Valve or Header Job and what parts do I need to purchase

I’m a service member stationed in Korea, good times! The military shipped my 1995 Honda Accord 2 door Coupe 5 speed trans here and I’ve had a little trouble since arriving here on the penisula. Over New Years I was up in Seoul and the Wind Chill was probably -12. My car was running fine until I departed from the long weekend. The car sounded rough on start-up, I investigated under the hood and found no loose belts, hoses and because the car started I didn’t think it could be the timing belt. I checked the fluids and found that my coolant was practically non-existent. I filled the coolant system and departed for a 130 mile trip back to my base. The engine had a “heavy” sound to it especially as I tried to accelerate. After a few more 100 mile trips the compression on the engine seemed to get worse. I took it into a local garage and they performed a compression check the results are as follows:

#1 w- 170/d-195 #2 w-170/d-198 #3 w-170/175 #4 w-180/200. I’m taking my vehicle in for a computer diagnostic on Tuesday to better diagnosis the problem however the main problem here is that you can’t get parts for a Japanese Car here in Korea although “mainland” is less than a 6-hour plane ride away. Here’s where I need your help. The mechanic says that he wants to do the diagnostic test to ensure it’s just a valve so he’s fixing the problem, but he can’t tell me what parts to buy until he takes the header off and observes. Isn’t there some type of standard upper-engine overhaul kit that can be purchased so I can order from the states have it shipped via AutoZone or Oreily’s so when I take the car in the parts will be here as well? The mechanic says he needs 3-4 days to fix the car plus the day for the diagnositc check; then you tack on 7-10 days for the post office. I’m looking for a suggestion of what to purchase and have sent over and simply return what’s not used. Curious about my header job on the ROK.

I think the W an D readings may be crossed up since the D should be the lower ones. The 170-180 is acceptable and good enough that you should not really be having an engine performance problem. I would be concerned about the somewhat substantial jump on No. 1 and 2 cylinders. A significant jump in the reading during a W test usually points to piston rings. Any problem here could have been caused by overheating, but still, 170 is enough to motor on down the road unless the spark plugs were oil fouled.

You did not state how many miles are on the car and it’s impossible to say (IF the valves are ground, etc.) what will be required. Often when grinding valves one does not know how bad they are until the first cut is made on the valve grinding machine. The same thing in regards to valve guide condition, etc. The head would need to be inspected to verify if it needed surfacing or not and this will require disassembly also.

I’m inclined to think if your car is running poorly that the problem lies somewhere else rather than the valves in the cylinder head.

I agree with OK4450. The compression readings do not point to a ring or valve problem. Or even a head gasket problem. I’m leaning towards an induction or fuel problem. Maybe a bad fuel filter, or weakened pump.

BK thanks for the advice and so quickly…will the computer diagnostic test be able to better pin-point this for me. 202,560 miles. Should I continue to drive the car. I’ve changed the plugs, wires, distibutor and cap, I also ordered a fuel pump but don’t have the means to change that. Any other ideas? I’ll let you know the outcome of the diagnostic test, and thanks again.

202,560K miles. Should I continue to drive the car? Don’t know if that will hinder anything. I do have a fuel filter but don’t have the means to put it on. I’ve changed the plugs, wires, distributor and cap. I’ll post the results of the computer diagonstic check on Tuesday. Thanks for your input.

I’d say NO, you shouldn’t be driving it! One thing that concerns me is you did loose all your coolant somewhere. Weird things can happen when it’s that cold. I’ve seen a waterpump seal shrink enough to dump all the coolant out, and then comepletely reseal when it warmed back up. But don’t lose sight of the fact you had to refill the radiator. Has the level not gone down again since?

As far the running problem, they need to pull the distributor and check the bearing in it. Those Honda are common for having the bearing seize. The engine will chug down from trying to turn the seizing distributor.

The compression is pretty good for a vehicle with 200k+ miles on it.
The fuel pump is a good idea, especially if that’s the original. Be sure to change the fuel filter also.
You might consider removing the old filter, draining it completely, and allowing it to dry for an hour or so. Try blowing through it. If you cannot blow freely through the filter and have to apply some pressure then the filter is severely clogged. Clogged filters will knock out fuel pumps by causing them to work harder so it’s a good idea to change filters every 25-30k miles; and more often if a fuel contamination problem is suspected.

Hope your stay in Korea is better than my cousin’s stay. He served 2 years over there and said it was the coldest, most miserable place he’s ever been.
Guess that’s why he moved to Tampa, FL. when he got out of the military!

In your opinion, does this guy know what he’s doing? There’s nothing unreasonable about what he’s saying, but I wonder if he may be jumping straight ahead to problems with the engine internals without first making sure that the more specialized fuel and ignition systems are working. If parts aren’t avaliable, I’d bet that he doesn’t see many Hondas, which may make it very difficult for him to diagnose it properly.

Unless the labor rates are a lot less than they are stateside, I wouldn’t personally wouldn’t spend a lot of money for a foreign mechanic to feel his way through a car that he’s unfamiliar with, especially since the thing does have pretty high miles. I’d personally be more inclined to ship the thing back home and maybe pick up a used hyundai or something, which I bet you can get for super-cheap.

I do have one zany idea though. If the labor rates are cheaper there, you could try and pick up one of those famous Japanese low-mileage used engines and have your guy put it in. Parts wise, it’d probably only cost marginally more than an overhaul kit, especially after shipping from the states. That’d address your problem, plus you could come home with an engine with 50k or so miles on it instead of 200+!

With that many miles, maybe you should stop maintaining that car and save for a newer one. It’s up to you but it is going to start costing real money for upkeep. I think it just started.