I have a 95 Prelude. When I started moving from a complete stop, my
engine quit. I took the car to the dealer. They informed me that
timing belt broke. Best case scenario is the timing belt is the only
problem at $595.00 repair. Worst case scenario is engine damage and
the repair would be $1,795.00. This is what concerns me. The dealer
wants me to agree to replacing the belt so he can attempt to start the
engine allowing him to determine if additional repairs are needed.
I found this to be suspicious. I am assuming they would be able to
determine if some damage has happened to the engine without me
spending $595.00. According to the dealer, the starter engages and
the engine turns without any unusual noise.
The mechanic has offered me $500 for the car as it sits. He has an
engine he could put in the vehicle.
Anyone have any thoughts as to if I am getting ripped off?
Thanks for the advice...
If possible, take it to another mechanic just in case he is trying to rip
you off. One method of determing if the timing belt is broken is to take
off the cap or the top portion of the distributer. While a friend starts
the car--you or someone else should watch the distributer--if nothing
spins around--the timing belt is broken. If you see a spinning motion--it
means the timing belt is NOT broken. I did not use any terms that you
might not understand. If any mechanics read this--feel free to provide
even better advice.
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I'd pull off the valve cover and see if the timing belt is around the cam
gears. Turning over the engine could cause more damage by bending the
valves. If the timing belt is broken, then the valve are stuck in different
positions, turning over the engine moves the pistons up & down, if the valve
is open it will bend when the piston hits it. That's why they are called
The only way to tell, without replacing the timing belt, if the valves are
bent would be to let the cams go so all the valves are in a closed position,
and then compression check the cylinders... a bent valve will not close and
seat itself. Apart from that pull off the head all together and have it
I think what you may have meant to say is to perform a leak down test not a
compression test. A leak down test pressurizes the cylinder with air. If
any of the valves are bent, then air will leak into either the exhaust or
the intake manifold depending on which valve is bent.
Another way to check for bent valves is to check the valve clearances as you
do during a valve adjustment. Any bent valves will not seat all the way and
the clearances will be excessively large. If you're careful, this check can
be performed without putting a new timing belt on the car.
Lastly, to the original poster, I think it would be a mistake to sell the
car for $500. If they are pressuring you to do this, then I would find
valves are bent. If they are all pretty much to spec the valves are probably
good. If some are way wide, count on those valves to be bent.
In addition, a ratchet on the crank bolt (turn CCW!) to pull the engine
through all four compression cycles should give a rough idea of the state of
the compression. If some cylinders resist and some don't....
I am not sure this guy has your best interests in mind. Yes, it is a dicey
situation, but he is certainly aware of the ways to get a feel for how the
valves fared. It sounds like he is hoping you will sell him the car for
$500, which guarantees him a good deal and gives you the same deal if the
valves are good that you would have if the valves are bent. In addition, you
mention he seems to be guiding you toward trying the belt - a move that is
premature and only guarantees $600 will move from your pocket to his whether
it gets you any closer to a working car or not.
Personally, I wouldn't feel comfortable working with him.
He's trying to get a good car for dirt cheap like most mechanics because
it's nothing for him to get an engine for dirt cheap and then he builds a
car worth 5 times what he spent on it. I'd tell him he can have it for $1000
if he wants it so bad. Get another mechanic. Engines for hondas are selling
for cheap on Ebay. If you really like the car and its the whole engine thats
ruined buy one and find a mechanic to put it in for cheap.
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