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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
('07 EX 4WD AT) I'm faced with basically my worst nightmare. Just recently I had a post about cylinder misfires, but I figured this topic would be better splitting off from the main. After a grueling troubleshooting road, I'm faced with a major decision; do I have my cylinder head re-machined for valve replacement after one of them burned out, or do I fully replace the engine as a whole?

Normally I'd always go repair over replacement for something this big, but my mechanic (sadly the only one I can even get the E to in this condition) has quoted me the following:
-$1500 for head removal and reattachment, plus whatever a machinist charges for valve replacement and headwork
-$1300-$1700 for engine removal and reattachment, plus the cost of the engine.

Both these figures assume they use only parts they find. If I find my own, they upcharge labor per hour, and it is a not insignificant amount of extra cost. I have found a junkyard engine that has a 90 day parts warranty from an '11 E for $1650, they quoted me around $2000 for one from an '03-'06. I'm at a loss for what to do here...any advice would be appreciated.
 

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07 2wd 5-speedauto
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How many miles on current engine, Have oil changes been done on time, is the engine sludged up inside?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
180k miles, oil changes regularly as far as I've owned it and the Carfax reports, unknown on sludging but the piston heads look alright. Carbon buildup maybe, but nothing specific on the oil.
 

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There is no wrong answer. Both options fix your car.

You should compare your current engines‘ mileage vs. the replacement engine mileage. You can see what the compression is in the 3 working cylinders of your engine (vs. unknown compression in the replacement engine - might be better than yours if it is low mileage, at be worse if it’s higher mileage). You can also get an idea of the sludge based off of just looking inside.

My CRV had a blown head gasket a few years back, at that time I had 290k miles on it and compression in all 4 cylinders was around 160. The plan for me was to drive it until it died, and that was about 6 months later and I went with a replacement engine. If my mileage was lower and my compression was higher, I probably would have chosen to repair instead of replace. It would somewhat suck to fix the head, and then later have something go wrong with the bottom of the engine.
 

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I just saw your other thread where you said your 180k engine had compression of 170-180. In that case, I would ask how much mileage is on the replacement engine. If the replacement has 70k miles vs. 170k miles on it, that might make a difference in your decision making,
 

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2007 EX AWD AT; 2008 LX FWD AT
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How handy are you? Find a factory service manual and remove and reinstall the head yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'm a novice/moving to intermediate mechanic thanks to ErictheCarGuy (seriously his Element videos are stellar), so while I'd need time to do it, I probably could manage to do it. As for the compression, they actually found it even higher than what I listed, in the 200s for the other cylinders, though my guess is that was on a wet test. The engine I listed was roughly equal miles. I'm sure there are lower mileages out there, though. Mechanic engine had 140k, but I'd definitely want to keep the extra 6 horses if at all possible.
 

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180k miles, oil changes regularly as far as I've owned it and the Carfax reports, unknown on sludging but the piston heads look alright. Carbon buildup maybe, but nothing specific on the oil.
If it was mine... I would go with repairing the head. It's a known, versus the unknown of a used engine.
I've replaced plenty of "good" used engines that turned out to be NOT so good. Those customers had to then pay me the labor again.
 

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I like the idea of repairing or even replacing just the head with a used head. It should be cheaper to buy a used head than a whole used engine and gamble on whether the used engine is any good, especially if you know your bottom end was good before you had the burnt valve. With a used head, its off the block and you can inspect its condition at least visually or someone who is knowledgeable could inspect it, clean it up, check the valve clearances etc.

I like what fleetwood said about removing and installing your own head. I have only ever removed a head myself on a different car but have never installed one myself. Those head bolts are on the block mighty tight but I had access to an air tool at the time but nowadays with these cordless impact guns you have even more torque than an airgun so getting your old head off should be okay.

If you want to get more fancy you can have the machine shop tell you how much they take off the replacement head and make up for the machining by having a custom thickness head gasket made by someone like Cometic head gaskets, it may not be necessary if they dont have to take alot off the replacement head and it is more expensive. I would go with new head bolts and get or borrow a very precise torque wrench at least.

Make sure you have a good machine shop that has experience with aluminum, not all machine shops are created equal. You may even consider going to a place that does rebuilds for motorcycle engines, they are used to doing alot more precise work than some older machine shops that mainly work on old V8 all iron engines that had more forgiving tolerances. At least this is the advice I had been given in the past from people I know in the automotive and racing industry that have built many engines.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Good news is I do have an impact driver and extensions, plus a Harbor Freight nearby for any special tools I'll need. I'll look into grabbing the manual and all the other suggested supplies. Thanks for the help thus far. Also, the machinist reports they do everything from motorcycles to formula cars, so hopefully they should be good for getting my current head proper.
 

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As for tools, you will need a way to remove the crank bolt. Honda uses a special holding tool. Aftermarket sells a heavy socket that will do the trick.
That bolt is next to impossible to remove.

Probably a good time to replace the chains and tensioners too.

 
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Oh man, that crank bolt, I twisted a 1/2" drive extension trying to loosen that bolt.

I had somewhat similar situation, I replace my head gasket, timing chain and guides, water pump and all those little things for preventive maintenance while it was apart. Its not that bad, just time consuming. I have 2nd car so I wasn't in a rush. There are a few threads on this site with links to good videos to watch for doing a head replacements. ErictheCarGuy is good but there are other that explain the timing chain and rockers.
 

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I was presented with the option to do a new engine or replace a burnt valve on my '05 about six years ago. I had the valve work done and that was 100,000 miles ago. No compression issues since.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, it has been two months, and we finally have all the work done, so I can give my final report. Getting the head done was the right call, from what I can tell thus far. The engine runs far smoother than it ever has, much less vibration, and it's got some decent power going uphill now. It's starting slow and kind of struggling to turn over, but for the time being I'm attributing that to the fact it has been a consistent below 0 temp here in southern Wisconsin. Plus once it's warm it starts up alright. But, for the moment you've all been waiting for...the damage. See the picture here! We have our culprit, lol.
Gesture Thumb Gadget Wood Audio equipment


That, my friends, is my cylinder 1 exhaust valve. It's got about a fifth of it's head sheared clean off. I don't know where the extra metal went, but the piston is clear, so it's probably sitting in my cat converter or manifold somewhere. That or it got stuck in the valve chamber and was removed when the head was machined, who knows.

All this to say, to anyone looking out there, DO YOUR VALVE ADJUSTMENTS. Don't listen to people who say only performance cars need them, and don't just do it once the car is symptomatic; by that time, it's already too late. I doubt doing mine after I bought it would have done too much good, more delaying the inevitable at the time I got it, but seriously- take care of those valves. A special car like an E has special needs to be fulfilled.

Now what to do with our little problem child of a valve...thinking maybe I'll get it made into jewelry, or a badge to put on the E like a battle scar...
 

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Did you just replace the valve in your current head and have it refurbished, or put a used head on? How much of the work did you decide to do?

Way off topic - throw the valve somewhere that it will wind up in a bag of mulch - that's where I once found a turbine engine compressor stator vane.
Hand Leg Grey Snout Human leg
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I decided to have the head machined and valve replaced. Technically two other valves were damaged, too, so they were replaced as well. Again, no piston damage we found, so I'm not worried they impacted. And sadly, since I live in the cold and had a lot to do, the mechanic had to do the whole sum of the work. Would have liked to do some myself, but we don't have a garage anyway, so it worked out.
 

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An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Check those valve clearance's people
 
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