Pros: Great Handling Dynamics, Smooth Engine, Looks, Fun Honda
Cons: Back Seat Torture, Plastic Radiator, Top Speed
I bought my 1992 Si 4WS (Wheel Steering) in 1998 at 107k miles. I had been wanting one for a few years and found it at 7900 dollars + tax, title, ect.
Plastic Radiator: One thing you should know about these cars is that if it has the plastic radiator, you should replace it with a metal aftermarket radiator. This is the first investment you should make before mufflers and intakes. It may save your engine from overheating with the resulting damage and performance loss that aftermarket parts cant make up for. My example started overheating but I turned it off as soon as possible and it didnt get damaged but I have heard about the plastic radiators Honda was using for some years and we had the same results with the plastic radiator in our 97 Honda Accord. It is a definite weakness in these Hondas.
Frame and Body: Body is low and wide. Must be careful with the front end and take steep inclines/declines at angles. Honda body frames dont take well to accidents so make sure its not reconditioned (Your better off without it even if you save money!). Even if there is no history of recondition look for signs of damage. This body is very low to the ground and the previous driver could have easily damaged the frame without any signs on the body so make sure the car has no alignment problems. Make sure the hood lines up with the body because this would be a sign of damage (plenty of these at used car lots for a reason). If your car has an alignment problem that can not be fixed then you will never be able to use soft performance tires because they will ruin so fast and keep you from enjoying a great car to the fullest. Plus its just plain annoying. Im starting to get a bit of rust on sun roof but none on body so it looks like Ill be looking for a used part soon. Still has a beautiful red shine.
Engine: The engine revs nicely and roars at high rpms. Like any Honda, the engine will give you many years of trouble free performance unless you mess it up yourself with aftermarket parts that dont work well with each other. I would suggest getting a full tune up when you get it so you can get a feel of how the car is suppose to drive so you can know if something is lacking later. The muffler that comes standard is great to begin with but I have noticed a few other Preludes that are missing the tips for some reason (I guess they come off). Had a bad oil leak for about a year and was saving to fix it. Come to find out it was the oil filter adapter and cost 45 dollars parts and labor, now the engine is sealed up at 174k miles.
Interior: Its obvious from the first time you look into a Prelude that the rear seat is small. I would suggest you put yourself in the back and someone in the front to see exactly how small they are and see if the car is practical for your needs. I dont try to put people in the back seat unless I dont really like them to begin with. I warn people about the back seat and do everything possible to not have someone in the back for long trips. Most of the time people are just happy to be in the car as long as its a short trip when they are in the rear. Front seat passengers, if alone, are never in any need of room and have an excellent view of the road. Gas and Temperature are in the middle of the dash with a clock to the far right. These instruments along with the drivers display of rpm and mph are all under a lip that extends from door to door to provide shadow for contrast of lighted instruments. Lighting control solves any mid day lighting problems well. Something that is common for this model is the door lining made of rubber tends to come off. This can be solved easily and does not represent the build quality of the rest of the car. Overall sitting position is more like a recliner chair than a kitchen table chair because of the overall height of the car. Very comfortable seats make sure you dont hurt your back but getting in and out is a little hard for older people and in some ways it feels exotic. Driver and Passenger airbags are standard along with powerful power windows that have no mercy for anything that gets in the way ie hands.
Tires: One of the best things about this vehicle is how it handles - Awesome. Just about every tire maker has a performance tire or two for this car so things work out well. If you dont have performance tires you are not doing this car justice. I found the best tire that works for me is the Dunlop 9000, very soft performance tire that lets this car shine. Dunlop 8000 came with the car and didnt do too bad either. Under "extreme" braking, the car with dig in and jump to a halt. It's not exotic car braking but its kind of cool. This has saved me on 2 abrupt road obstructions. If I wasnt going so fast I wouldnt have needed to test the limits but its a good thing that the ability was there.
Audio: Factory radio should be replaced and speakers also. Audio wasnt too great when I got it and I soon blew the speakers. Radio Antenna motor went out so I just pulled it out manually and radio works fine. The car comes with good spots for audio, 2 on the dash, 2 on the doors and 2 in the back. I customized it so long ago I dont remember sizes of original speakers. My trunk was small to begin with so I put in a box and now I have no trunk.
Conclusion: The RSX fills the niche of the Prelude and Integra for Honda but I say Honda should reissue this body or something very close with modern upgrades.
January 17, 2004 Just had to replace starter at 174.5K miles $119 + tax with lifetime warranty. Also found a loose vacuum hose when replacing the starter. Much more meat behind the throttle now. Check those hoses!
August 28, 2004 Had to replace water pump because it went out at 182k miles. While I had it in the shop I also had the timing belt changed, two of them on this engine. Total came out to $240 with parts & labor.
January 8, 2005 - 193.5k Miles, had to add some power steering fluid after hearing a whine and odd engine idle. Yes, it was low and I hadnt checked fluids in a while! That took care of both issues. Still runs strong but ABS warning light is on now. Brakelight warning also comes on every now and then but the lights are working. Car brakes normally but it's time to take her into the shop. 4WS light is on so that needs to go to the Honda dealership for a look over. I doubt anyone else will know what to do but I doubt even Honda does after this many years. Resale value on this car has held up very nice for an example in full working condition. Im thinking perhaps I'll sell at a good discount for a down payment.