn't really seem in the spirit of the stock restoration... Two small dimples, you don't want to know how that happened... in my younger days, as the song goes...

The door on the driver's side suffered an impact at some point. It's in not so good shape. Can I find a used one to put on that might be easier and better, just swapping the internal elements? The window is scratched from the crappy body shop repair, a whole new door might be the way to go here.

I do have a few patches of rust. Not too bad though. The hood and roof are down to the primer, and there are some scratches throughout. There is a bubble developing along the windshield I understand a grinder and bondo are the thing for this? I saw at Honda they still have some body panels available, it would just be the rear driver's side, but that sounds like a real freaking pain in the ass to change out a body panel. Six of one, half dozen of the other? Probably about the same cost, since I won't be doing the body work myself... but what's better? Maybe I should learn? Seems like the old panel may fit better, eh?

Then I was thinking of having the whole thing repainted black, perhaps with an irridescent topcoat, like the native Brewer's Blackbird... then naming her Blackbird. Any advice on what to look for in a paint job? Is enamel the best? What's quality paint going to run me? I hear irridescent topcoat is pricey.

And what about all of those aluminium pieces that were anodized black and have worn away? Like the windshield wipers, the top part of the door window trim, the top part of the hatch? What can be done about that?

For the interior I was considering replacing the seats and carpet, which I can get. I'm missing the lock for the storage tray in back (broken into once, they just pulled it out). The headliner on the sunroof should come with the new sunroof unit, but the visors are starting to sag. Also the rear compartment cover pieces are in sad shape, and of course, I haven't had struts on my hatch working in years lol. Any advice on good replacement struts? Like ones that will last longer than a year?

Lastly I need one plastic cap for the stock 7 teardrop Si alloy rims. They still have them at Honda, but I'm hoping I won't have to pay the nearly $50 they want for this little piece of plastic lol. I might be able to just get a whole new set of these rims, that I love dearly, for around $200... I've seen them around. Any advantage to keeping the original and slightly dinged up rims?

So this should keep me busy until I get rich and can fly to Britain and buy a 3 door Civic Type R and ferry it over, or they start selling those here :)
 

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spartca said:
I'm thinking of restoring to factory new condition. Keeping it stock. Restoring it to its original magnificence. Is this even possible? Help me out here folks, if you will!
Yes, it's possible but won't be cheap and will take time. I'm not trying to discourage you but just being honest. OEM Honda parts are expensive but hey the first ones lasted 19 years. I've been doing a slow restoration on my car so maybe I can help.

I had some front end wobble developing, so I put new Fulda Assuros on the front, which mostly fixed the problem... love those tires. Not quite as much as those Yokohamas they stopped making for it, but pretty darn good. I've seen them on other CRXes out there, anybody else have a favorite tire that's both sticky and long-wearing like these? By the time I get done with this project I'll probably need a whole new set lol. At least tires are relatively inexpensive with those 14" rims!
Front end wobble can be anything from worn bushings to bad ball joints. To test the ball joint put your car up on jackstands grab the top and bottom of the tire. If you have any play (eve a tiny bit) - bad ball joint. Replace it immediately, it's dangerous. If you do the same test but grab the tire at nine and three o'clock, and have play then you may need inner or outer tie rod. They aren't expensive or even hard to fix. Replacing bushings is time consuming but should help "tighten up" your suspension.

I'm going to get an alignment also, but I suspect I may have a CV joint or some other issue like a bearing happening. I should probably have that looked at first before the alignement, yes? There's still a little bit of wobble on occasion, but the new front tires haven't "bit" yet, so it's really hard to tell. The other thing is that I had new front struts put on 30,000 miles ago, and I noticed that the front tires wore out on the inside edges. Some canter/toe issue here? Any advice on this one? Maybe they put on the wrong thing for this car?
Minor wear on the inside of Honda tires is normal. All Hondas wear the inner edges of the tire first. But if your showing abnormally fast wear then you need as alignment. Have your toe set as close to zero as possible. At 30K your shocks should be fine.

The rear suspension is special in the 88 CRX Si. Anything I need to do to tune up the suspension and restore it to factory condition? New struts perhaps?
New struts and bushings would do wonders.

She just turned 200,000 miles. I've been doing regular oil changes and using full synthetic for a while now. Do you think synthetic is still the way to go on this high-mileage CRX? Enquiring minds want to know :)
There are several members here with cars way over 200K. Regular oil/filter changes and scheduled maintenance are the key. Synthetic oil just allows you to go further between changes.

I was going to bring her in for a tune-up - can't remember when the timing belt was replaced last. I understand this is the most important item to make sure I get done. Then the water pump? Is that right? Any other tips on what to have the mechanic check out at that time would also be appreciated. Perhaps a compression test? At what point would you say a rebuild is in order? Or just new head gaskets? etc.? What else can I easily do to prop up the performance of this little engine, but remain fully stock?
If you have the timing belt replaced have the water pump replaced at the same time (water pump is driven by the belt). Use only a Honda OEM TB and water pump. If your car isn't buring excessive oil or mysteriously losing coolant you probably don't need a compression check or rebuild. For performance while keeping it stock, try a K&N filter element, complete tuneup, valve adjustment, and replace your O2 sensor.

The one thing that was added as an aftermarket addition was cruise control, which I loved, until it stopped working a few years ago. Any advice?
Buy a new aftermarket cruise, no USDM CRX came with factory cruise.

Oh and this is at least the second stereo that has crapped out or been stolen. I was thinking of doing Sony again (maybe CDX-GT310?) since Sony's what's in there now and so the wiring harness maybe wouldn't have to be changed, with Polk speakers (I like those). It's 6.5" in the front and rear both, right? Or did the rear speaker installation have some latitude? How do I get the rear strut speaker grilles of to have a look?
The front speakers inside the factory cups are actually 5 1/4". Take the cups out and you can put thin profile 6.5" in. I don't quite understand your rear speaker grill question.

At some point I had a mild front-end collision and needed a radiator replacement. At that time we decided that the A/C was leaking and wasn't worth fixing, so we disconnected it. But now I see used A/C units complete on here for cheap. What are the chances of getting this working again? Is it worth it?
That's up to you. You haven't missed AC up til now, what's changed? If you do elect to fix it look into a R134 conversion by a professional auto AC shop (that's what I did, expensive as heck but I live in the south).

Speaking of heating and cooling, like so many CRXes, the climate control panel is broken and the temperature knob is screwy and I have to baby it to get it to work. I've seen a few climate control panels on here, but they do seem rare. Is it worth hunting one down and putting in a new heater core to get some heat going in this puppy? I live in sunny CA, for me heat is mostly optional, but my girlfriend doesn't seem to think so :)
Ebay is best bet for a replacement climate control. They show up semi regularly and tend to go for $150+ w/unbroken face. There's also someone selling aluminum plates that fit over broken covers making them look perfect.

As for the body, I've got someone sending me a sunroof assembly to fix that problem. Then I'm still looking for corner lenses - one is broken. One of the projection headlights has what looks like serious road gravel or BB gun impact damage, although you can't see it during the day, only at night with the headlights on. I should probably buy lenses and lights in pairs so they match, eh? I've heard fit can vary widely if they're not stock parts here.
Again Ebay or sellers here for OEM replacement lenses.

I have a few dings in the hood from years back - can they be banged out or would it be better to fill them? The carbon fiber hood solution has been suggested, but doesn't really seem in the spirit of the stock restoration... Two small dimples, you don't want to know how that happened... in my younger days, as the song goes...
Unless you're a good at bodywork I'd search for another dent free CRX hood. Or you could just have a CF painted to look OEM.

The door on the driver's side suffered an impact at some point. It's in not so good shape. Can I find a used one to put on that might be easier and better, just swapping the internal elements? The window is scratched from the crappy body shop repair, a whole new door might be the way to go here.
Sounds like you need another '88 door. IIRC the '88 door is different from every other year. Another junkyard part.

I do have a few patches of rust. Not too bad though. The hood and roof are down to the primer, and there are some scratches throughout. There is a bubble developing along the windshield I understand a grinder and bondo are the thing for this? I saw at Honda they still have some body panels available, it would just be the rear driver's side, but that sounds like a real freaking pain in the [booya] to change out a body panel. Six of one, half dozen of the other? Probably about the same cost, since I won't be doing the body work myself... but what's better? Maybe I should learn? Seems like the old panel may fit better, eh?
The only proper way to repair rust is to grind it completely out then weld in new metal. It's expensive and labor intensive. There are cheaper/easier methods but they aren't permanent.

Then I was thinking of having the whole thing repainted black, perhaps with an irridescent topcoat, like the native Brewer's Blackbird... then naming her Blackbird. Any advice on what to look for in a paint job? Is enamel the best? What's quality paint going to run me? I hear irridescent topcoat is pricey.
The only advice I can give about paint is - you get what you pay for.

And what about all of those aluminium pieces that were anodized black and have worn away? Like the windshield wipers, the top part of the door window trim, the top part of the hatch? What can be done about that?
For wiper arms cheap fix - Krylon Semi Flat black spray paint, expensive fix - have them powder coated. The other parts you mentioned have to be replaced.

For the interior I was considering replacing the seats and carpet, which I can get. I'm missing the lock for the storage tray in back (broken into once, they just pulled it out). The headliner on the sunroof should come with the new sunroof unit, but the visors are starting to sag. Also the rear compartment cover pieces are in sad shape, and of course, I haven't had struts on my hatch working in years lol. Any advice on good replacement struts? Like ones that will last longer than a year?
Honda discontinued the seat parts years ago so your options are Ebay, sellers here, or an upholestery shop. You can buy Mitey Lift hatch struts at any parts store.

Lastly I need one plastic cap for the stock 7 teardrop Si alloy rims. They still have them at Honda, but I'm hoping I won't have to pay the nearly $50 they want for this little piece of plastic lol. I might be able to just get a whole new set of these rims, that I love dearly, for around $200... I've seen them around. Any advantage to keeping the original and slightly dinged up rims?
Again Ebay, sellers here, or the dealer. The advantage to keeping the original rims? Well, no one will be tempted to steal them. Believe it or not, the CRX is real theft target for a nearly 20 year old economy car. I hope this helped.......
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your helpful posts!

I am especially grateful for the simple front-end troubleshooting tips :) Thanks Ti Rider!

Don't think I'll be building a rotisserie and taking her down to the metal... for $50k I can fly to the UK, pick up a 2007 Civic Type R, ferry it over, and pay customs on it. But thanks for the link to full restoration techniques baker423! "Fixing up" is more like what I'm doing lol...
 

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ive got an 88 Si as well and presently my only aspiration is to make it as comfortable as possible as a daily driver. (that MIGHT be changing soon...)

its been well taken care of for most of its life by the previous owner who pampered it at the honda dealer. so i didnt have to do much.

suspension wise, make sure everything is in good working condition and all pieces are tight. play in the suspension is the cause for a harsh ride. raise your car up and SHAKE everything. grab a handful of control arm, tie rod, wheel or knuckle and SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE. isolate issues with your hand. have a friend move the steering wheel vigorously side to side while you hold on to the wheel and feel for play.

im going to guess your steering rack needs an overhaul if it hasnt already. but dont worry, its not expensive. just tricky to do. you just need to replace the RACK END BUSHING. $10 piece. its on the passenger side. you dont have to replace the whole rack! the only other rebuildable part is the pinion bearing. i dont think that really goes bad.

30,000 miles on what shocks? 30k is a lot of miles actually. i recommend getting new shocks. i specifically recommend tokico illuminas. even if youre using stock springs, they can be tuned to your preference. theyre a great value for under $400. lifetime warranty.

im so glad my AC works. i wouldnt do without it as a daily driver. you can get replacement parts from the junkyard or ebay. but the key is making sure you dont have a leak. youll need to make sure your parts dont leak after all this time, especially if its sat unused. i think AC work is specialized and they charge a lot for labor, but unfortunately, i dont think theres any other way around going to a professional for AC work.

as for tires, i recommend dunlop sport a2. i know a lot of ppl like yokohama ES100, i dont. maybe im bitter that they replaced my previously favorite avs intermediates. but ive heard enough bad things (and maybe ignored the good) that i dont care for them. those dunlops are a great daily driver if you dont have real performance aspirations. if you do, then youll can step up to hankook ventus rs2 Z212. they come in 14" and are a good performance tire. theyre like old azenis. a step in the other direction, cheaper, less performance, is yokohama V4/T4 (whatever it is now). i have them on my 13" tires, and theyre not too bad really. just keep the air pressure in the high 30's and they wont squeel.

is your exhaust manifold stock? thats the ONLY engine mod i have on my A6, and i fully recommend changing it out for a LATER MODEL D-SERIES CIVIC, like a Z6 or Y8 cast 4-2-1 manifold over the stock 4-1 choker. it opens a lot of pep in the engine.

as for 88's having a special rear suspension, well the only thing you should be aware of in terms of modifying or replacing is the rear lower control arm is unique to 88 year only. it affects the rear shock mounting. and THATS IT. its otherwise interchangeable with 89-91 (even 92-95) civic arms. i dont want to go into the dumb "88 passive rear steering" myth. perhaps in another thread. but you dont have to worry about it, passive rear steering is available in just about any civic, integra, or even accord made since 1984. its just called toe control. 88's just have it a bit more tweaked starting that model year and then toned down. you cant adjust it, its built into the chassis.

thats enough for now...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hey thanks tyson for the additional tips!

I love the rack and pinion steering, it was quite a selling point for me on this car. I love the feel of the road it conveys and the precision of the steering. It might well be time for that bushing to be replaced.

The guys at the shop were confused by the rear strut mount apparently, the mystique had them in its grip lol. So these are actually the original struts of 200,000 miles on the back!!! Time for new struts all around I imagine. It's amazing it handles as well as it does after all these years - what a car.

I've been shopping around for new cars, and the question I ask the salesperson is "Is this a 20 year car like the Honda I'm driving?" They just look at me and shake their heads. Probably thinking "damn hippie" lol.
 

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Sorry to get off topic... tyson, do you prefer the RS2 over the new Azenis? Just curious, they are about the same in price. Stef has the Hankooks on his CRX, and I have the new Azenis (replaced my old ones). I haven't swappped wheels yet to compare the tires on the same car. The only big difference (for performance anyway) that I noticed between the 215 and 615 Azenis is the sidewall stiffness, the RS2s don't seem to have a stiff sidewall either though.
 

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i havent used the RS2's quite frankly. im still on my original azenis actually! (had them before the "internet public" knew of them) theyre mounted on my MR5's which i dont use much (but will be using this weekend for the socal ef meet). i will be replacing them eventually with RS2's i think. its just the feedback ive acquired is that the 215's and RS2's are very comparable, in performance and original price.

btw, i have kumho ecsta spt's on my s2000. theyre a good street tire. they get greasy easily, even in the back roads. but plenty of grip around town. just dont come in a 14" size.

and i have used the dunlops on stock 14" Si alloys that came with the car when i got it 3 years ago. its a good fit since they come in many different sizes and widths. i sold them tho to get rid of my stockies. im going to replace my other crappy jdm toyos that came with the 14" black racing wheels (like rs watanabes) i currently am using with the dunlops soon. theyre practically bald....

dont ask me how many different wheels i have in my garage....
 

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How many wheels DO you have in your garage!?

Maybe I'll start a tire thread later... autoX season is approaching in the colder regions anyway. I'd really like to see some comparison between the 615s and RS2, I'm considering moving up to 15" wheels and I would then be in the market... I was pleasantly surprised at the level of performance the 615s were at, I was one of those new-Azenis haters when I was rocking my 215s still. Ok enough thread jacking... I'll start a tire thread!
 

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spartca said:
Thanks for your helpful posts!

I am especially grateful for the simple front-end troubleshooting tips :) Thanks Ti Rider!

Don't think I'll be building a rotisserie and taking her down to the metal... for $50k I can fly to the UK, pick up a 2007 Civic Type R, ferry it over, and pay customs on it. But thanks for the link to full restoration techniques baker423! "Fixing up" is more like what I'm doing lol...
Well you did say...

spartca said:
I'm thinking of restoring to factory new condition. Keeping it stock. Restoring it to its original magnificence. Is this even possible?
Just didn't know how indepth of a restoration you were looking at getting into and wanted to give you some sort of idea. :D
That full restoration car in the link is also getting a full K series swap, which is a good chunk of change comapred to a stock d motor.
I guess fixing up would be a better term. :D
 

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to continue the thread jack... i just put my azenis back on. they still have about maybe 1/3 tread left. and i remember why i dont like to use them....

theyre crazy LOUD. road noise, sheesh! low speed, decelerating, coasting, hwy cruising. way too much road noise.

but they still grip like crazy :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It turned out I had a bad front drivers side bearing, had that replaced. Funny you guys should mention tires...the rear tires were badly cupped. Those two things seemed to be the suspension culprits, causing all that wobble and noise.

So a new bearing, new tires, a little bit of a suspension tune-up, and it's like I have a whole new car! Smooth and silent again, just how I like it :) The wheel is now rock steady, except there's still the teensiest bit of wobble around 50 MPH... nothing compared to how it was though.

Got a rebuilt sunroof from someone on here, going to put that in. Plus some replacement corner lenses. That should spruce things up a bit.

Then I have to take a serious look at the rust cancer. I know decent bodywork costs an arm and a leg, and lots of guys do it themselves.

I was thinking of parking it in the driveway for a while to do the sunroof, grind out all the rust, and bondo it up. In the meantime, I was considering a pimped-out RSX to drive around while I work on the CRX... do you think that's cheating? LOL

But seriously, any advice you have on putting in the replacement sunroof, removing body rust, bondoing and primering, and then shopping for a paint job would be greatly appreciated.
 
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