Honda Insight Engine blows rod, suspicions

My 2000 Honda Insight 3-cyl engine with just over 100,000 miles was driving fine but failed its inspection for DMV, so I had it inspected by the dealership. They discovered a computer problem that would be fixed free of charge, but also said the head gasket was leaking and all fluids were in need of replacement. Planning to return when the computer part on order arrived, I left. After driving about 3 miles, the engine lost power, so I pulled over and had it towed back to the dealership. Naturally, it seemed to me that they must have done something during the inspection; but, of course, they say nothing they did could have caused the failure. They say there was plenty of oil in the engine but it was very thick due to not being changed and that the engine probably overheated due to the head gasket leak. The temperature guage did not indicate overheating at the time of failure.

While it seems unlikely that the technician could have done something while just extracting computer codes or checking fluids, it also boggles my mind that it was running fine just prior yet just happened to blow right afterwards. Though I doubt there is any chance of proving a case one way or another, I’d like to know if there is anything that one might be likely to do (or fail to do) while checking all fluid levels that might lead to a bearing going so quickly afterward.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for a used engine. The quotes from the dealer range from $3,000 to $4,500. Thanks!

First question would be about the oil being very thick due to not being changed. Is this correct?
Second question would be is the head gasket leaving coolant spots?
Third question would be why did it fail inspection at the DMV?

Good questions. Another question I would have -and I’m not trying to sound accusatory- would be, whose idea was it for you to drive it with a leaking head gasket? Did they say, “Go ahead, take it and come back” or was that on your insistence? I assume that the leaking head gasket hydrolocked a cylinder and that caused the broken rod.

Has anyone diagnosed WHY the connecting rod broke in the first place? They don’t just break because of the phase of the moon, something had to give there. If the dealership said, “No problem, drive it around without worrying”, knowing that the head gasket had failed, I think that puts a little fault on their side of things.

The question springs to mind, “What scheduled and/or routine maintenance have you had done on this vehicle in the last few months… or years?”

Its just bad luck and sheer conicidence. Its quite possible that a blown head gasket has led to the engine failure if coolant was mixing with your oil.

Thanks for the replies. It is true that there were serious deferred maintenance issues to which I plead guilty. The don’t drive the car very much anymore. The last oil change was about a year ago. The service rep did not give me any indication that the car should not be driven. The plan was to get it fixed in a few days when the computer arrived. The DEQ failure report listed two computer codes, but, I gave the report to the dealer, so don’t have them. I’ll post them later. Meanwhile, it’s sounding like it is just a bizarre coincidence that the rod broke right after they looked at it. Thanks again!

Depending on the driving habits and the type of oil, going a year is entirely too long for an oil change. Even if coolant is not mixing with the oil as mentioned oil can still sludge up badly. This is turn can cut down oil volume or even cut it off completely. When that happens the engine, which has already suffered damage from this, is going to give up at any time.

As a tech I’ve had to replace some engines on near new vehicles (15-25k miles) as lack of oil changes has trashed the original engines so badly as to make them not even worth rebuilding.
A rod/rod bearing failure in this case was caused by failure to change the oil regularly. It was bound to happen sometime.