I have a '92 Honda Accord Wagon with 228,000 miles in immaculate
condition, and recently passed smog with all readings well below
Recently it overheated due to radiator leak. I pulled over as soon as I
noticed steam, let it cool, and filled up the radiator, drove home.
I replaced the radiator, and everything seemed fine for a few days.
One morning I noticed white smoke coming out of the exhaust, with the
tell-tell sickly-sweet coolant smell. The engine still idled perfectly,
and a couple minutes later the steam disappeared. I checked for water on
the oil dipstick and oil cap; there was none. Also, no sign of oil in
the radiator. I drove it 50 miles on the highway, and checked the water
level when I returned - it was approx. 1 pint low.
It drove OK for the next couple days - white smoke disappearing after
warm-up. Today I started it and the engine ran very rough for the first
15 seconds, then the idle smoothed out. Now the steam was coming out
continuously, although the idle was still smooth.
Researching online, it seems that Honda engines are notorious for
leaking/blown head gaskets after overheating. What I'm wondering is:
In your experiences, what are the chances that it's just the gasket and
not a cracked head or block, or a warped head? I really like this car a
lot, and want to do the job myself (2.2L engine with A/C). I guess I'll
find out soon enough, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Any ideas/suggestions are very much appreciated.
Wish me luck!
sounds typical. probably just gasket. unless you cooked it worse than
if you're doing the job yourself, remove old gasket very carefully and
with solvents - do /not/ use abrasives. do /not/ get the head skimmed
unless it's warped.
If you're setting aside the cash, I wouldn't count on it being just
the gasket; at that age, when you get the head off, you might think
about putting a rebuilt one on if the valves look used up, even if it
isn't cracked, even if the rest of the car is in good shape.
Especially if the rest of the car is in good shape. At very least,
check the gasket surface of the head with a straightedge to make sure
it isn't warped, which is often the intermediate cause between the
overheating and the gasket blowing. If it is, you can get it to seal
OK, but the new gasket will be likely to blow pretty much any time,
logically enough. Then, if the head is straight and the valves look
OK, you can just replace the gasket and feel like you got away lucky.
As for actual cracks in the head, not as likely. (If the head is just
warped, it can be planed flat and reused, but you have to take it
apart and rebuild it to do that, so there's no reason not to just get
one all rebuilt for you).
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