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Honda Civic Cooling Problems



  • dslynxdslynx Posts: 8
    I was going to wait a week to confirm, but i ended up buying a product called steel seal for fixing cracked blocks and head gaskets. I didnt think that was the problem because i didnt have water in my exhaust or milky oil. Well, i added it, chocked the gas to keep it at around 2000 RPM and let it run for an hour. I set a mirror on the seat so i could see the temp. Gauge from the house and it ran fine. I shut it down and let it sit, added more antifreeze in and it hasnt overheated yet. I cant belive i wasted $1k in mechanics and fixed it myself for $60.

    What i believe is happening, is the cooling system is building up preassure and blowing off the overflow hose (at least, mine was off), causing air to get onto the system. Ive drove it for a few days that would normally have caused it to overheat.
  • jmfsoc12jmfsoc12 Posts: 5
    Where did you get this product from and where do you add it to? I was also curious to see if this fixed your heating problem as well. I am getting no heat at idle. I have to be going usually above 40 or 50mph before I start to get some heat to come through the vents. I also heard that some people are mixing their antifreeze different. Do you mix yours 50/50 or 75/25 or something different?? I would great apperciate this if it works for my situation as would my wallet too!
  • dslynxdslynx Posts: 8
    I purchased it from . And it has fixed my "no heat" problem as well. To verify if this is the same issue I was having, you shouldn't need to drive 40-50 mph, you should just need to rev the engine to around 2,000 RPM. What was happening in my case, is that air is getting introduced into the cooling system, causing pockets. At idle, these pockets are restricting the flow, so you do not get water moving through your heater core for heat, nor circulating through the engine (causing it to over heat). When you rev the engine to around 2,000 RPM, you are forcing the water to circulate. Also, my antifreeze is 50/50.

    From my understanding, I must have had a very small leak in the head gasket. I did have a mechanic mention it, but a friend also said that if the heads warped, they wouldn't be able to repair it. Problem is, the cost was like $500 to replace the gasket (alone with having it honed, I believe) and if it was warped where honing it wouldn't fix the problem, I'd be in real trouble, as it would be torn apart and I'd be looking at major engine work costing a lot more. Every time I had work done (water pump, thermostat, etc) my heat would work fine for a few days, and then it would be back to no heat. So, the leak was small enough that it would take a few days for the pressure to build up to the point where it would push off the overflow hose and dump antifreeze on the ground.

    Of course, this is all speculation, as I don't really know what was happening. I just know that after driving the car for a few days, it is still running fine, without overheating. As it is summer now, I don't really need the heat now anyway. But before, as I would be driving with the heat on, and stop at a red light, the heat would slowly blow colder till it was completely cold. At that time, the temperature gauge would slowly start to rise. Reving the engine to around 2,000 RPM would cause heat to start coming out the vents and the temperature to go back down.

    I'll post back in a few days with an update if the issue pops back up.
  • jmfsoc12jmfsoc12 Posts: 5
    ok so I tried the thing with the heat in my car today...going down the road was fine and it was blowing heat like normal. When I tried the heat at idle...nothiing for room temp/cold air would came out. So i left the hit on and revved it up to around 2000 RPM and I could tell it was getting a little hotter and then I went up to around 3000 RPM and it really started blowing hot air like it normally do you think that would be the same car's would usually start to creap up when sitting at the redlight and also go up when I would accellerate at first (after a while driving) and then would go back down once I got fast enough. Let me hear a confirmation back from me about what you think... I may just try the steel seal anyways and then if that doesnt work for some reason take it to honda....but I'd rather try and pay 60 then getting my wallet rapped at the honda place. Thanks again for all the help. much apperciated
  • dslynxdslynx Posts: 8
    I'd start by checking your overflow hose. It's right under/behind the radiator cap. If that is not connected, it is almost definitely the issue, and I believe steel seal will fix your problem. If it is connected, I would try adding 50/50 antifreeze. Since you get heat with the engine revved, it's not your heater core. Since you replaced your thermostat, it's most likely not that either. All that is left is your radiator and water pump. In theory, your water pump could have broken fins or worn down fins that don't have enough surface area to push your coolant at idle. When you rev the engine, the increased RPM of the pump forces water to circulate. This could give you the same symptoms we experienced, which was why I had my water pump and timing chain replaced (I was at 90k miles, which is when they suggest you change the timing chain anyway)

    The problem is, you get the same symptoms with air pockets (aka, low coolant level) as the system is pressurized. That is the reason they also changed my radiator cap. It's job is to allow the 16lbs of pressure to build and when it goes above that, allow the coolant to overflow into that tank.
  • jmfsoc12jmfsoc12 Posts: 5
    yeah it is connected...some time last week i believe or maybe the week before that...I was driving and it eventually went all the way in red so I pulled over and that hose had come off which spilled some of my coolent...I ended up having to tow it back to the car place which is when i reconnected it, changed the thermostat again to make sure I didnt get a bad one and thats when I also got a new radiator cap... concerning the water pump, I got it and the timing belt replaced at 168k miles and i am now at 178k miles so that shouldnt be an issue either. I believe the guy that changed my thermostat the first time... pressurized my system with a tester thing and didnt find any leaks anywhere so that should be good as well

    So you think i should try the steel seal??
  • dslynxdslynx Posts: 8
    That's all I can think of then.. and it would fit into my theory. But, if my theory is correct, you should be able to add 50/50 antifreeze to fill the system back up and remove any air pockets. You should then be able to have the car idle with the heat on without issues. After some time (I actually don't know how long it takes) but the slow leak in the head gasket will allow exhaust pressure to leak into the coolant, building the pressure up till it pops that hose off again. The fact that the hose was off when you over heated leads me to believe that you do in fact have a head gasket leak.

    Keep in mind that I am not a mechanic. I'm also not promoting steel seal in any way. I still can't believe it worked! I kind of wish I wouldn't have bought another car now. Oh well. If you can afford the risk of a few dollars, I'd say go for it. As my wife pointed out, this issue actually cost us $9,000, as I bought another car for $8,000 so I would have heat and not have to worry about overheating the whole time. They say you can add it even without a leak. Seems like pretty cheap insurance now.. I might get some for the rest of my cars.
  • jmfsoc12jmfsoc12 Posts: 5
    Yeah I will definitly give it a try....spending $60 on it isnt too bad...if that doesnt work then I'll definitely have to take it to the honda place after that cause I can't think of anything else but I'd rather try this and hope for the best before going to the honda place and spending who knows what....I'll post back whenever I get it and post the results...hopefully it will be good results!
  • mrc1217mrc1217 Posts: 2
    I read your messages about the overheating problems and I was wondering if you think this solution would work for my issues as well. I have a 03 Civic that is well maintained. Last year, I began having issues with it overheating if the car was stalling for more than a minute. The cooling fan switch had locked up, causing the cooling fan to lock up as well. I had both replaced immediately. About six months after, the same problem began again. The thermometer had corroded in the radiator so that was replaced, along with the radiator cap and I had a flush service. Now, the same issues is happening again. Once I drive the car for about 30 minutes it will overheat if stalled. It doesn't do it unless I have been driving for a while. I took it to the shop today and they said I need a new radiator but after reading these posts I am afraid that will still not fix the problem! Any advice would be great, I am a college student on a limited budget and I'm frustrated after spending over $500 to still have the same issues.
  • dslynxdslynx Posts: 8
    Well, it really depends on if the issues previous were really a problem or not. If your fans stop working, they need to be replaced. If your thermostat was actually sticking, it needed to be replaced. If the thermostat was actually corroded (did they show it to you?), then you can only imagine what the inside of the radiator looks like, and it is probably true that the radiator needs to be replaced. Now, if you were having this issue, and replacing the thermostat had no effect (as in my case) and the water pump, and the radiator cap, etc. Then yes, you probably have a blown head gasket. But, from what I can tell, your system sounds like you had some bad/old anti-freeze that was corroding the metal causing the water not to circulate properly. Now, it's easy to say just buy the stuff and poor it in, follow the directions and see what happens, but if you need to have your radiator replaced after that, you will have wasted the money, as they will have to drain the current fluid containing the product.

    So, my personal opinion, based on a corroded thermostat, is that your radiator is most likely corroded as well, which is reducing it's ability to cool the fluid. Just be happy that they haven't suggested the water pump.. that's a very expensive repair!

    Good luck,
  • mrc1217mrc1217 Posts: 2
    Well, I took it to a different repair shop because I did not have a good feeling about the radiator being a problem. He determined that I do in fact have a leak in the seal of the head gasket. The mechanic previously worked at a Honda dealership but runs his own shop now focusing on mainly foreign made cars. He said he has been seeing this problem show up in many Hondas around the same age as mine (03) and the dealerships are beginning to see them as well. He said Honda embosses the head gasket, which is good in theory... but with wear and tear and heating and cooling of the engine over time to causes the seal to wear off. So, now I am looking at spending $700 for a new head gasket. Do you think this steel seal product will work to seal the leak? The car runs fine for now and doesn't overheat unless it has been drive for around an hour and then sits idle for more than a minute. I am watching the coolant levels and bought 50/50 to add when needed. So I guess right now the head gasket isn't completely blown, just not functioning correctly. Thanks for your insight!!

  • leisa1leisa1 Posts: 1
    Well, mine was the head gasket too. As I'd mentioned the radiator, 3 thermostats, fan switch, numerous flush fill and pressure tests, etc had all been replaced. 4 days in the shop and $1100 later the car had a new head gasket. Great for a few weeks then repeated hesitancy when accelerating on the interstate on an 8 hour drive. Another $300 and 3 days later, a new vtech unit to regulate the oil pressure. The mechanic says the vtech failure is unrelated to the new gasket. I'm not so sure. Now the car runs really loud. And the acceleration feels different.
  • vorlonsvorlons Posts: 6
    I had all the symptoms that you're describing that resulted in a blown head gasket. This commonly happens to the 01-04 Civics. Talk to any Honda mechanics and he/she can confirm this. The symptoms are....

    • car temp gauge fluctuating
    • coolant shooting out of the coolant reserve tank
    • heater in car sometimes work and mostly does not work. If heater is turned on, car temp gauge can rise fast
    • coolant reserve tank cap blown off due to the high pressure from overheating. This will happens when things got really worse meaning that it is time to stop driving your car and have it worked on.
    • internal of radiator disintegrating meaning that the coolant is so hot that it starts to break down the plastics inside your radiator. You can tell by removing your radiator cap and look inside the radiator lip and you'll see it it turned into white color. Same goes for the plastic portion of the radiator cap as well. This also happened as things got really bad and you need to stop driving your car and have it worked on.
    I have a 2004 Honda Civic LX. Mine had all of the symptoms above so I recruited my friend's help and I ended up replacing the head gasket. Found out that my #4 cylinder is leaking after removing the head by seeing the white residue left behind on the valve. Also replaced the head cylinder because I waited too long to replace the head gasket and allow my car to get worse, which resulted in the cylinder head getting warped. I got a complete re-manufactured head cylinder and for $300 bucks including shipping both ways (you need to return the core). You also need to replace the following when you do this.

    • new spark plugs. Get the original NGK plugs. I got them for $10 each at my local O'Reilly Auto Parts store. You need 4 of these
    • spark plug seals
    • cylinder head cover gasket
    • cylinder head plug (Honda PN# 1253-P72-003)
    • cylinder head studs (Honda PN# 90026-PE0-000, 92900-08032-1B and 92900-08050-1B). You can reuse these if you have a stud remover to remove these from your old head cylinder.
    • camshaft oil seal (Honda PN# 91213-P2F-A01)
    • thermostat (Honda PN# 19301-REA-305)
    If this is the first time you're replacing the head gasket, you can reuse your old cylinder head bolts since the torque on these are not too high. There are 3 torque stages. The first is 14 ft-lbs, 2nd is 36 ft-lbs & 3rd is 49 ft-lbs. This torque specs only apply to model years 01-05 Civics.

    This should cost you under $1000 to do the work. I would strongly suggest that you replace the radiator cap (Honda PN# 19045-PAA-A01) as well. You may need to replace the radiator if it is damaged from the overheating. You can get one with free shipping for about $80 each and some on eBay are selling for under $60 with free shipping.

    This is also a good time to change your timing belt (Honda PN# 14400-PMM-A02), water pump (Honda PN# 19200-PLM-A01) and timing belt tensioner (Honda PN# 14520-PLC-335) if you haven't done so or it is time for replacement. Reason for this is because since you have the head cylinder removed along with other items such as the alternator, etc.... might as well as get it out of the way to save cost and time down the road. You can get a timing belt from O'Reilly Auto Parts that is made by "Gates". The timing belt you get at the Honda dealership is the same belt made by "Gates" with the Honda logo on it. You just pay a much cheaper price at O'Reilly Auto Parts or your local store.

    Do your best to buy genuine Honda parts as much as possible such as thermostats, water pump, belt tensioner, especially the head gasket. I would suggest against going with any steel seal product because it is not a long term solution. You wan to do this the right way and eventually it has to be done. You don't want to wait too long and find out later that you have to replace the head cylinder and worst case the cylinder block as well.

    My Civic had about 185,300 miles on it when I had the head worked on. It has been running fine since. Good luck....

    The above described are applicable to model year 01-04 Civics.
  • This thread has some really great ideas well thought out solutions. Let me add a twist.

    I have a 2000 Honda Civic LX. I have been noticing a signifigant loss of oil between regular oil changes. I recently was told that my radiator had oil in the coolant. It looks like the oil is entering the coolant but the coolant is not entering the oil. I have no smoke from the exhaust. A few weeks ago I attempted, several times, to flush as much of the oil out of the cooling system and refill with a 50/50 solution. The coolant seemed to at least stay cleaner than berfore.

    Forward to yesterday. I was driving home from work about 45 miles in medium traffic and 95 degrees outside. Thermostat started to increase from what I consider normal in about last 10 miles. I was just shy of hitting the red zone.

    I waited for the car to cool off and found resevoir empty and refilled radiator with about 1/2 gallon of water (auto store was already closed). This morning I drove 35 miles to work, no problem. On the way home, in 95 degree weather again, the thermostat was about to go into the red zone. I was able to get a gallon of 50/50 coolant and it took a bit more than half the bottle. There is no leak I can see below the engine although the hood area right above the resevoir had condensation.

    I have seen some posts about a possible manufacturing defect in the block that may be allowing the oil into the cooling system. Anyone have any thoughts on my issue?
  • What you have is an early symptom of a blown head gasket. It is exactly what I experienced with my car at the early stage of the problem. You'll see oil residue in your coolant especially in your coolant reserve tank. Your only option is to replace the head gasket before it gets worse and you end up getting the cylinder head warped. If you continue to drive like this, you'll end up filling in more coolant and you'll find that the pressure in the cooling system will build up and you'll see coolant pushing out of the coolant reserve tank when the temp gauge goes up. Fix it now while you can before its too late that you have to replace the entire head unit. You may as well replace your thermostat when you replace the head gasket because the extreme temp from overheating may damaged the rubber parts on the thermostat.
    Also.... continuing driving and letting the car overheat will damage your radiator because part of the radiator is made out of plastic, it can only handle so much heat for a limited duration period. To find out if your radiator is damage because of this, take off the radiator cap off when it is safe to do so and look inside the radiator and inspect the inner lip. If you see plastic breaking off from the inside by the white coloring, you'll definitely need a new radiator and a new radiator cap. Good luck....
  • i have a 2003 civic ex 1.7ltr vtec sohc. the cooling system is building up too much pressure pushing coolant out of radiator into overflow bottle. i pressure tested system which passed with no issues. if i let the car sit and idle its perfect, runs in normal operating temp, awesome heat, fans cycle, no problem. if road tested for 15 minutes or more i start loosing coolant in the way explained prior. t stat replaced and system flushed and burped to remove any air pockets. the only thing i can think of causing this issue is either a bad radiator cap or bad head gasket. im leaning toward rad cap because there is no white smoke from tail pipe indicating im burning coolant and engine oil is crystal clear telling me that the coolant isnt mixing with my oil. i could use an outside perspective on my issue, any help would be greatly appreciated. -THANX-
  • Well, It's been a year since I posted on this thread. But, to answer you concern about the head gasket and not seeing white smoke, that was the same case for me. No white smoke, no oil in the coolant. What I was able to see is bubbles in the coolant. If you take the radiator cap off, and let the car idle, do you see bubbles?

    But, since I am here, I will update this thread on my Steal Seal "fix". After using the product and my issues going away, I drove the car for about 6 months, and then parked it for the last 6 months. I have begun driving it again for the past two weeks and have noticed that I am getting the bubbles in the radiator again, but luckily it hasn't been an issue (overheated) yet. But, I can only imagine that it will become an issue as the exhaust leaking into the coolant will build the pressure till it blows the hose off of the overflow.

    I'm actually disappointed that this seems to be a common issue with our Honda's and can only imagine what has gone wrong with a company that (from my research prior to purchasing it brand new) had an excellent history with the Civic series. I guess they all make lemons :lemon: from time to time and they have lost my trust. And to think, I laughed at the Hyundai dealer when he suggested I purchase a Hyundai over the Honda. I guess I know who had the last laugh now.
  • Finally done, problem finally fixed and fixed properly. This is what I did to resolve the problem. I listened to my gut and flow tested the radiator. Turns out it wasn't flowing at 100% due to some sort of blockage. Replaced radiator, purged system and drove & drove & drove until there was no doubt at all. Tomorrow I'm gonna cut my old radiator open and find out what the hell it is that clogged it up. Im sure it won't be the normal coolant sludge build up so the only thing that'll make me happy is if I found a diamond ring clogging my rad.
  • Hello all I have been seeing alot of these overheating problems,
    I have 2 Hondas, 94 and 95 civic coupes 1 ex and 1 dx both had
    head gasket probs when i bought them, the dx was blowing coolant
    through tailpipe and the ex d16y6 was boiling the coolant tank.
    Both engines had the Blue Devil or the Steel Seal treatment,
    Please Do not add this crap to your engines if you plan on keeping them!
    I just pulled and replaced the DX D15B7 Engine with a good motor I rebuilt
    from CraigsList, I have Iphone Photos of the Damage this stop leak causes
    to the cooling Jackets of these Engines if you care to see them I might can Post Them. I had to Replace Both Radiators with the all Aluminum Versions,
    The D16y6 I reTorqued the Head Bolts in Seq to 55Lbs and it resealed the Gasket and it no longer boils the coolant tank even at Freeway speeds!
    But I still have to remove and Backflush the New Radiator every now and then
    to keep removing the remants of the Sealer, What a mess this makes of a good Engine!
    Just a Tip If You Have a Steel multilayer Head Gasket Try a Retorque,
    Caution USE The Factory Sequence Order!! Bolt 1-10!!!!!!
    Do not Loosen them just increase the Ft Lbs as I did, I read somewhere on a Civic Forum of Recommended 10 lbs above Factory 47lbs but a felt safer on 55 lbs! Thank the Lord it worked as I had already Purchased a D16Y8 Gasket
    for the D16y6, Also the D16Y8 Honda Multi layer Gaskets Works on Both the
    D15 and D16 Engines and they are only 29.00 and change at Honda,
    The Leakless Gasket from Honda for the D15b7 is 60.00 and they dont want U to Know This LOL! Safe Motoring!
  • sch777sch777 Posts: 1
    I have a 1995 Honda civic I recently purchased. When I bought it, I noticed the reservoir tank was cracked and that the cap on the radiator was bad. I got it tuned up, changed the cap, and poxyed the tank. It still over heats. The check engine light is NOT on. When it over heats, the steam comes out of the reservoir tank that holds the coolant and it bubbles. It doesn't overheat everytime I drive the car, which is weird to me. I did notice however, if the Ac is on and I am going 60 mph+ is ususally when it begins to overheat. PLLLLLLLZZZ any suggestions? Where should I start at? What should I be looking for?
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