How to Tell if You Need Head Gasket Repair for your 97 Honda Civic in Tualatin, OR

honda civic 97

Ok, I’ve been told that my 97 Honda Civic has a leaky head gasket. Which I guess, is not great… But I don’t know what a head gasket is in the first place. Could you help me out?

The head gasket is a seal. It makes sure that things that should not get in or out your engine are not able to do so unless they are leaving in the ways that they were designed to leave. As you can probably guess, this probably tells you how bad this problem can be if you have it. There are a multitude of problems that can be caused by this which should be avoided if at all possible.

Wait, I’ve seen one of these “gaskets” and it seemed really floppy. How is this thing supposed to keep a seal between the engine block and the cylinders?

The two sides of the engine are tightened down and the pressure makes the seal airtight. The material is durable enough to do the job but pliable enough to make sure that the seal works the way it should.

So the engine block and the cylinder are two halves of the same thing then?

Correct. They are two pieces and they must be sealed in order for the engine to work correctly.

It doesn’t sound that bad. Couldn’t I just drive around with this problem for a while?

No. If you did then you run the risk of damaging your engine which is even more expensive. In fact, it is prohibitively expensive for most people. A lot of people with a bad head gasket will be unable to drive their vehicle. The vehicle may overheat very quickly. It might stall out. In fact, it might not be able to start up again after that problem.

So… What are you looking for, exactly, when you are trying to figure out if my head gasket is toast?

A major sign of this is if coolant and the engine oil are mixing in the cooling system or in the engine itself. If this is true then the most likely case is that the head gasket has gone bad. At this point, the mechanics or techs will do more tests to make sure this is the problem.

So… If I think I have a head gasket problem or suspect that I do then I should tow the vehicle to a repair shop?

Yes. You do not want to chance it with a blown head gasket. If you are close to us then you can have your vehicle towed to our facility in Tualatin, OR where we can do a diagnosis and do the repair if necessary.

Wait a minute… Isn’t this a project that I can do myself?

Replacing a head gasket, unless you an experienced mechanic or tech, is something that you should not attempt. There is a lot that you should know even though we make it sound like it would be as simple as removing the two halves of the system and putting a head gasket into the mix. Getting this wrong can cause a lot of problems that can end in you having to get a new vehicle. If you value your vehicle then you should have a professional handle the problem for you so that you get the best possible outcome.

How do I stop this from happening from my head gasket? I’m seriously worried about this problem now…

If you keep your vehicle well maintained then you can avoid a lot of the problems. Sediment is one of the causes of head gasket failure, therefore, getting your fluids checked and maintained will be extremely helpful. You also should make sure that your engine is at optimal temperatures. Of course, problems can be accelerated with aggressive styles of driving. If you can avoid driving offensively then you should be able to prolong the usage of your engine and head gasket.

Well… How often should I be concerned with this problem? I mean how often should I be checking or how often does a head gasket need to be replaced anyway?

Head gaskets can last up to 100,000 miles. Be aware that means that you have been fastidious in maintaining your oil and coolant over time. Yet, your head gasket could possibly fail at any time for a multitude of reasons but maintaining your coolant and oil will usually allow to you catch these problems fairly quickly before they get worse.

How do I tell if my head gasket is failing? What are the telltale signs?

Unfortunately, there are cases where the head gasket has begun to fail but there are no symptoms at all. In general, you will only notice when the leak reaches a coolant or oil passage. It may even reach the engine cylinder and any of those cases is when you will notice that you will have problems.

So, when that happens, what will I notice with my vehicle?

You will probably have a very tough time starting the vehicle. It will also seem rough if you are stopped at a light or idling. You may notice that your engine is beginning to overheat or run at temperatures higher than normal. You may also notice that your oil looks different. It may look creamy or lighter in color or both. You could hear what sounds like a gurgle. You might smell the combustion taking place. Finally, you should see your check engine light illuminate when your car is running.

What if I get one of these things that are supposed to stop leaks? Will those help me at all?

The products you are talking about are not recommended. They can even be dangerous because they could end up doing damage to your radiator or your water pump. Attempting to fix a problem while breaking another is not a great idea in most cases.

What codes should I be looking for if my head gasket is kaput?

Here are the following OBD codes you might see:

P00B7: Engine Coolant Flow Low/Performance

P0217: Engine Coolant Over Temperature Condition

So, how do you do this thing anyway? How does one replace a head gasket?

It is actually quite an involved process. The undertaking requires you to disassemble a lot of parts that are under the hood before you can even think about dealing with the engine itself. Once you are there then you have to disassemble a lot of systems and inspect those systems so that they are properly cleaned before you replace your current head gasket. All of this usually takes a few days when done correctly and not in a rush. Any components that are failing or worn should be replaced at this time because replacing those pieces would probably mean that the process would have to be repeated again in order to make it happen.

How do I contact you in order to have this done for me?

You can call us by calling 503-692-0846. You can also stop by the repair shop in Tualatin, OR by going to the following address: 19460 SW 89th Ave. Tualatin, OR 97062.