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Honda Civic 1998 Repair Cost Question

Love Car Talk! I have 1998 Honda Civic 2-Door Hatchback 114,000 miles and driving exactly 150 months. Currently first high-cost problem, to date I have very well maintained this car/spent usual maintenance with occasional somewhat hig cost. It has overheated/I take to my dealer and the dx is $1900 to repair head gasket. There’s possibility the gasket cannot be manually fixed to prevent overheating and if requires replacement would be $2k additional. Is dealer ok or ever better to try to find private mechanic? I feel this car handles like new, has superb quality and could last another 100,000 miles plus and another 5-10 years so to me worth investment. I’m concerned that the cost may be over what should be and also that there’s always possibility that this car may not have the life expectancy (5-10 more years/110K miles) that I’m expecting it to have. Thanks!

Get a couple of more estimates from independent, recommended mechanics. The overall costs sounds high, and if the worst case comes up, entertain or research having a low mileage, used engine installed. I would get estimates for all three possibilities.

Thanks for your recommendations, will do

The costs sound on the high end, even for a dealer but labor rates vary dramatically by region. I would be hesitant to take a 12 year old car to the dealer but if you have a good relationship with them, it might be worth paying more for some peace of mind. But absolutely get estimates, especially for a job this big, from independent shops. There’s no reason to assume an independent mechanic can’t do an equivalent job for a lower price.

If you’ve taken care of the car, there’s no reason to assume you wont get a long life out of it. Even if you spend $2,000 to fix it and an occasional $200 or $300 here or there for expected repairs, it’s still significantly cheaper than buying a new car or a used car with an unknown history.

kb, Thank you for your response and for taking the time to help me- I appreciate! I contacted local very reputable mechanic recommended by a mechanic listed in Car Talk’s registery. This mechanic researched the total cost I might expect from his station- total around $3,200. My Honda dealer estimated total of $1,900 and then additional $2,000 if cylinder to be replaced. I feel comfortable with my dealer so called them back and asked for a 10% discount off everything - for possible total of about $3,500, just 300 over a private mechanic. Since I have trusted and dealt with the dealer for nearly the entire 12 years’ plus maintenance I feel the 10% discount and only $300 above a private mechanic’s estimate (no matter how highly recommended)I believe this the best solution for me. And I agree, I do believe this car will last another 10 years and at least another 100,000 miles or more. I get compliments on this car frequently- it looks almost new, is very well maintained and a fine investment. You’re right- significantly cheaper than new or used car with unknown history. Or paying for taxis, metro, waits, inconvenience. Thank you again, kb!

There is a distinct possibility the entire engine could have problems so you should not wade right in and have the head gasket replaced.
If the engine overheated badly enough to blow a head gasket this means that cylinder wall and piston ring damage may have occurred (leading to oil consumption) or even the engine lower end could be damaged. (if coolant mixed with engine oil, etc.)

Replace the head gasket and you may still have a very shaky engine with a short life left in it.

The best thing to do is run a dry compression test on all cylinders. This should be followed up with a wet compression test. Any problems shown means it’s time to rebuild the engine, replace it, or scrap the car.

Thanks ok4450, but hope your take on possible additional problems with engine prove wrong. I note your recommendations re dry compression test, etc. and will monitor performance once current job done.

" I feel this car handles like new, has superb quality and could last another 100,000 miles plus and another 5-10 years "

What makes you feel this way?? Do you enjoy $4000 engine replacements?

My suggestion is find a used engine and swap it in.

$2k-$4k is a lot of money. I would be quite leary especially if this car has an automatic as that is the next time bomb lurking.

I personally would consider a low mileage used vehicle as another option.