I'm the original owner of a 1999 5th Gen with 260K or so miles. I can do basic maintenance but I'm not terribly mechanically inclined and short on time. I've taken the Prelude to the same dealer-service department for most of the car's life. Having trouble finding an independent shop I can trust in San Diego. I found one that specialized in Hondas but they didn't seem too enthusiastic about working on a 24 year old car with 260K+ miles on it, so I stuck with the dealer.
I'm at the point in the car's life where I have to decide how much longer I want to keep it. Here's a list of repairs the dealer recommends I get done:
Replace clutch $2,146
- Makes a squealing or slipping sound for a moment when the clutch engages in 1st gear. Sound goes away and seems to shift just fine. This only happens in 1st. Been about 130K miles since I've had my trans rebuilt and clutch replaced. I'm leaning towards having this done.
Overhaul oil pump and refill front seal $1,427
- Unsurprisingly the car leaks. They said they want to inspect the timing belt for oil soak. How critical is this issue?
Replace power steering rack and alignment $1,114.
-Power steering rack leaks at both ends. How critical is this issue, too? My previous car did not have power steering, so what if I just didn't have it?
The car is at the shop now. Catalytic converter was just replaced, which was $1,800. Leaning towards replacing the clutch. Any thoughts?
You should only need a new clutch/pressure plate and release bearing. The transmission doesn't need to be rebuilt unless you break a gear or destroy a synchro.
Oil leaking onto the timing belt isn't ideal. Very common for the camshaft seals and front main to be leaking at this mileage if not way sooner. If they're replacing the oil seals, the timing belt needs to be removed anyway so if due, have the belt/tensioner/water pump replaced as well.
I know first hand that Honda is currently out of stock on the steering racks. Finding one rebuilt in the aftermarket is difficult as well. It's not a sealed manual rack so it needs flowing lubrication to assist it - driving a power steering equipped car with the p/s disabled is tougher than a car that did not come with p/s and has a manual rack.
If you enjoy the car and want to keep it - i'd keep looking for a reputable shop to do the work outside of the dealership. I know dealer prices are always high and a smaller shop could offer a better deal and use factory parts. I personally do the work to my cars with all factory Honda parts (only aftermarket if justified such as an aftermarket remanufactured rack due to backorder or discontinuation). It's a shame, as these cars are overall very easy to work on - but flat rate is flat rate at a dealer.
If you're fine with the dealer prices and want to keep the car - go for it.
I've replaced the clutch on my civic and prelude both twice so far. Timing on both cars twice and racks on both as well. Honestly i'm glad I didn't have to pay for a shop, with all the other maintenance items - i'd be in trouble!