We Bought a 1998 Honda CR-V.

Used 1998 Honda CR-V EX

Most people know us as Mitsubishi people. And yes, we’ve owned our fair share. However, between Mercedes and me, we’ve owned 9 Hondas, ranging from a 1979 Honda Civic 1200, to a 2000 Civic DX hatchback. We recently returned to our roots, and purchased another Honda, this time a 1998 Honda CR-V.

See Our CR-V!

The fact of the matter is, I’ve always liked the first-gen RD1 models, and this is just like I would’ve wanted it back in ’98: 5MT and 4WD. This is not going to be a highly modified rig. We bought this 1998 Honda CR-V as a vehicle we can take anywhere at any time. It’s not lowered like our Yaris. It’s not rare and lifted like our JDM stuff. Right now the only change from stock is a set of 215/70R15 (a +0 fitment) Toyo Celcius all-weather tires. Fun fact: this is our fourth 1998 Honda (we had a ‘98 Civic Coupe, Sedan, and Prelude SH).

This car is a perfect example of something that needed a bit of love; a silk purse from a sow’s ear if you will. When we test drove it, there was some very apparent clunking noises when going over bumps. The person we bought it from thought it was ball joints. I knew this could be fixed, however. It needed a good cleaning, the digital clock didn’t work; the passenger-side front window wouldn’t roll up. However, it’s pretty clean for a ‘98 and is rust-free; it lived most of its life in Arkansas and Oregon. 

Why A CR-V?

We typically go back to the midwest to visit family for the holidays. This year, flights were ridiculously expensive as were rental car prices. Back in 2018, we took our ’92 Mitsubishi Pajero back and had a blast. Plus, we avoided the hectic holiday travel at airports. You know, this is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but if you’ve ever had to navigate a major airport during Christmas, it’s pretty much the polar opposite. So we thought we’d drive back again this holiday season. But, frankly, I didn’t want to take our rare JDM 4x4s back through the salt and such. So we decided we’d look at something AWD on the used market. We didn’t want to spend a boatload of cash, but wanted something that’ll be happy at Interstate speeds, and something that’d be reliable. I mostly looked at first-gen Toyota RAV4s and the first- and second-gen Honda CR-Vs. Both are hard to find in good shape without a ton of miles. This one had 168,000 miles and was in good overall shape. Plus, unlike our JDM Mitsubishis, they weren’t located on the opposite side of the country.

A Work In Progress

I’ve put a few hundred bucks into this 1998 Honda CR-V thus far. I replaced the rear diff fluid (aka Honda Pump Fluid II), changed out the swaybar end links and bushings (which got rid of the clunking; the ball joints are fine), disconnected the subwoofer wiring (the previous owner kept the booming stereo), fixed the wipers (thanks to some new wiper transmission arms), replaced a defunct washer motor, and put a new cone filter on the short-ram (aka warm-air) intake. The 2.0-liter non-VTEC B20B engine runs strong and with the warm-air intake, it sounds mean. These early crossovers produced an unbridled 126 hp and 133 ft/lbs. of stump-pulling torque. So, uh, they aren’t terribly fast or even super-efficient (we’re getting about 22-23 MPG at highway speeds), but they are reliable and steadfast. By the way, parts for these are ridiculously easy to find and aren’t expensive, either.

The RD1 CR-V is very happy cruising at 75 mph and has cruise control, so it’s great for longer trips. It also has leather seating, which had been swapped from an SE model by a previous owner. It’s not a bad go-anywhere vehicle, and now has 170,000 miles on it. These cute utes will go forever with proper maintenance, as there are members of CR-V Facebook groups with well over 300,000 miles.

This thing isn’t perfect. It’s got its share of light scratches and the rear doors look like they took some hits from shopping carts. But it seems to be a runner; I think it’s got good bones. It’s got new shocks and springs, the clutch has been done, the timing belt is said to be replaced, and it’s in overall good shape.

The Plan? No Plans.

So what are our plans for this CR-V? None, really. There aren’t any plans to lift it or lower it. We might simply keep it through the winter and sell it, frankly. We might hold onto it. Honestly, we’re not sure. We might put some driving lights on it for rural jaunts, but other than that, we plan to just drive it. But so far, the car has been good to us, and we hope it’ll help us make our way to and from the midwest this holiday season.


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