Honest Engine

★☆☆☆☆
  • 2615 Fulton Ave

    Sacramento, CA 95821

    Map & Directions
  • 916-485-4113

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I have a 1979 Honda Civic wagon that I bought from the first owner in 1991. Although the car was in great condition, only had 74,000 miles on it, and came complete with extensive documentation, in 1995 I decided to have the engine rebuilt, more as a preventative measure than for any other reason.

Taking it to the 'Honest Engine of Sacramento' shop located on Fulton Avenue, I had them do the rebuild, since they had an 'apparent' local rep as knowledgeable Honda specialists. The cost for the rebuild was about $2400 out the door and it seemed at first to be a good job, although the car died on the way home from the shop (which I found out had been caused by the cheap foreign distributor points they had installed in it).

To mercifully shorten a looooong and aggravating story, the car thereafter began blowing head gaskets with regular abandon (averaging only several thousand miles between replacements). Doing my research on possible causes, I learned all about the inherent design flaw Honda engineers had inadvertently built into the early Civic engine blocks involving a spot between the second and third cylinders that resulted in overheating. I also learned about the shear problems that using an aluminum head on an iron block can cause. Of useful interest was information on what Honda had done to help remedy the problem on these first generation Civic CVCC cars (using special moly gasket sealants and modified head bolts that 'gave' a bit when the engine warmed up, to reduce head gasket stress). Finally, my internet searching affirmed the recognised importance of machining the cylinder head to make sure it was perfectly flat, when installing a new gasket.

All of this knowledge did me no good at all as over the last 13 years, however, the car's head gasket repeatedly blew out no fewer than 6 different times! Each time the replacement was done with professional care and the cylinder head was checked and rechecked for perfect flatness. Still, the blow-outs continued to occur every several thousand miles or so, despite my care to never stress the engine, let it overheat, or otherwise abuse the CVCC 1.5 liter engine.

Most recently, after having replaced the head gasket the previously mentioned 6 times, and after even having installed a brand new OEM Honda cylinder head (at $2400), I learned from a local garage that the cause of all my expensive gasket grief was a defective (out-of-plane) engine block deck! Apparently, no one had thought to check the block's upper deck surface for perfect flatness when the rebuilt block (not my original block) had been installed, back in 1995. There was, right at that known 'hot spot' between the number two and number three cylinders a .0004 inch depression, apparently caused by unknown severe overheating the block had experienced before being rebuilt and sold to me.

I have since been told by several automotive experts that no shop ever routinely checks the deck of a rebuild block for perfect flatness, although machining the cylinder head is a standard measure everyone takes when replacing a head gasket. This is not comforting news, of course, and it also doesn't excuse the carelessness demonstrated by Honest Engine in failing to assure the blocks supplied to them were not defective.

At any rate, the total cost to me (including the 6 gasket replacements, the new OEM head, and related costs) has been in excess of $7,000 (not including the cost of the original $2400 rebuild, and not taking into consideration all the annoyance and inconvenience created by this recurrently frustrating problem).

My conclusion is that Honest Engine of Sacramento must assume the full blame for all these difficulties, although far too much time has passed since the original rebuild was done and therefore no possible compensation may be claimed from them for careless neglect.

It certainly has been an expensive lesson to me to not be taken in by a garage's 'apparent' reputation as a Honda specialist, and to make damn certain that things like checking a rebuilt engine block's deck for flatness (when rebuilding an engine) are done in future. I would definitely not take any Honda (old or new) to this firm for any serious or costly repairs (such as a rebuild), given these inexcusable and extremely distressing difficulties.

I love my little old Honda Civic, despite all the troubles this problem has caused for me, but fortunately my worries are now at an end! My great 1979 CVCC wagon has behaved like a perfect gentlemen ever since the block deck was planed! Caveat emptor!

1
★☆☆☆☆

I have a 1979 Honda Civic wagon that I bought from the first owner in 1991. Although the car was in great condition, only had 74,000 miles on it, and came complete with extensive documentation, in 1995 I decided to have the engine rebuilt, more as a preventative measure than for any other reason.

Taking it to the 'Honest Engine of Sacramento' shop located on Fulton Avenue, I had them do the rebuild, since they had an 'apparent' local rep as knowledgeable Honda specialists. The cost for the rebuild was about $2400 out the door and it seemed at first to be a good job, although the car died on the way home from the shop (which I found out had been caused by the cheap foreign distributor points they had installed in it).

To mercifully shorten a looooong and aggravating story, the car thereafter began blowing head gaskets with regular abandon (averaging only several thousand miles between replacements). Doing my research on possible causes, I learned all about the inherent design flaw Honda engineers had inadvertently built into the early Civic engine blocks involving a spot between the second and third cylinders that resulted in overheating. I also learned about the shear problems that using an aluminum head on an iron block can cause. Of useful interest was information on what Honda had done to help remedy the problem on these first generation Civic CVCC cars (using special moly gasket sealants and modified head bolts that 'gave' a bit when the engine warmed up, to reduce head gasket stress). Finally, my internet searching affirmed the recognised importance of machining the cylinder head to make sure it was perfectly flat, when installing a new gasket.

All of this knowledge did me no good at all as over the last 13 years, however, the car's head gasket repeatedly blew out no fewer than 6 different times! Each time the replacement was done with professional care and the cylinder head was checked and rechecked for perfect flatness. Still, the blow-outs continued to occur every several thousand miles or so, despite my care to never stress the engine, let it overheat, or otherwise abuse the CVCC 1.5 liter engine.

Most recently, after having replaced the head gasket the previously mentioned 6 times, and after even having installed a brand new OEM Honda cylinder head (at $2400), I learned from a local garage that the cause of all my expensive gasket grief was a defective (out-of-plane) engine block deck! Apparently, no one had thought to check the block's upper deck surface for perfect flatness when the rebuilt block (not my original block) had been installed, back in 1995. There was, right at that known 'hot spot' between the number two and number three cylinders a .0004 inch depression, apparently caused by unknown severe overheating the block had experienced before being rebuilt and sold to me.

I have since been told by several automotive experts that no shop ever routinely checks the deck of a rebuild block for perfect flatness, although machining the cylinder head is a standard measure everyone takes when replacing a head gasket. This is not comforting news, of course, and it also doesn't excuse the carelessness demonstrated by Honest Engine in failing to assure the blocks supplied to them were not defective.

At any rate, the total cost to me (including the 6 gasket replacements, the new OEM head, and related costs) has been in excess of $7,000 (not including the cost of the original $2400 rebuild, and not taking into consideration all the annoyance and inconvenience created by this recurrently frustrating problem).

My conclusion is that Honest Engine of Sacramento must assume the full blame for all these difficulties, although far too much time has passed since the original rebuild was done and therefore no possible compensation may be claimed from them for careless neglect.

It certainly has been an expensive lesson to me to not be taken in by a garage's 'apparent' reputation as a Honda specialist, and to make damn certain that things like checking a rebuilt engine block's deck for flatness (when rebuilding an engine) are done in future. I would definitely not take any Honda (old or new) to this firm for any serious or costly repairs (such as a rebuild), given these inexcusable and extremely distressing difficulties.

I love my little old Honda Civic, despite all the troubles this problem has caused for me, but fortunately my worries are now at an end! My great 1979 CVCC wagon has behaved like a perfect gentlemen ever since the block deck was planed! Caveat emptor!

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