The head gasket is one of the most important components in the engine of a Honda Accord, and a blown or leaking gasket can cause severe internal engine damage if left unattended. This detailed DIY guide will walk you through the entire Honda Accord head gasket repair process, from initial diagnosis to proper gasket replacement and installation. Repairing a failing head gasket on your Accord is a doable project with some mechanical know-how and the right tools.
Diagnosing a Failing Honda Accord Head Gasket
The first step is accurately diagnosing whether the issue stems from a bad head gasket or another underlying problem. Here are the most common signs of a failing Honda Accord head gasket:
- Engine overheating along with losing coolant/antifreeze with no visible leaks. This indicates combustion gasses are entering the cooling system via a gasket breach.
- White exhaust smoke, especially upon cold startup. This results from coolant leaking into the combustion chamber.
- Rough idling, misfires, and loss of power. Engine compression drops when combustion gasses escape through the gasket.
- Bubbling in the radiator or coolant overflow tank caused by exhaust gases entering the cooling system.
- Excessive oil consumption due to coolant contaminating the crankcase.
- Milky, light brown engine oil indicating coolant mixing with the oil.
If multiple symptoms are present, it likely confirms head gasket failure. But other issues like a cracked cylinder head or blown head gasket can produce similar symptoms, so have a professional diagnostic to be 100% sure.
Gathering Necessary Honda Accord Head Gasket Repair Tools
Replacing an Accord’s head gasket requires an assortment of specialized tools. Here are the essentials needed:
- Socket wrench set – For removing intake manifold, accessory belts, valve cover, exhaust manifold, etc. Standard and metric sizes needed.
- Torque wrench – Critical for tightening head bolts/nuts to factory specs. A 3/8″ drive ratcheting torque wrench capable of 70 ft-lbs is ideal.
- Screwdrivers – Variety of Phillips and flathead drivers for hose clamps, sensors, and brackets. Long shank recommended.
- Scrapers – For cleaning gasket surfaces. Plastic is ideal to prevent damage.
- Straight edge – Checks head/block mating surface flatness.
- Feeler gauges – For valve lash adjustments after head reinstallation.
- Pry bar – Used for maneuvering head off block. Sturdy metal or composite bar best.
- Hammer – Soft blow hammer for jarring loose stubborn bolts/components.
- Gasket scraper – Removes old gasket material from head/block surface.
Having these essential tools Prepared saves substantial time and frustration when tackling the repair. Consult your Accord’s service manual for any specialty tools needed for your engine.
Step-By-Step Honda Accord Head Gasket Replacement
With the proper tools gathered, you’re ready to dive into the head gasket replacement procedure. Allow plenty of time as this can easily be an all-day project. Here are the key steps:
- Disconnect Battery and Drain Coolant
- Remove Accessory Belts and Components
- Detach Fuel Lines and Exhaust Components
- Remove Valve Cover and Cylinder Head Bolts
- Lift Cylinder Head from Engine
- Clean Block and Head Sealing Surfaces
- Remove Old Head Gasket and Clean Cylinder Head
- Install New Honda Accord Head Gasket
- Reinstall Cylinder Head and Bolts
- Reconnect All Components and Refill Fluids
Disconnect Battery and Drain Coolant
Start by disconnecting the negative battery terminal to prevent electrical shorts. Drain the radiator and engine block coolant into a clean container. Removing all coolant is critical for an effective repair.
Remove Accessory Belts and Components
Use a socket wrench to loosen the accessory belt tensioner and remove the serpentine belt. Label all vacuum lines, wiring connectors, and hoses that must be detached to remove items like the air intake assembly, power steering pump bracket, and alternator. Organizing hardware makes reassembly faster.
Detach Fuel Lines and Exhaust Components
Relieve fuel system pressure according to factory procedure, then disconnect the fuel lines at the rail. Remove exhaust components including the manifold, heat shields, oxygen sensors, and catalytic converter to allow head removal.
Remove Valve Cover and Cylinder Head Bolts
Remove the valve cover and all spark plugs. Use penetrating oil on stubborn cylinder head bolts. Loosen but do not fully remove the head bolts in the reverse order of tightening sequence specified in the service manual. Mark bolt locations.
Lift Cylinder Head from Engine
Once all head bolts are loosened, carefully pry and lift the cylinder head from the engine block with a flat pry bar. Place the removed head on a clean workbench. Avoid damaging the machined gasket surfaces.
Clean Block and Head Sealing Surfaces
Thoroughly scrape and clean the engine block and cylinder head gasket surfaces using a gasket scraper and plastic scraper. The surfaces must be free of any oil, old gasket material, or carbon deposits. Inspect for damage or warpage with a straight edge.
Remove Old Head Gasket and Clean Cylinder Head
Carefully detach the old head gasket using a plastic scraper. Avoid gouging the head or block surfaces. Remove carbon deposits and fluid residue from cylinder head with a gasket scraper and cleaning solvent. Check for flatness and cracks.
Install New Honda Accord Head Gasket
After surfaces are clean and dry, carefully install the new head gasket using factory torque sequence. Do not use gasket sealers unless specified by Honda. Ensure the new gasket aligns with all bolt holes and coolant/oil passages.
Reinstall Cylinder Head and Bolts
Lower the freshly cleaned cylinder head into position using alignment dowels. Hand thread head bolts until finger tight in sequence. Use a calibrated torque wrench to tighten head bolts incrementally to factory torque specs. Go in 2-3 steps checking torque each time.
Reconnect All Components and Refill Fluids
Once the cylinder head is torqued down, reinstall all components removed in reverse order. Don’t over tighten banjo bolts on fuel lines. Refill the cooling system and check for leaks. Change the oil and check all fluid levels before starting the engine.
Carefully following this comprehensive Accord head gasket replacement procedure minimizes the chances of comebacks or failures. Take your time and use torque specs from your vehicle’s service manual. Proper gasket installation is critical to a long-lasting repair.
Cost Comparison of Honda Accord Head Gasket Repair
While a DIY Honda Accord head gasket replacement is certainly possible for some mechanically inclined owners, there are costs to weigh when deciding whether to tackle this repair yourself or hire a professional mechanic. Here’s an overview of typical costs:
Parts costs consist of the new head gasket kit, head bolts, fluids, and any misc. gaskets or seals needed. OEM Honda parts are highest.
Labor at a dealership runs $100+ per hour, while independent shops charge $70-$90 per hour typically. DIY labor is free if you do the work yourself.
In general, DIY and independent shop repair costs can offer significant savings over the dealership. But the tradeoff is having the expertise, tools, and time for a DIY repair. Evaluate your specific situation to determine the most cost-effective Honda Accord head gasket repair option.
Expert Tips for DIY Honda Accord Head Gasket Replacement
Considering a DIY Honda Accord head gasket replacement? Here are some pro tips from experts for saving time, money, and hassle on your repair:
- Buy OEM or high-quality aftermarket gaskets – Avoid cheap gaskets that may leak shortly after install. Stick with Honda or reputable brands.
- Check coolant color before refilling – Coolant contaminated with oil will appear creamy or frothy. Flush entire system if contaminated.
- Use plenty of penetrating oil – Soak stubborn bolts for easier removal and prevent cylinder head damage.
- Label and organize all hardware – This makes reassembly much simpler and eliminates lost fasteners.
- Follow torque sequence and specs precisely – Improperly torqued head bolts can lead to leaks or engine damage.
- Check for warpage with a straightedge – Warped head or block surfaces must be machined or it will leak.
- Let the engine warm up before driving – Allows gasket sealant and fluids to fully circulate before putting under load.
- Watch coolant levels and check for leaks – Signs of a leak require immediate investigation to prevent engine failure.
Having the right tools, parts, and time set aside makes an Accord head gasket replacement much smoother. But don’t hesitate to call a professional if the job becomes overwhelming.
Frequently Asked Questions about Honda Accord Head Gaskets
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about Honda Accord head gasket repairs:
What Are The Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket On An Accord?
Common symptoms include overheating with no visible coolant leaks, white exhaust smoke, bubbling radiator fluid, rough idle, oil contamination, and loss of power or compression.
How Long Does It Take To Replace An Accord Head Gasket?
The complete replacement process typically takes 6-10 hours for DIY repairs. Professional shops often need 4-6 hours. The job time can vary based on engine size, difficulty, and if the cylinder head requires removal.
Can You Drive A Honda Accord With A Bad Head Gasket?
It is not recommended to drive with a confirmed bad head gasket. The engine can quickly overheat, suffer severe internal damage, or even fail completely. Have it diagnosed and repaired immediately.
Is It Worth Fixing A Head Gasket Leak Or Just Replacing The Engine?
In most cases, it is worth fixing the head gasket as long as no further engine damage has occurred. Complete engine replacement costs several thousand dollars compared to $750-$1200 for a gasket replacement.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace An Accord Head Gasket?
Total repair costs at a dealership typically run $1100-$1800. Independent shops charge $750-$1200 on average. DIY repairs can be done for $400-$600 if you have the skill and tools.
Can I Drive My Honda Accord After The Head Gasket Is Replaced?
Yes, once the repair is completed you can drive the Accord again. Let the engine fully warm up first and watch the temperature gauge. Top off any fluids that are low and check for leaks during the first few drives to ensure a proper repair.
Replacing a leaking or blown head gasket is crucial for restoring engine performance and preventing catastrophic engine damage on a Honda Accord. Follow all steps carefully and use proper torque procedures for a successful, long-lasting repair.
Monitor the engine closely afterwards and be prepared to take it in for any potential issues. With some mechanical ability and the right preparation, tackling this repair yourself can save substantial cost versus paying a shop.