Should I spend the money to have a valve replacement

Tiny
PFOLEY
  • MEMBER
  • 1999 HONDA ACCORD
  • 178,000 MILES
My 1999 Honda Accord LX with 178,000 miles The shop wants $800 to $1000 for a valve job, is this a fair charge for the work? My car broke down about 2 weeks ago. Just simply turned off as I was driving at about 35 - 40 mph max. The previous day I had noticed a whirling sound upon accelerating (sounded like a siren off in the distance) which got higher pitched and faster with my acceleration. I had it towed to my repair shop where it remains. They told me the timing belt needed replacement and did that work. Then it was idling rough and pulled a code on the computer that told them the crankshaft position sensor needed to be replaced. They did that w/o a genuine HOnda part and then the idle was worse. They returned the position sensor and got the genuine Honda part installed it and now tell me it's running better but is idling at 600 when it should be 800? Does that make sense? So now they say 12 of the 16 valves need replacing. I'm waiting for a callback with the total charge to do that work. The mechanic first suggested it would be around $800. The other work thus far totals $800. My concern is this. Should I be spending $1600 on this car when the book value is approximately $3000 (I really am not in a financial position to get another car at this time, but am really wondering how I'll even afford this repair) The last thing I want to do is spend this money only to find out that there are other things wrong as well. Tough question I know but some kind of guidance would really be appreciated. I am a woman and relatively resourceful and pretty good at making sure I don't get taken advantage of, but I do not have a mechanically inclined male friend in my life to advise me so I am worried that I will make the wrong decision. I need advice asap as I probably need to let them know tomorrow if they should go ahead and do the valve replacement. I'm also wondering if you're in there replacing 12 of 16 valves perhaps you should replace them all? Thanks in advance for your help. Pat
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Thursday, September 8th, 2011 AT 2:22 AM

6 Replies

Tiny
PROMECHANIC
  • EXPERT
The main thing that I'm concerned about while reading your post is that they didn't diagnose the bad valves in the first place. When they found out that the timing belt broke they should have checked to see if the valves were bent. This is a very common problem on some engines and the mechanics should have know about it.
The price sounds reasonable, but I'm not sure how much I would trust this repair shop. One thing you could try is to mention the fact that they should have diagnosed the bent valves in the first place before replacing the timing belt and sensor. They might be willing to give you a good deal. You might want to think about finding a better repair shop.
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Thursday, September 8th, 2011 AT 3:29 AM
Tiny
FACTORYJACK
  • EXPERT
First of all, your first description of the noise and the stall, are classic with timing belt failure. I can't imagine you having problems after that. It seems coincidental that after replacement, you have crank position faults, low/rough idle, and now you need valves. My question is, was the timing belt job done properly? I don't believe you have an interference engine, meaning one that the valve and piston occupy the same space, and when timing is lost collision occurs. This is what damages valves. It would be interesting to find out what test was done to condemn the valves. If the cam timing was off, and they were rolling the engine to tdc of each cylinder, then valves(off time) could indicate leakage. Before I authorized any further repairs, I would ask some questions, one being 'Is my engine an interference engine?', And another would be 'Has the timing belt setting been verified as correct?'. The reason for this is, you had a vehicle that was running fine prior to the belt failing. Typically, it is your higher performance, multi valve engines, that are interference engines. I will try and find out and reply to this thread, more than likely within the next half hour or so.
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Thursday, September 8th, 2011 AT 3:39 AM
Tiny
FACTORYJACK
  • EXPERT
Yes, it appears your engine(2.3L) is interference. Since you were at mid engine speed, it could very well have bent valves. In reference to your previous regard, to have the job done thoroughly and correctly, the cylinder head would be completely gone through, and if necessary all valves would get replaced. I have included the link that I got the engine information from, it has a good description of what I had covered. As mentioned by another advisor, they should have known this prior to just replacing the belt, and made you aware of the potentials.
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Thursday, September 8th, 2011 AT 3:52 AM
Tiny
PFOLEY
  • MEMBER
Hey thanks guys for your replies so quickly. I've talked with the mechanic again and he's told me the car is pulling codes P0300, 301, 302 & 303 which he says means misfires detected in each of the 4 cylinders leading them to believe the valve replacement is necessary. I googled the codes and confirmed that to be true however I found several honda forums/discussions of the same codes and saw numerous suggestions such as checking the timing belt with a timing light to be sure it's set correctly (not sure I'm wording this all correctly but I know you know what I'm referring to), I also saw some suggestion of adding Lucas Injector Cleaner/Octane Booster and some suggestions that the misfire codes could indicate something as simple as water in the fuel. When I broke down I was on my way to get gas and never got there so I know there's very little gas in the tank and it's been raining here in Pennsylvania for about a week. I've had problems in the past when it's been especially rainy and wet with the car idling rough and stalling out. I've added a fuel treatment and the problem was typically resolved for several months at a time. So I did call the mechanic back and asked if the timing belt was checked with a timing light and he confirmed that it was. He added that they also replaced the spark plugs and wires. Initially when they looked at the car he told me I was lucky that he had checked and it didn't appear the valves were damaged when the timing belt broke. Tonight he told me he just finished test driving the car and that it seems to be driving fine especially at higher speeds. It's still idling at lower rpm's than it should be, but he now tells me he doesn't really think I need to do the valve replacement. He suggested I just drive it until it has another major breakdown and then decide whether or not I should repair it or junk it. I asked him if it does need the valve replacement and I don't do it, will I do more damage by continuing to drive it and am I likely to end up broken down and stranded someday soon? He told me no I will not be causing more harm by driving it without doing this work. The body, interior etc are all in excellent condition and other than these problems I'm now having, I can't say I've had any other major issues. Although I will say I don't think I'd ever buy another Honda as I have spent more money on this car, over and above routine maintenance, than I've ever had to spend on any Toyota or Nissan I've had previous to this. Honestly, I'm beginning to think they don't really want to be bothered with further repair on the car. This shop seems to thrive on tire business more than anything else. I'm a realtor and this man purchased a home from me several years ago and has been doing my miscellaneous repairs, oil changes, tire replacements since. I've not had any problems before except that they are slow and I'm pretty sure he's charged me fairly. I am afraid though that they want to get their $900 for the work and parts thus far and be done with it and frankly I don't want to pay them $900 only to leave there and have the car break down shortly thereafter and have no recourse.
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Thursday, September 8th, 2011 AT 4:34 AM
Tiny
PFOLEY
  • MEMBER
Oh, and one other thing. Before any of this happened when my engine was idling I've heard what I would call a valve tap for quite a long time. Just thought old engine with lots of mileage is likely to sound that way and nothing really to worry about. Maybe I thought wrong.
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Thursday, September 8th, 2011 AT 4:36 AM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
The mechanic handling your vehicle does not seem very versed in the job and don't be surprised if after the recommendations, they come up with other possibilities if it does not work. Have them recheck the timing belt installation.

The trouble codes indicates random misfire and only cylinder 1, 2 and 3 are recorded to be misfiring.

For bent valves, a compression test should confirm that. Did they check the valve clearances? For the tapping noise, it could be due to worn rockers arms excessive valve clearances.
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Thursday, September 8th, 2011 AT 1:41 PM

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