What can I say? I bought this car in October of 1998, it spent two years on a trickle charger while I was stationed overseas from 2001-2003, and then started up like I never left when I got back to the U.S. Aside from the A/C that imploded last summer at 100,000 miles (~1800 bucks to replace the whole system--yikes!) and an exhaust leak noticed at 80,000 (no need to replace), I have had absolutely no problems with this car. Take it in for scheduled maintainance and forget your worries.
Unbelievable reliability, outstanding mileage, design, cabin/trunk space, keep up with scheduled maintainance and it is unfailing.
Exhaust system and A/C are consistent and expensive problems for Civics built in 1998. Mine was no exception. Also, upgrade to wider tires/rims. The stock tires/rims for this model year have the dexterity of aluminum cans while taking corners at speed.