Need advice with maintenance on newly bought car

I recently bought a 2001 Honda Accord with a in-line 4 cylinder, and manual transmission. I don’t know much about cars, and that’s why I’m here (I’m 18 and all I know is basic theory and my only hands on experience is some oil changes and checking fluids). Bought it for $3,100 and it drove fine 2 hours to my house. Next day, went to drive it and the heater hose busted, shot out all the coolant, and engine got overheated as hell. My older brother is (was) a mechanic and is helping me out, but I’m not sure what to do. He said the head might have warped (not that I know entirely what that means), but we haven’t checked. I have around $2,000 to spend plus whatever I get from my old car. My dad recommended just doing an engine swap (said something about cheap Honda engines with like 40,000 miles on them online), but I’m not sure what to do. It’s a nice interior, rust-free (at least, good for a 20 year old car), and was running well at the time of purchase. If I were to do an engine swap, how much do you think that would cost, and what else would I need to get it as reliable as possible? And since it’s a simpler engine and a manual transmission, would general repairs would be cheaper?

Your location and who you use will determine the cost. I and others could make 20 guesses as to the cost and none of them would be correct.

The simple thing is to replace all the hoses and coolant which your brother should have said to do first . Then monitor the engine or pay a shop for a diagnostic to see if there is any damage .


I should have been more specific, by “He said the head might have warped (not that I know entirely what that means), but we haven’t checked”, i meant we havent replaced the heater hose and checked for coolant leaks or other damage (from overheating) yet.

Barrick - you said your brother is/was a mechanic . Then ask him these questions . If he is like most of us he will not really want to hear what some strangers on the web say what to do .

Example : I know just enough about small engines ( like those on lawn mowers ) to be dangerous.
My neighbor could not get his mower to start . I started to go through my check list to eliminate possible causes . He told me that I was wasting time doing that . I finished and got it to run and will never help him again.


start with new hoses, new antifreeze, new thermostat, bleed the system, make sure the cooling fans come on.
then see if it overheats again.


I understand. I don’t think I’m looking for specific solutions as much as I’m looking for general knowledge. I just kind of want to know more about my options and what I’m talking about before I make any big investments or bite off more than I can chew. I am talking to him, but it’s difficult to get together to work on it because of our schedules. Thanks for your input, I appreciate it

You could have a blown head gasket. Driving it after coolant was lost could have warped the cylinder head. To diagnose: replace the heater hose, refill the cooling system and bleed the air out of it (put heater control on Hot to open the valve to the heater core) and let it warm up with the cap off the radiator. You may see some air bubbles coming out for a while but if it continues that suggests blown head gasket letting exhaust gasses into the coolant.

After it cools down, top up the radiator and its overflow tank. Cap them both. As you drive, pay attention to the temp gauge. After a couple warmups and cooldowns and topping up each time, the cooling system should be OK. If you continue to lose coolant, you need to do more investigation.

In any of this, avoid any more overheating of the engine. Good luck.


It’s not a good idea to just switch engines until the one you have is proven junk. You first need to do what @weekend-warrior suggested. Then diagnose or get it diagnosed to see what is wrong with it (if anything). Once you have it diagnosed you will know whether or not to replace the engine. Remember, you will know less about a used engine than the old one after it is properly diagnosed. If your brother doesn’t have time to give you a concrete diagnosis using compression tester, coolant pressure tester, etc. Than you need to find someone who can.


It’ll cost $30-40 to replace the hose, thermostat, and coolant. That’s not a big investment to determine if there is engine damage. Rather than jumping to the conclusion of putting a new engine in for a couple thousand or more. A stuck thermostat though could have caused the hose to burst or just has been neglected for 20 years.

Hoses and thermostats are considered maintenance items so its not like it shouldn’t be done anyway. Then belt, brakes, etc. Lots of books available that will help. Once the car is on the road, if it doesn’t overheat, you’re OK.


The engine is constructed similar to a two-layer cake. The bottom part (called the “block”) contains the pistons and crankshaft, and the upper part (called the “cylinder head”) contains the valves. The head is flat on the bottom and the block is flat on the top, and when the engine is made at the factory they bolt the two parts together. Both flat parts have to be really flat, otherwise they’ll be a leak at the interface, which is no good. The flat part of the block usually doesn’t warp, but the flat part of the cylinder head is prone to warping when overheated. To determine if it is warped the head has to be unbolted from the block, then a straight-edge is used to determine if the head is warped or not. If it is it can usually be made flat again with a machining process, not that big a deal $$$-wise, other than the time to remove the cylinder head (which is usually quite a bit of labor time.) While the block doesn’t warp generally, the block can be damaged in other ways by overheating. So before attempting to machine-flat a cylinder head the shop will make sure the block remains good.

Suggest to take your car to a well-recommended shop for a diagnosis before simply assuming the engine is damage, head is warped etc. You might have gotten lucky and no major damage was done.

Couple of bits of advise:

  • When buying a used car, have a “pre-purchase inspection” done by your own mechanic. You’ll get a report of everything that needs immediate att’n; e.g. the cooling system hoses.

  • Try to train yourself to monitor the dashboard warning gauges, lights every few minutes as you drive. Especially the oil pressure and coolant temperature gauges/lights. If either shows a problem, pull over at the next safe spot, stop the engine and call a tow truck.


Just because it lost all its coolant and overheated does NOT mean the head is warped or the head gasket is blown, especially on this engine. If the heater hose that blew out, blew out right under the distributor, then the o-ring for the distributor is leaking. It’s about a $3.00 part and dead easy to replace. Finding a new o-ring is not easy though. Check Rockauto dot com under 2001 Honda Accord, 2.3 engine, distributor, distributor mounting gasket.

You may get away with trimming the old hose past the oil soaked part and reusing it, MAYBE. If not, I’d suggest replacing all the coolant hoses and refilling. Be sure to open the bleed screw next to the gooseneck to bleed all the air out.

Then start her up and see if she holds. If you didn’t get too hot, she maybe OK.

BTW, you will see a clamp with one bolt that holds the distributor to the head. Undo the bolt, remove the distributor cap, then pull the distributor straight back. Tip since this is your first time, use a paint marker or magic marker and mark where the rotor is pointed to on the side of the distributor and mark on the slot where the bolt was aligned. This will get everything back when you reassemble. Don’t worry about timing as the computer does the timing, you just have to be close.

The o-ring is in a groove around the shaft of the distributor. Just remove it and put the new one in place. Coat with oil or grease before putting the distributor back.

You almost can’t get the distributor in wrong, it is keyed to the cam.


I use ramp for oil changes and I dispose of the old oil in the container the new oil came in. In our town , all I have to do is mark it used oil and set it at the curb on garbage day. put wood blocks under the oil drain pan to get as close to the drain plug as possible.

I use large sheets of cardboard under the car to slide around under the car and keep the mess off the driveway. One of our local rental centers let me cut up mattress or appliance boxes. I put the remains neatly back in their dumpster. The cardboard also insulates you from the cold ground when doing repairs in cold weather.


Does it start and run? If it does, running for 5 seconds or so wont do any damage. Replace the heater hose and just fill with water. Run just a little faster than idle, watching the temperature gauge (if it has one). If it runs good and the coolant temperature is normal, let it cool, drain the water, add the proper coolant mixture.

Your brother is just saying it’s possible… Don’t jump to conclusions…
Replace the hoses, top of the coolant as others have said.
Don’t make things more difficult (or expensive) for yourself.

Personally, I would not climb under a vehicle up on ramps.

I value my noggin (shoulders, ribs, arms, fingers, etc…)

Use a good jack and good jack stands. And even the, not work alone, just in case…

The ramps I use are plastic honeycomb Rino ramps and quite stable.

I don’t use hardly anything anymore but I much preferred ramps over stands. Provided the ramps don’t collapse. But I figured cars are made to sit on tires and the tires on the ramps seem like a better idea.