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Cracked engine block in 2003?

We were seeing a little (maybe dime-sized drop) of coolant on our garage floor. I took our well-maintained 2003 Accord LX (4 cylinder) with 61K miles on it to the dealer for an oil change. I was informed that it has a cracked engine block. The service manager used a flashlight to show me where (at the front right/passenger side of the engine there was “green stuff”/coolant on the engine and said that there was a crack in the engine block in that location. I could see the green, but could not actually see a “crack”. He suggested that it was okay to drive the car home (just a couple miles)but to avoid driving it until it was repaired. Could he be mistaken about the crack(or is it “unmistakable”)? We just had the 60K service completed August of 2009; they flushed and replaced the coolant at that time—could they have damaged something then or could there be some other source for the leak that would leave green on a top-facing surface of the engine (he showed me the green when looking down from above the car with a flashlight)?

This calls for a second (and perhaps a third) opinion, as this is a very serious situation if it is true.

Is this guy really the service manager, or is he just a service writer?
You might be surprised at how little most service writers actually know about the mechanics of a car.
The amount of misinformation given out by them can be incredible. For instance–“avoid driving it until it was repaired”. You don’t repair a cracked engine block. You REPLACE it, to the tune of…big bucks.

Since we can’t see what you are describing, we can’t know for sure if his statement is correct or not. Since it is possible that someone simply spilled some coolant, or that you have some seepage from a gasket, this situation really calls for someone else to assess the condition of the engine.

I agree, get some more opinions. Cracked blocks are a very very rare thing even though that diagnosis gets tossed around more than it should be. There could very well be something minor causing coolant leakage instead of something major like a cracked block.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been a mechanic for 35ish+ years and I’ve only seen one cracked block in my life and that block was on a 53 GMC pickup a friend had hauled out of a farmer’s field where it had been sitting for about 15 years.

The service advisor (that’s what his business card says) walked me back to where the technician/mechanic was working. The advisor said something to the effect that the technician was very experienced and that many technicians would have missed the cracked block, changed the oil, and sent me on my way, but I was lucky that this one found it. The service advisor also said that he had been working for Honda for 10 years and had never seen a cracked block on an Accord (I’ve seen online that it was not entirely uncommon on certain civics.) He did say we would need to replace the engine…new Honda block =$5700, $7125 installed; salvaged engine with 1 yr warranty, $2800 installed.

A service “advisor” is a service writer. Most have little or no automotive experience.

The diagnosis might be correct, but when you are talking about such a big-ticket repair job, this needs to be confirmed by at least one other mechanic.

Will any mechanic do or should it be a dealer mechanic? Would I ask the mechanic “It seems to be leaking coolant, will you have a look?” (or should I say specifically that someone else said the block is cracked and ask them to confirm?) What is a fair price for the diagnosis?
Since I had already waited some time at the dealership, I had them complete the oil change and they added coolant. The receipt for the work did not show that coolant was added or that they found a cracked engine block which I found a little odd.
Thanks :slight_smile:

If I drive it to a mechanic, how will I know if it is having major problems? Should I primarily be watching the temperature guage? How high is too high on the guage? Thanks :slight_smile:

A cracked block would be pretty unusual. More likely would be that one of the freeze plugs are leaking or something higher up is leaking and trickling down. I would definitely get another opinion as others have said.

You said the magic word, FLUSH. That means one or more coolant hoses were disconnected. It could be just leftover coolant or a leaking hose connection. It could also be the drain plug in the block not tight.

If you can’t detect any coolant loss and the temp gauge is in the normal range, you can drive it. Just check it frequently for awhile.

Please post the letter designation of your engine type, if your block cracked I would bet the farm that others cracked in the same place. If this was an air cooled VW and someone said “cracked case” I would not doubt them for a second ,but a Honda from 2003? show me.

As everyone says, cracked blocks are really rare. Get more opinions.

Can you drive it? I wouldn’t set out on a 10,000 mile road trip without fixing the car, but you should be able to drive it to mechanics. Keep an eye on the coolant level when the car is cold and add more if it starts to drop. And keep an eye on the temperature gauge when you are driving. If it starts to climb out of its normal range, pull over and let the car cool down. Then either limp home taking care not to overheat the engine, or arrange to have it towed.

If it IS a cracked block but just cracked to the outside, you could drive it forever by just adding coolant on a regular basis. Also, if it is just cracked to the outside it might be welded. I don’t believe in spending thousands of dollars if $25 bucks can fixa problem. BTW, what caused the crack, not enough antifreeze?