Honda engine early demise

I have a 2000 Accord with 78k miles on it. All maintenance kept up. Brought it in for a new clutch, but was informed I need an engine! Dealership is trustworthy and is putting in a used engine since a new one approaches value of the car. Isn’t 78k miles awfully early to lose a Honda engine? Any recourse through the manufacturer?

Why did they say it needs a new engine? Why did you bring it to the dealer? Who has done all the service on it? Was all the recommended service listed in the owner’s manual done on time?

Yes 78K is early for needing a new engine, any make modern engine.

I’ve seen engines trashed on cars with less than 500 miles on them. Why don’t you fill us in on the sordid details as to what happened.

Buy the car new, oil light on, knocking, towed in, what? Since the odds of Honda building a faulty engine are close to zero most problems are CAUSED; they’re not genetic. If the problem is caused then Honda owes you nothing.

And why in the world does it need a new clutch at only 78k miles?

Agree with Joseph. When I am asked such a question, I also ask the same questions and; "how often did you check the oil, the coolant level, did you top up the oil with the right weight, etc.

Some time ago I was told by a relative that his Toyota was overheating. It turned out he did not even know how to open the hood and relied on the dealer at oil change time (5000 miles, in 7 months)to check all the fluids. His cooling system had developed a small leak and was down to 50 % of coolant. Happily the engine was not destroyed.

Agree with OP that an Accord engine, WELL CARED FOR, has a life expectancy of at least 300,000 miles or about 4 times the life of OP’s engine. Even a Yugo could go that far without engine work!

Bought the Accord new from the dealer and all service performed there on a timely basis, with exception of some oil changes at Jiffy Lube, every 3k miles. Was getting lots of vibration in clutch and was told by dealer I likely needed a new one. Upon inspection, it was determined that the crankshaft was damaged along with engine block. Choices: replace with new engine; replace with used engine; replace lower half of engine and rebuild.

Are you saying the clutch was “chattering” as you released it and would start to pull away from a light, etc.? Did any of this clutch problem start after a trip to the Jiffy Lube?

It’s hard to understand how the crankshaft and block could be damaged by the clutch assembly. The only way I could see this would be if the flywheel bolts were loose and flywheel wobble ruined them or for some weird reason the crankshaft developed too much end play and this allowed the flywheel to hit the engine block.

If the former is the case then you definitely have a mutant on your hands and since something like this would be so extraordinarily out of the ballpark for a Honda you might try contacting the Honda regional office about possibly performing a good-will warranty or even possibly meeting you halfway on the cost.
If you do this be very courteous but express disappointment that something like this happened on what should be a bullet-proof car with low miles on it.

Hope that helps and if you find out the details behind what exactly caused this please post back. It would be very interesting to hear the whys and hows on this one.

(Here’s something to consider also and this is in regards to the Jiffy Lube you mentioned. Is it possible that during an oil change that JL forgot to add oil, started the car, noticed their horrifying mistake, and then refilled the engine with oil after the fact? No oil could possibly have led to the crankshaft scraping off some of the thrust bearing surface on one of the crankshaft main bearings. This would allow excessive crank end play and cause the flywheel to hit the block. At this point that’s just a theory I’m putting out there for consideration. Either scenario is easily verifiable).

There is more, much more, to THIS story…

If the crank were flopping around, oil would be GUSHING out the rear seal and the engine would be HAMMERING… The only person who knows FOR SURE what is going on is the guy who pulled the tranny and clutch…

Your post makes me very suspicious of the guy who pulled the tranny and clutch. He may have done the damage himself, hence the very complying offer of a used engine. Very few dealers even want to work with used engines!

The other suspect would be Jiffy Lube.

I agree to some extent and it’s why I constantly make the remark on this board about not knowing the entire story. The devil is always in the details.

Maybe the clutch was chattering due to oil leakage at the rear main? There is another possibility and I didn’t bring it up because at this point I’ve been giving the OP the benefit of the doubt.
If one hammers a car hard, as in dumping the clutch and banging gears a lot, it’s possible for the main bearing thrust surface to be wiped out which in turn can cause oil leakage and possible crank/block damage.

This was a very common problem on the old VW Beetles but with a twist. The blocks are magnesium and the main bearing is harder than the block. Continued clutch dumping, etc. slams the crank against the thrust surface of the main bearing which in turn slams it into the block, etc. Eventually the crank is flopping back and forth and while not necessarily hammering they would puke oil like crazy. Installing a new seal was a total waste of time and only an engine overhaul would cure it.

I’d love to examine this one though. :slight_smile:

I would guess that the thrust surfaces on the crankshaft and corresponding main journal have been damaged beyond repair. This is a rare occurance and I would be interested as to what the dealer’s mechanic might opine on its cause. If the thrust surfaces are indeed damaged to the point where the clearance cannot be brought back within specification, the crankshaft and/or block may indeed need to be replaced. Knowing the tight tolerances of the Honda engines, I suspect the most cost effective solution is a new/used/rebuilt engine.

Bye the bye, not to imply judgement on your driving style, do you sit at the stop light with the clutch pedal on the floor and the transmission in gear or do you shift to neutral and release the clutch pedal as you wait?

Just curious. Keep us appraised of additional information and the final coutcome.

Ok, you’re an automotive Sherlock Holmes. In my work I often have to perform Root Cause Failure Analyis on complex equipment. My clients often treat the symptoms only, and wonder why the problem reoccurs!

Finding out what really happened requires in-depth interviews with the operator and/or maintenance technician(s).

In this case we still don’t know:

  1. OP’s driving style; also, did the car at any time end up in the ditch or strike a culvert?
  2. How often OP checked the oil, coolant, etc.
  3. What Jiffy Lube could have done to the car
  4. What the dealer’s mainteance staff could have done to the car previously.
  5. Was the car ever towed by a tow truck?

If this sounds like a soap opera, so be it. But we need answers to all this.

I agree with all of your points and think that the details could really clear things up.
It just seems to me that the only way the crank and block would be damaged on a 78k miles Accord would be if the flywheel was loose or the crank had too much endplay. Both are a little far-fetched but who knows at this point.

I had previously mentioned a good-will warranty but that is also going to require some answers up front. A factory good-will is going to need a truthful, logical explanation for the failure before someone from the regional office signs off on it. The dealer is sure not going to perform this on their own and risk eating every penny of the repair.

Hello. Original honda owner here again. In answer to some or all questions: 1) No ditch or culvert ever; 2) Fluid levels checked regularly, and have never burned oil between changes; 3) What Jiffy lube did, who knows? 4) I have no way of knowing whether a dealer mechanic screwed up, but this dealer has a very good reputation for service quality and customer care; 5) Car has never been towed; 6) Generally when stopped at a light I idle in neutral.

I have spoken with the service dept. again and they doubt they can ever figure out exactly what caused the problem. But they are working to keep the cost low, and the owner is advising me as I approach American Honda. Dealer said they do not believe I caused the problem and this is a well-maintained car. They think that Honda will try and do something, but of course cannot guarantee at this point they will. But all agree that 78k miles is very disappointing…

What I have a problem with here is why they cannot determine what caused it in the first place.
Loose flywheel bolts leading to block/crank damage is very obvious. The same applies if there is a crankshaft thrust bearing issue which allows the crank excessive movement. Simply note if the crank can be moved by hand.
Another complaint of mine about mechanics; many are not inquisitive enough. It should go beyond “that’s bad, replace it”.

Without a personal physical exam of the car I can’t say for sure what happened. While it’s possible that someone at Honda could have screwed something up when the car was first built and the problem is just now surfacing the odds are against it.

If you’re still following this thread I have a question or two. Exactly when did this clutch chatter develop? Was it shortly after a JL visit? Did this chatter occur suddenly or was it a bit of a gradual process?
Still pondering is all.

Maybe the crankshaft was damaged, but the block should still be good. I have some questions though. You say the vibration was in the clutch. How did you determine this? Is the vibration constant or only when you are doing something with the clutch?

There is something really BOGUS going on here. If the engine is bad, there should be an easily verified reason why it’s bad, and there has been no reason given that I can see.

Jiffy Lube is a huge red flag, of course, but that’s not good enough.

You say,“they doubt they can ever figure out exactly what caused the problem.” No offense, but that’s total BS, and you’re crazy if you believe it. If an engine fails, there is always a reason. Your engine did not fail. You were still driving the car, and, as far as I can tell, had no complaints about the engine. Am I right, or did I miss something?

Without a reason for engine failure, without some symptoms, there is no reason to suspect anything whatsoever is wrong with the engine in your car.

Either you have left out a critical piece of information (or two), or this whole thing is crap, and you’re buying an engine you don’t need.

Either way, there is something seriously wrong with this whole situation.

Dealer reputation be damned! It’s your money we’re talking about. In order to ruin a Honda engine in less than 100K miles, you have to abuse it to the extreme, or run it with no oil in it. Did you do either of those things?

I doubt it. Something is seriously wrong with this situation.

Rethink your faith in this dealer.

Call Honda of America. Tell them what you have told us, except the impression of the dealer walking on water. Tell them that you don’t think that you can get a proper diagnosis of the engine…that as far as you know, there may be NOTHING wrong with the engine. Honda of America has field agents, mechanics, engineers, that they can send to look at a problematic Honda. Something doesn’t smell right in Denmark!