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  1. #1
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. Nitronaught's Avatar
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    Nitronaught stumped by 98 Honda Civic

    Oh man,,,, Myself, 2 other mechanic buddies of mine and a dealership can't figure this one out....

    Here's the deal. 98 Honda civic LX 4 door A/C 1.6l Non-Vtech motor.
    Symptom. Only overheats after being on the highway and then coming to a stop at an exit..... No loss of fluid, start moving again and the temps start coming down....

    1. New radiator about 6 months ago
    2. All new hoses
    3. New thermostat
    4. New Fan motor and sensor at the engine block
    5. Vacumed down the system so no trapped air.
    6. New radiator cap
    7. No fluid loss
    8. Engine Compression on all 4 cylinders good.
    9. Emissions showing no signs of a head gasket leak.

    Now it will only overheat if I drive it on the highway for a decent time (say 15 miles) then come to a stop at idle. The temps on the highway are normal but come to that first stop and it will slowly start to rise unless the traffic light changes and my driving around cools it back down...

    IF you start it up you can let it run with the A/C on or off all day long and this won't happen. Same if you do not go on the highway. If you never run on the highway the temps are fine, go on the highway a bit and then stop at a light... Doomed....


    I've done everything but change the head gasket or replace the water pump (which is housed behind the darn timing belt and was changed out about 60,000 miles ago....


    SO I hope someone's got an idea cause my next step is replacing that water pump,,, but the flow of the fluid is pretty good when you look in the radiator....

    Only other explanation I have,,,, Gremlins!!!!!

    Anyone have any idea's, car has 150,000 miles on it, change the timing belt and water pump every 85,000 miles and one owner... It's NEVER been overheated and has been maintained better than most, I've done most of it myself.

    Oh, and 90% of my driving is on the highway... I have to commute to my job 60+ miles per day...

    I'm thinking the water pump impeller might be weak and just not pumping the fluid with enough gusto to get the job done... But my 2 other buddies tell me that these types of water pumps don't go like that... They either have a massive leak or don't work at all I'm told... I sure don't want to do the water pump job if it's not necessary...

    Any of you guys have a clue about this?
    Last edited by Nitronaught; 07-03-2012 at 11:23 AM.
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  2. #2
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. 08kgraves's Avatar
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    yup im with you man............ gremlins lol, but seriously thats a stumper for sure, never heard of such a thing in my life.
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  3. #3
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. Emaxx2.0's Avatar
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    Have you actually check the engine temps externally at a stop? Maybe its the temp sensor. We had a problem with a nissan forklift when the dash was reading the engine was overheating but the actual temp was much lower.
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  4. #4
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. Nitronaught's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emaxx2.0 View Post
    Have you actually check the engine temps externally at a stop? Maybe its the temp sensor. We had a problem with a nissan forklift when the dash was reading the engine was overheating but the actual temp was much lower.
    Yup, I used an infra red temp gauge, oh, and the sensor was replaced prior to this posting,,, I'm the kind of guy who will replace a sensor when it is in the same housing as the thermostat that I am replacing.... You know, while I'm at it, might as well....... That's why I always replace the water pump when I put on a new timing belt,,, it's right there.....

    It's definitely overheating, or getting close enough (I won't let it overheat I'll turn it off before it get's too hot).

    I can also turn on the heater (God aweful to do that in South Florida in July!!!!!). That will help cool it down a little more when I am at a stop...
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  5. #5
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. Emaxx2.0's Avatar
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    You need to call a Exorcist then lol.
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  6. #6
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    Sound like the fan is not turning on. I know you said you replaced it and the thermostat along with the temp sensor. Is there a relay somewhere that turns on the fan after the temp sensor is triggered? Or a fusable link that may have gone out? Just a couple of thoughts.
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  7. #7
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. Nitronaught's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcjhl69 View Post
    Sound like the fan is not turning on. I know you said you replaced it and the thermostat along with the temp sensor. Is there a relay somewhere that turns on the fan after the temp sensor is triggered? Or a fusable link that may have gone out? Just a couple of thoughts.
    It's a relay, and no it's not sticking... When I was at the stop light I could open my car door put my hand under the car and actually feel the warm air flow when the radiator fan is running..... I did also buy a new $8.00 relay just in case, from the dealership....

    I really like challenges, this one I can do without.....
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  8. #8
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. Emaxx2.0's Avatar
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    Sounds like you need a engine and radiator rebuild already lol.
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  9. #9
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    Could it be the heater core? Maybe it's clogged or something, just letting enough fluid through it to cycle but not enough?
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  10. #10
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. Nitronaught's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleEagle View Post
    Could it be the heater core? Maybe it's clogged or something, just letting enough fluid through it to cycle but not enough?
    Oops, forgot to mention I pressure tested the system as well for 30 minutes, no leaks.

    Also, if the temp on the A/C is not pushed over to hot the heater core is not even used and no fluid is passing through it unless you move the temp slide adjustment on the A.C.

    Also, if I put on the heater (wow that's a hot thing to have to do in July) it actually is cooling the engine off better because I'm using the heater core as a second radiator..... I'm actually doing this when I get to those stops after the highway so my temps don't get too high and pop the head gasket...

    Thanks for the info at this point it's ALL APPRECIATED!!!!
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleEagle View Post
    Could it be the heater core? Maybe it's clogged or something, just letting enough fluid through it to cycle but not enough?
    Seems possible, maybe a blockage some where, maybe try running the car without the thermostat for a bit, see what happens. Can't imagine having to run the heater in FL, was down there two weeks ago.
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  12. #12
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    Sorry cpu lag, post was too late.
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  13. #13
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. Emaxx2.0's Avatar
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    I can't think of anything. Doesn't sound funny when it idles? You might have to rebuild everything over again.
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  14. #14
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    I had this same issue with my daughters Honda. Did everything mentioned in the first post. Finally pulled the head, and found it was warped. Resurfaced the head, problem fixed...

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1979chevy. View Post
    Seems possible, maybe a blockage some where, maybe try running the car without the thermostat for a bit, see what happens.
    Oh nooooo, this car will come at you with a vengence if you take the thermostat out... It throws the computer way off.....

    I'm not seeing a blockage cause I see radiator fluid flowing with the cap off, also if there was not good flow me doing the heater trick to cool off the engine wouldn't be working as well as it is... I have flushed out my cooling system regularly like clockwork.... Every 30,000 miles it gets a full flushing and new radiator fluid.... The darn fluid is so clean, I've been having this issue for a little while now getting to this point.... If it's one thing I'm definite about,,, there is no blockage....
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  16. #16
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    i dont know much about honda's but have you checked your catalatic converters for blockage with that many miles you might need to replace them. what about O2 sensors? friend is having alot of problems with their truck and those 2 things were bad also the head gasket had a crack in it.
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  17. #17
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    Have you checked the radiator fins for blockage? I see that you've flushed the system, but didn't see any mention of cleaning the outside of the radiator. It would make sense that it would overheat on the highway. but not driving slow or sitting still.


    Also, is it automatic or manual trans?

  18. #18
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    i don't really know very much about 1:1 cars quite yet, but it seems to me that at lower rpm's after consistent work or high rpm's that it may not be moving the fluid as well as it should, it could be a problem with the fluid heating up to it's capacity or to the engine temps before it can be moved out of the engine. which would probably be caused by a weak water pump.
    i would reccommend that you check the RADIATOR temps when your engine temps go up at a stop light or sign.
    if your radiator temps stay consistent, then i would replace the water pump. if not, and the radiator temps go up then i would check ALL of your fan mechanisms. (i know on a chevy the fan clutch and or pully can get worn and end up slipping a little, idk about a honda though)
    that's my recommendation, do what you want with it, and i hope i helped
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  19. #19
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    I was thinking along the same lines, I almost sounds like it's just your water pump.
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  20. #20
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. harry697's Avatar
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    Anything is possible, but water pumps don't usually get weak. Most of the time they either leak or seize. No real in between, but it could happen.

  21. #21
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    could be your brand new thermostat might be faulty (i always test my thermostat on a hot boiling water to see if it pops open) or your temp sensor wire connection are not push in all the way.
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  22. #22
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    I had the same problem with my mustang. After I changed water pump, thermostat, hoses and then radiator and it still overheated.. I said get the torch im burn n it to the ground. I started it one last time looked down and the fan blade wasn't turning. FREAK n clutch. A 15 dollar part. That will make feel a little weetoddit

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by humayrayakongkinaon View Post
    could be your brand new thermostat might be faulty (i always test my thermostat on a hot boiling water to see if it pops open) or your temp sensor wire connection are not push in all the way.
    This is what I was thinking, I thought he could run the car without the thermostat, but didn't think about it messing up the cpu's settings. I had a thermostat go out once and the overheating 'characteristics' were very similar.
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  24. #24
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    Is it a automatic or a stick?

  25. #25
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  26. #26
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  27. #27
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    Just asked my dad who is a ase certified mechanic. He had the same thought as I did and some other people did. It's the fan. He said he's seen them were they run but never cycle up like it should.


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  28. #28
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    I've been thinking fan, water pump (I'd do the timing belt then too, it's getting close to that time again), thermostat, even check your trans fluid levels too. Too low of trans fluid levels can do that too.
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  29. #29
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    had to go back up and recheck the top of the post. the year and the model told me that it was the old style motor. i was thinking that it could be a vacuum lock in the motor. would still give you the good flow but it wouldnt let some of the water/ coolant through it. but along the same lines i would say try to 'hardwire' the fan and see if that does anything to the temps.

  30. #30
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    It very well could be a fouled torque converter if it is a automatic

  31. #31
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    I'm thinking a fan or pump problem, as long as the rad is flowing properly. Just because you felt the fan working one time doesn't mean it's all good. Does it have one fan or 2? Did this problem arise out of nowhere, or after you worked on something?
    I've seen several water pump impellers turn into saw blades over the years....they don't have to have bad bearings, they can just stop pumping well.
    Maybe you have an intake gasket leak? That can cause pressurized coolant to get sucked into the cylinders, then cause an air bubble in the cooling system after the coolant cools down. I would still compare the plugs and/or look in the cylinders, one might be cleaner than the rest.
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  32. #32
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. Nitronaught's Avatar
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    Guys, Thanks for all the questions.

    1. The radiator is 6 months old and clean as the day it came out of the box.
    2. The thermostat is new, it opens at 180 degrees, when the car is overheating it's stationary in gear (Automatic tranny), when I start to accelorate,,, it cools back down... If the thermostat was not opening it would not cool back down as rapidly as it does.... The reason why it is a NEW thermostat is because of this very problem. I thought it might not be opening enough (happens on old thermostats, seen it)... So 2 thermostats and the same symptoms.
    3. If there was a blockage in the heater core it would only affect the heater core, it's on a bypass from the main cooling system and independent...
    4. Now could there be a blockage in the the block? I highly highly doubt it. When you suck down the coolant system you're going to see that the vaccume level on the gauge would be over 10-15 psi, it would be more like 30+ psi.... So that pretty much rules that out.. Also the fact I have flushed out the system and replaced the radiator 2 times since I've owned the vehicle.

    This vehicle has been maintained like a flippin swiss watch, the last time I checked out the top end I pulled the cams and checked for wear... I could not find any.... I've followed the factory maintenance schedule like a clock and then some because I wanted it to last...

    It idles as smooth as can be, starts up perfectly an runs at the correct rpms when in park or in drive and at a stop, A/C on or off. You hit the gas and it takes off like 4 quirrels on steroids,,, It's a stock Honda and runs like new if not better

    All except this dang gremlin.... Looks like I'm gonna be doing the timing belt and swapping the water pump out. It's been 76,00 miles I normaly do mine every 85,000... Honda says 100,000, I'm not risking my top end on that.... So while I have the timing belt off I will do the traditional water pump change since it's right there... If that doesn't fix it then the only other thing I can see is something bad with the head gasket... But emissions testing would show a leaky head gasket and I would be losing fluids.... I'm not...

    So flippin weird!!!!!! Today is the 4th,,,, I'm stepping away from it for a while cause as you can tell,,,, I've been working on this Gremlin of a problem for a little while...

    I'm no top notch auto tech, I've built 3 cars from the ground up and restored about 8, Mopar or Chevy's. These front wheel drive, transverse mounted compact cars are a totally different beast...

    I've never been beaten fixing my own cars since I was 15 yrs old and I'm 48 now.... So, I'll get it... But you have to admit this is one weird as heck problem...
    Last edited by Nitronaught; 07-04-2012 at 09:50 AM.
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  33. #33
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    I would also temporarily loop the heater hoses just to eliminate that possibility entirely.
    Sorry if I missed anything in your posts.
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  34. #34
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    An emissions test does not guarantee a good head gasket, but you said there's no fluid loss. The proper way to check for a head gasket leak is through chemical analysis of the coolant, but you've already pressure tested the system, so rule that out.
    This may sound stupid, but is the coolant mixed 50/50?
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  35. #35
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    I have a nifty sniffer tool that smells the top of the coolant jug for exhaust gases. Quick and easy way to tell if it's a head gaskets or cracked head or cracked block. But my guess still stands torque converter or internal transmission slippage. I'd put a pressure guage on the transmission and go from there

    As stated by above poster incorrect coolant ratio can cause a similar problem. 100% coolant is not better than 50/50 in fact anything over 50/50 hurts cooling capacity. It's the water that cools the other 50% is lube and rust inhibition. Also only used distilled water if your buying 100% and mixing it yourself faucet water contains calcium and minerals that cause internal blockages over time, might be your problem too. 50/50 is more expensive but better in the long run because it's mixed properly from the get go
    Last edited by Scottmh; 07-04-2012 at 11:37 AM.

  36. #36
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. O.G.'s Avatar
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    1. Does this happen with the a/c off? Say you made the same trip with the a/c off, would the problem still happen?
    2. I know you said you changed all the hoses, but did you change the heater hoses? Some people don't consider those as needing to be replaced. The return hose could be collapsing, shutting off waterflow.
    3. I like post #33, try that.
    4. If that doesn't work, you need to drop a V-tec in it. I'm just sayiin'.
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  37. #37
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. Nitronaught's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by O.G. View Post
    1. Does this happen with the a/c off? Say you made the same trip with the a/c off, would the problem still happen?
    2. I know you said you changed all the hoses, but did you change the heater hoses? Some people don't consider those as needing to be replaced. The return hose could be collapsing, shutting off waterflow.
    3. I like post #33, try that.
    4. If that doesn't work, you need to drop a V-tec in it. I'm just sayiin'.
    Tested both ways A/C on A/C off, same results...

    Quote Originally Posted by lubecakes
    This may sound stupid, but is the coolant mixed 50/50?
    Never have, always used 100% undiluted and the temps since 1998 have never done this...

    OK,,,, I'll bite, simple enough to dump 50% of the system and add H2O that's for sure

    I'm telling you,,, I still think it's been possessed by my Ex-wife or something...
    Last edited by Nitronaught; 07-04-2012 at 02:51 PM.
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  38. #38
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. O.G.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitronaught View Post
    Tested both ways A/C on A/C off, same results...



    Never have, always used 100% undiluted and the temps since 1998 have never done this...

    OK,,,, I'll bite, simple enough to dump 50% of the system and add H2O that's for sure

    I'm telling you,,, I still think it's been possessed by my Ex-wife or something...
    I'll bet it's the 100% that's causing the problem. Plus living in beautiful Florida... you should try living in Missouri for a while. We like to spell it like this: Misery.
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  39. #39
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    Yeah 100% coolant is just silly. They should change the name because it is misleading what you are buying is lubricant and antifreeze. 50/50 mix is what you need. Straight water would cool way better than 100% coolant. But it wouldn't have any lubercation. Also distilled water not faucet water...

    Funny article that touches on myths about cars
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/_mobile/cars/how-to/4205233
    Last edited by Scottmh; 07-04-2012 at 06:37 PM.

  40. #40
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    Straight coolant can cool an engine, but not very well. It may be excessively hot where you live compared to days gone by and the engine is getting older, water pump included.
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