I struggled with constant repairs on domestic cars for years before purchasing this car. WHAT A DIFFERENCE. Bought at 47K miles in 2007 and now have 120K. In that time only ONE thing has ever gone wrong and that was a sensor that only cost $150. It just blows my mind how reliable this thing is. This car is such a smart choice and can be found for under $5K atm. Will be one of the best vehicle investments you ever make.
I got my 03 civic in may of 03. My car now has 145,000 miles on it and the only thing I have done is change the tires, brakes, and batt. The power lock does not lock my driver door anymore but not to worried about that. I still get about 32 mpg in town and 40 on the road. I could not ask for a better first car, after 7 years I would not even think of trading it. Amazing car!
I bought my civic used in 2005 with 37K miles and now have 158K. I have been a stickler with scheduled maintenance and have averaged between 33 and 38 mpg. I go on long drives once a month and it does well, but the seats are uncomfortable and you feel every pebble and crack and on the road. I replaced the ignition coils at 120K, the clutch at 153K and the head gasket replaced at 155K, which was hard to diagnose as the symptoms lead you to think the issue is elsewhere (overheating and heater malfunctioning), and the dealership was clueless. Otherwise it has been good to me. I would recommend buying this car, but if the miles are high look for one with new head gasket!
I've enjoyed driving the car, mileage is great, especially since I drive a lot of miles, but I have had my problems with the car: alternator went at 90k, the trans had a bearing go at 135k (replacement required), paint started peeling at year 4, ECCM (computer) went at 197k, the fabric on the doors started coming off (glue degraded). The engine is still. Though this car hasn't been as worry free as hoped, but with the high mileage accumulated as quick as it was, I would say it has handled as well could be expected with any car, I'll compare my next car when I get one, until then.
We take good care of our car. We put low miles on it every year. At 65,000 miles the transmission should not fail. To make it worse, Honda has no interest in making it right. Be very cautious when buying this car. There may not be many complaints about the '03 transmission now, but they're about to come of age. Do a search for '01 transmission problems and start saving for the impending rainy day. Don't say you weren't warned.