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Old 03-16-2008, 09:54 AM
smackpappy7 smackpappy7 is offline
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coolant leak (head gasket?)

I have an 2004 EX accord 4cyl with 50K miles and I believe I may have a head gasket leak. A few months ago I noticed the heat would not blow hot air sometimes and after reasearching this site I found it may be low on coolant. Adding coolant fixed the problem. Unfortunaly the car is still using coolant and now I'm starting to smell it when I have the windows down or when I get out of the car. I tried to pinpoint the smell and the best I can tell it's coming from the back of the engine. It's hard to believe an 04 accord would have a head gasket leak.

The car only uses a few ounces of fluid every month, but something is not right. Plus the burnt coolant smell is starting to get to me. I don't see any white smoke so I don't think there is a major leak, but something is not right.

If I have the stealership replace the head gasket does anyone know what that will cost? Has anyone ever heard of a head gasket leak on a car that isn't that old with relativy few miles.

Between this issue, the vibrations, and chiping paint on the roof. I would have to say I'm not liking my accord so far. I have two other great hondas and maybe I should have taken a longer test drive or bought from a dealership that would have offered some kind of warrenty. I bought from private seller so I have no one to complain to but myself.

Live and learn I guess.

any and all help is appreciated
Dan
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Old 03-16-2008, 10:12 AM
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I'd first bring it to a dealer or competent independent shop that works on Hondas to have it diagnosed.

Just bringing it to a shop saying you need a head gasket is just asking for a world of trouble. Sure, they'll do it, but if it wasn't the problem in the first place you've just wasted about $1500.

I've not yet seen an external leak from one of these engines. However, if you ran it low enough on coolant to lose heat, the cylinder head will be running WAY too hot as there is no coolant up there.

Once the system is pressure tested a leak like you have should show up easily.
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Old 03-16-2008, 10:51 AM
smackpappy7 smackpappy7 is offline
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It's not that it was ever really low in coolant. It just woudn't blow heat when it would sit at idle. Once I started driving and the engine would rev it would start to blow heat. It was like there needed to be pressure or something for the heat to work.

Should I just go to the dealer and ask for a pressure check on the coolant system?

Thanks
Dan
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Old 03-16-2008, 10:52 AM
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I vote dealership because they might be able to get Honda to good will the repair (as in they pay for all or part of it) since the car is only 4 years old and only has 70k, very low for a Honda.

You're sure the radiator Hoses, radiator and any other hoses in there are all in good shape? Was this car previously wrecked by chance? - If you know...
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Old 03-16-2008, 10:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smackpappy7 View Post
Should I just go to the dealer and ask for a pressure check on the coolant system?

Thanks
Dan
This sounds like a heater core on its way out. My dad's 2004 Volvo S40 did this, and because the heater core is behind the dash he opted to bypass it as the repair was very, very expensive. - And he lives in Texas.

Take it in and explain the issue, let them look over it (shouldn't be anything more than an hours labor, and usually they'll apply that labor to the cost to fix the issue).

Report back, and I have to say, this sounds very rare!
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Old 03-16-2008, 11:35 AM
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I just went throught the same thing as far as heating only when moving but the dealers solution was that it was low on coolant. Since you're saying you're not low I dont know what to tell you. Only thing I can say is check for dried up coolant anywhere in the engine bay. Cuz I just found that I had a pin hole on my hose going to the EGR.
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Old 03-16-2008, 11:49 AM
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Thanks for all the replies. I'm going to take it to the dealer and see what they say. If there is an issue hopefully good will is an option. The car only has 50K on it.

I think I confused the one poster. The car was low on coolant, but probably only about 12 ounces. I have no idea how much coolant it holds so maybe this was insignificant or maybe it was a lot.

Either way it shouldn't have been low.

It may be a little while until I get to the dealer because it's an hour away, but if I find anything out I'll post back

thanks
Dan
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:04 PM
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Our I4 Accord likes to sip on coolant. I do mean sip. I add about 6 oz. to the tank every other oil change. I use the Honda precut anti freeze.

I do a drain fill every year on the car. Basically I do hose flush and fill on it. Then do a drain and fill with Honda's premix. It does take about 4 gal of there mix to get it back to normal after the flush.

I don't have any idea where the coolant goes between oil changes. I have written it off like its oil usage.

But to drive a car until the heater doesn't work as a clue for a issue is lame IMHO. What happen to the days when folks checked there oil, coolant and tire psi when they filled up every once in a while? I haven't seen a gas station one that doesn't have paper towels out for basic checks. Granted air can be a issue. To drive a car until the heater doesn't work. Come on! The temp gauge or a idiot light should have worked or pointed to a problem? Yes/No.

But thanks for the thread. I will make it a point to run the valves on our car and re torque the head. Check the coolant hose's and lines. And also send in a oil sample for testing next oil change to see if traces of coolant can be found in the oil.
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X, 06 Civic EX Sedan,w/Navi,I4,5MT,Silver/Gray,44k Miles (No Better Than GM Junk)

Can you save a gal. here and there then blow a half gallon playing with the tach? It can be done!
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:36 PM
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Where are you checking coolant?

In the reserve tank or at the radiator by removing the radiator cap?
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:50 PM
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Well for me the temp gauge didnt move. Otherwise I would've noticed it and realized exactly what was goin on.
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Old 03-16-2008, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Accordlover View Post
Where are you checking coolant?

In the reserve tank or at the radiator by removing the radiator cap?
I always check at the tank when cool. Then check the rad as a second option to make sure the cap is working. If the tank shows full cold/cool and the rad is low. that tells me to look farther and start with the cap. Or a blockage on the line going to tank.

While sealed systems have there own issues. Semi sealed systems have there own checks and balance.

Years ago my mother had a LeCar. It had a sealed system. One had to draw a vac. on the cooling system then let the vac. drawn on the system, fill the system. Vac and fill until full. Disconnect and drive. It was a lot like a AC system. It was a system way to complex for the ave. American. Muchless a corner grease monkey. But once I reset the system after a minor wreck it once again worked perfect.

If my car was drinking coolant like to op's. I would do a oil test with blackstone or one of the other good oil labs and see if the coolant is showing in the oil. At the levels Im seeing here I don't think it would cottage cheese the oil. Hexk look at the oil fill cap. Is it mucky and emulsified looking oil wise? or is there cheese on the dip stick?

And if you can smell it outside of the car. There has to be trace of leak under the hood. Look around the head to block. Look around the bottom side of the engine where the water pump is. Look at the heater hose's. It should be easy to pin point a external or internal leak path....
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07 Mazda3 S Touring,I4,5MT,Purple/Charcoal,80k Miles (Civic What?)
00 Ranger Ext,XLT,I4,5MT,White/Gray,200k Miles (Thinks it's a F-150)

X, 05 Accord EX Sedan,I4,5AT,Red/Gray,89k Miles (My Fav. Accord Gen)
X, 06 Civic EX Sedan,w/Navi,I4,5MT,Silver/Gray,44k Miles (No Better Than GM Junk)

Can you save a gal. here and there then blow a half gallon playing with the tach? It can be done!
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Old 03-16-2008, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abailey4 View Post
Well for me the temp gauge didnt move. Otherwise I would've noticed it and realized exactly what was goin on.
I find it hard to believe the gauge didn't give warning. I can watch the gauge move a hash mark or so on our car just cycling the the water from block to rad. Cooling issues just pop up when a hose breaks or the system is open to atmosphere. Antifreeze / over boil additives over all cut the water content. Sure they have chemicals in it. But the over all jest of the mess is to raise the specific gravity to help prevent over boil and thicked the water touch to help with freezing. Thats the bottom line.

To have a car's heating system fail tells me the water temps were well above 212f. The point at which water boils everywhere in the USA except the Rockies. To have a Honda open deck block thrown to these extremes means I would be dumping the car. Chances of head warping and cylinder deformation are very high.

A over heated Honda motor = light weight boat anchor.
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09 HCHII,w/Navi,I4,CVT Crap,Atomic Blue/Beige,70k Miles (Dull/MPG/Quite Civic)
07 Mazda3 S Touring,I4,5MT,Purple/Charcoal,80k Miles (Civic What?)
00 Ranger Ext,XLT,I4,5MT,White/Gray,200k Miles (Thinks it's a F-150)

X, 05 Accord EX Sedan,I4,5AT,Red/Gray,89k Miles (My Fav. Accord Gen)
X, 06 Civic EX Sedan,w/Navi,I4,5MT,Silver/Gray,44k Miles (No Better Than GM Junk)

Can you save a gal. here and there then blow a half gallon playing with the tach? It can be done!
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Old 03-16-2008, 05:44 PM
smackpappy7 smackpappy7 is offline
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GOOD NEWS!! After doing some searching I found it's leaking at the valve (switch) where the coolant goes into the firewall. I'm obviously no mechanic but I think its a switch that opens and closes as I turn the heat on and off. There is a cable that runs to it and must open and close the valve for some reason. I can see the fluid dripping from that valve. It's near the heat shield for the headers which is why I thought it was leaking in from the back of the engine. This is great news for me.

To reply to some of the earlier posts. The gauge never registered high. The car was never more than 12 ounces short, and maybe not even that much. As for why the heat woundn't work unless I was moving I can't explain that. Maybe it had to do with pressure in the system.

Thanks for the help. I can sleep better tonight.

Dan
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Old 03-16-2008, 06:21 PM
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sorry so long

The valve you see leaking is the heater control valve. That would be an odd one to leak. I don't think I ever recall seeing one leak on any model Honda.

The gauge will NOT register unless it's severely overheated. BUT, that means there has to be coolant to conduct heat to the sensor. When the coolant gets low, there's no direct conductive path, the whole head has to do a metal to metal transfer of heat to that sensor. Plus, the gauges are "damped" as to not show intermittent temperature changes. Temps of 140-220 will show in the normal range. Temps of 225-240 will make it go to around 3/4 hot, and 240 and over the gauge will peg. The damping is a delay built into the gauge system. It will have to stay at a particular temp for a while before gauge movement takes place.

12 to 16 ounces is a moderate amount to lose. The 4 cylinders only hold 1.25 to 1.5 gallons total. Any loss will cause air pockets.

Psy, why do you change out the coolant in that car so often? It's totally unneeded, especially since Honda went with ELC type 1 a few years ago. Now with Type 2 I routinely see cars with well over 100k on original coolant with perfectly clean insides.
With the older Honda coolant, there was a need to change it as the protective layer built up by the coolant chemistry would break down and leave white residue that needed to be drained out of the system periodically. I have not ever seen this happen on a newer one that was topped off with Honda coolant.

If they've been contaminated with the wrong coolant, then all bets are off when it comes to what will happen in there. Some I've seen are just a mess. They end up plugging rads and heater cores routinely as the incompatible coolant creates an interesting jelly and white sludge in the system.

A note on Honda's coolant and mixing with oil, it would take a great LARGE amount to cause any type of jelling in the oil. With the additive mixture in this coolant don't expect to see "milkshake" in the oil. It will do similar to what Dexcool does (different chemistry, but similar additives) it creates a thick black grease, as the water evaporates out of the oil/coolant mix, and the coolant's additives make very thick black grease like deposits, especially when cold. You shouldn't use dex in Honda cars as the chemistry attacks certain plastics and rubbers and turns them to jelly and crust at the same time.
With GM's dex, it's pretty easy to tell by eye, the oil takes on a very obvious orange tint at first. I've seen MANY GM intake gasket failure and head gasket failure that will only cause the deposits I mention, and occasionally steam to come off the oil when doing a change when the engine is hot. It took several gallons of that coolant to mix with the oil and the corresponding rise in oil level to make it even start to milk up.

Another note, we're not the only ones (Honda owners) who see very gradual decrease in coolant levels. I see this all the time on Toyotas that are using their pink SLLC or LLC. None ever show a smell or obvious leakage.
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Old 03-17-2008, 04:02 AM
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Awesome news Smackpappy! I feel better already.

Hey Fred, what's your opinion of using PEAK Global Lifetime coolant in Hondas?

My radiator was filled with traditional green coolant when I bought it in November. When I realized this probably wasn't the Honda silicate-free fill, I drained it and filled it with the PEAK which I had on hand.
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