99 civic woes

Good morning all,
Well my sis has finally decided she doesn't need a car. More like she's finally realized there is no way (or need) for her to afford
insurance and maintenance on a 9 year old vehicle and a bad driving record.
She bought the car in 2001 with 120000kms on it from a reputable Honda dealer. However, on my initial inspection (she bought the car before I was able to inspect), noticed that the maintenance that had been done to it up to that point was obviously not done at the dealership. The battery was A/M (not a huge indicator but nonetheless), the t-belt was A/M, the tires were all the wrong size (instead of P185 65R14, they were P175 70R14, and really bad tires too). The car just did not give me a great feeling.
Of course I told her to ask the dealership if the t-belt had been done, and also what they did to it to get it saleable. Sounds like they pretty much washed it and put it on the lot.
She started getting CELs about 3 years down the road. P01857. She still drives with the CEL on to this day.
Also, at about 170000kms, the timing belt snapped. Shouldn't have happened, but without the actual work history on the vehicle, it was the roll of a dice. They fixed the car (she was married at this point), 3 new valves, timing covers and crank angle sensor. $1700.
About a year or so after the t-belt repair, she started complaining that the car was running hot, and that the rad was boiling when she pulled over. The rad needed regular fill ups, but the coolant bottle never overflowed. There is no coolant in the oil, but there does appear to be a little oil in the coolant. Also noticed that the little rubber hose that goes to the bottom of the coolant overflow bottle was not connected. I have reconnected it now. Not sure how many times she overheated the car. Very frustrating... who drives a car that is overheating?!?!!?!
OK, so based on my novel above, here is the info I am looking for:
1. Cooling system issues - any pointers on diagnosing this issue are appreciated. It could be a head gasket, and it is suspect since it was replaced a couple years ago, but not all the symptoms are present, and it seems sporadic as to when it decides to overheat. Rad cap is new, thermostat has not been replaced. When I step on the gas with the rad cap off, it definitely bubbles up, but I don't know if this is an indication of bad head gasket, or just normal operation.
2. P01857 - Evaporative system fault. Please let me know what I need to look at on the evap system to repair this. I have checked for vacuum leaks, found nothing. Is there something simple I am overlooking here?
Thanks for everyone's help.
Terry in Winnipeg (trying to cross post, but am at work and do not have a news reader!)
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in

You mean P1857? No such code on Hondas.
DTCs are one letter and four numbers. You have an extra digit in there.

Uh-oh. Coolant was being pushed out but could not go back in again. Very very bad.
Is the hose from rad cap to reservoir cap intact?

A lot of people. So long as the car keeps running, they keep driving.

Is the thermostat aftermarket?
When the engine is overheating, can you make the temperature decline by turning on the interior heater and fan full blast? Or do you need to rev it to get the temperature down?
Does it overheat in heavy traffic? When idling? Anytime?
Specific details on the exact nature of the overheating will help in diagnosis.

Recheck that code number. It's formatted incorrectly.

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OK. Finally got to change the thermostat and coolant in this car. It still overheats. I'm pretty sure its the head gasket. All I did was start it up and drive up on some ramps, turned it off and when I went to open the rad, it was under a lot of pressure. So I'm guessing that exhaust is getting into the coolant. The old coolant was pretty dirty as well, and the coolant resevoir kept filling up, though it never overflowed that I could tell.
Not sure if I want to tackle a head gasket on this car... any pointers? There's a guy down the road from me that works at an Acura dealer and fixes stuff in his home shop on the side. Gonna go talk to him to see what he thinks...
thanks t

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loewent wrote:

definitely sounds like head gasket. you can do it yourself, but it's not for the faint hearted or inexperienced. you'll need some special tools as well.
that said, i recommend it if you want to save some money and enjoy working on your car. allow /plenty/ of time - this is not a quickie job. or alternatively, price simply replacing the motor with a low mileage used one from japan. the economics are very competitive.
google this group for some write-ups on doing this job. and one more thing almost no shop will ever tell you: avoid getting the head skimmed if you can possibly avoid it. almost all shops skim as a matter of course because it makes /their/ job so much easier, but it's bad for the head, [it's never finished like the original and so starts to leak again after a while] and it slightly alters both the cylinder compression and valve timing. the head won't be warped if it wasn't over-heated, and it'll clean up ok with judicious use of spray-on gasket remover and a fine blade scraper. do NOT use abrasives in the cleaning process. they end up residing in the cylinder, wearing the cylinder wall and rings, and wearing out your motor double-quick.
the write-up in the honda workshop manual is the best you can get.
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