T Nation

Blown Head Gasket: Pay or Dump?


Our civic has a blown head gasket $1800 from the dealer :frowning:

Overall the car has been maintaned well, but it's also got 135k miles on it. Not a ton for a Civic, but not really sure I want to dump $1800 into it when I can get a newer one for $9k with only 50k miles.

It will also need a clutch replaces probably in the next year or two, which is another $1k

We have no car payments, which I like...

1- what would you do? Trade-in for a used with much less miles with a small monthly car payment

2- Trade-in, clear the code and let it be the problem for the dealer that takes it (dishonest I know)

3- keep it, put out $1800 and ride it out till it's done

Mind you, I don't like debt and no monthly payment is nice. I'm just wondering, if it's really worth it when a newer one can be had for a small monthly payment.


If it's safe, drive it until the wheels fall off.

Start saving the money you'd put for a car payment now into a bank account until you can buy one for cash in 2-3 years.

NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER go into debt to buy a depreciating asset like a car.


^ sound advice.


That's surprising for a Honda (esp a Civic) to blow a gasket with only 135k on it. What model year?


You can get it done for under a grand if you look around


Do not go to the dealer. A new head gasket is a relatively straight-forward job any indy mechanic should be able to finish. The gasket might cost $35, the greatest expense is going to be labor and the dealer will absolutely rape you on labor.

Also, I'm not sure if your Civic has an interference engine, but you might want to ask a mechanic about replacing the timing belt, new water pump, new accessory drive belts (should be a given), etc.

What code is it throwing?



Also, never buy a new car. Ever.

Personally, I would find a guide online and do it myself - especially as a last resort.


car drives fine, and was blowing coolant out (but I think that was b/c I overfilled it).

a buddy that is a mechanic recommended I don't replace it, since the block is often what can be damaged. He said either ride it out, get a reman motor, or trade it in


btw- I wouldn't get a brand new car anyways, but we do need a reliable car with good mpg since the wife travels a good distance to work

it's an '04 which I've read has had gasket issues for that year. The car did overheat once on my wife, don't know how long she drove it, but it did happen


What year is it? What makes you think it's a head gasket, only the code? Any white or blue smoke? Are you losing coolant?


How long ago did it over heat on your wife? If it was a while ago and you're only noticing symptoms now, it's more than likely that the head didn't warp. It's even more likely that the block is still true because there's much more material to act as a heat sink. Plus, blocks tend to be iron and heads, aluminum, although I'm not sure about the Civic.

I think continuing to drive it (if it has a bad head gasket) is the worst idea. Eventually, you'll be stuck with a car that is basically worthless and/or possibly stranded.

  1. But don't cry if you're used car winds up fucked too.


code PO303 cylinder 3 misfire. It overheated on my wife due to low coolant.

timing belt and all was changed 15k miles ago :frowning: which was all for nothing it looks like

and I believe it is an interference engine


Did the mechanic do a cylinder leakdown test? Also, when was the last time you had plugs/wires changed.

I used to get the same code on my car when the wires would start to deteriorate. A simple test would be to start the car and pop the hood. Get a spray bottle and gently mist the wires where they go into the head. If you hear the car start to run differently, you need to replace the plugs and wires. It's a very common reason why a single cylinder code is being thrown.

Lastly, if the body is still good, a used engine goes for around $400. You could pop in a new used engine, change the clutch, and you might still come out ahead.


code has popped up 3 times, no smoke. But it overheated, and was blowing coolant out the overflow which is a sign of a head gasket issue. Then again, I overfilled it, so that would be expected, has gone a short time with no more blowing out the overflow.


I'd fix it myself. The gasket itself is cheap, pulling the heads off isn't that hard especially in older civics.


That could also be a coil problem..... Are you sure the Honda dealer isn't fucking with you? I worked at dealerships for years, lying is a job requirement.


Coolant in the overflow isn't shit. This could be simple as a spark plug. If you got a head gasket you are usually burning oil, your compression should be horrible, and the car should be shuttering horribly. I got that code and it was just a coil pack. I replaced the whole set for $100.00.

The cost of replacing a head gasket is all labor. If you have to pull the heads, you might as well drop some high performance cams and new high pressure valve springs...Might as well have some fun with it.


I think the dealer is full of shit. They have no way of knowing it's a blown headgasket without doing a cylinder leak-down test. Have you drained the excess coolant?

How much coolant have you been losing?


I'll find out tomorrow what tests they.

I do believe these are aluminum blocks, and they don't have wires. Plugs were also changed 15k miles ago. I even changed out the coil pack for the cylinder hoping that was the issue. No such luck.