My radiator hose busted today. I replaced it now its overheating, but before the hose busted my temp gauge wouldn’t move at all. My fan still works. Once the hose was replaced my gauge started working, but then it started rising towards the red zone. I drove it home but I would pull over and let it cool off once it started going above the half way mark so it wouldn’t cause any major damage. This is my first car and my grandpa suggests it may be a head gasket. I priced it and its fairly cheap compared to newer model cars. I just want a second opinion from someone that maybe has dealt with this car rather than a shade tree mechanic. When I bought it, I was told it needed an o2 sensor. Due to the coronavirus it had to sit for about two weeks before my tags and registration came in the mail. When I got my tags and registration and drove it again, I noticed that it idles funny and when my foot is on the brakes or turning slowly it dies on me. It didn’t do it when I test drove it or when I drove it home. If someone could possibly lead me in the right direction I would absolutely love it.
A head gasket is cheap. Putting a new head gasket on is not cheap and not really a do it yourself item unless you really know what you are doing. It sounds like you may have bought a vehicle that needs some very expensive work. You might have a shop do a diagnostic on it for about 125.00 and tell them not to do any work until you authorize it. At 23 years old the cost may not be worth it.
If it is not too late… and very well may be with the report you wrote above. You need to properly refill the cooling system and get all the air purged out of the system. Some Honda products have a bleed screw or nipple on the engine near the T stat housing and or on the rad itself. If no provision is provided to bleed the air the it needs to be done the traditional way… actually before all this you should replace the engine T stat… then doing the air purge from the system… This involves filling the rad and overflow tank (if equipped) as much as possible tightening the rad cap and then letting the engine warm up and cool down completely. Usually takes about 2-3 full Hot / Cold cycles to purge all air out of the system. It also takes many many hours to let the system perform this for you… by getting the engine warmed up…and then waiting for it to fully cool…as in cold… as if u never started the engine that day. This takes time… and there cannot be any leaks whatsoever… anywhere…and the rad cap has to seal correctly. Not difficult to perform… just takes time and patience. Do not ignore this procedure.
Drain Coolant… Replace the T stat… then babysit the purge process… and do NOT drive it before all the air has been purged from the system… using the bleed nipples (if equipped) or the method outlined above.
This is very very important… you cannot simply lose or drain the coolant, refill and then just take off and drive. There are trapped air pockets in the system (engine and rad) and it must be removed… otherwise you will watch your engine destroy its head gaskets all while having the cooling system seemingly filled up to the top and your temp gauge not reporting how hot the engine truly is…again due to air… With air trapped, the system will appear full… well it isnt…again due to those trapped air pockets.
You wont be the first and surely not the last to blow/destroy perfectly good head gaskets by ignoring the air purge process. It is very real and very very critically important. Replace T stat and then follow the process above