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91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? #4397523
05/06/17 07:27 AM
05/06/17 07:27 AM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 740
CA
Gito Offline OP
Gito  Offline OP

Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 740
CA
Own a 1991 Honda Civic Si 3dr Hatchback that may possibly need a new head.

I bought this car brand new in Oct 1990 and drove it to 515k miles until it just died on me while driving on the freeway.

I drove with bad valve stem seals and with a disconnected temp gauge switch for years. Finally caught up to me. The car over heated
There are traces of a milky substance on the underside of the oil cap

The car starts up fine without any hesitation.
The fan does turn on now when leaving the engine running for a while.

I have yet to pull the thermostat to see its condition

Not sure where to start
I do know that the car needed the valve steam seals replaced prior to it dying on me. I was getting blue smoke at idle.

Is there a chance that the thermostat just got stuck and maybe, just maybe, the head gasket is fine and all it needs is some attention.
I have no check engine lights and car starts up fine. Again, the oil cap does have minor traces of a milky like substance but I'm no expert.

If the head gasket was blown then what should I do next?

Can anyone here provide me with the Do's and Dont's when removing the head?

If head needs to be repaired I want to remove the head and take it in to a shop for the repair.
I will be removing it and reinstalling it

What is expected of the repair shop as far as what should be done to the head, what gets repaired and what gets replaced?

I have no experience with this type of engine work but I want to tackle it myself.
Just need to know what things to watch out for.

I almost junked the car the other day and I stopped for a second and told myself that I would give the car another chance.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: Gito] #4397545
05/06/17 07:58 AM
05/06/17 07:58 AM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,699
USA
mk378 Offline
mk378  Offline

Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,699
USA
Is the radiator staying full? With the engine cold, take off the radiator cap start the engine with the cap off and rev it, there should not be bubbling or stuff blowing out of the radiator.

Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: Gito] #4397555
05/06/17 08:22 AM
05/06/17 08:22 AM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 5,317
The Midwest
skyactiv Offline
skyactiv  Offline

Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 5,317
The Midwest
The head gasket may or may not be blown. I'd hate to spend money getting the head rebuilt when the rest of the engine could be two oil changes away from needing rebuilt.


Wife: 15' Audi A4 quattro 6 speed manual
Me: 13' VW GTI 3 door 6 speed manual

Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: Gito] #4397573
05/06/17 08:45 AM
05/06/17 08:45 AM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 8,298
...
PimTac Offline
PimTac  Offline

Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 8,298
...
Remove the head and you will have your answer. With over half a million miles, I would say that Honda has served you very well.


Cannot see signatures any longer so it doesn’t matter.
Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: Gito] #4397609
05/06/17 09:32 AM
05/06/17 09:32 AM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,974
New Brunswick
55Test Offline
55Test  Offline

Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,974
New Brunswick
IF the water pump hasn't been replaced in half a million miles, it could be just worn out and not circulating as much coolant as it could be. The milky stuff on the oil cap could be from short trip usage. You can get a rebuilt head for 300 bucks on eBay if you decide to go that way


The total sum of everything I have learned from this website: ...Oil in engine, good!
Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: Gito] #4397646
05/06/17 10:51 AM
05/06/17 10:51 AM
Joined: Jul 2015
Posts: 4,357
New England
madRiver Offline
madRiver  Offline

Joined: Jul 2015
Posts: 4,357
New England
Valve job/replacement head and by default you'll get a new head gasket wink

Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: Gito] #4397663
05/06/17 11:14 AM
05/06/17 11:14 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 34,095
ME
eljefino Offline
eljefino  Offline

Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 34,095
ME
Put a used engine in it. You have no idea what the lower bearing clearances are and they could be 9/10 of the way out from age anyway. Antifreeze contamination would finish it off.

IDK if you have a single or dual overhead cam but it can go from easy to tricky getting at the valve seals. Doing these is way easier than pulling the head, but if you pull the head, you don't have to mess around with holding the valves from dropping into the engine.

Do you have time for a science experiment or is this your only car and only way to work?

Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: Gito] #4397750
05/06/17 01:01 PM
05/06/17 01:01 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 18,443
Deplorable in apple valley, ca
Chris142 Offline
Chris142  Offline

Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 18,443
Deplorable in apple valley, ca
If you fix the head the bottom end wont last much longer. Rebuild the whole engine.


02 Wrangler carlube 5w30
87 F250 traveler 15w40
07 fjcruiser Chevron 10w30
Z400 castrol T 10w40
Can am maveric edge 5w40
57 case tractor 15w40
Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: Gito] #4397784
05/06/17 01:57 PM
05/06/17 01:57 PM
Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 11,360
Phoenix, AZ
Nick1994 Offline
Nick1994  Offline

Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 11,360
Phoenix, AZ
I just can't see the effort and expense of rebuilding an engine for a 26 year old Honda with over 500k miles. That car has got to be worn out.

I'd be shopping for a replacement.


2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4L 92k STP Synthetic HM 10w30 & Wix
2000 Toyota Camry 2.2L 233k Mobil Super HM 10w40 & Fram Ultra
1996 Jeep Cherokee 4.0L 148k Mobil 1 HM 10w40 & Fram Ultra
Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: Gito] #4397796
05/06/17 02:17 PM
05/06/17 02:17 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 740
CA
Gito Offline OP
Gito  Offline OP

Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 740
CA
Anyone know how many miles the bottom end can get?
These cars are solid and engines on the accords have easily gone 600k without any work.

Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: 55Test] #4397797
05/06/17 02:18 PM
05/06/17 02:18 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 740
CA
Gito Offline OP
Gito  Offline OP

Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 740
CA
Originally Posted By: 55Test
IF the water pump hasn't been replaced in half a million miles, it could be just worn out and not circulating as much coolant as it could be. The milky stuff on the oil cap could be from short trip usage. You can get a rebuilt head for 300 bucks on eBay if you decide to go that way


Replaced the original thermostat at 380k. Water pump was always replaced when I would do the timing belt

Last edited by Gito; 05/06/17 02:31 PM.
Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: Gito] #4397929
05/06/17 05:00 PM
05/06/17 05:00 PM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 8,014
Marshfield , MA
andyd Offline
andyd  Offline

Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 8,014
Marshfield , MA
Do a compression test before spending a dime. While the plugs are out,check them for coolant. Please report back. What does the dip stick look like?


'16 Camry LE STP synth 0w20 and STP filter. the Fridge

1994 Ranger ,the Rat, 5w30 dino, STP filter

'16 Camry SE, Valvoline HM 0w20 and OEM filter
Thick oil is better grin2
Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: Gito] #4397965
05/06/17 06:01 PM
05/06/17 06:01 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 13,175
NH
supton Online content
supton  Online Content

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 13,175
NH
What's the rest of the car like? Is it worth fixing?

I think though this has to pass emissions in your state, and it's pre-OBDII, so I'm not sure how that weighs in... if it's easier or harder to pass the testing. Up here it'd be worth fixing, assuming it wasn't rusted away (extremely unlikely!), by virtue of being pre-OBDII and easier to pass inspection.


2011 Toyota Camry, base, 2.5L/6MT, 179k, hers
2010 Toyota Tundra DC, 4.6L/6AT, 147k, ours
1999 Toyota Camry LE, 2.2L/4AT, 203k, his
Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: eljefino] #4398143
05/06/17 11:14 PM
05/06/17 11:14 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 740
CA
Gito Offline OP
Gito  Offline OP

Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 740
CA
Originally Posted By: eljefino
Put a used engine in it. You have no idea what the lower bearing clearances are and they could be 9/10 of the way out from age anyway. Antifreeze contamination would finish it off.

IDK if you have a single or dual overhead cam but it can go from easy to tricky getting at the valve seals. Doing these is way easier than pulling the head, but if you pull the head, you don't have to mess around with holding the valves from dropping into the engine.

Do you have time for a science experiment or is this your only car and only way to work?


Car is not in use at this time

Re: 91 Honda Civic Si (1.6L) head gasket? [Re: supton] #4398145
05/06/17 11:16 PM
05/06/17 11:16 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 740
CA
Gito Offline OP
Gito  Offline OP

Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 740
CA
Originally Posted By: supton
What's the rest of the car like? Is it worth fixing?

I think though this has to pass emissions in your state, and it's pre-OBDII, so I'm not sure how that weighs in... if it's easier or harder to pass the testing. Up here it'd be worth fixing, assuming it wasn't rusted away (extremely unlikely!), by virtue of being pre-OBDII and easier to pass inspection.


Passed the last smog back in 2015

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