Head gasket

Could driving my Honda CRV (2004) in 2nd gear for approx. 20 minutes cause the head gasket to go?

Did it over heat during that episode ?

How many RPM’s did the engine rev at?

…or if you don’t recall how many RPMs, can you at least tell us what speed (mph) you were driving at while in 2nd gear for 20 minutes?

My husband happened to be driving it. It did not overheat and we did enter Rt. 84 before he realized his blunder. So I guess we were traveling between 30 - 60 mph. He says he never saw the RPM rev up.

If the cooling system has been properly maintained and the engine is in good working order, driving it in 2nd gear for 20 minutes will not cause a blown headgasket. Your engine is protected by the computer against overreving, and the cooling system should be able to dissipate the additional heat created by the high-rev cruising sufficiently to protect against head warpage and/or head gasket failure.

However, cruising in too low a gear is not a good idea. In addition to obvious added wear, the engine does generate more heat. The more combustion cycles per mile, the more heat generated. And it’s also true that there will be more explosions per mile that need to be contained by the “fire ring” in the headgasket than if you were in the proper gear.

So, are you having any problems since the drive? If so, what are your symptoms?

If the engine never overheated and you have no symptoms, you have no damage.

You can sleep soundly.

I’m going to say, “No, it should not have damaged the head gasket.” Nor should it have damaged anything else.

If this vehicle has an automatic transmission the revs were never too high. The engine won’t over-rev itself anyway. It has a rev limiter to prevent such a thing.

If the head gasket is leaking I’d call it a coincidence.

I don’t think this caused the head gasket to fail. I had one of my institution’s Honda Civic Hybrid assigned to me to attend a convention. My research assistant and I took turns driving the car. On the way back from the convention, she claimed that the Honda liked her better than it liked me. She thought the Honda seemed noisier when I was driving and it ran more quietly for her. She was right-I had the Honda in “3” instead of “drive” on the interstate. Outside of making more noise, it didn’t hurt a thing. I doubt that your husband’s runnning the car in a lower gear caused the head gasket failure, but blame him for the problem anyway.

Actually two months ago, the radiator split and it was driven (again, by my husband!)
until it stalled. The radiator was replaced and it was fine for two months. Then the incident with driving in 2nd happened on Saturday morning (5/15). By that afternoon, my husband smelled the radiator fluid and noticed the leak. We didn’t know if it was due to the 1st incident two months ago or the recent one. Our mechanic currently has the car and let us know it was a blown-head gasket. We trust our mechanic expicitly and have used him for two decades. Other than these two incidents, we do take very good care of our cars and maintain them religiously by the same mechanic. (I was in an accident with the car about 5 years ago when I hit a deer). Our mechanic said that the radiator may have not been put in 100% properly when the body shop did the work and that may have been why the radiator “cracked” two months ago. Anyway, we’ve had terrible luck with head-gaskets. It’s the reason we went with a Honda. As previously mentioned it’s a 2004. It has approximately 150K miles on it and I do drive A LOT on a daily basis. Thank-you all for your help and response.

The damage was done two months ago by driving it without coolant until it stalled.

Driving it in second gear on the highway for 20 minutes may have accelerated failure of the already weakened head gasket, but the damage was not done by the 2nd gear driving. The failure was more than likely inevitable.

Mountainbike nailed it, IMHO.

Whatever damage there may be to the engine was really sustained 2 months ago, when hubby decided to ignore a temperature gauge in the “red zone” and to keep driving the car until the cooling system boiled dry. That episode undouobtedly resulted in a warped cylinder head, and the warped cylinder head led to a breached head gasket.

As mountainbike stated, the latest driving gaffe by hubby probably was the final straw for the gasket, but the gasket would have become breached soon in any event, as a result of a warped cylinder head. When hubby abused the car by driving in 2nd gear at highway speeds, he just accelerated an inevitable process of failure.

In addition to a warped cylinder head, it is very likely that other damage was sustained 2 months ago by “driving it until it stalled”. I would be very surprised if the engine did not sustain damage to bearings and cylinder walls by driving it when it was grossly overheated. I would suggest that the engine be carefully examined for those types of damage before you decide to invest the money for a new cylinder head and a new head gasket. This engine may be a basket case at this point.

For the life of me, I don’t see how someone can drive 60 MPH in second gear and not notice the RPMS rising to the screaming level.

I do agree that the damage was caused previously when the radiator split. Your husband failed to stop the vehicle and continuing to drive it until it overheated badly enough to stall means the engine was damaged.
Even without a head gasket failure this often leads to oil consumption due to roasted valve seals and ruined piston rings.