Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Help w/HondaCivic head gasket question

Our 1994 Honda Civic Hatchback ( we LOVE!, 40 MPG) blew a head gasket-vapor coming out of engine and tail pipe after it sat idling on the curb. There was still coolant in the radiator; overheating needle didn’t rise to the top; it wasn’t driven at all after it blew. Only 127,000 miles on the engine. Would it be worth having them do the labor with a new head gasket/valve job and see if that’s all it needs? --other option we’ve been told is a new/rebuilt engine -$$$, and we don’t think we’d do that on a vehicle this old. Would anyone have a guess whether the cylinders have been “scored” to make it need a new engine? :smiley:
Thanks so much…

A 94 is pretty old, but a lot depends on the condition of the body and transmission. If they are OK, you may want to consider the head gasket, also timing belt and water pump, it is time for them. Sounds like you caught this early, the engine should be fine. This engine is pretty robust, except for the head gasket, many engines with this mileage need this work done and have long lives afterwards.

Yay! thanks. The body is in workable shape. Good point on timing belt/water pump. Probably needs a clutch. I think we’ll go ahead and have them do the labor to get into the head gasket. Thanks for the idea that if we “caught it” in time it might not need a new engine! :smiley:

Yup, fix it and drive on.

It wasn’t driven after it blew but apparently it was being driven up to the time it did let go; assuming the diagnosis is correct. That can be a problem.

My suggestion would be to run a compression test on all cylinders and make reasonably sure there’s not a piston ring issue.
With the cylinder head off the cylinder walls can be examined visually for scoring and glazing.

There is no way of visually inspecting piston rings and piston skirts short of dropping the pan and removing the connecting rod assemblies.

I think it is a reasonably good bet a head gasket job would do the trick. As mentioned by other posters, there are some tests you might do first, before making the final decision. But if you like the car and there’s no obvious big problems like major rust, etc, just do what it takes to fix the gasket problem and drive on. Worse case, they mechanics will pull the head off and discover economically unfixable problems. So what? You’d only incur a minor expense to that point. You’ll just change your plan and do another alternative, replace the engine, etc.