Bent valves?

We have (had?) a great '92 Honda Accord with 300k, until the timing belt broke. We towed it to the dealer and they ran a “leak down” test - they checked the compression - and told us that low compression on all four cylinders meant the valves are almost certainly bent, rendering this formerly clean, quiet, 100% reliable runner into a total pile of junk. Make sense?

Yes, it makes complete sense. Honda engines are “interference” engines, which means that if the timing belt breaks, the pistons and valves collide at very high speed. Lots of internal engine damage can result, and bent valves is just one of the many expensive possibilities. There’s no way to know what else might be damaged without removing the cylinder head.

Replacing the timing belt at the intervals specified in the owner’s manual is meant to prevent this from happening. That’s why it’s called “preventive maintenance.” A timing belt replacement is MAINTENANCE, not repair. Fixing bent valves, and heaven knows what else, is repair.

Sounds like the correct diagnosis. The engine is repairable, but expect to spend at least $1000 for used/refinished cylinder head.

Thanks mc. I believe it all and I’m proud to say that Coggin Honda, in Saint Augustine, Florida, did the test for free. My wife destroys about 3 cars a decade through failure to perform scheduled maintenance, so I’m used to this, but this particular auto was one of the best ever made and I wanted to be doubly sure before saying bye.

Thanks TX. The dealer said expect to pay $1000-$1500, maybe more depending on what else turns up twisted, plus belt repair, which gives a total in excess of blue book, and we aren’t even considering the damage the deer did last year. So goodnight, sweet Honda.

At least its worth its weight in scrap metal! With the rise in metal prices, recyclers are paying a few bucks for junk cars. You can put it towards your next car. Good luck!

“My wife destroys about 3 cars a decade through failure to perform scheduled maintenance”


I am curious about a couple of things.

Do you think that this experience might teach her something about the importance of regular maintenance?
Don’t you think that it might be a good idea for you to oversee the maintenance of the cars that she drives?

Any idea of how many miles on that timing belt? I don’t think it possible that it, and the water pump, are original.

We knew the original owner well, and he did replace the belt after 150,000 miles, don’t know about the water pump.

A local salvager will pay $120. Thanks for your good wishes. We found a decent '90 LeSabre to dofer until we find another dream.

No and no. lol She trusts the Universe more than she trusts me, and why not? :slight_smile:

Let me get this right.

This vehicle has a timing belt and the original owner never changed it until 150k miles and now you haven’t either, after another 150k miles?

There must have been a horseshoe in place as those belts are supposed to be replaced at 90k miles.

LOL, replacing cars is much less painful than having a PO’d wife.

Yes, Roadrunner, I believe this vehicle does have a timing belt! It’s slightly damaged.

Actually, my dear wife believes that the previous owner, her friend, replaced the belt as scheduled, which means that the second belt had 120,000 miles on it. Maybe not a horseshoe, but still good workmanship.

Honda timing belts have a good safety margin built in, but it’s not something you want to start counting on. A guy in my area bragged about going 160,000 miles before he repalced it.

My dear wife would have had the record by summer 2010. Sigh.

BTW, mc, my wife has a friend - Sandra - who is a mechanic and claims that there is no test that will tell us and that there is little chance that the car is damaged. Sandra would like us to pay her employer for the belt repair. What do you think - is there much of a chance she’s making an honest mistake?

So if this car is otherwise clean, quiet and 100% reliable . . . why not look for a decent engine to swap into it . . . and make certain that after you have it installed and running . . . change the timing belt, tensioner and water pump. Any rust on the '92? I’ll betcha you can find a used motor cheaper than rebuilding the old one. Good luck! Rocketman

you should ask sandra to investigate what happens to an interference engine when the timing belt breaks.

that does not sound correct.

your car has an interference engine, and when they break timing belts they trash the top end.

this is not debatable, or even questionable. it just is.

the engine does have damage. how much would have to be determined by a tear down.

some argue that it is cheaper to find a replacement engine since yours is so old.

personally i would invest the $$ in a newer car, and CHANGE the timing belt at the recommended intervals (not necessarily when the wife thinks you should)

OUCH, i hate it when my wife hits me with the frying pan.

seriously, an ounce of prevention (200 bucks for a timing belt), would have saved a pound of cure (thousands for a new engine)