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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 01 Jul 2009, 04:10 pm
BT
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Default 1999 Civic blown head gasket

Car: 1999 Honda Civic CX (Hatchback)
Miles: 242,000
Location: Southern California

Symptoms: Sweet smell when I started the car Monday morning. Thought
my daughter had dropped some candy or something and ignored it.
Tuesday afternoon, while driving up a hill at ~50mph, I noticed the
engine temp gauge needle rising pretty quickly. It got about 3/4 of
the way to the top while I was looking. I was in the process of
slowing down to make a left turn, so took my foot off the gas and the
needle went down as well. Made it back home driving very slowly, and
the needle never went above the halfway point (but it was still above
where it normally rests). When I got home, checked the oil level
(fine), coolant (near max) and if the rad fan was obstructed in some
way (it was fine). Drove normally to the dealership after about 2
hours, and the temp gauge needle was at it's usual spot just about the
3/8 mark.

Dealer diagnosis: Don't know why it over-heated, but the head gasket
is blown. They plan to replace the head gasket, get the head checked
and machined and put it all back together again.

Questions: What are the likely reasons for having a blown head
gasket? Is it just age as the service person suggested? If they don't
fix the underlying reason, how likely is it to happen again? And how
long for it to happen?

Is it worth looking at putting in a replacement engine? I don't
particularly care for speed/hp as long as it's smog-legal in
California. But it would be nice to have something better than the
stock CX engine Are there any recommendations for mechanics in the
San Diego area who could do something like this? If I decide not to
take up the dealer's offer, will it be safe to drive the car to a new
mechanic?

Thanks very much for the help.
BT
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 01 Jul 2009, 07:05 pm
BT
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Default Re: 1999 Civic blown head gasket

On Jul 1, 2:10*pm, BT <bhthyagara...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Car: 1999 Honda Civic CX (Hatchback)
> Miles: 242,000
> Location: Southern California
>
> Symptoms: Sweet smell when I started the car Monday morning. Thought
> my daughter had dropped some candy or something and ignored it.
> Tuesday afternoon, while driving up a hill at ~50mph, I noticed the
> engine temp gauge needle rising pretty quickly. It got about 3/4 of
> the way to the top while I was looking. I was in the process of
> slowing down to make a left turn, so took my foot off the gas and the
> needle went down as well. Made it back home driving very slowly, and
> the needle never went above the halfway point (but it was still above
> where it normally rests). When I got home, checked the oil level
> (fine), coolant (near max) and if the rad fan was obstructed in some
> way (it was fine). Drove normally to the dealership after about 2
> hours, and the temp gauge needle was at it's usual spot just about the
> 3/8 mark.
>
> Dealer diagnosis: Don't know why it over-heated, but the head gasket
> is blown. They plan to replace the head gasket, get the head checked
> and machined and put it all back together again.
>
> Questions: *What are the likely reasons for having a blown head
> gasket? Is it just age as the service person suggested? If they don't
> fix the underlying reason, how likely is it to happen again? And how
> long for it to happen?
>
> Is it worth looking at putting in a replacement engine? I don't
> particularly care for speed/hp as long as it's smog-legal in
> California. But it would be nice to have something better than the
> stock CX engine Are there any recommendations for mechanics in the
> San Diego area who could do something like this? If I decide not to
> take up the dealer's offer, will it be safe to drive the car to a new
> mechanic?
>
> Thanks very much for the help.
> BT


Update: Honda Temecula wants $1700 to fix the head gasket. Is that
reasonable?? A replacement engine is looking more attractive now...
BT
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 01 Jul 2009, 08:00 pm
john
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Default Re: 1999 Civic blown head gasket

The head/block are likely to warp. But are they out of spec? Checking
the head is easy with a precision straight edge and a feeler gauge.

If you have extensive damage it can cost you, but maybe you don't??
Basic HG replacement should be no more than $800. I'm sure Honda sends
it out to their local AERA member and slap on a big profit for
themselves.

Look up http://www.aera.org/
Click on the red "Find an AERA member shop in your area".

See if you can get one to check on your car at the dealer. And ask
about warranty. If you need a replacement engine, check Marshall or
Jasper Engines for availability. These usually come with 3-year/100K
mile warranty.


On Jul 1, 5:05*pm, BT <bhthyagara...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Update: Honda Temecula wants $1700 to fix the head gasket. Is that
> reasonable?? A replacement engine is looking more attractive now...
> BT


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  #4 (permalink)  
Old 01 Jul 2009, 10:08 pm
jim beam
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Default Re: 1999 Civic blown head gasket

john wrote:
> The head/block are likely to warp. But are they out of spec? Checking
> the head is easy with a precision straight edge and a feeler gauge.
>
> If you have extensive damage it can cost you, but maybe you don't??
> Basic HG replacement should be no more than $800. I'm sure Honda sends
> it out to their local AERA member and slap on a big profit for
> themselves.
>
> Look up http://www.aera.org/
> Click on the red "Find an AERA member shop in your area".
>
> See if you can get one to check on your car at the dealer. And ask
> about warranty. If you need a replacement engine, check Marshall or
> Jasper Engines for availability. These usually come with 3-year/100K
> mile warranty.


jdm engines are often a better bet.



>
>
> On Jul 1, 5:05�pm, BT <bhthyagara...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Update: Honda Temecula wants $1700 to fix the head gasket. Is that
>> reasonable?? A replacement engine is looking more attractive now...
>> BT

>

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  #5 (permalink)  
Old 01 Jul 2009, 10:30 pm
jim beam
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: 1999 Civic blown head gasket

BT wrote:
> Car: 1999 Honda Civic CX (Hatchback)
> Miles: 242,000
> Location: Southern California
>
> Symptoms: Sweet smell when I started the car Monday morning. Thought
> my daughter had dropped some candy or something and ignored it.
> Tuesday afternoon, while driving up a hill at ~50mph, I noticed the
> engine temp gauge needle rising pretty quickly. It got about 3/4 of
> the way to the top while I was looking. I was in the process of
> slowing down to make a left turn, so took my foot off the gas and the
> needle went down as well. Made it back home driving very slowly, and
> the needle never went above the halfway point (but it was still above
> where it normally rests). When I got home, checked the oil level
> (fine), coolant (near max) and if the rad fan was obstructed in some
> way (it was fine). Drove normally to the dealership after about 2
> hours, and the temp gauge needle was at it's usual spot just about the
> 3/8 mark.


gauge can't be trusted unless it's in the red - it's non-linear.


>
> Dealer diagnosis: Don't know why it over-heated, but the head gasket
> is blown. They plan to replace the head gasket, get the head checked
> and machined and put it all back together again.


think very carefully before you allow them to machine the head.

1. it probably isn't warped, thus is unnecessary.

2. in shopspeak, it does more for convenience, i.e. no difficult time
consuming cleanign operations, than it does for mechanical necessity.

3. they're hardly ever finished to the standards necessary to seal
aluminum properly, i.e. last as long as oem.

4. it affects valve timing.

5. it affects compression.


>
> Questions: What are the likely reasons for having a blown head
> gasket?


cracked radiator in the recent past.


> Is it just age as the service person suggested? If they don't
> fix the underlying reason, how likely is it to happen again? And how
> long for it to happen?


if the head is "machined", it'll last just long enough for you to sell
the car. which is the typical exit.


>
> Is it worth looking at putting in a replacement engine?


yes. i'd do jdm or domestic [low mileage] used, NOT rebuilt. rebuilt
is only ok is you don't care or if you know a /REALLY/ fastidiously anal
builder, but they're rarer than rocking horse shit. typical rebuilds
rarely last anywhere near as long as the original engine. lots of
technical reasons that i cant' be bothered to list right now.


> I don't
> particularly care for speed/hp as long as it's smog-legal in
> California. But it would be nice to have something better than the
> stock CX engine Are there any recommendations for mechanics in the
> San Diego area who could do something like this? If I decide not to
> take up the dealer's offer, will it be safe to drive the car to a new
> mechanic?
>
> Thanks very much for the help.
> BT


you can pick up used cx engines real cheap. tuners throw them away when
they upgrade civics.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 02 Jul 2009, 07:47 am
Tegger
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Default Re: 1999 Civic blown head gasket

jim beam <me@privacy.net> wrote in
news:d-ednfLhtO5DtNHXnZ2dnUVZ_rKdnZ2d@speakeasy.net:

> BT wrote:
>> Car: 1999 Honda Civic CX (Hatchback)
>> Miles: 242,000
>> Location: Southern California
>>
>> Symptoms: Sweet smell when I started the car Monday morning. Thought
>> my daughter had dropped some candy or something and ignored it.
>> Tuesday afternoon, while driving up a hill at ~50mph, I noticed the
>> engine temp gauge needle rising pretty quickly. It got about 3/4 of
>> the way to the top while I was looking. I was in the process of
>> slowing down to make a left turn, so took my foot off the gas and the
>> needle went down as well. Made it back home driving very slowly, and
>> the needle never went above the halfway point (but it was still above
>> where it normally rests). When I got home, checked the oil level
>> (fine), coolant (near max) and if the rad fan was obstructed in some
>> way (it was fine). Drove normally to the dealership after about 2
>> hours, and the temp gauge needle was at it's usual spot just about
>> the 3/8 mark.

>
> gauge can't be trusted unless it's in the red - it's non-linear.





Maybe so, but my infrared thermometer tells me the gauge is awfully good
at informing you of overheating well BEFORE it gets into the red.

With a 78C thermostat, you're expecting about 205F at the upper rad hose
inlet at the head. As the gauge begins to climb above its "normal"
position, the temperature at the inlet will climb to well above 205.

Bottom line: Ignore the gauge at your peril! Once it lands in the red, head
and block wapage is a virtual certainty! Catch overheating early and no
harm is done.


--
Tegger

The Unofficial Honda/Acura FAQ
www.tegger.com/hondafaq/
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 02 Jul 2009, 07:53 am
jim beam
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: 1999 Civic blown head gasket

Tegger wrote:
> jim beam <me@privacy.net> wrote in
> news:d-ednfLhtO5DtNHXnZ2dnUVZ_rKdnZ2d@speakeasy.net:
>
>> BT wrote:
>>> Car: 1999 Honda Civic CX (Hatchback)
>>> Miles: 242,000
>>> Location: Southern California
>>>
>>> Symptoms: Sweet smell when I started the car Monday morning. Thought
>>> my daughter had dropped some candy or something and ignored it.
>>> Tuesday afternoon, while driving up a hill at ~50mph, I noticed the
>>> engine temp gauge needle rising pretty quickly. It got about 3/4 of
>>> the way to the top while I was looking. I was in the process of
>>> slowing down to make a left turn, so took my foot off the gas and the
>>> needle went down as well. Made it back home driving very slowly, and
>>> the needle never went above the halfway point (but it was still above
>>> where it normally rests). When I got home, checked the oil level
>>> (fine), coolant (near max) and if the rad fan was obstructed in some
>>> way (it was fine). Drove normally to the dealership after about 2
>>> hours, and the temp gauge needle was at it's usual spot just about
>>> the 3/8 mark.

>> gauge can't be trusted unless it's in the red - it's non-linear.

>
>
>
>
> Maybe so, but my infrared thermometer tells me the gauge is awfully good
> at informing you of overheating well BEFORE it gets into the red.
>
> With a 78C thermostat, you're expecting about 205F at the upper rad hose
> inlet at the head. As the gauge begins to climb above its "normal"
> position, the temperature at the inlet will climb to well above 205.
>
> Bottom line: Ignore the gauge at your peril! Once it lands in the red, head
> and block wapage is a virtual certainty! Catch overheating early and no
> harm is done.
>
>


ok, i'm not saying "ignore the gauge", i'm saying that "usual spot"
gives quite a wide range of temps.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/38636024@N00/2445120839/

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  #8 (permalink)  
Old 02 Jul 2009, 08:16 am
jim beam
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: 1999 Civic blown head gasket

jim beam wrote:
> Tegger wrote:
>> jim beam <me@privacy.net> wrote in
>> news:d-ednfLhtO5DtNHXnZ2dnUVZ_rKdnZ2d@speakeasy.net:
>>> BT wrote:
>>>> Car: 1999 Honda Civic CX (Hatchback)
>>>> Miles: 242,000
>>>> Location: Southern California
>>>>
>>>> Symptoms: Sweet smell when I started the car Monday morning. Thought
>>>> my daughter had dropped some candy or something and ignored it.
>>>> Tuesday afternoon, while driving up a hill at ~50mph, I noticed the
>>>> engine temp gauge needle rising pretty quickly. It got about 3/4 of
>>>> the way to the top while I was looking. I was in the process of
>>>> slowing down to make a left turn, so took my foot off the gas and the
>>>> needle went down as well. Made it back home driving very slowly, and
>>>> the needle never went above the halfway point (but it was still above
>>>> where it normally rests). When I got home, checked the oil level
>>>> (fine), coolant (near max) and if the rad fan was obstructed in some
>>>> way (it was fine). Drove normally to the dealership after about 2
>>>> hours, and the temp gauge needle was at it's usual spot just about
>>>> the 3/8 mark.
>>> gauge can't be trusted unless it's in the red - it's non-linear.

>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Maybe so, but my infrared thermometer tells me the gauge is awfully good
>> at informing you of overheating well BEFORE it gets into the red.
>> With a 78C thermostat, you're expecting about 205F at the upper rad
>> hose inlet at the head. As the gauge begins to climb above its
>> "normal" position, the temperature at the inlet will climb to well
>> above 205.
>>
>> Bottom line: Ignore the gauge at your peril! Once it lands in the red,
>> head and block wapage is a virtual certainty! Catch overheating early
>> and no harm is done.
>>
>>

>
> ok, i'm not saying "ignore the gauge", i'm saying that "usual spot"
> gives quite a wide range of temps.
>
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/38636024@N00/2445120839/
>


and that the gasket can be gone well before the gauge starts to show
problems.
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 02 Jul 2009, 05:48 pm
Tegger
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: 1999 Civic blown head gasket

jim beam <me@privacy.net> wrote in
news:_tOdnZWS2OugLtHXnZ2dnUVZ_j9i4p2d@speakeasy.ne t:

> jim beam wrote:
>> Tegger wrote:


>>>
>>> Bottom line: Ignore the gauge at your peril! Once it lands in the
>>> red, head and block wapage is a virtual certainty! Catch overheating
>>> early and no harm is done.
>>>
>>>

>>
>> ok, i'm not saying "ignore the gauge", i'm saying that "usual spot"
>> gives quite a wide range of temps.
>>
>> http://www.flickr.com/photos/38636024@N00/2445120839/





I'm going to assume this image is accurate, since I have no evidence
otherwise.

In any case, the apparent buffering or non-linearity does not matter. A
cooling system in good condition will handle about 235F before the fluid
risks bursting into steam.

If the gauge needle gets just a bit past half-way, the "sweet spot" at the
upper rad hose inlet will show...just about 235.

The point is that you need to keep an eye on the gauge all the time. The
gauge /is/ a very accurate tell-tale of a situation that may lead to severe
engine damage, even if it can't give you /exact/ information.

If the needle starts to rise, TAKE ACTION AT ONCE. DO NOT ALLOW THE GAUGE
TO APPROACH THE RED LINE.
The further from the red line you can keep the gauge, the greater the
likelihood that you will prevent the engine from getting wrecked,
regardless of any (im)precision inherent in the gauge itself.


>>

>
> and that the gasket can be gone well before the gauge starts to show
> problems.
>




Usually the head gasket is gone well before any symptoms surface.

People often notice once the car starts overheating after extended idling
in heavy traffic, or they notice the fluid reservoir level is WAY high,
with bubbles evident with the engine running.





--
Tegger

The Unofficial Honda/Acura FAQ
www.tegger.com/hondafaq/
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old 02 Jul 2009, 08:00 pm
BT
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Default Re: 1999 Civic blown head gasket

Thanks all for the input. The dealer found no evidence of engine
damage. So it looks like I may have gotten lucky. But still an
expensive repair. I found an independent mechanic who will do it for
900, and that's most likely what I'll do. Still better value than
buying a new car.

Will keep you guys updated.
Cheers,
BT
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