Honda Element Owners Club banner

Advice needed- 06 head gasket

17896 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  desinia
I found this forum a little while ago while searching for info on why my 06 seemed to keep having an overheating problem. I found that there seems to be a lot of participation here, and several people more tech savvy they I, so I figured I'd throw the current situation at you and see what you think I should do..

First off, I have an 06 Blue Element, 160,000 plus miles (I have a long commute). Haven't had much in the way of major mechanical problems before this, just the usual maintenance and occasional inconvenient medium issues. However, the car has hit 2 deer- and been repaired. Things in the engine did have to be fixed (2 font end collisions with the deer).

A couple of months ago I started home when I noticed the temperature gauge had jacked up to "H". I pulled over and called the dealer, who of course advised me to bring it right in etc. When the looked at it the next day, they couldn't duplicate it or find a problem to blame it on, so they theorized perhaps that the coolant had gotten too old, and had frozen up in the cold weather we were having, and a particle had blocked the works, so to speak. So they recommended flushing and replacing the coolant we did that.

A few weeks after that, I started noticing a leak, but I didn't address it immediately because I wasn't sure if it was a leak of coolant or oil (was slight and on dark pavement) so I kept an eye on the fluids until I could figure out which it was. A few days later I was was sure it was the oil, and took it in to the dealer again. They told me it was a bolt that had worked itself loose (after an initial accusation that someone had been tinkering with the car, cause these didn't usually work loose) and I needed a new bolt and gasket we did that. Things were fine for about a month.

On Sunday, was driving in the city, and was idling when I noticed the temp gauge shoot up again to "H". When the car started moving again, it went back down to normal, and unfortunately I wrote it off initially as an abberation. Monday night, overhalfway home, it started fluctuation between midway and "H". I live in the country, so there's no place to pull over and leave it, so I eased it home. Tues morning was colder, and it behaved the entire way back to town where I left it with the dealer again. suspected the head gasket. Ran the pressure test 3 times they said, and on the 3rd "actually got bubbles". Estimated cost to replace the head gasket, temp gauge, water pump, and some other belt...$2600 plus/minus..:shock:

So I started calling around for estimates.

Shop #2 was recommended by my boss, and a co-worker whose entire family goes there.
Shop #3 was one I had used several times satisfactorily with my previous car- my CRV.

So shop #2 has the car now, and is going to do a second opinion- with a chemical diagnosis? I thought the pressure test was the "be-all"? They're estimate at the most was $1800

Shop #3 called back with the estimate after I took car to shop #2, similar cost, but had a 3rd option...replacing the entire motor. Shop #3 did some research and found an engine with 45,000 miles on it. The place that deals the used engines gives a 2 yr warranty, and $400 towards labor in their warranty. The cost for the new engine would be about $2100.

So...some people have told me that the head gasket is just the "beginning of the end" for an engine. The replacement of the engine is tempting- since it's lower mileage and hasn't been repaired after 2 deer collisions...but we went through an engine replacement on a 95 Dodge Dakota POS, and I'm a little leary of it. Plus I have to wonder if it's overkill?

So I'm wondering what you guys would do if it was your car? Let one of the cheaper independent garages just fix the head gasket (and it's accessories) or go for the total engine replacement and hopefully start over and extend the Elements life? Or should I let the dealer handle it? As you can guess, the warranty is long over..

Thanks for reading my book...:roll:
See less See more
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Tough call. There are a lot of Honda specific gurus on here that can probably help you better than I can, but I'll throw in my two cents for what it's worth. Regardless of which option you choose, make sure you have a warranty after the repairs (replacement) are performed.

Using the dealer is a good option because the tech's are trained on your specific vehicle and should know how to properly troubleshoot and repair it. The warranty will probably be the best, but the downside to the dealer is that their labor rates and parts will more than likely be the highest.

Using an independant shop is always good to price shop and get second opinions, but it's also a crap shoot as to the quality of work and parts as well as warranty duration.

As for replacing the engine, you may be better off or you may just be inheriting someone else's problems, another crap shoot.

Other options to consider would be taking it to a shop that specializes in cooling systems, rebuilding your existing engine or trading the vehicle in.

Make sure which ever option you choose that you get references, check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints and make sure you're satisfied with the warranty they offer.
See less See more
You say that the car got hot sitting and cooled back off when you started driving? Check the cooling fans to see if they are turning on. If the had gasket is blown most likely you will have oil in the coolant and vice versa ther will be a milky sludge under the oil cap. Make sure you find the problem that caused the engine to overheat in the first place.
When my cars start giving me problems I get rid of em. I don't have the time or patience for it. Seems like when the problems start it's just one thing after another.
For me it's a no brainer. With 160,000 miles, and 2 instances of overheating. An engine swap to an Engine with less than 50K, for less money than the dealer wants to fix your old one.

That would be a done deal for me.

With the way you rack up miles, 40K a year, You will be at 200K in a year. Why spend 1/2 the cost of replacement on fixing the old Engine?

Thought I'd give an update. :grin:

2 years and another almost 100,000 miles later, I am still driving the same car, same engine and same head gasket.

I took the car to a smaller repair shop that a lot of people around here highly recommended. They did a different test...not the pressure test, but I guess a vapor test? and weren't convinced it needed replacement yet. They tried some different things, and she behaved for awhile.

Looking back, its been a slow decline in my case I guess. The gauge would give me trouble periodically, and we'd top off the coolant; the check engine light would come on and we'd replace something; but she kept on driving. It's the "little engine that could" LOL.

Now we have 255K, and she's PAID OFF, and a recent checkup by the same local garage finally got a positive test, and I think I'm going to have to finally deal with the head gasket. However with so much more mileage, and being paid off, its a harder decision for me...:oops:

Anyway, I saw someone else posting about a head gasket, and thought I should update my situation. I think the key really is to have someone you trust working on it, someone who understands your situation as well.
See less See more
I'll not replace the engine unless is new. you never know what that engine went through.
if the head gasket burns because little overheating, it can be replaced and the engine will run like new again.
but if the overheating was more serious, other parts can be damaged like piston rings or you may have to grind the head itself.
so it depends a lot on when you open the head what you see.
AND I also had problem with both fans in my ELement that I already I agree with SLIMERDOG...check if the fans working
Blue Devil head gasket goo. It works.....ask me how I know.
The original post was five years ago. Since nobody followed up with pictures, it never happened. You KNOW the rules.
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.