Valve adjustment for Honda engines

I just read your article on Valve adjustment a legit service for Hondas. I have a 2006 Saturn Vue V6. when I purchased it I was told it had a Honda engine in it. I recently took it to the shop for 100,000 mile check up and mentioned the valve adjustment and they told me it wasn’t necessary. How can I find out if I do have a Honda Motor? Its been a great car for us and I hope to keep it for at least another hundred thousand miles.

2004-2006 Saturn Vue V6 did use Honda’s 3.5 liter engine. GM dealers may not be so familiar with that engine. Take it to a Honda dealer for your next oil change. A mechanic used to that engine will have his ears tuned for a need to adjust the valves. I think Honda says “adjust if required”, and a mechanic who rarely sees that engines may not be able to tell the difference …

If you open the hood and look at the emission sticker, it’ll state if the valves require adjustment and what the spec is.


A tight valve will make no sound; and give no warning until the valve burns, then it’s $$ for engine work.
Get the valves adjusted every 60K miles for this engine IIRC.

A tight valve will give a warning.

The Check Engine light will come on with a misfire code for that cylinder.

Everything I’ve read about Honda engines is unless the valves make noise a valve clearance adjustment isn’t required.

And I’ve owned and still own Honda vehicles.


This guy’s exhaust valves got too tight at 163K miles causing multiple issues:

Notice he used synthetic oil and his engine is super clean. You cannot hear valves getting tight.

I’d get the valves checked/adjusted at 110K or so and you’ll be good to go to 200K.


The thinking that valves that are not noisey don’t need adjustment is flat out wrong

Adjustable valves . . . both Honda style and the kind that uses different size shims and buckets . . . need periodic check and adjustment

“A tight valve will give a warning”

I have to partially disagree with that statement

Not all tight valves lead to burnt valves, although they certainly can

Tight valves can also lead to lowered compression, which can lead to extended crank times, or the engine won’t start at all until the issue is resolved

I’ve seen it, and it doesn’t always lead to misfire codes, either

Lowered compression in a cylinder will cause a misfire in that cylinder causing the Check Engine light to come on for that cylinder.


If I do have a Honda motor and if I feel local GM technitians may not be familiar with it, I would take it to someone who is…I learned that lesson the hard way. I took a Suzuki motor into a dealer who did not sell them but claimed they could do a simple carb cleaning and adjustment. They broke the adjustment screws on all three which were left imbedded in the carbs and wanted to charge me $2100 for three new carborators.

By the time your “tight valve” triggers an engine light for misfiring, you’re likely looking at needing a new valve. Exhaust gasses routinely blowing by a valve that’s not fully seating can burn it it quickly.


“Lowered compression in a cylinder will cause a misfire in that cylinder causing the Check Engine light to come on for that cylinder.”

I’m sorry, but you’re not entirely correct

I’ve seen plenty of cases where lowered compression did not cause a misfire in that cylinder, and it did not not cause the check engine light to come on

Perhaps what I’m about to say now sounds aggressive. So be it

It’s up to you to believe me or not

But ask yourself this . . . why would I lie about something like this?

I have nothing to gain. These cases I mention . . . I worked on the cars myself. It’s not some story I found on the internet

You are due for a new timing belt, overdue in fact, 7 years or 105k miles. My recommendation is to go to a Honda dealer and inquire about this service. Honda dealers usually have a pretty good deal, better than a lot of independents in some areas of the country. Go whole hog on this one, timing belt, water pump, balance shaft belt, oil seals, coolant change, valve cover gaskets and valve adjustment. As a package deal, the cost is much lower than all these services done separately.

Your engine will be good for another 7 years or 105k miles of trouble free operation as long as you keep up the oil changes. Thing of that as a bargain. A lot cheaper than a new vehicle for that many miles. Also schedule a transmission fluid change with the Honda ATF DW-1 as I believe these use the Honda transmission as well. It would have to as Honda engines turn CCW, GMs turn CW. (unless these engines were made differently than the other Honda engines).

I have checked the valve clearances in my 1999 Honda Civic about every 30,000 miles or so. Each time several of them were out of adjustment, although there’s never been any noticeable valve train noise except for maybe half a minute when the engine is cold.

Who knows if the engine would still be fine at 160,000 miles had I not adjusted the valves? Since I enjoy doing it myself there’s no cost to me, and possibly a benefit. BTW the valve cover gasket is original.


Be extremely grateful that your car doesn’t use shims for valve adjustment

You wouldn’t enjoy adjusting the valves, were that the case

The worst ones in my opinion are the older SAABs with the rearward facing engine and shim and bucket adjusters.
Valve lash inspection required a special dial indicator setup in which all valves had to be checked and the results written down. The camshaft drive gear had to be removed and the timing chain tensioner locked in place; not an easy job with 1" of clearance.
The camshaft had to be removed and all shims had to be miked and replaced with the appropriate shim.
The dial indicator process then had to be repeated and hopefully everything ended up in order.

In this case the shims were underneath the buckets and were pressed against the valve stems by the buckets.

I expect a valve clearance measurement is recommended as part of the emissions equipment warranty schedule. Unless an engine has hydraulic valves, that’s a pretty common spec. Likely in the 60k to 100k miles is my guess. But why guess? Looked in the owner’s manual, It may say there, usually this type of info is buried in a chart of some kind. Or make a visit to a servicing dealership and ask at the service department there.

For comparison, I have a Corolla with 200K miles and I recently checked the valve clearance and it remains within specs, never had to make any valve adjustment on it yet. So it is quite possible all that is needed for your car is to check the valve clearances, no adjustment will be required. That’s a good thing, b/c checking is fairly easy and therefore not overly expensive. Adjustments are more time consuming.