Snapped Camshaft on 97 honda accord SE

Driving down the freeway, the car just lost power. About 1 min before that, I smelled plastic burning. Come to find out, the cam sheared right in two, just on the engine side of the timing belt. The timing belt cover melted and the belt broke as well. I know I will have to replace several parts. Would I just be better off putting in an engine? My main focus now is cost.

Yes sir, your old motor is most likely toste. A new motor or a new car is going to be your only real options. How many miles did this car have?? I have neve seen a cam brake in a stock Honda application.

Ive seen it…it aint pretty… Oil in your motor? Any recent work done on it?? Ah…why am I asking you aren’t looking for the reason…you’re looking for what to do now…

Being a mechanic…I would say, pull the head and see whats what, but as someone reminded me yesterday, I am not talking to other wrenches here…I gotta remember that… But you DO sound like you at least know whats up so…here goes…

Whether you need a new engine is up to the history of the old one…Did it have an oil related failure? Every snapped Honda cam I’ve seen was abused in the oil dept…severely…and if so …grab another engine…I just happen to have one…LOL with new T-belts and idlers the whole T belt service done before i took it out to put an H22 in my 96 Accord…

Anyway…these engines are cheap sounds like you should get one…then do the T-belt service b4 you drop it in…I understand, These accords are actually still in good enough shape to be pondering this…If YOU are going to do the work you just saved the day in the money dept if it were me…Yeah thats the way to go…


Before deciding how to proceed, I think it is important to find out some additional information, primarily the age of the camshaft and the frequency of oil changes on this engine.

If this is the original 15 year-old camshaft, then it is extremely unlikely that the camshaft was defective from the beginning.

However, if this was an after-market performance/high-lift camshaft that had been in place for a relatively short period of time, then it is more likely that it was improperly manufactured in the first place. In this instance, it is possible that you could get away with replacing parts, rather than replacing the entire engine.

Was this the original camshaft, or was it a fairly recent replacement?

If this was the original camshaft, then I would suspect that lubrication problems caused the camshaft to break. What can you tell us about the oil change schedule for this car, in terms of both odometer mileage and elapsed time? Has the car ever been run low on oil? If this engine has had improper oil change intervals, or if it was ever run low on oil, then there would be many more internal problems, in addition to the broken camshaft, and replacement of the engine would be the only way to go.

I agree that this engine is now toast, but the other issue for the OP is whether the rest of this car is in decent enough condition to warrant spending the money for either engine replacement or the probable replacement of a whole lot of internal parts. What type of shape is the rest of the car in? If the body has some rust, or if the transmission is sketchy, the best bet is probably to dump the car and start with something newer.

Naw…this was Oil abused…thats the only way Honda Accords snap cams…its their way of fighting back…

Has the head gasket been replaced recently? Often, when the engine overheats the head gets warped and the head gasket blows. If the head is milled flat and re-installed without line boring the cam journals the camshaft will be put in a bind.

I like Blackbird’s idea of just getting a newer engine, servicing it properly and dropping it in. That’s what I would* do, if the car is still in decent shape. It would cost less than a few car payments on a new car and then you’re free and clear again.

and “have done”

Yup…those motors are a dime a dozen…and a good thing too… OMG…just remembered I SOLD mine…Duh… I have so much crap I don’t know what I have anymore… SOMETIMES I even think I have VEHICLES…that I don’t have anymore cause I sold it and FORGOT>…LOL

NOW is your chance to have some fun…forced fun, but fun nonetheless… Get yourself an H22 with a Prelude LSD transmission…(All JDM parts obviously). 220Hp 4cyl Vtec…LSD…8000RPM’s… then chip it…you will of course need a motor mount and an OBDII to OBDI harness to run a P13 ECU…Fab up a 4 wire harness to actuate the VTEC solenoid …but after that…its A LOT O FUN… hehehe…that was the formula for my “Sleeper Accord”…I even kept the stock wheels on it…

You should have seen the faces of kids trying to be Fast and Furious with their Civics and Preludes and Assorted imports…LOL…Buh-Bye

OR you just grab a used F22 and have done with it… Much easier no? less fun…more easy


It would be best to find another engine. The timing belt snapped and this means likely cylinder head, and possiby piston, damage.
The cam was not likely defective so the reason it sheared is probably because a timing component (tensioner, etc) seized up or there was an oil pressure problem (sludge in an oil galley, etc) that led to the camshaft binding in the cam journals.
Based on the burning plastic smell that would tend to point towards a problem in the belt case.

Thank you all for your advice. (It’s Ma’am, by the way-LOL). I’m not a paid wrencher, but I know enough.
Ok, it is the original cam and it was “oil abused” in the past. No current work done other than the proper oil changes. I did see alot of sludge inside, however.
It is a decent car, minimal body issues and interior is in great shape. I will probably pass it down to my 17 yo daughter. I just have never seen anything like that before, it was strange. It all makes perfect sense though, after hearing you discuss reasons.
Too bad Blackbird, you don’t have that engine!
I would not be a good candidate for the “sleeper engine” though, my foot is way too heavy!
So…engine replacement it is!–thanks again!