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Honda Needs To Chill Out

Q. My wife and I own a '93 Honda Civic and have gotten to a point where driving around in the Virginia heat and humidity is unbearable. We are considering getting A/C installed in the car.

It's certainly on the tail end of my car's life, but...

My question for you is: Have you heard of any down-sides to getting A/C installed after it has left the showroom floor (doesn't work properly, etc.)? And what would you expect to pay for such an operation?

I assume this is something I should go through the dealer for, correct?

My car's details:

  • 1993 Honda Civic
  • 4 cyl.
  • Manual transmission
  • 106,000

Thank you!

A. There's no reason an A/C unit installed after the car is built shouldn't work as well as one you bought with A/C. In fact, most Japanese cars come off the assembly line without A/C and they are installed at the port of entry or at the dealer. I used to install A/C units in Nissans for over 5 years and if it's done properly, you can't tell the difference between factory or port installed. I've installed both factory units and aftermarket units. My personal choice is the factory units. In fact, I started refusing to put in non-factory units because they were such a pain to install and took longer to do.

This is a job you don't really need to go to the dealer for, but I would recommend it. The car was built with all the required wiring built in, on the assumption that it would get an A/C unit installed. The parts go in and plug right into the harness, no muss, no fuss. You can get an aftermarket A/C unit but they don't fit as well and the inside controls can look a little Mickey Mouse. The upside is, they are cheaper and generally work just as well as a dealer installed unit.

As to weather or not the car can handle it, if the engine is sound and has been well maintained, there's no reason not to go ahead and have one installed. What I would suggest is to take the car in for a complete check up. Compression test, cooling system, motor mounts, the whole nine yards. Once you have an idea what kind of shape your car is in, you can make a more informed decision regarding the upgrade.

You can expect to pay about $800.00 to $1,000.00 for an installation. Shop around, Honda may not have any kits available anymore so you may be forced to go with an aftermarket kit.

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