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Honda Civic Blows Head Gaskets

Q. Dear Vincent, Hi! I have got a 1992 Honda Civic LX, 1.5 liter engine, 102,000 miles and automatic transmission. I bought it in April 2002 when it had 89,000 miles. It ran fine until last July, 92,000 miles, when suddenly it started getting hot, losing coolant and coolant boiling in the coolant tank. The mechanic, Honda and VW specialist, diagnosed it as a blown head gasket.

Honda Civic Blows Head Gaskets

As a result, along with head gasket we replaced the water pump, thermostat, timing belt, one of the cylinder heads, a brand new radiator, the old one was rusty and started leaking soon after the new head gasket was put.

Anyways, it ran fine for almost 10,000 miles without any problems. This summer just a month ago, 102,000 miles, again the same problem started with car getting hotter than normal, fan remaining on for a long time and then suddenly same old story.

I went to a Honda dealer and he said water pump leak caused the head gasket to blow blah, blah, blah. Have to do the same things as the last time and would cost $1300.00. I shelled out the same amount last time and cannot afford it again and again.

The engine is absolutely fine is what everyone assures me. It is a very good car and runs really smooth. I have not had any other problem other than this. Is there any particular reason why this happened yet again and specially during the summer?

I am from the Midwest and it usually gets hot here in summer. The mechanic who repaired it last time said he would give a warranty for one year for the repair and unfortunately the car was good for only 11 months. When I left a message he never bothered to get back to me.

Is it reasonable to spend so much on the car again and is it better to go to a reputed Honda dealer and get it done? I am an international student and can't spend so much again and again and want to know the problem and nail it once and for all.

I would appreciate any help on this issue before proceeding to part with another grand to get it repaired. I have seen you have been a lifesaver for so many people and sincerely hope you are one for me too.

  • 1992 Honda Civic LX
  • 1.5 liter
  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles
  • P/S, A/C, Cruise control


A. First off, I would have gone, personally, back to the shop that did the original work and tell them what happened and what they will do for you. If you have the warranty in writing and the original invoice you may even wish to consider small claims court to recover the cost of the repairs.

At this point I would recommend the dealer doing the work this time around. This way you will have the best chance of getting the job done right once and for all.

As for why it happened again so soon, perhaps the cylinder head wasn't torqued down correctly, or at all. I have seen guys forget to torque the cylinder heads. Another possibility is that they used an aftermarket head gasket that wasn't made to the newer Honda designs.

Honda had a problem with these head gaskets and came out with a new style head gasket, head bolts and head bolt torque.

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© 2005 Vincent T. Ciulla

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