Blown head gasket - new refurbished engine?


#1

I have a 1993 Honda Civic that recently blew the head gasket. The car has 160,000 miles on it and has been a great car for the 4 years that I’ve owned it, gets 40 mpg and very reliable with nearly zero trouble. I live on a tight budget…I’ve been told that replacing the head gasket (and probably reshaping the cyllinder heads) isn’t worth it and that putting in a used imported engine would be a much better bet, which appears to cost about $1500-2000 in my region, including installation. The car is a bare bones model - no power steering, no AC, no power windows, no power locks, etc - which is just the way I like it, because that means fewer things to break. Would it be worth it to replace the engine, or should I just cut my ties and save up for a newer used car? I don’t think I’d be able to get anything nearly as good for $1500 - probably at least $3000, I’d guess…?



Any advice would be very welcome. Thanks.


#2

If the rest of the car is in good shape I would fix it. There seems to be a high demand for these old fuel efficient cars.


#3

Agree; I’d fix it; the life expectancy if these cars is very long and they are very easy on gas.


#4

Are you sure the head gasket is blown? What symptoms are present? Is this your trusted mechanic’s diagnosis?


#5

Unfortunately, I don’t have a trusted mechanic, because before this I never needed to have any work done. But from everything I’ve read, it’s quite likely a blown head gasket. In my foolish youth (i.e. during the time I’ve had the car) I was very spotty about doing things like, say, checking coolant levels. I drove it while it was overheating on more than one occasion (although the needle never got into the red zone), to find that (of course) the radiator was essentially dry. I reformed my foolish ways in the last 6 months or so before the car broke down, and in checking regularly found that the coolant levels would drop very rapidly without much driving and with no visible leak on my driveway. One hot day I took it for a short errand, and upon climbing a rather short but steep hill, the temperature gauge shot up suddenly straight to the top and the car lost a significant amount of power. Took it to the dealership, and after not finding any visible leak they ran a pressure block test - I think that’s what it was called? - and said it was almost certainly a blown head gasket.

Does that sound legitimate? (I’ll take a lot better care of the second engine than I did of this one.)


#6

Its not the head gasket that’s the problem, its that the head is now warped and the cylinders scored from over-heating. If it was just the head gasket, it wouldn’t be a problem fixing the existing, but dumping another engine in a 93? I think I would sell it as a repairable to someone and cut my losses, especially if you have been less than stellar on the other maintenance issues over the years.


#7

I would perform the cheapest repair possible and see if you can stomach it. Despite that Honda name this car is 15 years old and would be weary on spending a lot on it. If you are in a salty region in the winter move on.


#8

I’m in sunny Santa Barbara…