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Honda Civic Cooling Problems



  • 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?
  • vorlonsvorlons Posts: 6
    I'm very sure that you have a blown head gasket or a wrap head. I had the same problem. I replaced the water pump, thermostat, radiator and the problem did not go away. Lastly, I removed the head and saw that I had a blown head gasket. I also checked the cylinder head with a straight edge and found out that the head was wrapped so it has to be replaced as well. After replacing the cylinder head and head gasket, the problem went away.
  • asheelasheel Posts: 2
    Hi there, I have been reading this forum and I associate myself with a similar problem, but I do require help in diagnosing the problem. I have a 1998 Honda Ballade, my cooling radiator fan does not work but if I apply direct power or bridge the switch then it works which indicates to me that the fan does work, my problem started when I had a water pipe that burst and the car started to over heat, thereafter I replaced the water pipe but then I noticed my fan did not come automatically, I then tested the fan and it worked. I replaced the fan switch on 4 occasions, replaced thermostat and bled the system many times. The fan comes on automatically every time in bleed the system but the next day it does not work, I have replaced the radiator cap as well. It does not loose water. Could this be my head gasket as well? My car has never hit the red line.
  • WOW.....this sounds identical to the situation I am currently dealing with on a 1999 Honda Accord....whats was your fix? Did you get this solved?
  • asheelasheel Posts: 2
    Unfortunately not, I bled the system again, the fan worked perfectly for a 2 weeks until I parked the car and didn't use it for 3 days and then the fan did not come on automatically and now I am back to using a manual method. Looks like this could be a common problem but I cannot solve the issue
  • Losing coolant. However, no visual evidence of leak, no water in oil, no white smoke out of exhaust. Any suggestions as to what is causing this problem? Someone has suggested blown head gasket. Does anyone have any ideas?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,591
    One good idea is to do a cooling system pressure test prior to any guesswork. You can buy a cooling pump rather cheaply at Autozone, etc or have a shop do it. Putting the cooling system under a few lbs. more pressure than usual will reveal the area of the leak. If no external leaks are found, what you do is keep the system pressurized and then remove the spark plugs one by one, and look for coolant on them---or if the shop has a boroscope, peer into the cylinder itself and look for coolant. If coolant appears on the spark plugs you have a bad head gasket or crack in the cylinder head.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • So, My friend asked my to look at her car, all I can see from it is that it spit coolant out of the radiator(even after it's been sitting all night) She had a mechanic tell her that she has a cracked head gasket, I'm inclined to agree. Although I'm think it could also be mixture of other problems. There isn't any milky coloring in the cylinders or anywhere else. It just overheats once in a while and has a lot of pressure behind the radiator cap. I also did the spark plug test and got ALOT of bubbles from the radiator. the hoses all seem to be fine. I replaced the thermostat and nothing changed. The fans kick on. Is there anything else I can check to tell if it's the cooling system before I say for sure that it's a head problem?
  • You definitely have a blown head gasket. No doubt about it. I had the same symptom with coolant spitting out of the reserve tank and eventually the radiator because it gets too hot. When the problem started, I replaced the thermostat, water pump, radiator cap and radiator hoping that the problem will go away. Well, it did not and I replaced all these parts twice again! All the parts I replaced are 100% genuine Honda parts. I even purchased radiator vacuum kit to flush out my radiator at least twice just to make sure there are no air pockets inside. I wasted at least 3 gallons of coolant.
    All the steps above did not fix the problem. Hot coolant spits out of the reserve tank and it got hot enough that it melted the mouth of the radiator since the radiator is made of a composite material.

    Finally, I had the throw in the towel and recruit my friend to help. We removed the cylinder head and took a straight edge gauge the cylinder head and block to make sure that it is not warp. The cylinder block is ok, which is very lucky for me. Unfortunately the cylinder head was warped. Had I replaced the head gasket in the early stage, my cylinder head would not have warped. Remember, the problem starts gradually and got worst in under 8 weeks.
    I purchased a complete remanufactured cylinder head from a place called Cylinder Heads International in Texas ( I also purchased a genuine Honda head gasket and head bolts. I didn't have to replace the head bold since we were able to reuse them so I still have the new head bolts that I purchased. At the same time, I also replace the timing belt and belt tensioner. Since you're going to replace the head anyway, it is highly recommended to replace the timing belt and timing belt tensioner. The timing belt is made by Gates. You can get them directly from a Honda dealer or from your local auto parts store. I found out that Honda use the Gates brand and it is the same part as the one from my local store except that I don't have to pay a lot for it by buying it from the dealer.

    Enough said... The entire head replacement process took about 10 hours since the 04 civic that I have is much harder to work with because of the intake manifold compared to my old 92 civic which took me about 3 hours since it has less junk under the hood.

    When I replaced my 04 head cylinder, it had 185K miles on it with the original timing belt. I was surprised that my timing belt last that long but probably because at least 95% of the miles I put on are from freeway driving. So far, my car is at 227K miles and going.

    Here is a note, make sure that you check the valve work on the re manufactured head cylinder. If you need to adjust the valve or redo the valve seats or guides, do so before you close every thing up. Otherwise, your car will end up consuming about a quart of oil every 1500 miles or so because engine oil is leaking into the combustion chamber.

    Also use only 100% genuine Honda parts like thermostat, radiator cap, water pump, timing belt tensioner and especially the head gasket. I purchased an after market radiator and it works just fine. Good luck and I hope I contribute enough information to save some soul from going through the same misery like I do but for my part, it was an educational experience.
  • Thank you so much for this. It should be fun since I've never replaced a head.
  • When you put the head back on, make sure that you tighten the head bolts in the proper order. Most importantly, make sure you torque the bolts correctly. You can go to this site to download the torque specs for the head bolts.

    When you put the exhaust manifold back on, make sure you use anti seize compound for the exhaust manifold in case you need to remove it. Good luck.
  • Is there some kind of step by step for doing this? I really don't want to mess it up.
  • Alright guys I've got a 99 civic ex and it keeps getting hot I replaced thermostat and still was getting hot so I ram without it and still gets hot. Went to replace water pump and was in great condition. My radiator and houses are new so I don't think its them n my fans are on toggle so anytime my car is on so r they. Also spark plugs look great. There is no water in oil either. It runs fine sometimes but after so long it will get hot don't really know what else to do. Someone help
  • I have the same problem on my 99 civic wagon 1.8vti. It overheats and cuts out - the engine sensor cuts the engine... Let it cool off for ten minutes and she's good to go, but only if I run the heating at full blast and keep the revs down.
    My cooling fan cuts in fine.
    I'm not losing any coolant.
    Coolant looks pretty good (color is OK - not brown soup or oily).
    No white smoke / steam in the exhaust that I can tell.
    My cabin heating unit works fine - blows hot air at me.
    What's to do...?
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