'85 Honda worth head gasket replacement?

I'm the original owner of an '85 Honda Accord hatchback (113K mi.), automatic transmission. The car has never overheated, but the other day white smoke poured out of the tailpipe. I drove it home 1 mile, then
had it towed to my regular mechanic, a Honda specialist. The head gasket is blown (a $900 repair, high, I guess, because I live in expensive NJ).
My husband and asked the mechanic whether it's worth spending this money on the car. He was reluctant to say so one way or the other, but he noted that the radiator is original, and there's a good chance it, too, might go soon.
The car is in decent condition, with a bit of rust along the sides. It was running great until now, although it has failed emissions inspections. We recently had the battery replaced (it was the original one!) and the muffler. We've given it regular maintenance.
Does needing a head gasket mean it's the beginning of the end for my beloved car? Does the fact that this part went mean that other things are wrong with it or that other parts will soon start going? (That is, are we throwing good money after bad?) I thought I could count on having it until 200K.
Anne
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toll on your 20 year old car. The years have also taken their toll on the market value of the vehicle, and that leads me to think you will be better off to replace the car with something newer.
I wouldn't have thought the head gasket would be the harbinger of age, but so be it. My focus would be on the rubber parts, including bushings. And, yes, the plastic tanks on the radiator are not young any more. The timing belt should have been changed a few times by now on the basis of time, and will be coming up again sometime. Will the car be worth it to you then?
The car can be fixed up, but it would have to be considered a "project car" - something to work on the equivalent of every weekend for several months to make actual headway against the forces of decay. That is a labor of love, and your love for the car would definitely be put to the test. It really is only practical as a major DIY job - you would pay a professional many times the car's value to do that and still would have a 20 year old car. A high school kid taking auto shop would be a better owner for your baby, I fear.
Mike
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Sure sounds like it.

113k... and you had the original battery for just about 20 years? That's amazing.
How does the undercarriage, especially where the jack goes, look? That area can become so rusted the jack can't be used there anymore.
Also, can you get an estimate of how much a new radiator, installed, would cost? I figure maybe $500.
I wouldn't expect any serious engine problems from years used, and certainly not at only 113k miles (unless you do some really serious sitting in the car in traffic, with it idling). I suspect the same goes for the transmission.
Figure certain seals (oil pan gasket, for example) will need replacement. Tack on another $600. Which might be high, or it might be low.
So you'd be spending maybe $2000 to renovate this car a bit, but possibly so as to take it to at least another five years (sounds like miles is not really the goal here). Key word being possibly.
Obtaining parts might get to be a problem within a few years, if not already. Online Honda parts sites go back this far and then some, but I don't know if your local mechanic has access to similar sources.
I am inclined to agree with your mechanic: This is a tough call.
I think at this time I would feel the safer bet is to take the money and put it towards a younger car. E.g. www.edmunds.com , used car appraisal section, says a 1995 Civic Si Hatchback with 100k miles and in good condition goes for $2700 - $3900 (private party to dealer prices). That should last five years, easily, assuming routine maintenance has been, and continues to be, done. Your car in its present condition is pretty much worthless, by Edmunds. (Running, you might get $1400 for it from a dealer.)
Elle Original owner, 1991 Civic. 173k miles. Thinking rust might kill it within five years. Suspension bushings appearance is poor, but drives fine. 40+ mpg, no oil drips on garage floor, but I have chased down many seals and replaced them in the last two years.
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You're sure right on the "tough call" regarding this vehicle.
On one side, a 113K Honda is barely over the 300K that could be expected to be a service life but the twenty plus years of salt/rust exposure sure can take the wind out of one's sails.
My first Honda was a used '76 Civic CVCC that I bought at 82K from the original owner (a friend) in 1982. It only lasted another five years with rust being the driving factor. There was little mechanical wear even though the car attained 160K in late 1987.
OTOH, I am nearing the end of a 1983 Honda Civic FE project that sat in a repair shop back yard. The previous owner evidently did not pay attention to the temp gauge and blew a head gasket at 110K. The owner of the shop inherited the car and later found a wrecked 1982 Civic DX with the intention of swapping engines. All this happened in the early 1990's and both cars sat in that back lot until I rescued both of 'em a little over a year ago for a measly $200. Incidentally, the wrecked car's engine had 116K on it.
Because here in Texas, rust is not really an issue, I swapped the engines but retained all the '83 FE tranny, accessories, carb, etc. The clutch/pressure plates in both engines appeared to be new so left them alone.
I figure that I'll have about $1,400 in the project when it's road worthy and considering what these cars bring on ebay, I figure I can't go to wrong if I run it until the wheels are square. If for some reason it becomes an aggravation, on ebay it will go.
Hopefully, the gas miser king of 1983 will serve me well for a few years to come...
JT
Elle wrote:

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Been chatting with some other folks, and I forgot two things:
-- These folks know this car well, so buying a used car, but one less old, as I suggested, means buying into an unknown entity.
-- $900 for another year (quite possibly more) of service from this 1985 Honda is still pretty darn cheap for the typical consumer.
I know installing the new head gasket is an option I would strongly consider if this were my 1991 Civic and I felt it had never overheated, as anwinesp@@ yahoo.com indicated.
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We've decided to take the $900 gamble. We're keeping our fingers crossed!
Anne
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