What causes acceleration and engine heat issues?

I am having acceleration issues with my 2004 Honda Civic. I notice it most when I have to accelerate from a dead stop on a hill. After having to accelerate up a slight incline my engine temperature gets hot. I feel the heat coming from the steering wheel and around my feet while I am driving. My engine heat gauge increases to almost the top of the H. I have taken it to two different mechanics (one an independent mechanic and the other was my dealership). They can not find anything wrong even after they test drove it under the same conditions. I told the mechanics that the cause may be the transmission. It was my best guess. The transmission apparently is not the cause and I have had my transmission fluid changed and the problem still occurs. Does anyone know what else could be causing an acceleration issue and that the acceleration issue may also be causing my engine to almost overheat?

Are you saying that two mechanics said the temperature gauge did not read high, while you’re sure it does?

1- When the engine is cold in the morning, take the radiator cap off and make sure the radiator is full to the top with coolant.
2- Are your radiator fans running when the temp gets to the top? If not, do they run when you put on the A/C ?
3- Ask your mechanic to see if the substrate in your catalytic converter is plugged or broken and falling back and plugging the exhaust when you go uphill.
There are other possible causes such as a clogged radiator or corroded water pump but they probabl wouldn’t show up only going uphill.

How many miles does the car have on it?
When was the last time you put some new sparkplugs in it?
NOTE: these ideas are in addition to oldtimers’ suggestions, not instead of.

Thank you oldtimer 11 for the insight. My radiator fans do not run when the engine gets hot, but it does run when the A/C and heater is on. I will ask about the substrate. Also, my mileage is about 160K and I know the 160K service requires replacement of the timing belt or water pump. I will check into that as well.

Thanks for the help.

With the A/C off one of the fans should cycle on and off when the engine temp reaches a certain point. This could be easily checked with the hood up and engine idling after warming up.

I tend to think there could be a clogged catalytic converter issue. That can cause somewhat sluggish to horribly sluggish acceleration issues and overheating.
This can be easily checked with a vacuum gauge but you may have to ask about this as many mechanics do not seem to use one or even know how to read it. It’s a simple, easy to use cheap tool that will cough up an answer in very little time.

There’s definitely a radiator fan problem if at least one of them isn’t whirling like ban-shee when the dash coolant temperature gauge moves into the red zone. The problem could be the fan, the radiator fan temperature switch, or the corresponding relay. A good shop would have no problem reproducing the problem and figuring out what’s keeping the radiator fan from coming on. I’ve had this radiator fan problem on my Corolla a couple of times, and each time it was an inexpensive fix.

In any event it is very important to get at least the radiator fan issue addressed asap, as overheating can severely damage your engine, to the tune of many thousands of dollars in needed repairs. If this were my car I’d stop driving it until at the very minimum the radiator fan was working correctly.

If you absolutely have to drive it, and it starts to move into the red zone, turn on the passenger compartment heater to full hot and the heater fan to high speed. The heater is like a miniature radiator, and turning it to max hot like that will provide some engine cooling. The downside is the passenger compartment might get hot and uncomfortable.

Make sure you dont have any AIR in the cooling system… Ugh…I just dont have it in me to rewrite the whole cooling system burp procedure… Find the Air bleed nipple near the thermostat housing and bleed out the air from the cooling system…then refill the radiator and overflow with coolant until full.

If this doesn’t do it…you need to look into your rad fans and see if they are thermostatically controlled and working. After that…its the radiator itself.


Rather than open the radiator cap, just look in the overflow tank. If you have coolant in it when the car is warm, you probably have enough fluid. If it is drained when the engine is cold, you may be slightly low. If you have the timing belt and water pump done now, it probably makes sense to change the thermostat and radiator hoses. You should replace the coolant when the water pump is replaced and you might as well get the rest of the cooling system changes done now too.

Looking at the levels does nothing for air in the system. If there is air…there is a problem. This “Air in the Cooling System” needs to be a “Sticky” a problem description and solution that is posted once for people to read…which they will ignore…and ask questions anyway. But we do need a “Sticky” section methinks… So many people with similar issues and identical solutions…all could be resolved if they read the “Sticky” section and proved things out from there.