Honda Civic Type R EP3 Buying Guide & History

The EP3 Civic Type R is one of the most loved hot hatches of all time. It was the first Civic Type R sold new in countries other than Japan and it put much more expensive cars to shame with its incredible driving dynamics.

We have put together a buyer’s guide for the Civic Type R EP3 that will give you all the information you need to know before purchasing one of these incredible little Hondas.

How to Use This Type R Buyer’s Guide

This guide is broken up into different sections, so use the table of contents below to skip to the section you want to read. To start with we will be looking at the history of the EP3 Civic Type R and then we will be diving into the buyer’s guide section of the article.

At the end of this article we will be looking at more general car buying advice for the EP3 and how to import one from Japan.

History of the EP3 Honda Civic Type R (2001 – 2005)

Also known as the Mk2, the EP3 Honda Civic Type R was launched in 2001 and was based on the 3-door hatchback. While the original Type R Civic was manufactured in Japan, this model was produced in Swindon, England and featured a 197 horsepower K20 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine.

The European EP3 continued the trend of a seam welded chassis and a close ratio transmission, which was now up to six gears from the previous generation’s five. It also featured upgraded brakes over the standard car but was missing some of the features of the JDM EP3 such as the helical limited-slip differential and red Recaro bucket seats.

Honda manufactured the JDM spec EP3 in the same factory in Swindon and then shipped them to Japan for sale. The JDM EP3 Type R retained the highly renowned helical limited-slip diff from the EK9 and the red Recaro seats.

Japanese EP3 cars also featured a more track-orientated chassis and a more powerful 212 horsepower version of the i-VTEC engine. The JDM car’s VTEC engine had a fully balanced crankshaft assembly with a higher-lift camshaft, a different exhaust manifold, higher-compression pistons, an updated ECU and a chrome-moly flywheel.

All of the engines for the Japanese spec Type R were produced in Japan and then shipped to Swindon to be installed. Japanese models were available in ‘Championship White’, the Type R’s traditional colour. European models were not available in this colour.

The EDM version of the Type R featured more relaxed gear ratios and high rpm torque was traded for lower rpm torque. Thanks to its more powerful engine, the JDM model could hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.2 seconds, while European models had to settle for 6.4 seconds.

Honda updated the EP3 in 2003 with a number of improvements such as revised suspension settings, quicker steering, projector headlamps (JDM came with halogens, while EDM models came with the option of HIDs with self-levelling motors), and a lighter clutch and flywheel assembly.

The revised suspension and steering setup was aimed at addressing complaints about the Type R’s numb steering response and understeer at the limit.

Civic Type R 30th Anniversary

To celebrate 30 years of the Civic, Honda launched a special 30th Anniversary edition of the Type R in 2003. This special edition Type R Civic features red Recaro bucket seats, air conditioning, a leather Momo steering wheel, red interior trim, and privacy glass on the rear windows. Only 300 of these models were produced with 100 being available in each colour (Nighthawk Black, Satin Silver, and Milano Red).

Civic Type R Premier Edition

At the end of the EP3’s production run, Honda created the Premier Edition, which featured red and black Recaro seats, a Momo steering wheel, a darker shade of fabric on the rear seat centre sections, red interior trim, privacy glass on the rear windows, and “Type R” embossed onto the front brake calipers. These were available in Nighthawk Black, Satin Silver, Milano Red and Cosmic Grey.

Civic Type R C Package

Honda launched the “C Package” option for JDM Type R Civics in 2004. These cars were available in an additional colour, Satin Silver Metallic, and also featured HID lighting, privacy glass on the rear windows, automatic air conditioning and an outside air temperature sensor.

Make sure you check out our article on the complete history of the Honda Civic.

Honda Civic Type R EK9 Specifications

ModelEP3 JDM/EDM
Year of production2001 – 2005
LayoutFront-engined, front-wheel drive
EngineInline-4, K20A (JDM)/ K20A2 (EDM)
Capacity1998 cc
Power

(hp)

212 (JDM)/ 197 (EDM)
Torque

(lb ft)

144
Gearbox6-speed manual
Tyres205/45/R17
Weight1204 kg
Top speed244.6 km/h (152 mph)
0 – 100 km/h (62 mph)6.2 seconds (JDM) 6.4 seconds (EDM)

Honda Civic Type R EP3 Buying Guide

The second-generation Civic Type R is one of the best hot hatches of the period and there are still quite a few good examples out there. Below we have included everything you need to know about buying one.

Try to inspect any EP3 Civic Type R in person or get a third party to do so for you. While the EP3 is a reliable car, any vehicle can cause headaches if they are not maintained properly, so make sure you get the car inspected!

If possible, organise an inspection of an EP3 Type R in the morning when the engine is cold. Warm engines can hide lots of different problems, so don’t let the owner pre-heat the car before you arrive.

Additionally, try to avoid viewing a Type R EP3 in the rain or when it is wet. The reason for this is because water can hide a number of issues with the paint and/or bodywork.

Vin Location

We always recommend that you check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of an EK9. The VIN on an EK9 Type R should look something like this: EK9-#######.

Condition

The EP3 Type R is a fairly robust and reliable performance car, but they can cause trouble if they are not looked after properly. We have broken this buyer’s guide up into a number of sections that relate to different areas of an EP3.

Engine

To start your inspection of the engine, open the bonnet and have a good look at the engine bay – Does it look clean and well maintained, or do you see signs of trouble?

The next thing to do is to check that all the fluid levels are at the correct height. If they are not it is a sign of poor maintenance. Incorrect fluid levels will accelerate wear on the engine and other components of the car.

If the oil warning light is on due to low oil level, you should move onto another EP3. This is because damage may have already occurred.

Check to see if the oil and oil filter have been changed at the recommended service intervals or before. Old oil that sits at the bottom of an EP3’s crankcase will breakdown overtime and can become diluted in the presence of contaminates, leading to premature engine wear. Below we have listed the recommended service intervals for the oil and oil filter.

Engine oil – Honda states that oil should be changed every 20,000 km (12,500 miles) or every 12 months for normal conditions. Some enthusiastic owners like to do it every 10,000 km (6,000 miles) or every six months, but this is probably only recommended if the car is driven hard regularly. Somewhere in the middle, 14,000 km (9,000 miles), is probably a happy medium if you want to change it a bit sooner.

Replace with good quality synthetic 5W-30 or 5W-40 (30 better in cold climates, 40 better in warm and for hard/track use). Something like Royal Purple’s 5W-30 engine oil is a good option for EP3 Type Rs that are just used on the road. If the car burns a bit of oil on 5W-30, it may be a good idea to switch to 5W-40.

Oil filter – The filter should be changed every 20,000 km (12,500 miles), but some owners will change it earlier if they do an oil change at lower miles. Hamp or OEM oil filters are the most recommended filters for EP3 Type R Civics.

If you notice any contaminates or metallic particles in the oil you should move onto another EP3. Black oil is okay and just indicates that it is probably time for an oil change. If you notice that the oil smells of coolant, it could be a sign that the head gasket is failing/failed. Alternatively, oil that smells of fuel could indicate that the piston rings are worn.

Change the air filter every 48,000 km (30,000 miles) for normal condition uses and every 24,000 km (15,000 miles) for severe condition uses (hard driving, stop-start driving, etc.)

Burning Oil

If the EP3 Type R you are looking at burns a bit of oil, find out what oil the owner uses. If they use something like 5W-30, consider switching to 5W-40. Additionally, a car that burns oil can also have more serious issues, so be mindful of that when inspecting any EP3.

Timing Chain and 75K Service

The K20 engine used in the EP3 Type R Civic uses a timing chain instead of a belt, so you don’t need to worry about replacing it. If the owner states that the timing chain has been replaced it is probably because they are:

  1. Lying thinking it sounds better
  2. very cautious and they like preventative maintenance
  3. the car has something wrong with it (Timing chain has stretched, etc.)
  4. They don’t know what they are talking about

Some K20 engines have required new chains and chain tensioners on some EP3s. As they get towards 100,000 km they can sometimes start to become noisy and get slack, which can destroy the chain guides.

The service every 120,000 km (75,000 miles) or every 6 years is an important one, so make sure it has been done. All the following should have been done during the service:

  • Oil
  • Oil filter
  • Air filter
  • Pollen filter
  • Fuel filter
  • Spark Plugs (NGK Iridium)
  • Gearbox oil
  • Brake fluid
  • Valve clearance Adjustment (check every 25,000 miles)
  • Chain tensionor check/replace
Exhaust System of an EP3 Type R

Make sure you take a good look at the exhaust system of an EP3 Type R. While the exhaust system on these cars is fairly robust, you need to keep an eye out for any corrosion, leaks or repairs. Black sooty stains along the exhaust indicate a leak and watch out for any corrosion on the weld points of the system. If you notice any cracks or dodgy repairs along the exhaust or exhaust manifold, be very cautious of the vehicle.

You may come across an EP3 Type R with an aftermarket exhaust. A good aftermarket exhaust that has been installed correctly can increase performance, but they can reduce the value of the vehicle (for those looking for a collector’s item).

Oil Leaks on EP3 Type R Civics

These cars really shouldn’t leak much oil (if at all), so if you see a big puddle under the vehicle you should move onto another Type R. Remember to check for oil leaks both before and after a test drive.

Engine Mounts and Gearbox Mounts

The engine and gearbox mounts on EP3 Type Rs can fail if the car has been heavily abused or seen a lot of track time. To test for this problem, rock the engine to see if it moves more than it should.

Compression Testing EP3 Civic Type Rs

It is not necessary to do a compression test before purchasing an EP3 Type R, but they can give you a lot of information about the health of a car’s engine. If you do want to do a compression test on an EP3 we recommend that you take it to a mechanic (unless the owner is happy for you to do it and you know what you are doing.

Compression readings across all four cylinders should be around 160 – 190 psi when cold. The most important thing with a compression test is to make sure that the results are all within about 5 to 10 % of each other and that the results are not too low.

Starting Up and Driving a Honda Civic Type R EP3

We suggest that you get the owner to start the vehicle for you. There are two reasons for this with the first being that if the owner thrashes the car when it is cold you know to walk away. The second reason is because you can see if any smoke comes out the back of the exhaust upon engine start up.

When the key is turned in the ignition, the car should start immediately. Keep an ear out for any strange noises or signs that the engine is struggling to start/run. If the EP3 Type R you are looking at runs rough, there is almost certainly an issue with the vehicle that may be major or minor. Move onto another EP3 if you hear any load bangs or knocks, the car won’t be worth your time. Remember that cold weather will make the car run a bit rougher than usual.

A loose heat shield or manifold cover can cause a rattling noise, but this is an easy fix and shouldn’t turn you off a vehicle.

VTEC Engagement

Make sure that the VTEC system engages properly when you test drive an EP3 Type R. Once the vehicle has warmed up, accelerate both hard and slow to test this. If VTEC does not engage it could be caused by anything from incorrect oil pressure to coolant temperature issues and more.

Noisy Tappets/Lifters

If the car you are looking at makes a tapping/ticking noise, the tappets may need to be adjusted. This should be part of the 75K service and is not a major problem.

Smoke and Engine Vapour from an EP3

Keep an eye out for any smoke or vapour coming from an EP3 Type R’s exhaust on start up and while the engine is running. Vapour is caused by condensation and a little bit of it is fine. If you notice excessive amounts of smoke or vapour, then you should move onto another Type R. Below we have listed what the different colours of smoke mean:

White smoke – Is usually caused by water that has made its way into the cylinders and could be a sign of a blown head gasket. If the smoke smells sweet, it is almost certainly coolant.

Blue smoke – Is usually caused by wear to the pistons, piston rings, and/or worn valve seals. To check for blue smoke, get a friend to follow you as you drive the car or get the owner/seller to take the car through the rev range. Blue smoke on start-up and overrun is a sign that the car has been thrashed.

Black smoke – Usually occurs when the engine is running too rich (burning too much fuel). The first things you should check is the air-filter and other intake components.

Overheating and Blown Head Gaskets

While test driving an EP3 Type R watch out for any signs of overheating. Overheating and head gasket issues were not major problems on these cars, so you should walk away if you find a car with them. Here are some things to watch out for:

  • External Coolant leak from below the exhaust manifold
  • White smoke from the exhaust pipe (especially if you see lots of it)
  • Bubbles in the radiator or coolant overflow tank
  • Overheating engine
  • Milky white oil
  • Fouled spark plugs
  • Low cooling system integrity
  • Engine oil that smells of coolant
  • Sweet smell from the exhaust

Transmission

The EP3 Civic Type R featured a 6-speed manual transmission that replaced the 5-speed fitted to the previous generation model. Honda’s 6-speed transmission is fairly robust but can wear with repeated heavy abuse.

While you are driving an EP3 Type R, shift through all of the gears at both low and high engine speeds. Keep an ear out for any strange noises such as grinding or whining, and make sure the gearbox shifts smooth. Pay close attention to second gear, making sure that it engages smoothly and doesn’t jump out of gear under hard acceleration.

Check the service records to make sure the gearbox oil has been changed at least every 80 – 96,000 km (50 – 60,000 miles). Some owners change it more frequently, which is a good thing. The EP3’s gearbox takes 1.7 litres of Honda MTF (you should see it flowing out when the transmission is full).

You may find that the transmission is a bit tight when it is cold, but it should loosen up as the car warms up. Synchro wear and other transmission issues are a sign that the car may have been thrashed.

Clutch

We have outlined some process below that you should go through to check that the clutch is working properly.

Clutch Engagement – Put the vehicle into gear on a level surface and slowly let the clutch out. It should engage around 10 cm (4 inches) from the floor. If it engages immediately or near the end of the pedal’s travel, there is a problem.

Clutch Slippage – Shift into a gear that is too high for the speed you are going and then accelerate hard. If the engine speed jumps but there is no acceleration the clutch is slipping. Clutch slippage can be caused several different problems:

  • Worn clutch
  • Clutch covered in oil
  • Clutch cable is too tight and is not releasing properly

Clutch Drag – Put the EP3 you are test driving on a level surface with the clutch pedal pressed to the floor (when you are stationary) and rev the car hard. If the vehicle moves then the clutch is not disengaging when you shift and parts will wear prematurely.

If you notice juddering or a stiff pedal, then the clutch probably needs to be replaced. Clutch life will depend on how the vehicle has been treated and whether it has been thrashed or not. If the clutch has been replaced recently and it is already worn, the car has probably been thrashed excessively.

Body and Exterior

Like the engine, the body and exterior of an EP3 Type R Civic is fairly robust. Here are the main issues you may encounter with them.

Rust

If you find rust on the body of an EP3 Type R the car has either had a very hard life or it has been repaired poorly after an accident. There are plenty of rust-free EP3s out there, so move onto another one if you find this issue during an inspection.

Rust is more likely to occur on cars that have been stored outside, those that have lived in countries that salt their roads, or those that have lived by the sea. Here are some of the most common places to find rust on an EP3 Civic Type R.

  • Wheel arches
  • Sills
  • Hinges (boot, door, bonnet)
  • Underbody
  • Around the windows
  • Around any suspected areas of accident damage

While keeping an eye out for rust, make sure you look for any signs of past rust repair. Inconsistencies in the paint may indicate a respray which could be caused by rust repair or accident damage. Remember to check the service history of the vehicle and also ask the owner about any rust issues, just don’t expect them to tell the truth!.

You can use a magnet on steel sections of the car or a coating gauge thickness tool such as this one to find any areas that may have succumbed to rust in the past.

Accident Damage on EP3s

The EP3 Civic Type R is a performance car and as such, more than a few of them have been in accidents. Always check for accident damage on any vehicle you are inspecting, no matter the mileage.

Below we have listed some signs of accident damage:

  • Misaligned panels or large panel gaps– Make sure the bonnet fits correctly and the gaps on either side are even. Look at the doors, tailgate and around the lights. If the panels are uneven it could suggest an accident has occurred.
  • Doors that drop or don’t close properly – If the doors drop or they don’t open/close properly the car has problems.
  • Inconsistencies such as waving, rippling or different coloured panels– This is a good indication of crash damage or rust repair.
  • If the bonnet/hood looks like it is popped when it is not– This is usually a sign that the vehicle has been in an accident and that the owner is careless. Can be fixed but is annoying.
  • Bent or broken parts underneath the car –Make sure everything is straight and check for any parts that may have been replaced. Take a good look at all of the suspension components for damage.
  • Rust in strange locations –This can be caused by accident damage or a number of other issues.
  • Paint runs or overspray –This could be a factory issue or a sign of a poor repair.
  • Missing badges –can be due to repair work (body shop couldn’t find replacements) or a number of other things (stolen, etc.)
Other Bodywork Issues

Milano red EP3s can suffer from paint fade if they have spent a lot of time outside. The only way to fix this is give them a respray. Additionally, the mouldings on the doors and window seals can deteriorate quickly, so check those.

Have a good look around the base of the aerial to make sure it is not letting water into the rear of the cabin. You can check for this by feeling around the headlining and B and C pillars inside the vehicle for any signs of dampness.

Suspension and Steering

Make sure you thoroughly inspect as many of the suspension and steering components as you can on an EP3 Type R. If they look worn, damaged or corroded they will need to be replaced at some point. Suspension components can be expensive to replace, so make sure you are in satisfactory condition.

If you come across an EP3 with aftermarket suspension, make sure it is from a good brand (Eibach, etc.) and is installed correctly. Aftermarket suspension can ruin the handling characteristics of an EP3 Type R, so check this during a test drive. If the car is setup for track use the ride will be harsh on the road, which is something you need to consider. Move onto another Type R if the car you are looking at has aftermarket suspension from a bad brand.

Worn suspension components will ruin the handling of an EP3 Type R. We have listed some things to watch out for below.

  • Dipping and swerving when the brakes are applied
  • Excessive Rear-end squat during acceleration
  • Tipping during turns
  • Instability at high speeds
  • Excessive vibration coming through the steering wheel
  • Delayed or longer stopping distances
  • Uneven tyre wear
  • Excessive tyre bounce after hitting a bump
  • Leaking fluid on the exterior of the shock/strut
  • A car that doesn’t sit level on its suspension (indicates worn bushes and ball joints)

If the EP3 Type R you are inspecting does not drive straight without you correcting the wheel, the wheel alignment is probably out. Additionally, a car that does not drive straight may have been in an accident, so watch out for that. Check with owner/seller to see when the wheel alignment was last done.

Don’t forget to inspect the CV joints for wear. Get down and take a look at the boots to see if they are torn and check the joints for any leaks. While test driving an EP3, drive in a figure of 8 and listen for any strange knocking or clicking sounds coming from the CV joints.

Steering Rack Recall

There was a problem with the steering rack on early EP3 Type Rs. The steering rack would fail to self-centre, so make it has been replaced (check service history, etc.). If it has not been replaced either move onto another Type R or get a heavy discount on the vehicle as they are expensive to replace.

Brakes

Take a good look at the brakes on an EP3 Type R – are they corroded? Do the pads still have life left in them? Are the discs in good condition or are they pitted/scored?

A lot of owners recommend Ferodo DS2500 pads for the EP3 Civic Type R.

Remember to also check the brake lines for any leaks. If possible, get a helper to apply some brake pressure while you inspect the brake lines. Some owners like to replace the original lines with aftermarket braided ones to improve pedal feel.

During a Test Drive

Abuse the brakes heavily on a test drive of an EP3 Type R. The brakes on these cars are good and should easily stop the vehicle. If they don’t there is a problem that needs to be attended to.

A judder through the steering wheel under braking could indicate that the discs are warped and need replacing. This usually becomes apparent under high speed braking, but can happen at other times as well.

If the EP3 you are driving pulls to one side under braking, the car may have a sticking/seized caliper or several other issues. A seized brake caliper can occur when a car has been left sitting for a period of time. If a caliper has seized, you may notice a load thud when you pull away for the first time.

Any strange load noises while braking should be investigated further as this can be a sign of a number of issues

Aftermarket brakes

Some owners have fitted aftermarket brakes to their EP3 Type R Civics. This is perfectly fine, just make sure they are from a good brand such as Brembo. The original discs and calipers are perfectly fine for everyday use, however, Ferodo DS2500 pads are recommended over the OEM ones.

Wheels and Tyres

Check the wheels to see if they are curbed or damaged, and if they are aftermarket ones check with the owner to see if they still have the originals. Additionally, take a good look at the tyres and check for the following:

  • Enough tread
  • Uneven wear (Can be a sign of alignment or suspension issues)
  • Brand (make sure it is a good one)

EP3 Type Rs were fitted with 205/45/R17 tyres.

Interior and Electronics

Inspect the interior thoroughly for any wear and tear, or any dampness. Look out for any rips, stains or material fade on the seats and check that all the other trim pieces are in good condition. If the seats do not slide on the runners correctly or they move during acceleration or braking, they need to be fixed immediately.

Always check the steering wheel, gear shifter, pedals and carpet/mats for wear as they can indicate how far an EP3 has travelled. If they look too worn for the distance the car has travelled, the vehicle’s odometer may have been wound back.

While you are test driving an EP3 Type R Civic, make sure that all the electronics, switches, buttons and knobs work as intended. Also check the dashboard for any warning lights during start up and while the car is running. If no warning lights appear on the dash during start up the car may have a problem, or the owner may have disconnected them to hide a problem.

Aftermarket components should be inspected closely to make sure they work as intended. Any signs of poor workmanship such as bad wiring should be taken as a warning sign.

General Car Buying Advice for the EP3 Civic Type R

How to Get Yourself the Best Deal On an EP3

This information applies to both dealers and private sealers. Knowledge is power and it can save you a lot of money when purchasing a vehicle.

  1. Do your research. Before you start your search for a aType R make sure you know what model and condition you are happy with. Are you okay with a highly modified EP3 or do you want something that is completely stock? Do you want a low mileage example or are you happy with a car that has travelled far?
  2. Shop around. Don’t limit yourself to just one dealer, seller or location. Check out various different dealers and sellers to find the best car and get the right price. Limiting yourself to just one area will make it more difficult to find your dream Civic Type R EP3.
  3. Test drive multiple cars. Don’t just take one Type R out for a test drive and then buy it. Drive as many EP3s as you can get your hands on. This will give you a good idea of what makes a good and what makes a bad Type R EP3.
  4. Adjust your attitude. Don’t rush into purchasing any old EP3 Type R. If you are desperate to buy a car you are more likely to get ripped off. Take your time looking through all the different vehicles available and then go inspect the ones you think look promising.
  5. Use any issues with the car to your advantage. Take a mental note of any issues you find with the vehicle. When it comes to discussing the price, use these problems to try and drive down the price. For example, if the car needs new tyres or brake pads make a point of it and try to get the seller to reduce the price.
  6. Don’t trust the owner. While some owners/sellers are honest about their cars, many will lie to get a quick sale. Take in what the owner has to say, but check out the vehicle thoroughly and inspect all the car’s documentation.
  7. Bounce between sellers/dealers. If you are looking at multiple Type Rs, let the owner/seller know. This way they will know that you have other options and they may try to undercut the price.
  8. Be prepared to walk away. If you are not happy with the deal, simply walk away. You may miss out on the car or the seller may get back to you with a better offer.

Mileage vs Condition 

Mileage vs condition is always a big debate, but we recommend that you should always buy on condition and then on the mileage. There are lots of Honda Civic Type R EP3s out there with low mileage but in poor condition, while some high mileage examples may be perfectly fine.

Lots of owners make the mistake of believing that they are preserving their car by not driving it. In reality, this is completely false and not driving a vehicle can actually do more damage than good. Short distance trips are not kind to a Type R’s K20 engine as it does not have enough time to warm up and get lubricated properly.

Rubber seals and plastic parts will fail regardless of mileage and can even deteriorate quicker on cars that don’t get used often. Letting a car sit will not prevent rust or stop the electronics from failing.

Mileage will never decrease with age, so go out and drive your car!

Service History and Other Documentation

It is incredibly important to check any vehicle’s service history and any additional paperwork that goes along with it. The service history will give you a good idea of how the EP3 you are looking at has been maintained. In addition to this, receipts and paperwork for modifications can help you determine whether they have been done by an experienced tuner or a bad one.

If the owner can’t or won’t let you see the service history, you should probably pass on the vehicle. A complete service history will only add value to any Type R and will make it easier to sell the vehicle in the future.

Additionally, you can check websites such as CarFax (USA) and CarJam (NZ) for more information about the car you are thinking of purchasing. These sort of websites can be incredibly useful, but there is usually a cost associated with them.

Questions That You Should Ask the Seller/Owner 

  • How often do you drive the car?
  • When was the last service and who was it serviced by?
  • How much oil does it use?
  • What oil do you use in the car?
  • When was the timing belt replaced ?
  • What parts have been replaced?
  • What modifications have been made to the vehicle?
  • Has the vehicle overheated at any point?
  • Has the car been in any major or minor accidents? Is so, what repairs were made?
  • Is there any money owing on the car?
  • Have you got any information on the previous owners and how they treated the vehicle?
  • Is there any rust?
  • Has rust been removed at any point?
  • Has the car been used for track use at any point?
  • When were the brake pads replaced and have the calipers seized at any point in time?
  • Where do you store/park the car usually?

There are loads more questions you can ask the seller, but we feel these are some of the most important.

Things That Would Make Us Walk Away from a Civic Type R EP3

Sometimes, the best option is to simply walk away from a vehicle. While you may be happy with a vehicle with these problems, we are not.

  • Overheating problems
  • Significant Crash Damage
  • Money owing on the car
  • Stanced
  • Modifications with no paperwork or carried out by a poorly reviewed tuner
  • Excessive amounts of power (too much power can lead to reliability problems down the track)
  • Bad compression
  • Bad resprays
  • Significant rust problems
  • Engine swaps with non-standard engines
  • Significant track use
  • Major engine or transmission issues
  • Owner who is not forthcoming with information (could be trying to hide something)

Notes on the Owner 

The owner is one of the most important things to think about when viewing any vehicle. You need to ask them plenty of questions when inspecting their EP3 Type R, but don’t trust their answers completely. Remember, it is your problem if you wind up buying a lemon. Below we have listed some things to consider about the owner.

  • How long have they owned the vehicle? If it is less than 6 months it tends to suggest that the car needs major work done to it that they can’t afford. It also could be a sign that they deal cars as well.
  • Do they thrash the car when it is cold or continually launch the vehicle? If so, you are better to walk away.
  • Why are they selling the vehicle? Could be a genuine reason or they may be trying to offload their problem onto an unsuspecting buyer.
  • What sort of area do they live in? Is it a good area or a complete dump?
  • How do they respond when you ask them simple questions?
  • Do they know anything about the EP3 Type R and the model they are selling?
  • What can they tell you about previous owners?
  • Do they have lots of cars on their drive? If they do it may mean they are a dealer.
  • What is their reaction when you ask them about money owing on the car? Tell them you are going to do a check and see how they respond.
  • What is their reaction to you asking for details for HPi check?
  • How do they respond when you ask them to show you the service history and paperwork for the car?

If you get a bad feeling about the owner, you are better off moving onto another Civic Type R. There are plenty out there and you don’t want to wind up with a dog of a car.

Where to Find a Honda Civic Type R EP3 for Sale? 

Auction/Classifieds Websites

Websites such as Craigslist, Kijiji, TradeMe, Piston Heads and GumTree are excellent places to start your hunt for an EP3 Type R. You will find a range of Type Rs for sale at different prices and in different conditions. You can easily compare the price, specs and condition of different EP3s and you will be able to select the ones that look promising.

Dealers and Importers

Most dealers and importers will have an online presence, so make sure you check out their website for any Civic Type R EP3s for sale. Dealers tend to be a bit more expensive than private sellers, but sometimes you can get some extras thrown in or better protection.

Social Media

Websites such as Reddit, Facebook and even Instagram can be excellent places to find Civic Type Rs for sale. Check out some of the many enthusiast groups or subreddits and let other users know you are interested in buying a Honda Civic Type R EP3. Additionally, social media groups are often great places to find spare parts or get advice from other owners.

Owners’ Clubs

This sort of ties in with the above, but many owners’ clubs have their own website or they may not even have a website at all. Look to see if there are any EP3 or Civic Type R clubs in your area as these are often great places to find cars for sale or ask for advice.

Importing a Honda Civic Type R EP3 from Japan 

If you are struggling to find a suitable Type R in your country, you may want to look at importing one from Japan. Plenty of EP3 Civic Type Rs were sold in Japan so it is a good place to find some for sale.

Exporting vehicles from Japan is a big business as it keeps the country’s motor industry moving and older vehicles become more expensive to run. Below we have outlined everything you need to know about importing a Honda Civic Type R EP3 from Japan.

How to Import a Civic Type R EP3 from Japan 

While importing a Type R from Japan may seem a bit daunting, it is actually quite easy. The first thing we recommend you do is to Google search “import Civic Type R” or “Import EP3 Type R”. You will be greeted with loads of different websites to choose from. These websites will let you search for Type Rs based on their age, generation, condition, price and more.

Most of the websites/companies you encounter should be based in Japan, but you may find some other ones that are located in different parts of the world.

Make sure you check reviews/feedback of any website or auction house you want to use. While you are unlikely to get scammed, it can happen, so be prepared. We have listed a few examples of Japanese importers/exporters below:

Goo net Exchange – Is one of the biggest vehicle exporters in Japan and they have head offices in Tokyo and Nagoya. They have quite a good selection of Type Rs ready for export.

JDM Expo – Is an independent subsidiary of Nikko Auto Co., which is recognized as on the most reliable exporters of Japanese cars in the country.

Car From Japan – is another large portal for connecting overseas buyers with Japanese second hand cars. They have a number of Civics available for export.

Japan Partner – Is one of the fastest growing exporters of used Japanese vehicles and they have a range of Honda Civic Type Rs available for export.

Always read up on any website or auction house you are thinking of using. Look for reviews and feedback from people who have used to service before. While you are unlikely to get scammed, it can happen. Here are some examples of Japanese importers/exporters.

How Does the Japanese Car Grading System Work? 

The auction houses and car exporters in Japan all get their vehicles in roughly the same way. The difference between them is how much support they are willing to provide, how honest they are, and how they grade their vehicles

They will provide what is known as an ‘auction check sheet’ – a document that contains most of what you need to know about the vehicle. As you can’t see the vehicle personally, you will have to rely on the check sheet and other information on the listing to make a decision. If the seller/website is not willing to provide you with an auction check sheet or additional information on the car, don’t proceed any further.

Before you make a purchase you need to learn how to read an auction check sheet. The sheet contains information on the make, model, condition, specifications and any other notes. There will be a grade on the sheet that denotes the overall grade of the vehicle.

While the grade on a check sheet is important, you should not rely on it to make a final decision. Different companies have different methods for grading their vehicles, so a grade 4 for one company may be a grade 3.5 for another.

Some websites may use a different grading system and if you can’t view the auction check sheet, you should contact the seller/exporter.

Use the grade to whittle down the number of EP3s you are looking at and then use the check sheet and additionally information to make a decision. We also recommend you pay a third party to check out the car for you.

The Auction Check Sheet 

Below you can see an example of an auction check sheet. The grade is located in the top right corner of the check sheet. You will notice that there is both a letter and a number grade. The number indicates the overall condition of the vehicle, while the letter shows you the interior grade. At the bottom right of the check sheet is the ‘car map’. The car map tells you information about the exterior of the Evo and where any problems are located.

Additionally, the sheet contains information about the specs of the vehicle and any modifications (major or minor). The inspector may also write some additional notes about the car.

What Does the Number Grade Mean? 
  • Grade 7 to 9 or S– New car with delivery miles.
  • Grade 6– Same as above but with a few more miles.
  • Grade 5– Vehicle is in excellent condition with low miles.
  • Grade 4.5– Overall condition is great, but may have up to 100,000 miles on the clock.
  • Grade 4– Overall condition is good, but can have low or high miles.
  • Grade 3.5– Similar to grade 4, but some work may be needed and they usually have more miles.
  • Grade 3– Can be the same condition as grade 3.5, but with more miles. Alternatively, the car may have lower miles but require more work.
  • Grade 2– Very poor condition car and may have significant mechanical or exterior issues. Not necessarily a right off, but you would have to be a brave buyer to purchase one of these.
  • Grade 1– Is modified in some way (can be extensive or something simple).
  • Grade 0, A, R, RA– Some repair history that can be major or minor.
The Letter Grade

As we wrote earlier, the number grade is usually accompanied by a letter that indicates the interior grade. An ‘A’ indicates that the interior is in exceptional or good condition. A ‘B’ indicates that the car is in average condition, while a ‘C’ displays that it is in poor condition. Grades below C show that the car’s interior is in very poor condition.

The Car Map 

The check sheet will also contain what is called a “car map”, which tells you all the information you need to know about the exterior condition of the car. It will show the location of any problems or damage to the vehicle. Any problems are indicated by a letter and a number. The letter tells you what the issue is and the number indicates the severity. You can read more about the car map in our “How to Import a Car from Japan” guide.

Our Guidelines for Importing a Civic Type R EP3 from Japan 

  • Always demand to see and have the auction check sheet before making a purchase
  • If you can’t read Japanese or the company won’t provide a translated check sheet, get help from somebody who speaks/reads Japanese.
  • Check that the chassis number on the check sheet matches the one on the frame
  • Cross reference the check sheet with other websites
  • Don’t rely on the grade (always check the auction sheet thoroughly)
  • Investigate each website/service thoroughly (reviews, feedback, etc.)
  • Be careful of heavily modified vehicles
  • Get someone to inspect the car for you if possible. Ask for photos and get a good run down of the condition.
  • Avoid cars with unknown mileages
  • Stay away from bargains that seem to be too good to be true
  • Stay away from grade 0, A, RA, R vehicles that have been involved in accidents

Know Your Country’s Importation Laws 

Always make sure you check your country’s importation laws as you may find you can’t bring the vehicle you want in. For example, some countries have certain restrictions on importing cars under a certain age.

Summary of this Honda Civic Type R EP3 Buyer’s Guide 

This buying guide should give you most of the information you need to know before purchasing a Civic Type R EP3. We will continue to update this article with fresh information and make sure you check out the useful links section below.

Useful Links 

civictype-r.co.ukuseful forum with lots of knowledgeable owners.

type-r-owners.co.ukAnother great forum with lots of helpful Civic Type R owners.

Now Read: Honda Civic History – Every Generation

 

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