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[FAQ] Your Guide to Buying Quality Aftermarket Maintenance Parts for your Civic

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Old 01-04-2013, 06:44 PM   #1
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Icon5 [FAQ] Your Guide to Buying Quality Aftermarket Maintenance Parts for your Civic

There was a thread recently inquiring about the quality of parts for a "tune-up kit" offered through a major online retailer that shares its name with a certain South American rainforest. My opinion, along with the general consensus, was that there was not enough information in the online ad's description to be able to trust that all the parts were of high quality.

However, it struck me that this question may have touched on a wider issue of how to navigate the world of aftermarket car parts. There are so many manufacturers out there - many of which may be of questionable reliability - how does the average Joe separate the wheat from the chaff?

If you have deep pockets - or feel you must do it on principle - then rarely can it be argued that OEM Honda parts aren't best. And, there are plenty of online Honda parts retailers that offer big discounts on OEM parts so your pockets don't need to be quite as deep as they do if you went to the local dealership parts counter. However, for what it's worth, I believe in well-researching aftermarket parts and manufacturers and using those parts if I consider them equivalent to OEM quality; the savings can be substantial. Often, it is possible to find the OEM Honda manufacturer for a part without paying for the Honda-branded mark-up.

So I present to you the fruits of my research - a cheat sheet as it may. Here are a few examples of brands I would trust to put on my 5th Gen Honda Civic. Naturally, OEM is always an option. I have restricted my list to mainly more common maintenance parts where quality and reliability should rarely be compromised. This can be a subjective assessment, however, so "your mileage may vary". But, I value my time AND money so finding the best combination of both is worthwhile to me - meaning I saved money (over OEM) with the purchase and can be confident that I won't have to do the installation work over again prematurely due to poor quality.

Note that for other generations of Civic, these brands may not apply. Experienced users are invited to share their thoughts and opinions as well as add to the list (I will edit it on occasion).
  • Rubber Gaskets: Fel-Pro or OEM (valve cover, oil pan, etc) (OEM kit is a reasonable price). Ishino is going to be very good too, and made in Japan. Honda uses their metal gaskets a lot. I actually wouldn't be surprised if the OEM ones are mfr'd by Ishino. Tough to verify that though.
  • Metal Gaskets: Fel-Pro or Ishino(intake, manifold, etc) (Ishino and Nippon Leakless = OEM mfr)
  • Timing Belt: Gates (= OEM mfr)
  • Alternator, A/C, PS belts: Goodyear, Mistuboshi (MBL) or Bando (Mitsuboshi or Bando = OEM for alt; Bando = OEM mfr for A/C, PS)
  • Water Pump: Yamada, Keihin, or Aisin (Aisin is the OEM mfr for many Japanese vehicles including Toyota; Yamada, Keihin = OEM mfr); here is a discussion of different brands of water pumps.
  • Brake Pads & Parts: Nissin or Sumitomo (OEM = Nissin), but some mfrs rebrand Nissin ones and sell for less - check the part description always. You may also want to check out "New World Friction" pads which are Made in Canada(!!!), and are priced affordably here.
  • Rotors: There's a LOT of crap rotors out there - don't skimp out on your brakes, and don't waste your money on gimmicks like drilled or slotted). ***NOTE***: After some discussion on the following page, it appears as though Brembo has moved their production to China also, so I no longer know who to recommend for a premium brand. Possibly, however, as a non-Chinese mfr'd alternative, check out VGX, for their premium rotor, which is a rebranded Fremax, mfr'd in Brazil from Brazilian iron. I have now tested these on the rears of my CDM 1992 EX-V sedan, and am pleased. Prices are very affordable: ~$20/rotor, with free shipping.
  • Spark Plugs: NGK or Denso (NGK = OEM mfr)
  • Plug Wires: NGK or Denso (Sumitomo = 92-95 Civic OEM mfr but can't ever find aftermarket; Prestolite = 96-00 OEM mfr so should be good also)
  • O2 sensor: Denso or NTK/NGK (Denso & NTK/NGK = OEM mfr), possibly BOSCH too, but never for a VX 5-wire sensor. Sticking with the other two brands is HIGHLY recommended. BOSCH doesn't always play nice with Hondas.
  • Distributor Cap: OEM (= TEC), because its price is comparable to aftermarket; also as far as I can tell, the aftermarket cap made by YEC is NOT the same mfr as TEC, however YEC is also Made in Japan and an OEM supplier to other Japanese vehicles. Standard Motor Products (SMP) has a higher-end line of distributors that are Made in USA.
  • Oil Filter: Mann, Wix or Denso though there are others that are also good - I look for a silicone anti-drain filter (Denso = original OEM mfr, so says RockAuto but I can't confirm, plus there is talk about how the OEM mfr nowadays is different / lower qual from original in 90s)
  • Fuel Filter: Mann, Wix though there are others that are also good; I believe the NAPA Gold version is a rebranded Wix.
  • Ball Joints: OEM is most likely best for ball joints but other brands that are OEM suppliers to Japanese cars (as well as MADE in Japan) such as Sankei 555 seem reasonable; MOOG also offers a lifetime warranty so they appear to stand behind their product. According to this thread, the buyer found Sankei 555-branded ball joints in Honda packaging, so that should give you some confidence with that brand.
  • Radiators: Koyo, Nissins and plenty of others.
    • DENSO & Toyo are the OEM mfr, and you can get a DENSO unit for pretty cheap at sparkplugs.com; look up your part number here. (Credit: User "94eg!")
  • Bearings: NTN, F A G, SKF, TIMKEN. Anything NOT MADE IN CHINA. You can get these on Rockauto, but often you can read the code off a bearing and get a replacement at any decent industrial supply company, and can check immediately where it's made. Prices there can be quite competitive. Locally (Canada) I found a replacement flywheel pilot bearing by F AG (Made in Korea ), for CAD$15. That's less than Rockauto. I replaced an aftermarket one by CCVI, made in China, installed by the P.O. that had imploded. Garbage.

Between RockAuto.com and autopartsway.com (or autopartsway.ca in Canada) you can find all of these manufacturers. I don't really look anywhere else because I live in Canada and our selection for parts is slim without paying through the nose for international shipping (US-based Rock Auto is the exception as its shipping charges are fairly reasonable AND include Canadian taxes so there are no exorbitant brokerage fees at the border).

Incidentally, the "tune up kit" I assembled on Rock Auto that contained the same parts as the one from the 'online retailer' mentioned in the first paragraph (engine oil filter with new drain plug washer, engine air filter, fuel filter, PCV valve, PCV valve grommet, distributor cap, ignition rotor, wire set and four spark plugs), but using the part manufacturers that I listed above, had a final price of about $80 plus $20 for USA domestic shipping to California (I used a 1998 Civic EX as an example vehicle) ... this was a savings of about $20, not to mention a package of likely higher quality parts.

Last edited by deschlong; 06-20-2016 at 04:22 PM. Reason: Revised list formatting for clarity.
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Old 01-04-2013, 11:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: [FAQ] Your Guide to Buying Quality Aftermarket Maintenance Parts for your Civic

nice write up!

** Napa Gold is a rebranded Wix
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Old 01-05-2013, 04:36 AM   #3
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Good write up, will definitely reference this in the future.
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:25 AM   #4
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Nice write up Schlonger. I give it two ***** up and say you have her (after-market parts) dicked. I'll check Rock Auto first next time.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:50 AM   #5
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Default Re: [FAQ] Your Guide to Buying Quality Aftermarket Maintenance Parts for your Civic

Can't believe this thread wasn't made sooner. I've been using RockAuto for my vehicles for the past 2 years, and even little things were cheaper shipped from RockAuto than bought at my local Napa even with some discounts. I saved over $500 getting parts on RockAuto for my Civic rather than Napa over the past year. This includes headgasket set/belts/pulleys/filters/o2 sensors/driveshafts/dizzy/wires/plugs/brake pads/bushings/mounts/lugnuts. Even for my parents Odyssey, Ridgeline and Fit, so much more has been saved.

I wonder if there should be a picture thread of all the RockAuto magnets people have, lol. bump this to the top in hopes for more eyes on it.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:59 AM   #6
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Default Re: [FAQ] Your Guide to Buying Quality Aftermarket Maintenance Parts for your Civic

Moog are fairly good for Ball joints. Never had problems with their UCA's. I did how ever have to replace both Lower ball joints within 40,000km in canadian conditions. Lifetime warranty certainly makes it appealing, I stand by Moog.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:24 AM   #7
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Default Re: [FAQ] Your Guide to Buying Quality Aftermarket Maintenance Parts for your Civic

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Originally Posted by CO671 View Post
Can't believe this thread wasn't made sooner. I've been using RockAuto for my vehicles for the past 2 years, and even little things were cheaper shipped from RockAuto than bought at my local Napa even with some discounts. I saved over $500 getting parts on RockAuto for my Civic rather than Napa over the past year. This includes headgasket set/belts/pulleys/filters/o2 sensors/driveshafts/dizzy/wires/plugs/brake pads/bushings/mounts/lugnuts. Even for my parents Odyssey, Ridgeline and Fit, so much more has been saved.
Trouble is ... RockAuto also sells low-end parts so it can be difficult to wade through all the options for the uninitiated.

Last edited by deschlong; 03-07-2013 at 10:48 PM.
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:50 PM   #8
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Moog are fairly good for Ball joints. Never had problems with their UCA's. I did how ever have to replace both Lower ball joints within 40,000km in canadian conditions. Lifetime warranty certainly makes it appealing, I stand by Moog.
290,000kms and 316,000kms out of OEM Honda lower ball joints, at that kind of mileage it's hard to make an argument for Moog. 422,000kms on the upper ball joints and tie rod ends so far and still no play.

Btw, Moog is somewhat hit or miss. I've pulled Sankei/555 tie rod ends out of a Moog box before. (very good stuff, but it also means that Moog doesn't make all their stuff, or possibly any of it)

I've tried gates alternator belts before but didn't have much luck with them.

KP Gasket Co. for 3 layer steel head gaskets, they're as close to OEM as you're going to get.

Daikin/Exedy Clutches, they made most of Honda's OEM clutches (FCC made most of the rest and good luck finding one)
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:15 PM   #9
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Default Re: [FAQ] Your Guide to Buying Quality Aftermarket Maintenance Parts for your Civic

^ The OEM mfr for the belts is either Mitsuboshi or Bando, depending. I have updated the list. Thanks.

What problems did you have with the Gates accessory belts?

Also added Brembo as a suggestion for rotors.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:47 PM   #10
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What problems did you have with the Gates accessory belts?
The Gates belts slip and squeal. They're visibly made from a different material than an OEM belt which will last almost indefinitely.

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Also added Brembo as a suggestion for rotors.
You could more than likely put Raybestos on that list as well. I haven't used their rotors but I have used their shoes and drums on Toyotas, much better than cheap aftermarket.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:44 PM   #11
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Carquest blue filters are re branded wix as well.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:56 PM   #12
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The Gates belts slip and squeal. They're visibly made from a different material than an OEM belt which will last almost indefinitely.
OK I'll remove.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:17 AM   #13
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I'd like to add that if you're going to buy aftermarket from rockauto.com ALWAYS search for a 5% discount code on google as that is a guaranteed discount.

Also if purchasing from Advance Auto Parts here in the states ALWAYS google a coupon code as you save on average 20-40% for order online pick up in store only. Can't tell you how much I've saved myself and friends money especially on things like batteries, plugs, wires, cleaning supplies etc. it's a no brainer.
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:57 AM   #14
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Raybestos Professional Grade pads and rotors are good. I installed a set on my moms SX4 and they work great.
They can get pricey over the counter(depending on model), but if you can get parts at commercial cost they're a good deal.

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290,000kms and 316,000kms out of OEM Honda lower ball joints, at that kind of mileage it's hard to make an argument for Moog. 422,000kms on the upper ball joints and tie rod ends so far and still no play.

Btw, Moog is somewhat hit or miss. I've pulled Sankei/555 tie rod ends out of a Moog box before. (very good stuff, but it also means that Moog doesn't make all their stuff, or possibly any of it)
I've heard the same thing.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:37 PM   #15
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Thanks for looking out. I need tune up parts for my 95 4dr and I'm glad I came across this information.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:10 PM   #16
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Really really nice info man!

Hey on the Rockauto site, it has the check boxes for the USA, Canada, and the other one, so is that basically where the car was sold originally? When I lived in Oregon I had a 4-speed Civic hatch, and I think it was made in Canada and sold in the USA and Canada.

Oh, I agree with the FelPro rubber gaskets, just put one on my oil pan.


EDIT: Question, brand to replace stock injectors with similar (or just use OEM)?

Last edited by dazebreak; 01-16-2013 at 10:54 PM.
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:33 PM   #17
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Really really nice info man!

Hey on the Rockauto site, it has the check boxes for the USA, Canada, and the other one, so is that basically where the car was sold originally? When I lived in Oregon I had a 4-speed Civic hatch, and I think it was made in Canada and sold in the USA and Canada.
Yes, those are the flags for the "domestic market" of the vehicle. The "other one" you mentioned is the EU flag, if you're wondering.
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Old 01-22-2013, 03:41 PM   #18
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Good info thanks
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Old 01-30-2013, 09:17 PM   #19
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Another great post... Thank you!
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Old 02-08-2013, 07:36 AM   #20
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Excellent internet Honda parts retailers include:

Majestic Honda (Rhode Island)
Bernardi Honda (Mass)
College Park Honda (MD)
H and A (Calif)

Sometimes, you can find Honda parts priced in line w/
aftermarket parts or at just a small premium. Bernardi
will ship fluids, eg, ATF, PSF etc. And the prices are
very reasonable. H & A offers (or they did last yr) a
6-pack of Honda-labeled oil filters manufactured by
FilTech (as opposed to FRAM) for about 7$ each shipped.

Honda hoses are form-fitting as opposed to cut-to-fit
for many aftermarket brands.

Have used FRAM CA8040 air filters w/ zero issues.
Have used Purolator oil filters (stamped w/ 'Made in
Fayetteville, NC"--home of the 82nd Airborne I might add)
as well as Japan-made Nitto Element (H-21) (wife
is Japanese) and Baldwin (rather expensive even before
shipping--sometimes Drillspot.com has a free shipping deal).

When I replaced a brake caliper last yr, got a re-mannied one
from Majestic. 77$. Will rebuild myself using re-build kit
from Honda the next time.

Currently using Bendix ceramic pads w/ Raybestos rotors.
Original rotors ran for almost 17yrs w/ only a single turning.
Raybestos abutment clips did not fit well; ended up
cleaning up the original Honda clips, which are expensive.
Rebuilt Honda wheel cylinders using Centric parts. A Bendix
wheel cylinder from Rock Auto failed in less than 1 yr (5K mi or so).
The Honda originals lasted 16 and 17yrs, respectively.

Walker exhaust components including mid-pipe and muffler.
So far so good. Walker hangers blow dogs. The Midas
header pipe installed in 2003 has outlasted the Honda original by
3yrs to date.

Plugs and wires: NGK or Denso and Prestolite.

Stant thermostat and Fel-Pro gaskets.
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Old 02-19-2013, 04:10 PM   #21
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thank you great write up
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Old 02-20-2013, 05:08 PM   #22
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very useful information, thanks man
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Old 02-25-2013, 11:10 AM   #23
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So just curious, but Im under the assumption that honda made parts are always better quality than after market, is this ALWAYS true?
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Old 02-25-2013, 08:55 PM   #24
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Default Re: [FAQ] Your Guide to Buying Quality Aftermarket Maintenance Parts for your Civic

You say Sumitomo is the OE manufacturer for plug wires, but Honda say's Prestolite?

Just looking for some clarification.
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Old 02-25-2013, 09:00 PM   #25
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^ Info is correct for 92-95 Civics (as stated). What year is yours? Might be different.
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