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Need a Honda Expert in San Diego

Discussion in 'General Tech and Maintenance' started by JohnnyWadd, Mar 17, 2006.

  1. JohnnyWadd

    JohnnyWadd Junior Member

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    Hey, guys. I'm looking for someone in the San Diego area to diagnose what's wrong with my 1994 Accord. I just bought it from my buddy, so I can't tell you much about it. I'm not asking for a handout, here. I'm willing to pay for a correct diagnosis. If that means I take it to a mechanic's shop, so be it. If someone without a shop really knows what in the hell they're doing and wants to swing by and take a gander in order to make some spare cash, that'd be great, too.

    If at all possible, I'm looking for someone in the City Heights area. I have yet to plate the car, so I don't want to drive it very far. Not only that, with it running funny, I don't want to venture too far from home. I'm pretty new to the area, so I don't know who's good and who isn't. That's why I'm asking here. I figure some of you might be able to recommend someone who's good at what they do with the fifth generation Accords. If you know someone who can help and maybe wants to make a little cash, have them drop me a line at jhieb1@hotmail.com.

    Thanks, everybody.
    Jon
     
  2. integraslut78

    integraslut78 Stylus DJ Extraordinaire

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    Take it to Enginuity they know what they are doing for sure over there
    There number is (619)336-1666.
    As long as you don't go to Pann you will be ok.
     
  3. JohnnyWadd

    JohnnyWadd Junior Member

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    Okay, guys. I finally got a chance to investigate so I'm going to post what I know. Let me say first off that much of what I'm going to post is going to be second-hand information. I bought the car a short time ago from my friend. He told me it had a problem, but the price I paid is WELL below what that car's worth. It'll be a great car once I figure out what's up.

    Okay, here's what my buddy told me: the first thing he said was that he'd noticed that it'd been "running hard" in recent times. I asked him what he meant and the only thing that he said was not running as smooth and a bit louder than usual. I asked how far back, he said not long. But, I should mention that he knows NOTHING about cars and I'm almost certain that no preventive maintenance has been done. I'm sure a tune-up would do it wonders. Anyway, he said that toward the very end, there were an instance where he was driving and it died on him. He said that just before it died, he could tell that it was about to die, but the sound wasn't your typical chugging that a car makes just before it dies. He also told me that after it died, he saw smoke coming out from the passenger side wheel well, but said that it wasn't black smoke. That's when he parked it and decided to get rid of it. He's got a great job now, and he decided that rather than taking it to a mechanic, it was time to get a new car.

    That's all he told me. I was going to take it to a mechanic recently, but I kinda figured a few things out. So, I decided to give the forum sights a shot before turning it over to someone else. Who knows... we might be able to figure it out on our own.

    Anyway, I had a friend following me to the mechanic, and when we got there I shut her down. He asked me if everything went all right, and I told him that it was fine. He asked me if it idled fine, and I said yes and started it to show him. Right after I started it, he told me to shut it down. He noticed that the temperature guage was in the red. Dumbass me missed that one. Luckily, the shop is close to my house, so I couldn't have gone far with it running hot.

    So, we opened the hood, and I check the upper and lower radiator hoses for pressure before popping the cap. There was no pressure whatsoever, which led me to believe that it had no water. So, I CAUTIOUSLY opened the radiator cap and took it off. No water or steam spurted out. However, I did notice that the cap was trashed. The innards were broken. So, that led me to believe that I'd solved the mystery of the smoke. I figured that the cap wasn't sealing and allowing the system to pressurize and that the coolant was leaking out from the cap. It took almost two gallons of water and coolant to fill it up, and at first I believed that the cap was to blame.

    Anyway, my friend told me that he had another cap at his house, so I went with him over there to get the cap. It was there that I noticed that the overflow reservoir was completely full. So, I took the cap off of that and noticed that there was no hose. The elbow that goes through the cap is broken on the inside, so the hose won't hook onto it anymore. Hell, the hose is probably inside the reservoir. I can't tell, though, because it's full. Evidently, the coolant is shooting in there when it's hot, but can't suck it back when it cools down, cuz there's no hose.

    He gave me the new cap, and I put it on. Wait, not new. It was a used cap. Anyway, we got it all full of coolant and fired it up and let it run for a while. There still wasn't any pressure in the upper and lower radiator hoses. These should be pressurized, right. Also, I noticed that while it was running, coolant was bubbling out from the overflow cap (where the missing hose was supposed to be). Is that supposed to do that? Isn't the system supposed to pressurize? It shouldn't allow the pressure to escape out there, should it?

    Here's my take on the situation: I think that my buddy was losing coolant, but didn't know it. I think that the car got too hot and started to run shitty. Do Honda's do that? Would it shut down on him if it got too hot? It seems to be running perfectly for me... well, except for that fact that the cooling system won't pressurize. I didn't notice any sort of 'running hard'. It sounded and ran like a Honda is supposed to, as far as I'm concerned.

    All right, let me know what you guys think. Sorry that my information is limited. Like I said, it hasn't done anything to me like what it did to my buddy. I'll post back if it ever does. In the mean time, let me know what you think about this coolant problem.

    Thanks for reading
    Jon

    P.S. I need a new coolant overflow tank cap, if anyone's got one. The car is a 1994 Accord. The one on there is broken.
     
  4. GSRCIVICTN

    GSRCIVICTN Lost in a sea of rednecks

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    If I read correctly it sounds like that engine is hurt. Sounds like you have compression getting into the coolant system. Bad news. [​IMG]

    I see an engine swap in your future.
     
  5. JohnnyWadd

    JohnnyWadd Junior Member

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    All right, guys... sorry for falling off of the earth. I've been a busy boy over the past few months. I just finished grad school, and the final six weeks was completely consumed by writing my thesis. So, needless to say, the sick Honda was going to have to wait. I'm all done now, so I've finally gotten to the point where I can turn some wrenches on this bitch again. Now I can finally let you know what I figured out.

    When I last wrote, I knew nothing about the car. Well, I've jumped in and learned a few things. I don't know why the car died, but I do know why it was 'smoking'. It wasn't actually smoke, though. It was steam. I did some checking and noticed that two things were broken dealing with the cooling system. The first was the radiator cap, which was completely broken on the inside. The other was the coolant overflow cap, which you could no longer connect the bottom hose to anymore. I replaced both of those hoping that I'd cured what ailed her. Took her on a little road trip to see. Turns out I didn't.

    Here's what's happening: She's running like a charm, but I'm losing the water/coolant from the cooling system, and near as I can tell, I don't have a visible leak anywhere. There's no water in the oil, either. So, unless I'm missing something, the only culprit left is a head gasket that's leaking the coolant into the combustion chamber, right? I don't think the cooling system will pressurize. Even when it's been running for an extended period of time, I can still squeeze both the upper and lower radiator hoses quite easily. Also, I lose coolant WAY faster when I drive at highway speeds. I don't see any smoke coming out of the tail pipe, but there is a bit of surface rust inside of the outlet pipes on the muffler. Does this sound like a head gasket problem to you guys? How can I be more certain? I don't the tool to pressurize the cooling system, nor do I have a compression tester. Is there a way to figure it out without having either of those? I was thinking that maybe if I pulled the spark plugs, one of those would look quite a bit different. You know, if it was burning more water that fuel. Don't you think?

    If anybody can give me some help, I'd greatly appreciate it. Also, I'm wondering just how easy of a fix this job is. I've changed them on Mitsubishi two liters before. It doesn't look like it'd be much harder than that. I'm also thinking of a list of things I'll need. Here's what I came up with:

    Head Gasket Set
    Copper Gasket Spray for Head Gasket
    Copper RTV for all other gasket surfaces
    Fluids (Oil and Coolant)
    3M Roloc disks to clean the gasket surfaces

    Of course I'm going to have to get the cylinder head checked to see if the gasket surface needs planing. Can't really think of anything else.

    So, let me know what you guys think. Does it should like a blown head gasket to you? How can I check to be certain? Do I need any more parts? Should I replace the Head Bolts, or can they be reused?

    Any help that you can give would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks a ton
    Jon
     
  6. JohnnyWadd

    JohnnyWadd Junior Member

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    It's been suggested to me that I not use the roloc discs on the gasket surfaces because the block and the head are aluminum. Some people think I'll do more harm than good. What do you guys think on this? And, also, if you don't think I should use them, what should I clean up the gasket surfaces with? Emory cloth and elbow grease?

    Thanks
    Jon
     
  7. JohnnyWadd

    JohnnyWadd Junior Member

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    Okay, I think I've got another reason to think that the head gaskets shot. I just did the bubble test. I filled up the radiator and left the cap off and started the car. Sure enough, air bubbles were coming out of the radiator. It wasn't gushing out or anything, but there was a steady stream of good sized bubbles. Sometimes one at a time, sometimes in groups of 4 or 5. There was also a few seconds between bubbles or groups of bubbles. Also, the coolant level was steadily dropping. Kept having to refill it to observe if the bubbles would keep coming.

    So, looks like it's a head gasket after all. Looks like I'm going to have to tear into this engine, don't you think?

    Thanks for all the advice
    Jon
     
  8. JohnnyWadd

    JohnnyWadd Junior Member

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    Well, I keep flip-flopping on this head gasket thing. I'm not so sure now that the damned thing is blown. First off, I pulled the plugs the other day. I figured that one of the plugs would look drastically different than all the others. If the head gasket was shot, one of them would be burning water and anti-freeze in addition to fuel and air. Well, I found nothing. All four plugs looked identical. Each one of them looked normal. The only discoloration and build-up looks like normal wear to me. They looked fine.

    So, anyway, I was planning on replacing the radiator cap anyway. I just decided to expedite the process and I bought one the other day. I started to wonder if maybe the reason that I wasn't building up any pressure was because I couldn't get a good seal around the filler neck of the radiator. The inside of the radiator looked pretty gunked up, so I took some sand paper and a socket and sanded the o-ring surface down flat to make sure that I was getting a good seal. Then, I installed the new cap. Wouldn't ya know it?! I took her out for a spin, and I noticed that the cooling system was now pressuring up.

    So, I started thinking that maybe the problem was fixed. I decided to test her this weekend, and I drove her from San Diego to Los Angeles. Much of the trip was through rush hour traffic. It's about a hundred and twenty mile trip. I made it all the way without the temperature guage creeping up at all. I started becoming more and more convinced that it was fixed. I waited for the car to cool down, opened the radiator, and checked the water level. It was a bit down, but not much. Took well less than a quarter of a gallon to fill it up.

    Anyway, now the problem is MUCH less severe, but is still there to a very limited degree. I can roadtrip and drive around town, but every once in a while, I have to fill it back up. I still check it regularly, but most of the time, I only have to add a little bit of water - like less than a quarter of a gallon. Still can't find a leak. However, I'm wondering if it has something to do with the fact that I have NO coolant in there whatsoever. I know that water has a lower boiling temperature, and it evaporates much sooner than coolant. I'm wondering if that's why the lever keeps dropping. I don't want to fill her up with coolant if I'm just going to lose it. What do you guys think? Does it sound like I still have a leak, or is the water just evaporating? Do you think that filling her with coolant solve would this problem?

    I haven't had a chance to pressurize the cooling system yet. I'm having a hell of a time finding a pressure tester. Autozone has one to rent, but the kit doesn't have the right adapter to hook it up to my car. Apparently, all the stores have the same kit, too. So, I'm still looking. I'll let you guys know once I figure out what's up. If you've got an opinion on this, I'd love to hear it.

    Thanks
    Jon
     
  9. HatchSpeeD

    HatchSpeeD ...Hi...

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    I couldn't read all of that post but basically from what i've gotten so far is that it seems like the coolant system is not fully bled & potentially has air pockets from the prior coolant leak. If you don't have the means to test for head gasket at the moment start with the easiest first. Also, I would highly suggest buying a manual like helms. My suggestion is to first bleed the coolant systems.

    Take off cap, (BTW replace the cap if bad too) & fill radiator up with coolant. Start car with cap off & turn on heat at highest setting. If your seeing bubbles thats fine, thats the air your trying to eliminate from the system (assuming HG is good). Everytime the coolant dips down a little in the radiator add more. Keep car running until the thermostat opens, fan turns on & coolant starts to cycle through. As soon as coolant doesnt seem to have anymore air bubbles & coolant is coming out of radiator put cap back on. I'm not sure about accords but there might be a bleeder valve on the upper hose housing on the head that you can basically do the samething as well & bleed it from there too. Either that or its on the thermostat housing, don't remember.

    Start from there & you don't have any leaks as far as you can see (I would take off upper timing belt cover as well & visually inspect waterpump for leaks too), there might be a good chance your losing coolant from leaky HG. Depending upon how much, long the car was over heating with prior owner & yourself chances are pretty good that the HG might need to be replaced or something is warped due to overheating. OUT
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2006
  10. reckedracing

    reckedracing TTIWWOP VIP

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    sounds like you're still getting the rest of the air out of the system...
    seems like you're on the right track...

    longest posts ev4r
     
  11. HatchSpeeD

    HatchSpeeD ...Hi...

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    Are you responding to me thinking its him lol? Or to him...
     
  12. reckedracing

    reckedracing TTIWWOP VIP

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  13. HatchSpeeD

    HatchSpeeD ...Hi...

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    Why don't you want to talk to me?

    j/k =P
     
  14. JohnnyWadd

    JohnnyWadd Junior Member

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    Ah Ha!! The last culprit might've just reared its ugly head!! That means that I might've figured out where the rest of the water is going. Yesterday, I took the car for a spin. I hadn't filled the cooling system in a while, and I know for a fact that it was low. The temperature guage was creeping a bit. It wasn't running anywhere near the danger zone, but it was operating at a bit above normal.

    Anyway, I stopped and shut off the car. When I got out and walked past the front of the car, I heard some hissing, and I looked down and saw some water. I kneeled down and peeked under the car, and, lo and behold, I saw a stream of water coming from the bottom of the car. I couldn't tell exactly, but it looked like it was originating from the left (driver's) side of the radiator.

    So, I think that the radiator might be cracked. Wouldn't surprise me, considering that the top and bottom of those radiators are plastic. Hopefully, I'll have time to pull it out today and inspect. Funny thing is that that leak only showed up when the coolant level was low. I filled it back up before heading home and when I got there, no stream this time. Any ideas why that would be?

    So, I think I might've whipped this problem. I'll keep you posted and let you know what I figure out.

    Thanks for the Help
    Jon
     
  15. JohnnyWadd

    JohnnyWadd Junior Member

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    Okay, guys. I'm going to start this post by saying that I think I'm about to ask a stupid question. Well, not stupid... just ignorant. I feel like I should know the answer, but don't.

    All Right!! That being said, let's move on. I got a chance to investigate my leak a little more. I can (sort of) see where the leak is coming from, but I didn't think that coolant could leak from there (meaning that I didn't think that coolant ran through this part of the car).

    After taking off the plastic shield from the underside of the car below the radiator, I drained some of the water and took the car for a spin. I got it a bit hot (not in the red, by any stretch of the imagination), then got out to see what I could see. Sure enough, water was dripping. When I crawled under the car, it looked like the water was coming from the fins about half way up on the little "radiator" (cooler?) in front of the main radiator. In fact, I could see water on both the front side and the back side of this "radiator".

    Now, I thought that thing was the transmission cooler. Is it? If so, I thought that no water flowed through them. I thought the fluid flowed through them and was air cooled. Is this wrong? If that "radiator" is not the tranny cooler, what in the hell is it?

    I'm sorry for asking an ignorant question, but I searched around and didn't find anything out about it. If anybody can lend a little insight, I'd greatly appreciate it.

    Thanks
    Jon
     
  16. GSRCIVICTN

    GSRCIVICTN Lost in a sea of rednecks

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    I can't think of any cooler separate from your radiator that should have coolant running through it on that car. Follow the lines and see where they go would be a start.
     
  17. JohnnyWadd

    JohnnyWadd Junior Member

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    I FOUND THE LEAK!!!

    Ah ha!!! I think I just found the final remaining problem with this car. I finally was able to locate a pressure tester for the cooling system. As soon as I pressured it up, viola!! Water started streaming out of the front of the radiator. The leak is dead center of the core, so I guess I'll have to replace the whole thing. I'll get that done, then check everything out. I'm pretty sure that this will fix her, though.

    Thanks for all of your help on this one, guys. I appreciate it.
    Jon

    P.S. Okay, I feel stupid for asking what the little "radiator" was in front of the main radiator. As soon as the first person told me that I was looking at the AC condensor, I felt like a dumbass. The coolant cycles through the radiator, and no water goes through the AC condensor. The leak in the radiator core was just squirting forward to the condensor. Mystery solved!!
     
  18. JohnnyWadd

    JohnnyWadd Junior Member

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    Okay, guys. Sorry that I've been out of the loop for so long. I've been in the process of moving from San Diego back to Nebraska, and my computer has been packed up for two months. Done with grad school, so it's time to get on with the rest of my life. However, being computer-less has meant that my internet time has been very limited.

    Anyway, I wanted to drop a line and let everybody know how my problem came out. Seems to me that I've fixed it. I bought the radiator, installed it, and a few days later, took the car on a cross-country journey. Over the course of a week, I drove over 2000 miles. I didn't have a single problem with the cooling system, so I'm going to assume that the problem is behind me. Hopefully we won't have anymore flare-ups with this animal. I want to thank all of you for your help. I don't know if I could've done it without your input.

    By the way, I'm damned glad that I didn't tear into the head gasket like I'd originally intended to. I'd have been bummed to tear the engine apart only to find out that the culprit was the radiator.

    So, we can close the books on this one. Now it's time for me to move onto the next problem. I'm having a hard start problem and I think it's a fuel pressure issue. I want some input on it, though. However, I'll save that for another post. This one is long enough!!!

    Thanks again.
    Jon
     
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