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Old 06-23-2011, 06:13 PM
 
Location: NJ
1,495 posts, read 4,529,744 times
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I have a 99 Honda Civic and the past week I've had to refill the coolant twice.

I don't see it leaking on the ground, but yet it's always empty.

If I drive a short distance the temperature gauge is okay, but If I drive about an hour the temperature gauge goes almost into the red and then it comes down quickly. It goes up and down and if I put the heat on it stays down a bit. This will happen throughout the whole ride.


What is going on? Does it sound like the head gasket? internal leak? radiator cap? I want to get an idea before I take it to a mechanic.

Thank you for any advice
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Old 06-23-2011, 06:56 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
14,176 posts, read 44,753,826 times
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Classic symptoms of a head gasket leak. Realize that it's possible for a head gasket to leak water into a combustion chamber but not put significant coolant into the oil, nor have significant combustion gas get into the cooling system.

There are simple tests that can be done to verify that the head gasket is leaking.

Doing this job right will include reconditioning the head, checking flatness, maybe re-machine, new valve guide seals, and if this car has a belt-driven cam, you will want to change that as well, which means water pump and belt roller too. So the complete job will be a good bit of work, but if done right you will get an engine that's ready to go at least 50-60K more miles with little additional attention.
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:01 PM
 
34,252 posts, read 41,284,536 times
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Only couple of ways to lose it..its either leaking or its burning,a broken head gasket would probably be the cause if you cant find any obvious leaks, keep an eye on the color of the oil on the dip stick,if its starting to look like chocolate milk instead of oil it would be a good time to stop driving the car as coolant contamination of the oil doesnt make for good lubrication and wears out major components of the engine very quickly...
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:03 PM
 
20,978 posts, read 16,223,983 times
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It could be your heater core.

Do you smell antifreeze?
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:04 PM
 
Location: Columbia, California
6,662 posts, read 26,229,668 times
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head gasket.
Cheaper and easier to swap out the motor for a used motor than to open the head up and check. You can buy low mile motors with a warranty for a few hundred.
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:45 PM
 
Location: North Pole Alaska
886 posts, read 4,761,825 times
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Take it to a mechanic and have them pressure test the cooling system. Also would not hurt to start with a simple thermostat change if they do not find any leaks. It is possible that you get it hot enough to boil the coolant out of the engine.
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Old 06-24-2011, 04:02 AM
 
Location: NJ
1,495 posts, read 4,529,744 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usafracer View Post
Take it to a mechanic and have them pressure test the cooling system. Also would not hurt to start with a simple thermostat change if they do not find any leaks. It is possible that you get it hot enough to boil the coolant out of the engine.
Actually, I forgot to say that I took it to FIrestone and they did a coolant pressure check and said nothing was wrong. He said he ran it for an hour
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Old 06-24-2011, 04:42 AM
 
Location: South Jersey
7,780 posts, read 18,403,861 times
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Head gasket I say too
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Old 06-24-2011, 07:12 AM
 
6,368 posts, read 13,871,374 times
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Pressure testing will only show an obvious leak.

Forget all the guessing and find a shop that has one of these . It's used to detect hydrocarbons in the cooling system. They can also use a four gas analyzer probe at the neck of the radiator.

Amazon.com: UVIEW 560000 Combustion Leak Tester: Automotivehttp://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51iJQjqUAfL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (broken link)

Last edited by Gimme3steps; 06-24-2011 at 07:23 AM..
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Old 06-24-2011, 08:32 AM
 
19,122 posts, read 22,169,019 times
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A Firestone dealer isn't the place to take it. A good known Honda shop is aftermarket not the dealer, but a dealer would be better than Firestone.

When the temp gauge drops it means no coolant is passing over the temp sender anymore, and right there the engine is begining to over heat.

Have you checked the oil dip stick for too much level, since it could be coolant is getting into the oil crankcase?

See if white steam is coming out the tail pipes, run the engine about 2 minutes before you check since any cold started engine will make some steam from simple condensation and buring off water in the air, unless your in a place like the Az desert.

Most likey this is going to be hard on the wallet if you are not a do it yourselfer type of person.
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