Author Topic: Very First Car Dilemma  (Read 2011 times)

affordablehousing

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Very First Car Dilemma
« on: January 25, 2020, 09:36:49 PM »
We had what we thought was the perfect mustachian mobile, a hand-me-down 2007 Honda Civic that for the first half of its life was driven 1000 miles a year to target and back for grandma. The car now has dutifully handled our 20 mile highway commute and the ripe old age of 13 years has just shy of 68,000 miles. We love its cracked bumper, delaminated headliner and other slight battle wounds, but really love that it's been a rock-solid commuter car with nothing more than needing a new battery and tires.

That changed this week when at the end of the morning commute, steam was coming out of the hood and after finding a nearby mechanic, we saw coolant pressurized by a test kit spraying out of a crack in the engine block. A Honda Civic crapping out after 68,000 miles?!?! WTF! The mechanic in his 27 years had never seen one fail that quickly.

Looking into it, Honda manufactured the engines poorly from 2006-2009, and to appease most extended the engine warranty to 10 years beyond the standard 60,000 mile warranty. Having been purchased in late 2006, we are out of warranty by a number of years, but mechanically speaking...come on, that's a pretty obvious fault of Honda.

We have been presented with the following options-

Try to weld the crack closed
try a block seal fluid
try JB Weld
Spend $3K on a replacement old engine with around 100K miles on it
Spend $140 at the Honda dealer having them identify the crack, write a report and we have a case manager contemplate giving us some partial assistance (they said they do this about 10% of the time on egregious failures like this) to offset the $6K it would cost to have the Honda dealer put in a new Honda engine

Honda has refused to admit that 68,000 miles is absurd for a cracked engine block that has never seen off-road, snow, inclement weather or other atrocities. We own another Honda, which they said factors into their determination over whether to give us anything, but they feel they have no need to correct this for us, so we'd be gambling on $140.

I would assume the car, if it was fixed, would be worth around $6-7K. As soured as we are on Honda, we did like the car until this happened. Any advice? Thanks for letting me vent as well and let this be a warning lest you think Hondas imply durability or reliability.
Spend $3K to get

jeroly

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2020, 01:17:56 AM »
Looking at Kelly blue book, I think that youíre being optimistic about the resale value... putting in for an excellent (top 3%) condition, EX trim, 2006 civic sedan gives a private party value of $6,100,  whereas a fair condition DX coupe yields a private party value of $3,000.

You donít say what the costs for the welding or sealant or whatever jb weld is would be, along with some estimates for their probabilities of success in solving the problem, so its impossible to give advice as to which choice to make. If you really need a second car, though, and you think the car is good other than this problem, it might be worth it to fix it as its value once fixed to you exceeds its resale value.

acepedro45

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2020, 08:40:23 AM »
Are you certain the only problem is the crack in the engine block? If you drove it for too long with no coolant, you may have compounded the coolant loss problems with additional damage from overheating. If you feel confident you pulled over promptly when it started to overheat, the situation may be salvageable.

If you are into doing things yourself (and you should be if you're on this site) try the JB Weld. I would in a second. 

It should be under $10 for materials. It's amazing stuff. I have never used it on an engine, but I see extraordinary claims on YouTube for this very situation. 

There are a few different products under the JB Weld name designed for different applications available at the big box home improvement stores. Do careful research on the right one for your situation.

Even paying $100 an hour for a mechanic to do it it's probably worth a shot given the expense of the other options you outlined.

You have another car, so hopefully you can limp along for a few days while you try the JB Weld (it has a longer cure time if I recall). You have nothing to lose other than Princess Leia's excuse of getting her hands dirty, and if the patch holds together you're golden.

I agree you are overestimating market value at $6-7k.

I doubt you will get Honda to do a thing for a 13-year-old car, and certainly not enough to offset the premium of having the work performed at the dealer. I would scratch that option off the list immediately.


RWD

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2020, 09:36:32 AM »
Weld it. When it fails again either replace the engine or replace the car.

affordablehousing

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2020, 10:08:21 AM »
Thanks for the advice. The value I placed on it probably is too much, but that was based on the mechanic offering us $3K for it. I figured, $3K plus $3K for a rebuilt engine and profit would mean he'd sell for around $6500. I more have an issue with thinking this car is gone with such little mileage on it. I'll probably try JB weld. The car never overheated, the coolant just dripped onto the exhaust and vaporized making the steam. I think we'll just have this car carry a bunch of water with it and become our local errand car.

ROF Expat

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2020, 12:03:06 PM »

Is the rest of the car in great shape?  If that is the case, a few thousand dollars to install a remanufactured long block (using other parts from your old engine) might not be a bad choice.  If it isn't in great shape, you might want to take the $3k and just put it toward a different car. 

I'd probably start with the JB weld, but I'd also try to get other quotes on replacing the engine. 

chemistk

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2020, 01:18:58 PM »
I would be really hesitant in this situation.

First - sometimes, a car that's driven less than a couple thousand miles a year experiences more stressful wear than a car that is driven closer to the national average. Many of the fluids and other components function most efficiently when they are running at operating temperatures. A little old lady driving to Target and back before the engine warms up can cause premature wear on a lot of components. This probably doesn't exactly apply to your situation, but it's something to keep in mind when shopping for cars that are older and have low miles.

Second - where specifically is the leak? It's really obviously not great that coolant is leaking out in general, and heating/cooling the engine block will only serve to expand the crack.

Third - $140 is actually probably a gamble worth taking, but only if you commit to replacing the engine.

acepedro45

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2020, 02:06:15 PM »
...Second - where specifically is the leak? It's really obviously not great that coolant is leaking out in general, and heating/cooling the engine block will only serve to expand the crack.

Third - $140 is actually probably a gamble worth taking, but only if you commit to replacing the engine.

I think the $140 is a bad gamble. Even with the very unlikely assumption the Honda dealer says, "Ok we ran the $140 test and the crack is a manufacturing defect. We'll give you a $2,000 credit towards getting your engine replaced at our shop." Don't you still have to pay the $6k Honda dealer price for Honda dealer work?

Even with my imagined credit, I'd rather pay $3k for a used engine from an indy shop instead of $4k for a brand new engine in a 13-year-old car.

If the OP is inclined to gamble, I'd suggest wagering $10 on a tube of JB Weld that could potentially solve his problems at a stroke. It's specifically made for sealing metal that expands and contracts over many cycles without failing. I'm not a schill, just a person who used it to seal a cast iron radiator (the house kind, not auto) a year or so back and had good results. My radiator expands/contracts constantly and is under internal pressure from steam, similar to that of engine coolant though probably lower PSI.

I'd follow these directions exactly, especially the surface prep tips, and see what happens. https://itstillruns.com/seal-cracked-block-jb-weld-8075421.html

There is not much to lose aside from an hour of goofing with JB Weld if it doesn't work. And oh the pride of driving a battered Honda you brought back from life support yourself! 


ReadyOrNot

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2020, 02:32:36 PM »
Try the cheap fixes first.  Then consider getting rid of it.

Safety technology has vastly improved in the last decade.  I'd rather buy a newer 3-5 year old car with multiple airbags, stability / traction control, better engineering for crash protection, etc.

Having been in a car accident, I'd rather have the best chances at car accident survival than quibble pennies on an older (especially compact) car.  The medical bills / trauma is not worth the pennies you'll save.  All it takes is one inattentive person to ruin your day.

StashingAway

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2020, 02:55:53 PM »
I'd agree with everyone here, especially the comments about being wary of extremely low mileage vehicles.

And, not a Honda shill (never owned a Honda car), but I wouldn't let this necessarily sour your view of them. Not a single other car company would replace an engine on a 13 year old car in this situation. They're required to for safety things (like airbags) for obvious reasons, but the logistics of maintaining a supply chain able to provide extra long warranties on a quickly evolving and highly competitive market makes it darn near impossible for the rest of the vehicle. There has to be a reasonable cutoff so that they can devote resources to more pressing matters.

It's one of the downsides to used cars; there's more of a gamble on major issues with no warranty backup. I'd still wager that you come out financially ahead in the long run with any of the choices you make (other than a dealer installed motor).

JAYSLOL

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2020, 06:37:52 PM »
I would try the JB Weld, or a coolant stop-leak treatment depending on where the leak is (check which one the mechanic is willing to try).  If it fixes it, even for a month, you are going to be ahead financially rather than buying a newer used car.  If that doesnít work, Iíd get a firm quote from a few mechanics on engine replacement with a used semi-low mileage motor.  That should keep the Honda on the road for a bunch more years.  If the engine replacement seems excessively expensive or there arenít low-mileage engines available, Iíd sell it to the mechanic and put that toward a slightly newer Honda or Toyota or whatever. 

Iím currently going through my own low-mileage engine death adventure.  I bought a non-running 2010 Ford Ranger 4x4 with only 85,000km (62k miles), I decided to have the engine professionally rebuilt, a valve spring had broke and dropped a valve into the cylinder, which is absolutely catastrophic.  I know Iíll be pouring an enormous amount of money into it, but I bought it very cheap knowing that was a possibility that I needed to leave room for.  Itís not done yet, hoping to find out just how bad a hit Iím going to have later this week.     
« Last Edit: January 27, 2020, 06:47:37 PM by JAYSLOL »

Bernard

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2020, 08:24:32 PM »
JB Weld may work, but it's not very likely. Still worth a try.
If not, buy a used engine with a 30-day warranty for about $600, plus another $400 to have it installed.

chemistk

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2020, 05:41:15 AM »
I poked around some Honda forums briefly looking at others' experiences with the issue.

The leak appears to develop on the front of the engine, on the outer side of the water jacket in and around the cast webbing. The thought is that the manufacturing process created some weaker spots in the webbing, and that failure can occur at 20k miles or 200k miles, but it's entirely unpredictable when it will fail.

-Many, if not most, shops seem to be reluctant to participate in a repair attempt. OP is very lucky to have found a shop (dealer?) that is willing to even attempt a repair. The surface to be repaired is not flat and not easy to prep for JB weld.

-Despite the last point above, there seem to be a number of JB weld success stories, although the number is small in proportion to the number of people who chose to scrap their car. The key to a successful JB weld repair seems to be patience with the prep work.

If the OP does not feel comfortable paying $3-5k for an engine, or less for a discounted one provided Honda approves, then I would agree with the other recommendations to attempt JB weld. OP should keep expectations low and mentally prepare for scrapping the car if the repair does not work.

affordablehousing

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2020, 02:36:03 PM »
To clarify, I don't think anyone is going to JB weld the engine for me or repair anything, I'll be doing that myself. All shops are willing to do is replace the engine. My friend with a TIG welder did not believe that was a great option. And it is indeed in the front of the engine (accessible without removing the engine) where it seems like the casting changes thickness abruptly in the spot noted by others who participated in the recall/extended warranty/admission of guilt by Honda.

The car was.... free to us. So our investment in it has amounted to a battery, one set of tires replaced, and a dozen oil changes I did. Thanks for the advice on not buying a low mileage car. If we have to purchase a car at some point we'll look for one of more average use. While I get how it amounts to other issues, would you pay more for a 10 year old car with 50,000 miles or one with 90,000 miles?

And no, I'm not suggesting Honda owes us an engine.... except that it was a known defect, and I don't care how little grandma drove it, in my mind 68K miles is still unacceptable for an engine to last.

I'll gladly try JB weld, research the block seal a bit more, and drive with extra coolant. I'm getting around to the idea that we're dropping down a tier from thinking your car will always work fine, to it's just a POS you use to do short errands.

affordablehousing

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2020, 05:03:14 PM »
Update, Honda is covering 70% of the repair, so $1800 out of pocket for the new engine. I guess we'll go for it.

acepedro45

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2020, 07:10:12 PM »

Third - $140 is actually probably a gamble worth taking, but only if you commit to replacing the engine.

I think the $140 is a bad gamble. Even with the very unlikely assumption the Honda dealer says, "Ok we ran the $140 test and the crack is a manufacturing defect. We'll give you a $2,000 credit towards getting your engine replaced at our shop." Don't you still have to pay the $6k Honda dealer price for Honda dealer work?

Egg on my face! Touche, @chemistk . In my defense I was very excited about the JB Weld. 

ROF Expat

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2020, 11:18:03 PM »
Update, Honda is covering 70% of the repair, so $1800 out of pocket for the new engine. I guess we'll go for it.

Honda Motor Company and Honda USA have just boosted my (already high) opinion of them. 

Covering 70% of the engine replacement on a 13-year-old car is almost unheard of.  This is the kind of thing that makes loyal customers and new potential customers. 


frugaliknowit

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2020, 04:21:08 AM »
It sounds like you got grandma's car for free.  That's a consideration (your basis is low...).

If you are financially and cash thin, I would try some cheap fixes, then consider a used motor if the cheap fixes don't work out.  Don't forget there's quite a bit of risk hiring someone to install a used motor...

If you have some cash (maybe $5k) and value your time and want to minimize aggravation, I have no problem selling it to a "shade tree mechanic".  They know exactly how to handle it, place a decent value on it and their costs are low.  Take the proceeds plus your cash and buy something viable.  Good luck!

Fishindude

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2020, 04:52:11 AM »
JB Weld and welding are unlikely to work very well.   Youíd never see a real mechanic try anything like that.    Get a replacement engine from the junkyard or just treat it like a lame horse, put a bullet in it and put it out of its misery, then find a replacement. 

I think the smart move would be to not throw anymore money at that old car, sell it for scrap and get something you can afford. 

StashingAway

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2020, 05:11:22 AM »
I think the smart move would be to not throw anymore money at that old car, sell it for scrap and get something you can afford.

A Japanese vehicle from 2007 with 68K miles should have a lot of life left... assuming the engine problem gets worked out. I think if the engine would total the car, then it's worth selling, but it sounds like it can be repaired for $1800, which I would do in a heartbeat! I would pay more than that to keep my 2009 with double those miles on it going...

JAYSLOL

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #20 on: January 29, 2020, 05:32:07 AM »
I think the smart move would be to not throw anymore money at that old car, sell it for scrap and get something you can afford.

A Japanese vehicle from 2007 with 68K miles should have a lot of life left... assuming the engine problem gets worked out. I think if the engine would total the car, then it's worth selling, but it sounds like it can be repaired for $1800, which I would do in a heartbeat! I would pay more than that to keep my 2009 with double those miles on it going...

+1

StashingAway

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2020, 05:37:37 AM »
And no, I'm not suggesting Honda owes us an engine.... except that it was a known defect, and I don't care how little grandma drove it, in my mind 68K miles is still unacceptable for an engine to last.

This comment was made before Honda said they'd cover 70% cost, but I'd still like to point out that it's a very fair personal grievance, but it's also helpful to look at it from an overall company perspective.

First off; you're not the original buyer. Their main goal is to sell new cars... so their main effort is going to be to make sure their new car buyers are happy. There is still a lot of incentive to maintain a good reputation as a brand (for re-sale value and potential other new buyers), but that reputation is for the purpose of selling new cars.

There is a definite dropoff in maintainability of old repairs, known or unknown. They backed the engine for 10 years! There has to be a reasonable cutoff, otherwise they'd still be on the hook for repairing cars from the 80's with know defects (say you found a prelude with 50K miles). There is hardly any repair that they could do to those old cars that would not total it at dealership garage costs. 

I've had personal experience with this on a Jeep from 2001. It had a known failure very similar to yours; A cracked head would cause a coolant leak. Jeep replaced and extended the warranty for all vehicles with that engine in it well beyond their standard warranty. But when I bought it in 2016, they weren't going to cover it. I would never buy a new Jeep, so they're not that interested in me as a customer. And the Jeep had performed very well for 15 years... sure, many vehicles last that long or longer, but many are run into the ground, and their policy would mean a financial loss if they covered their vehicles indefinitely.

I guess this is just a personal view of mine. Having been on the business end of this type of industry makes you realize how costly trying to keep up with warranty demands of customers can get. And even companies with the best intentions and good products can quickly go under if they try to appease all of them. It's more than just a motor replacement for you; it's a motor replacement indefinitely for anyone who has that vehicle, which means they would have to maintain a supply chain that can get those motors and floor space to work on those cars and increased chance of hidden costs (say they find that your transmission needs replaced while they're in there; now they either have to get you to pay a ton more or ditch the car and work they've already put into it). The older the car, the more of this stuff can happen, as as a dealer they are obliged to follow the book 100% on repairs ($$$), rather than do them "good enough" like a local mechanic would.

So they appease the % that they can in the least discriminatory way possible and hope the rest understand their predicament. It's not as easy as a textile company just sending you a new jacket if your zipper broke; there's a lot more logistics and materials involved.

chemistk

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2020, 09:44:17 AM »

The car was.... free to us. So our investment in it has amounted to a battery, one set of tires replaced, and a dozen oil changes I did. Thanks for the advice on not buying a low mileage car. If we have to purchase a car at some point we'll look for one of more average use. While I get how it amounts to other issues, would you pay more for a 10 year old car with 50,000 miles or one with 90,000 miles?


Great news from Honda - In the past few years, Honda has become the company to beat when I'm comparing other companies and products to it. They're not perfect though, and a lot of the problems they've rectified have taken quite a bit of oomph to get them to fess up to the problem (see: 2nd gen Odyssey transmissions).

To the question above, the answer is 'it depends'. if it was a grocery-getter and only serviced when necessary, I would gladly take the 90k mile car any day. If it were a car that was kept in great condition and serviced according to mileage AND time by someone who appreciated it, the lower miles car would be the way to go. Cars and other complex machinery do not perform well when left to sit for a long time.

Rob_bob

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #23 on: January 29, 2020, 12:43:40 PM »
Back when I was a kid we had my grandfathers '46 Chevy straight 6.  It froze one year and cracked the block.  My father welded it.  He also said another fix was to put "water glass" i.e. sodium silicate in the cooling system, it hardens when it comes out the crack and seals it.

affordablehousing

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Re: Very First Car Dilemma
« Reply #24 on: January 29, 2020, 01:53:51 PM »
I agree it was a gracious move by Honda to help us. Granted, we're lucky that buying another car wouldn't have broken the bank, but I really struggled with the idea of scrapping what was otherwise a pretty flawless daily driver. I have so many other projects to work on I'm not going to miss monkeying with epoxy and block sealers. On to more dry rot repairs!

I would have liked an excuse to buy my neighbor's 25 year old compact pickup though. That's always been my dream vehicle.