Engine Head Cracked - Honda Passport 2000


I have a Honda 2000 passport. Initially I started seeing smoke coming from engine after I drive more than 20 miles, I ran like this for 4 days and I gave it dealer, he said the radiator hose is bad, so they changed it. The next day I saw my vehicle sputtering when idle, I told my dealer about this and dropped the vehicle. After diagnosing the said the head gasket or engine head is could be cracked. They did some pressure testing and came to conclusion that my engine cylinder head is cracked and they gave me $2700 quote. I was not ready to spend so much so I did some research with different mechanics and all said it could cost anywhere between $2000 to $3000. Finally I gave to a mechanic near my home and he said $2500. He came up with list of auto parts like head gasket kit, water pump, timing belt, coolant, thermostat, engine filter etc… First day he said the valve related stuff are all messed up and engine head was ok, after two days he said the machine shop saw a head cylinder cracked.

After 3 days he said the total is $3300. I am not sure what to do; I felt I should have given to dealer itself. I am confused but have no choice but I am starting to feel that I got ripped off. Please advice.


This is a bad situation. First you were given a diagnosis that is really bad. Then the prices seemed to shift. The head crack can be tough to see so dont blame the mechanic for the bad news. He has to get a new part he was hoping to rebuild and its pricy. The dealer may have lowballed the estimate hoping to just do a head gasket. A pressure test really doesn’t say whether it is the gasket or a cracked head unfortunately. Your mechanic has a pretty long list of replacement parts that he might cut back a bit but in the long run he is taking the engine apart and some of these parts may be close to a typical replacement age. So in a way you are just taking the next few years of possible repairs and putting it in to one visit. It is really bad news but if you like the car or you can’t replace it just make sure that you are happy with the work that is done and let the mechanic know that you expect a perfect job. He knows that you are not in a good place but may be trying to do the best given the situation.

I have no idea how anybody is charging $2500+ for that work. Replacing the head and gasket shouldn’t possibly cost more than $1500. But it sounds like they are doing the timing belt as well…should be at most another $600. Thats $2100. Sounds like you may just have pricey mechanics working on your car. But if you didn’t approve an extra $800 worth of work you should be angry and I’d put my foot down. Try to work things out with them and if they don’t want to cooperate threaten to do a BBB report, most places don’t like that.

i agree with you that you’re confused about this sutuation. the prices all sound about right no matter which way you go.

your original quote included a head gasket replacement and the other items are all legitimate “musts” unless they were recently replaced.
once disassembled and the head was sent off to the auto machine shop it is discovered that the head is damaged and must be replaced so the extra money is no doubt the cost of the replacement cyl. head.

if the dealer had done the repair then the dealer would have run into the same situation since no dealer or independent shop is psychic and nothing is for sure until torn down.

fyi; continuing to operate a vehicle with a potentially serious problem should not be done for 4 minutes, much less 4 days. this continued use is probably why you need the cylinder head instead of a head gasket only. i would also advise keeping close tabs on the oil level since many times oil consumption problems can occur after something like this. jhmo and hope it helps.

You may want to applaud your mechanic for going through the proper steps in having the head checked for cracks. A lessor mechanic may have rolled the dice, and just replaced the head gasket without having it checked for cracks. That would have been a really big nightmare, costing far more including a lot of extra aggravation.

Pay up; you will have to do it sooner or later. If the other stuff doesn’t get changed along with the head, it will have to be done later at a cost of 1300 more dollars. It isn’t “just the way it is”. It is, however, so close as to make no difference.

It was an estimate. If it’s on a formal estimate sheet, it probably states something to the effect that “In case of additonal parts and work that needs to be done after thorough inspection, those costs and charges will be over and above this estimate to reflect out increased parts costs and additional labor charges”. If this is close to what ir states on his form, that’s the deal. Would you have him put the thing back together without oerforming the additional needed supplementary work? Then a couple miles down the road, POOF! Something else blows that could have been taken care of with the original repairs. I say that you have a fair and honest mechanic. Did he explain to you why he had to go further than his original estimate? Then he’s honest and fair. Prices? Depends on what is usual and typical for your area. I get into these types of discussions frequently–and not just about automotive issues. I am now semi-retired doing handyman work. Do you haggle price with your dentist prior to his/her getting into your mouth before he/she knows exactly the extent of dental work needed after examination? Have you ever tried haggling fees with an attorney? Do you haggle with what ever grocery store you go into? Or Target, WallyWorld, or whatever stores you shop at? If a mechanic states up front that final costs depend on whatever he might find after partial or total tear down, you’ve found a good one. It’s the old saying of “Pay me now or pay me a whole he77 of a lot more later.” Later most likely will include redundancy of previous efforts. Just my opinion. And I am in no way, shape, manner or form (female dog)ing at you. Just my perspective. I run into this situation frequently with my handyman services work. “Well, the other guy said he could do it for less.” Do you have a signed agreement with him? Is he licensed and insured? How much experience does he have in this particular field? Can you find him after he takes a huge down payment, drops about $50 worth of materials, and then disappears? Who’s going to fix his screw-ups? You’ll want me to? At what price? Why should I do the work for less than what I quoted you in my written, signed formal contract? And it goes on and on. The majority of mechanics, especially independents, are knowledgeable, honest, hard working, experienced, and intelligent people. Just like a lot of handymen and other service industry people. If any of these folks tell you what the deal is up front and you know ahead of time that it may cost more for materials and labor dependent upon what they find after getting in behind that wall or under that floor or climbing up into the attic or having to tear into an engine or tranny or differential unit, then you’ve found an honest service person. This is not directed at you, berringer, but just a general mild venting from knowledge and experience. Most of us are just trying to make an honest living—not a killing. Just an information item: What the check on the head is commonly called in a lot of places is “magnafluxing”. It is a dip-type procedure that reveals even the tiniest cracks and other imperfections in engine blocks, heads, water pumps, tranny cases, etc., that most times can’t be seen even using a magnifying glass. Good, knowledgeable mechanics get this procedure done routinely on such items and more. They make absolutely sure that the component is perfectly serviceable. Yeah, and it costs additional money. It’s still a lot cheaper than guessing that the part is still serviceable and then finding out that it’s cracked. You just threw a lot of money down a rat hole because someone didn’t take the extra time and effort to get parts magnafluxed.

prof, I liked your post and agree with you, but next time, could you use a few paragraphs? It was hard to read.

I agree,1 paragrah=2700.00
2 paragraphs=3300.00
spell check=4400.00 but no spell check=300.00

Thank you all for valuable information.

Here is the break up of the cost and why it became expensive:
Auto parts: $1550
Machine shop: $800
Labor: $850

I got my vehicle fixed and I don’t see the sputtering anymore, but I have another problem, I got my vehicle Saturday and I did not see any issues, Monday morning when I started my vehicle and ran for about 3 miles I saw Check Engine light coming ON and OFF and it went away after 5 minutes, I called my mechanic immediately and left the vehicle at his place. They did diagnostic check and could not find any error code, the same evening I went to his place and he came with me for a test drive. I did not see it again.

This morning I saw check engine light again ON and OFF after I drove for about 3 miles and it went away after 5 minutes. I continued driving and I felt everything was OK.

My question here is that since I saw this twice and only during the morning starts, what could this problem be? Since my mechanic said if it flashes and goes off then I should be OK to drive and I drove 50 miles today. How can this be rectified? Some say do not switch off the engine and take it to workshop, so that they could capture the error code. Please advice.


correct leave it running when you take it back,theres a better chance that the code will remain,could be a one trip code ,but code should turn up on the hitory menu within the scan tool,yes leave it running.

good luck