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1998 Civic Head Gasket Question

My civic recently started making a ‘spitting’ sound under the hood when I accelerate to pass a car. Doesn’t do it driving under normal acceleration. I checked and no water in oil or vice versa. Noticed drop in MPG (34 to 26). Does it sound like the head gasket and if so would Steel Seal or Blue Diamond be a suitable repair vs. replacing the gasket? I imagine problem gets worse with time. I’ve heard repair shops get $1000 for head gasket repair. Thanks, CW

A spitting sound does not indicate a head gasket problem. When was the last time it had a tune up? A drop in MPG also does not indicate a head gasket problem. Do not under any circumstance put “Steel Seal” or “Blue Diamond” in your engine, ever, never ever. If you had a leak in your head gasket, replacing the gasket is the only fix. Most shops can quickly and inexpensively test for a leaking head gasket. Go spend $15 for the test and rest easy.

I have deducted it isn’t a head gasket problem. No tell tale signs. Temp gauge operates in norm range. I had the Cat Conv replaced last summer and looked at the exhaust man today with no visible cracks. I can’t get it to simulate the noise problem reving the engine. It only does it getting high rpm’s in 3rd gear. I tuned up the engine last year with valve adj, new plugs, dist cap, etc. The car idles like a new one. Main problem is very sluggish performance which I’m sure is associated with loss of mpg. No chk eng light on either. Very confusing and frustrating. I lean towards the anal side of car maitenance. Any thoughts? Thanks, WB

Sounds like a fuel delivery problem; fuel filter or pump.
Another possibility could be retarded ignition timing. (due to someone altering the distributor position during a tune-up or timing belt change if either of those have been done)

Yet another could be a clogged catalytic converter. (can be checked with a vacuum gauge if you can find a mechanic who will actually use one)