2003 Honda Civic Civic overheating, already replaced radiat

Tiny
OHIOSIERRA
  • MEMBER
  • 2003 HONDA CIVIC
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • MANUAL
  • 10,100 MILES
On a recent trip, I let the car run too hot thinking the gauge was faulty because I wasn't getting hot air. I learned my lesson. The car started giving white smoke, I pulled over, and saw that the radiator cap was melted and the system no longer could be pressurized. I had the car towed and eventually got it to a relative's trusted mechanic.



He replaced the radiator and also noted that the car was very low on oil. Wasn't sure which caused which or if they were connected, but both problems were resolved. (I use mobil 1 synthetic and changed my oil about a month and a half ago, so I don't know why it was low. Second lesson learned, check fluids regularly)



The mechanic said the problem was fixed. I test drove it on a number of short trips around town, no problem. I did a 20 mile highway test, no problem. I had to get the car home, so I braved a 300 mile highway trip home. Absolutely no problem. Temperature gauge below halfway point, fluids good.



An hour after getting home, I go out for milk. 5 mile drive on the highway fine, but when I get down to city speeds it starts to heat up. Over a mile it gets to red, so I pull over. Even idling and stopped the gauge slowly goes back down to normal. Another mile, its back above red. I give the car an hour and a half and try again, same thing. Good oil check, correct level (well a bit above max) in the coolant backup tank, and later found good level (I think) in the radiator.



So, I get that it would have better cooling at highway speeds and maybe thats why I made the 300 mile trip home. But before that trip it ran around the city fine in stop and go. Now it can't even go a mile?



Head gasket? Water pump? Thermostat?



I thankfully don't see any other head gasket signs. No bubbles on oil dip stick, no signs of oil in radiator fluid, no white smoke from exhaust. The fans come on as needed and appear to be working fine. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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Monday, October 25th, 2010 AT 10:02 AM

4 Replies

Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Hi ohiosierra,

When you mentioned good level in radiator, what does it mean?

Coolant level in radiator should be at neck of radiator cap base and if it is below, how much coolant was required to be topped up to make it reach the neck?

Start engine with radiator cap off, if coolant level in radiator drops, top up coolant and continue to run for 5 minutes and topping up as necessary.

When repair was done, was the head gasket replaced?
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Monday, October 25th, 2010 AT 11:50 AM
Tiny
F4I_GUY
  • EXPERT
Does the radiator fan come on when it's overheating? If it doesn't that's your problem.

If it does, then you most likely have a headgasket issue (pretty common). You won't see any coolant in the oil or vice versa, however if you do a leakdown test, you will see that it is slightly leaking.
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Monday, October 25th, 2010 AT 11:51 AM
Tiny
OHIOSIERRA
  • MEMBER
Update: Before reading that response, I spoke with the mechanic who replaced the radiator. He feels that since it made it 300 miles on the highway, it might not be head gasket, thermostat, or water pump. He also asked me to do a more thorough check of the fans.

Lo and behold, while I have seen them cycle on and off, they are NOT turning on when the engine is overheating. I had the car temp almost to the red line and neither was on. Chief suspect now?

I did also see a few tiny bubbles rise in the side of the reservoir tank, but not constant, and the level in it has since dropped down. Maybe they were just air bubbles from it being a new radiator?
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Monday, October 25th, 2010 AT 1:54 PM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
If the fans are not working, then you need to check whether it is the control or fans that are bad.

Does the fans comes on when the A/C is turned on?

If there are bubbles, it could mean the head gasket are not too good and could be failing due to damage caused by previous overheating.

This engine would not fail immediately after overheating and might start to after some time, even up to months after the overheating.

You would have to monitor the situation further. When temperature is hot and fans are not turning on, check if the lower hose is hot as well.
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Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 AT 6:39 AM

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