2001 Honda Accord Coolant Issue

So I noticed the smell of burning coolant a day after I got an oil change. My car wasn’t overheating and my thermostat didn’t jump at all. I open the hood and theres a little bit of smoke. I take it to a mechanic and they do a pressure check. They see dried coolant under the upper hose connecting the engine to the radiator. They tell me its the flange connecting that hose to the engine that’s leaking low levels of coolant and it will cost 150 to fix.(not a gasket thank god) I say go ahead. They’re in the process of fixing it today and they call me saying “We got the part, and we’re going to fix it but we think the thermostat isn’t fully opening or closing which is causing the problem and it will be another 150 to fix”. Now I looked up this mechanic and they have 12 1 star reviews on Yelp of people saying they were overpriced and the mechanics often piled on things once they got on.

My issue is essentially the mechanic said “This problem could happen again if you don’t replace the thermostat” but he also said they’re not sure if its a bad thermostat. Couldn’t they check the thermostat easily??? Like I said I said besides the leak in the flange I haven’t had any issues. The car warms up fine and the temperature NEVER spikes (I had a different car overheat and blow a gasket two years ago cause I didn’t notice the temp gauge for 2 miles and I LEARNED MY LESSON) I always keep a careful eye on the gauge.

My question is isn’t there an easy way to check the thermostat? The mechanic keeps pressuring me to fix it. Just to be safe I am just having them fix the flange and taking it to a mechanic I trust. (I couldn’t take it to him before cause he’s on the other side of town and I was paranoid my car wouldn’t make it)

Replacing the thermostat at this point would be a good idea even if it is good, but it should not cost $150. It would cost $150 if that was the only thing being done, but they have done most of the labor just removing the gooseneck, they are double charging you for the labor. It should be more like $50, if that much.

Yes, there’s an easy way to test the thermostat by putting it in hot water with a thermometer to see if it opens and closes at the corrct temps. But mechanics don’t do it because it’s cheaper to install a new thermostat than to spend the time to test the old one.

If you’ve already had the first shop button the engine back up without replacing the thermostat, I wouldn’t bother to go back in and change it unless you notice an overheating problem. Which you said has not happened.

Just drive on and keep an eye on the temp gauge, but if it hasn’t overheated before, there’s no reason to suspect the thermostat.

Its easy to test it when its out of the car, but at that point you might as well replace it-the work is already done. I guess at this point I’d pass since they are overcharging, but then take it to someone else to have the other hoses replaced and the thermostat. Same money either way, but if one hose is old and bad, might as well do them all.

“Its easy to test it when its out of the car, but at that point you might as well replace it-the work is already done

The labor is exactly the same in both cases, and the cost of a thermostat is pretty reasonable. Why test it, find out that it is still okay, but then potentially wind up replacing it next year?

On a 13 year old car, it just makes sense to replace the thermostat, rather than simply testing it.

Thanks guys. Just got the car back. I think I will take it to another shop, one i’ve trusted before. Picked up the car today. When I picked it up the engine was cold and the coolant level was at the MAX line (isn’t it supposed to be just above the min line when cold?). Then I drove for about 30 minutes and checked the resevoir and the coolant was above the MAX line when hot. I called the mechanic and they said it’s fine. Is that accurate or did they overfill my Coolant? Either way I’m taking it to a different shop in a few days.

The temp gauge didn’t spike during the entire drive also.

Don’t worry about the coolant level as long as the tank isn’t completely full when it’s hot. The “max” line is set just to leave room in the tank for epxansion/overflow.

A little above the max line is OK.
I and many mechanics refill a system to the max line cold.
That gives a little extra reserve coolant and if there’s still a little air still in the system the level will drop a bit after a few thermal cycles.

Thanks jesmed!

Last thing. Now i’m driving around and when I get out of my car I can smell Coolant. I know some leaked and is on parts of the engine from when the original leak occurred. Could it just be that or could there possibly be another leak? there’s no signs of leaks and the hoses are all good.

Give it some time to cook off the previously spilled coolant. If the levels inside the radiator and overflow tank hold steady over time there is no leak.

If the mechanic filled the reservoir to the MAX line when it was cold, some is going to get pushed out through the overflow when the system heats up. I’d bet that’s what you’re smelling.That would be normal and perfectly harmless. You should also see two things: “tracks” from the leakage in the reservoir area, and the level dropping back to the “cold” line when the engine cools down.

Check your fluid level once the engine is cool. If it’s above the “cold” line, you’re fine. Post back with the results.

Open the hood and look for any coolant puddles. It may be they left some on top of the engine when they replaced the goose neck. If you pour water on it with a hose and flush it off the top of the engine it should stop stinking. If the smell comes back, you still have a leak.

Over the years I’ve always refilled the reservoir to MAX with the engine cold and never had it rise enough to overflow.

The system design as well as the ambient temperature when you do the work will make a difference. Because you didn’t get an overflow does not mean no other system will overflow.

Hate those double charges,always try to incorparate “twofurs” when I’m work done,works on the Honest guys I deal with,the more shady variety have short memory it seems.For goodness sakes when something is down,replace the" cheap" parts a new thermostat is peace of mind and shame on somebody for not replacing it along with the other part-Kevin (some of these double charging cats lose my business to varying degrees)