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98 Honda CRV Head Gasket - Is it blown?

My CRV started steaming at the stop light yesterday. I immediately pulled over and had it towed to the dealership.

It was as I suspected - the radiator hoses.

$325 to change those! They then called me to tell me the head gasket had blown and they have to grind the head and replace it. Bringing the bill to $1200. First can this blown head gasket ruin my engine by mixing in the oil? How do I know that this is in fact what happened? The car had been running perfectly. Is this extra $900 a common price to do this repair? Oh and the car has 164,000 with all scheduled maintenence done as required.

Did it actually overheat? Or did you just pop a hose?

If it overheated then yes, your head gasket may have been compromised and the repair is necessary. How do you know this actually happened? You can believe the dealership or choose not to believe them and have the car towed to another shop for a second opinion. $900 for a head gasket replacement with having the head machined is a pretty good deal.

As soon as I saw the steam I noticed the temp guage going up but it only made it midway before I parked and turned off the car. I have decided to tow it to another shop for an opinion. A shop by the way that has good reviews on this web site. Foreign Tech in Plantation Florida. Otherwise I have no idea if it did blow or not.
By the way. My dad reminded me of an old test to see if the coolant mixed with the oil.
Taste it. A drop of the oil would taste sweet if the coolant had gotten in there.
Thanks for all the help.

I’ll bet money the head gasket is ok. Based on what you’ve told us, there’s no way it overheated.

There are a number of tests for a head gasket. Compression test, vacuum test, hydrocarbon test, inspection of the spark plugs and engine oil, cooling system pressure test, etc.
Any or all of them should be used to eliminate any guessing on this problem.

Coolant has a sweet taste but it’s very debateable as to whether it could be tasted while mixed with motor oil.
I hope you’re aware that coolant can sickness or even death in quantity and used motor oil can cause cancer.

I’ve always heard that coolant tastes sweet, but it has never tasted sweet every time it’s gotten in my mouth…It’s more bitter, pretty gross.

Yeah, don’t try the taste test lol…

Thank you,
I spoke to the dealership this morning and it seems they have done these tests. When I quoted them Foregn Techs prices, which were less they did come down $100 and gave a rental car for two days. They did the compression test and inspected the engine oil. They are confident that this is what needs to be done. I’m going with it.

If the oil looks good and the coolant’s good, I’d just drive it until an actual symptom shows up. CRV’s have good engines not known for head gasket problems. Just watch the temp gauge closely.

good job pulling over and stoping… Did the dealership say for sure why they knew the HG was shot. They are probably saying the HG needs to be replaced based on the fact that the car came in with a hose that was disconnecting.

A better and safer test is to drop a drop of oil onto a hot surface i.e. a iron on the highest setting or a hot skillet. If the drop of oil sizzles, there is coolant mixed in with the oil. Usually if coolant is well mixed into the oil, the oil will look opaque brown and have the consistency of chocolate mousse.

I disagree on “good” engines. I know a few CRV owners of the the first generation with burned valves and other upper head work needed. They do drive the cars harshly and take decent care of them.

The problem with the CR-V engines was Honda’s failure to recommend proper valve adjustment intervals. The valves inspection interval should have been stated as 30k miles in the manual, but instead it was stated as 105k miles. As a result, owners did not know to have the valves inspected when they should have been, resulting in burned valves. But many CR-V owners who escaped without valve problems are reporting 200k+ miles from their engines. My point being, the engines are great when they are properly maintained. Shame on Honda for giving their customers incorrect maintenance recommendation…but it’s not the fault of the engine per se.

I agree with the “No tasting theory” Your series of events does sound like you have a blown head gasket. The 1st shop you took it to possibly should have told you that there may be other issues once the hoses are replaced. If the hose mysteriously popped off that would indicate there are exhaust gases building up in the cooling system, hence your oil tasting theory would not work. The difference in the bill is to cover the R&R of the cylinder head, head set complete, thermostat & gasket, spark plugs and possible wire set if the other is crunchy, I am from Florida and I work in automotive there as well and I know the high quality Honda wire set that never gets changed because they always seem to work. By repairing this vehicle with the mileage you stated, you may also want to consider replaceing the radiator at the same time. I realize you towed the vehicle out and I imagine you had to pay the repair bill for the hoses repair and coolant etc… perhaps you should talk with the service provider and see if you can get credit towards the major repair your vehicle needs.

I’d like to know how many hoses were replaced that it cost $325 to change them. I had a radiator hose let go on my way to my daughter’s school once. My wife picked up a new one at a nearby NAPA store for less than $20 and I changed it in the school parking lot in 2 minutes with a pair of pliers.

I often find myself shocked at how much people pay for the simplest repairs at dealers these days! I don’t know why there isn’t more outrage over the cost of such work.

That said, from what you said in your post I would tend to doubt that you blew the head gasket. I would make absolutely sure before putting nearly $1000 into it.