Advice about Hondas

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Mechanics for Hondas See Also Advice about Specific Makes

2008 - 2012 Reviews

Looking for a good Honda mechanic

Oct 2011

I would be grateful if people could recommend a good mechanic for an older (1998) Honda, preferably in the Berkeley/Oakland area. The car runs quite well, but I believe it is in need of several minor repairs and I'm interested in someone who could give us a prioritized 'to do' list with accurate (and hopefully reasonable) estimates. Thank you in advance! Diane



  • Berkeley Minicar W. Berkeley (2)
  • Fairmount Auto El Cerrito
  • Foreign Auto Clinic El Cerrito
  • Oceanworks W. Berkeley

    Non-Dealership Honda Hybrid Repair in the East Bay

    Dec 2009

    Our 2003 Honda Civic hybrid's IMA system needs a look, and we're taking it to Luscious Garage in San Francisco. Luscious has an excellent reputation, but I'd still like to know if there's a good, experienced Honda hybrid mechanic (NOT a dealership!) a little closer to Berkeley. Melanie



  • Berkeley Minicar W. Berkeley
  • Oceanworks W. Berkeley

    Service for my 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid

    Nov 2008

    Can anyone recommend a service place for my 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid? I have used Honda of Oakland in the past but they are expensive and inconveniently located. Does anyone know whether Honda's warranty requires the vehicle to be serviced at a Honda dealership?



  • Berkeley Minicar W. Berkeley

    Routine maintenance for a Honda

    Feb 2008

    I need routine maintenance (30,000 Miles) for my 2004 Honda, which I purchased at Berkeley Honda, when it was Jim Doten. But have heard unfavorable comments about quality of work there now. Any suggestions? Automotive Impaired Gal

    We have been going to Steve's Auto Care in Albany on San Pablo Ave. for about 8 yrs. They are honest, reasonable and good. We have had no complaints in all that time anon
    I used to own a Honda and had it serviced at Berkeley Mini Car at the corner of San Pablo and Dwight. I loved them. The ran a clean shop, always treated me well and were very honest about what really needed to be done and what didn't. They only do Hondas, as far as I know.
    I've been taking my 2004 CR-V to Oakland Honda on B'way, since we moved here in 2005. They've been professional, friendly, accommodating on making service dates and best of all, super FAST getting things done... --Honda Happy
    For Honda servicing: Berkeley Mini Car . Hands down the best. As BPN will tell you... Check out above link for more glowing praise. Rahel
    Go see Mitch at Steve's Auto Repair on San Pablo Ave in Albany. He's great. I've been taking my Honda there for 5 years and haven't had a problem. Honda Happy
    I have two recommendations for Honda servicing, both in West Berkeley. Art's Automotive and Oceanworks both service Japanese cars, both are reliable and environmentally consciencious. I have found both to explain exactly what they feel is needed, will show you the old parts and go through the problem if you like, and are fine to deal with. Oceanworks is probably a little smaller and you will deal with the same people in the office each time, but they usually have a longer wait for an appointment. Bryan in Oakland
    Berkeley Minicar on San Pablo Avenue. Honest and reasonably priced, work primarily on Hondas. MK

    2004 - 2007 Reviews

    Honda car service in Berkeley or nearby?

    Nov 2007

    We just got a new Honda Civic and are looking for a place to get it serviced regularly. Previously, we had a Saturn and went to the dealer, but we don't know about the Honda dealer we bought from in El Cerrito. The sales person was wonderful, but the person closing the deal was so unpleasant--misleading, patronizing, intimidating, and then complaining that he had to work on weekends and thus that we should buy extras for hundreds we didn't need--that we almost walked out and didn't buy the car after all. So we don't know what to expect from that service department and don't want any more unpleasant experiences from them. Is their service department good (not telling one that services are needed when they aren't)? Is the Berkeley Honda service department good/better? Or perhaps there is a place that isn't a dealership that is better? The closer to campus the better for us. Thanks! jc

    Berkeley Mini Car only works on Hondas and has been in business for over 20 years! They are always on the top of the list for service, honesty, dependability, etc. Honda Mom
    I use Berkeley Honda , and am pleased enough with the service I get. It seems pricey, but the service people have always been lovely and accommodating. I boycotted during the strike, but was very glad when the strike was over and I could go back. NC
    Hi- We use and love Berkeley Mini Car . They only service Hondas. We live in SF. Several years ago I took it there for the first time (my husband had been going for years as he had worked in Emeryville). I thought he was crazy until I went in. It was such a pleasant, honest experience. As a woman, I have found most service places frustrating at best but at Berkeley Mini Car, they treated me like I had a brain! Here are some other reviews on BPN. Lots of fans and they deserve it. Good luck! another satisfied customer
    For the very best, trustworthy, smart, quality service for your Honda, go to Steve's Auto at 744 Sab Pablo, 526-3906 (near where Washington Street hits San Pablo). We've been driving Hondas for 25 years and Steve has taken amazing care of them. He used to be head of service for Honda El Cerrito and then branched out on his own, more than 10 years ago. Not only is he smart and knows Hondas inside out, he is the nicest man too, and so ethical. They have won awards for being a green business, and run a nice shop - i think he has a second shop now too. Steve has caught problems that Honda wouldn't tell us about years in advance - he is a master diagnostician. He takes such good care of our Hondas that when we ''upgrade'' to a new one, we have sold ours at top blue book. We currently have an Accord and a Pilot and have had several other Accords, a wagon and a little Prelude in the pre children era. Loved em all and wouldn't go anywhere but Steve's. He also takes care of Toyotas and Subarus and every friend we send there is so happy. Steve's will cost a fraction of what the dealer charges and be twice as good. Happy Honda Mama
    whatever you do, don't go to berkeley honda ! i bought my honda civic last year & the transimission went out...under warranty, took it to berkeley honda for repair, they were willing to replace the transmission at no cost to me (covered under warranty), but wanted to charge me more than 3x's the cost of replacing the motor mounts. they quoted me over priced parts and over 200 labor for each. i called my mechanic for advice. he explained that since they were replacing the transimission, there should be no additional labor required as the trans sits on the mounts so once it's taken from the car, the mounts are easliy accessible. i explained to berkeley honda that they could leave the old mounts in my car and i'd pay a mechanic to replace them b/c of the explanation above. they tried to give me a bargain by offering to charge me for 2 rather than 4 mounts and i held my ground and they put them all in at no additional cost to me. afterward i discovered that the mounts were covered under my warranty as well. honda owner
    Berkeley MiniCar on 2498 San Pablo Ave at Dwight is where we've taken my '93 Honda Civic for nearly 10 years. Their prices are very reasonable, their service is always friendly and professional. We trust that they are not recommending unnecessary repairs. I think that they take pride in keeping old cars like mine going. Their phone number is 841-1221. Honda driver
    For Honda (or general auto service) I would recommend Auto Plus in Albany (on San Pablo across from Albany Bowl, 510 527-0100 ). We take our '06 Accord and '98 Wrangler there for regular and ''irregular'' service, and have been satisfied every time with both the work and the ''vibe'' from the guys who run the place--they are honest and friendly. It is within walking distance of the El Cerritto BART station which is also a plus if you don't have other means of getting there. Todd F
    For great Honda service (and Toyota, Acura, etc) consider RC Imports on Fairmount Ave, right near the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. 526-8084. Very professional, very knowledgeable, very friendly. Owner of a 99 Honda Civic

    Check engine light - Honda Accord

    May 2004

    The ''check engine'' light came on in our Honda Accord a few weeks ago. We took it to Dana Meyer in Albany, who charged us nearly $100 to tell us it was a loose gas cap. (!) Ever since then, we have been tightening it carefully. Now the ''check engine'' light is on again. So, I'm thinking that it was not a loose gas cap after all, but some other problem. I was wondering if any knowledgeable person on the list could let us know what kind of problem this could be. Could it be dangerous? By the way, the engine sounds and runs fine. Thanks for any advice. Cecilia

    I had the check engine light come on in my Honda Civic. The manual suggested a loose gas cap as the primary cause. I retightened the cap but the light stayed on. I read that you can disconnect your battery for a few minutes and that resets the light to off. If there really is a problem, the light will come back on and you have to pay the $100 to get the error code read. There is a way to read the error code yourself by counting a flashing light, but the method is slightly complicated. Note that you have to reset your clock and radio after you reconnect your battery. The light did not come back on for me. You might try it one time and see if this works for you. '97 Civic
    My husband (a competent home mechanic) says: ''The check engine light (CEL) comes on for all sorts of reasons, including an automatic function every 5,000 miles or so, telling you to take it in for regular servicing. There are many other possible reasons. When it comes on your car's computer stores a code, which a mechanic can and should easily figure out. You don't say, but I assume Dana Meyer did this and it came up ''Tighten Gas Cap''. If the light came back on there's another problem, or a defective sensor feeding the CEL, or, entirely possible, that an inattentive mechanic neglected to reset the CEL. Easiest quick solution: disconnect both battery cables and let the car sit for 30 minutes. The resets the CEL. Start the engine and drive around per normal; if the CEL comes back on, there is a problem, even if the engine seems to run fine, but the problem may well be minor. Possibilities include the Oxygen sensor, dirty plugs or other basic tune up needs, or the mechanism by which the CEL triggers in the first place. A thoughtful mechanic should read the codes for free or nearly free, as it takes all of 2 minutes of work. Fixing the problem is of course another question, but as a very general rule, if the CEL is on and the engine seems OK it's likely not a huge problem.'' Hope this helps. MG
    Maybe you should try a different dealership or someone else that services Hondas. We had the exact same problem a few weeks ago with our 1996 Accord. Took it to Doten Honda in Berkeley. When I dropped the car off, they asked about the gas cap, and made a note that I had not checked it. It turned out to be an oxygen censor. They said it was a $300 part, but the replacement was covered under warranty. No problems since. Susan
    Funny you should ask about this...the check engine light just went on for our '96 Honda Civic. (The car's at the dealership even as I type.) The owner's manual says that the check engine light indicates a problem with the emission control system. The owner's manual didn't make it sound like a big emergency, but our car was ''acting funny'' after the light went on, so we had it checked out right away. Of course, after we made the repair appointment, it started driving normally again. The guy at the dealership also didn't sound very concerned. We haven't heard back from the dealership yet, so I don't know for sure, but when we dropped it off this morning, we were told that the repair would likely be covered by the emissions warrenty. Hope this helps. Grace Shannon
    The Check Engine light in my Mazda turned on due to a faulty oxygen sensor (I guess it thought my engine wasn't getting enough oxygen, when in fact it was). My local garage was unable to fix the problem and said I'd have to bring it to a Mazda dealer. Instead, I called mobile car-electronic specialist Dan Stone (D.A. Stone Electrics) at 510 425-3005; he came to my house, looked at my car, shopped for a used oxygen sensor, came back to my house a few days later, and in half an hour, installed the secondhand oxygen sensor. He charged me $95: $20 for the oxygen sensor (they cost several hundred dollars new!) and $75 for an hour of his time (though I think he must have spent more than an hour total, even not including the time for him to drive to and from my house). Nomi
    The check engine light comes on for a variety of reasons. A diagnostic would need to be run to see what codes are coming up. A loose gas cap is one of them, and they charged you a fair price for running a diagnostic -- although they could have cut it, given the circumstances. You may have an entirely different code/problem now. OR, you may just need a new gas cap. I would try that first, and you might even try a bottle of STP and/or a tank of premium gas. These are things that can affect the pressure, and that's one of the factors that trips the check engine light.
    I also have an accord. When this light first came on, I was concerned it was a vital function gone awry. My regular mechanic told me it would take about $800 to fix the catalytic converter. I chose to drive with the light on for about 2 years. Recently I had occasion to go to the dealer for another problem, and had them check it on their computers. They informed me that my catalytic converter was bad, and replaced it to the tune of $1000! Within a week the light was back on. I returned to the dealer, who told me it was indeed the gas cap, which must be twisted with four to five clicks each time it is replaced (who knew???). I was informed that if I didn't do this and the light came back on, I would have to return to the dealer to have the problem taken care of, with a charge at each visit! It is, apparently, indeed the gas cap. I've been twisting the sucker for the past few weeks and voila! no return of the light. My best. Ilene
    While I drive a Pontiac rather than a Honda Accord, I can say that I've had a similar experience to yours -- right down to paying $100 to be told that about my gas cap. Mine continues to come on on occasion, and I have just continued to ignore it, because it always goes away. If they checked it and said your engine is okay, I wouldn't worry about it. This started over a year ago for me, and I haven't blown up yet! :) Katie
    We had that happen on our Toyota Prius, and the mechanic explained that once the system detects inappropriate gas fumes, it can take a few days to re-set itself. We drove all the way to LA and back before our light turned off. Our gas cap has an instruction on it to turn it until it makes a click, or else it isn't tight enough. Perhaps you need a new cap? heidi
    I had this same problem with my Accord - my mechanic said they'd forgotten to reset the light after my last oil change. Hopefully it's the same issue for you. Erin
    I have a Chevy Cavalier, so this may not be that useful. The check engine light kept coming on, so I brought it to the dealer as my regular garage didn't want to mess with it. The dealer ran a diagnostic for about $100 & told me that it wasn't a big problem, but they weren't sure what it was. For a lot more money, they could track down the problem exactly. We lived with for about another 6 months & went back to our garage. They messed around, did some expensive stuff & the light went away for a couple of weeks. When it came back on, the garage took it personally & went over the car with a fine tooth comb (for no charge) & found the problem to be a cheap valve that had burnt out & needed replacing. So, in our case, it was something small & cheap in the electrical system. Ask your garage to start looking at the small, cheap stuff first, before replacing computers & expensive parts. running smooth
    I have a Honda Accord wagon and have had the ''check engine'' light come on twice. Both times it was the oxygen censor in the emmisions system which needed to be replaced. Both repairs were covered under a manufacturer warrenty (not additional purchase. You may want to check with a honda dealer if your car is covered if that is the problem. anon
    You didn't mention what year your Accord is but I had the same problem with my 2000. Luckily it was still under warranty when this happened so the dealer took care of it. It's something fautly with the wiring and it took several months before the dealer (Jim Doten Honda) received the part to correct it. I imagine even if you're not covered by the warranty you should still get the part because it's a defect (not a serious one that requires recall but simply a nuisance to see the light always on.) The owner's manual says this can happen if you don't turn the gas cap three times to hear it click. This did not correct the problem obviously because it's the wiring. Bring your car to the Honda Dealer and if that is the problem I'd go back to the original mechanic and ask for some compensation. $100 is quite a lot to charge for not fixing the problem! BTW - the light has not gone on since (and I'm sure I don't always click the gas cap 3 times!) Hope this helps. Good luck.

    Carseat in CRV

    Sept 2005

    I got a 2005 Honda CRV and I'm very confused about the safest spot to put the carseat. We have a Britax Roundabout that has LATCH and our last car didn't have LATCH b/c it was so old. In the CRV, only the 2 outer seats in the back have LATCH. I thought the middle seat was safest for the carseat? Also, I worry about the side airbags if we put the carseat on the outer seat. I put it in an outer seat, but I'm not sure that's the best option. Anyone out there know? Thanks. Jodi

    put the carseat in the middle with the seat belt and make an appointment with the CHP for them to check your installation (you should do this even if you were to use a latch system). They'll also teach you how to anchor the top of the car seat to the floor - that helps stabilize things quite a bit. And once you turn the seat forward facing, you can use the top anchor provided above the cargo area. ---yes, honda makers are dumb...
    LATCH it seems, might not be as safe as using the lap and shoulder belts. I read something to that effect in Consumer Reports. I have LATCH in my element, but I continue to use the lap/shoulder belt. I reccomend you go to a carseat safety check or call the non-emergency line of you local police department and make arrangements for them to show you the best way to install your seat. 90% of all carseats are installed incorrectly. paula
    You can put the car seat in the middle, just use the two centermost anchors, you just can't put 2 directly next to each other. We have a 2005 CRV & a Marathon and it works out fine (and being able to tilt the passenger seat so far back is a god send on long trips when the little one gets fussy and you can't stop just then!) Lovin' my new CRV
    I don't know about CRVs, or whether it's safe to use a latch hook on the side if you put your carseat in the middle. But according to a mom friend who is also a firefighter, the safest place for a carseat is in the middle, because there is less chance the baby will be hurt if you get impacted on the side of your car. I would recommend taking your car and carseat to a police or fire station and having them help you install it in the safest place and in the safest way - with or without the latch. It may be possible to use the side latch hook even if your carseat if in the middle. Good luck. Gal
    I just had to write in to correct a piece of advice given by one of the respondents to this post. It is *NOT SAFE* to install a carseat in the middle position using the LATCH anchors closest to the middle. The LATCH anchors in the CRV are positioned for the two side seats. If you install a carseat in the middle, you MUST use the seat/shoulder belt. The LATCH anchors are too far apart to safely secure the seat in the middle. Just ask the CHP. --besides, then you can't fold down the small portion of the back seat when you need to

    Honda repair shop for oil changes, etc.

    June 2005

    I am still a little new to the area and I am looking for a Honda repair shop. I would use it mostly for oil changes, barring any emergencies. Hopefully the place would be in Berkeley. Any suggestions? lookin'

    Recommendations received:


  • Berkeley Minicar (2)
  • Carlson's Garage
  • Steve's Auto Care

    Mechanic for 1988 Honda Accord

    June 2004

    I am looking for an affordable honest mechanic for our 1988 Honda Accord. Does anyone have any recommendations for Honda mechanic in East Bay? I have seen the previous recommendations and there are none specifically for Hondas. Thanks! Monique

    Recommendations received:


  • Art's Automotive
  • Berkeley Minicar (2)
  • Jim Doten Honda (2)
  • Marty's Motors
  • Oakland Auto Works
  • Steve's Auto Care