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Mechanic Fees

We recently had to take our Honda Accord 2003 in to a mechanic because the engine wasn’t firing properly after driving through high water. The mechanic informed us that we’d hydrolocked the engine, and that we needed a new one. We have the DX version, he ordered an EX and installed it. A week later, the transmission started changing gears differently, it hesistated between switching gears, and reved up the RPMs before downshifting. Also, we couldn’t get the car out of Park when turning it on. We brought the car back in and the mechanic informed us that he studied the transmission, everything looked good, and that we needed a new computer module. He ordered one from Honda, installed it, and the transmission still didn’t work properly, althought he was able to get the car out of Park. He then had the car towed to a transmission specialist, who determined that the DX tranmission’s intake valve is different from an EX, and that the valve had to be replaced. The mechanic is currently working on fixing this last portion, and has given us a bill for all the associate expenses, including the new comp. module, the valve replacement, the outside mechanic charges and such. My question is, did we even need the new computer module? Shouldn’t he have checked the DX and EX differences before installing the engine? Also, I read on forums that the getting out of Park problem can be fixed by replacing that small part under the dash? Please help, I’m looking at a $4000 total mechanic fee!

Your post (or better said, your mechanics report) has problems from the beginning so I am not suprised you are having trouble with this paticular mechanic.

The inital problem I speak about? hydrolocked engines don’t run poorly, they don’t run at all. We need to get this isuue resolved to go further. If you were “hoodwinked” from the very beginning it alters how to now proceede.

Today, if you are told you need a new engine, that’s code for “You need a new car”…

Now, exactly how deep was that water??

You might show up un-announced with a friend in a pick-up truck and demand the engine taken from your car. Take that engine and pay to have it inspected by a competant mechanic. A very questionable situation has developed here.

It sure sounds fishy to me, and not just because you drove through high water. You need to replace the mechanic first.

BTW just incase you did not learn it yet. driving through water that is deep or that you don’t know for sure how deep it may be, is a poor idea.

Ok, here is more information. We were crossing a gravel road that had an (unknown to us) rising water level. When we crossed, it was about 4 inches, but we hesistated in the middle of the road, lost momentum, and when we tried to back up, we lost traction, and dug ourselves deeper and deeper down until the water level was about 3/4 of the wheel well. The engine was running the whole time, and then chocked on its own. The water level did not get much higher, as we were towed out about 30 minutes later. We tried to start the car after being towed out, and at first the starter barely worked. Overtime it seemed to gain strength, but would not start, so we were towed home. The next morning, we tried starting the car again, and the starter worked just fine, but the engine would never “catch”. We took out the air filter, and it was wet. I don’t know how else to explain it. We had the car towed to one mechanic, who took the engine apart, said we’d bent the rods and needed a new engine, but he quoted us some huge sum, so we called around and found a different mechanic (one that was also recommened to us), and had the car towed to him. He and his technicians took a look at the engine, agreed that it was hydrolocked (a term established by the first mechanic), and ordered us a replacement engine and installed it. It turned out that the engine they ordered was from an EX model Accord, while we have the DX (base) model , I’m assuming the mechanic thought this was an ok switch. We drove off the lot after the engine replacement, and it drove just fine (just like it used to drive before), but after a week, suddenly one day, the transmission started shifting gears differently. At first it was just shifting hard, then it started hesitating a little too long between shifting. Between gears 2 and 3 it would rev up the RPMs and wait too long between switching gears, then shift hard. We got to our destination, parked the car, and went inside. When we were leaving, we couldn’t get the car out of Park, yet the brake lights came on when we pressed the brakes. We used the key overide to get the car into gear, drove the car home slowly, and had it towed back to the second mechanic the next day. He and his team supposedly took the transmission apart, said that all the gears were in perfect condition. They then ran the codes on the computer module, and if I understand correctly, over the last week that we’d driven the car, the computer module recieved a blank response 12 times from the transmission? I am not skilled on how the computer works, but I think they thought that the transmission had lost connection with the computer. They said we needed a new computer module, ordered us one from Honda, and installed it. After installing it, they said they had no problems getting the car out of Park, but that the transmission was still working improperly. They had the car towed to a “transmission specialist”, who determined that the DX model engine used a different throttle position sensor than the EX model engine. He then proposed that he would remove the TPS from our old engine and install it in the new engine, which is what he did. We asked that they flush the transmission (the car was at 77K miles as is, and was ready for one anyways), and Friday we got our car back. It seems to be driving OK, I hear that we have to give it about 100 miles for the new computer module to meld with our transmission. It seems to be shifting a little differently from how it used to shift prior to everything, but its running OK. For example, when driving and not pressing on the gas, just coasting, the RPMs are at 1000 -1100(I could be wrong, but I don’t remember them being that low before). Also now the shift period between gears 3 and 4 seems slightly delayed, but again, I could be just hypersensitive to everything. What do you think about what the mechanic did? We got handed a huge bill for everything, and I’m wondering, did we even need the new computer module/engine? Thank you everyone!!!

I don’t blame you for questioning some things which were done. I do think that water could get splashed into the engine intake from an eighteen inch immersion, even if the car weren’t moving; and, this could hydro-lock the engine – causing damage to pistons and valves (maybe, even to the crankshaft and camshaft(s)).
The one thing I question was the disassembly of the transmission. From the symptoms you gave, it wasn’t necessary. The automatic transmission is shifted by shift control solenoids on its external surface. The block to shift out of park isn’t a fault of the transmission. That mechanism is in the center console.

The mechanic should have said “the engine has been damaged internaly due to the effects of water injestion” not “the engine is currently hydrolocked”.

If you have comprehensive insurance it would have either totalled your car, or paid to have it fixed. Most hydrolocked engines on a car the age of yours get totalled. Insurance companies can’t raise your rates due to a comp claim unless they raise EVERYONE’S rates in your region. In my state deer hits are written as comp claims. They figure any animal that stupid, jumping in front of your car, is an act of God.

The Marines have a term for these situations. The first word is “Cluster” but I can’t post the second word…

In WI. the insurance companies got their DNR scientist buddies to come to the colclusion that the deer were suddenly comming down with the “deer version” of “mad cow disease”. What followed were areas designated as “infected” areas and you were allowed to use the deer as target practice. You could shoot as many as you wanted you just had to drag them to the collection station without being field dressed first (you could not eat these animals).

It was a plan by the insurance companies to lower the number of “deer/ car collisions” covered up with a “for the good of the species” twist.

Forget the little details. Dwell on the facts:

You took your car to a mechanic and authorized replacement of the engine.

He installed the wrong engine.

Though process complete. This is why he has insurance. Even the best of us do something retarded like this every once in a while.

For example, I was caught in a heavy thunderstorm one day in my wife’s car. I came across a little high water flowing over the road in a common place. I dare not drive across it, so I got out and felt into it with a level rod (which is a sort of rigid measuring device surveyors use) and walked across it, about 30 feet. It was 8 inches deep at its maximum. So I drove through it nice and slow to avoid generating a wake, but about 20 feet in, I heard the engine bog down and die. Turns out the air intake snorkel ducted down to only 6" above the ground. An absolutely stupid piece of malicious engineering… dumber than driving through 8" of measured water. It must serve no purpose other than to drown cars and suck up road dust nice and close to the pavement.

After coming to a stop right on the other side of this puddle, I gave the key a quick hit. Locked up tight. Here is where I redeemed myself:

I did not incessantly crank it until it bent the rods!

I had it towed to the shop and I pulled the upper half of the intake manifold, removed the throttle body and mass airflow sensor. Pulled the plugs. I sucked the water out of the cylinders with a one-man brake bleeder and a vacuum pump. I rinsed the cylinders with alcohol to clean the dirt and water out. Sucked the manifold dry and cleaned it with alcohol. Got it all reassembled and bam, starter would not engage (silt jammed the gear) so I had to get a new gear for 7 dollars and rebuild the starter. That took as long as the engine TLC.

Fired right up after having every cylinder plum full of brown water. Changed the oil and filter 5 mins later (chocolate milk colored) and again at 50 miles (trace of water) and 500 miles (perfectly clean). Car is still running strong almost a year later.

The sad thing is that in your case, at worst, you probably just needed a new rotating assembly. A thousand dollar job.

Most people don’t know what a ROTATING ASSEMBLY is. What is it — all the pistons and connecting rods, and WHAT?