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2004 EX 4WD MT | Sunset Orange
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey folks, did a valve adjustment and oil change 1000 miles ago (here's that thread: Cleaning after Valve Adjustment) and did an oil change this weekend to be extra nice to engine and see if anything was wrong after the adjustment.

Well, my oil looked like this when it came out:
Liquid Water Light Solution Fluid
Tableware Food Liquid Dishware Ingredient

Is that coolant?

I checked the radiator, and it looks like this:
Automotive tire Camera lens Motor vehicle Rim Cameras & optics
Automotive tire Camera lens Motor vehicle Reflex camera Cameras & optics

A little sparkly/shimmery, but not chocolate. Is that metal shavings? Or a tiny bit of oil? Or does the coolant look okay?

I've been searching the forum and have picked up lots of good info, but I'd still love some advice for my specific predicament.

Here are the full details:
  • 203,504 miles: I did an oil change. The oil came out looking very dark, but I didn't notice any opaqueness.
  • 204,804 miles: My water pump broke, and I replaced it.
  • 208767 miles: I did my valve adjustment. After closing everything back up, I drove around the block then did an oil change. The oil came out looking very dark again, but also, didn't look opaque.
  • 209786 miles: The oil change from this last weekend.
  • The engine temp on my dash has been extremely steady (after the car warms up) right under the halfway mark through all of this stuff.
  • The coolant level in the reservoir seems much lower than when I replaced the water pump and refilled the radiator. It's moving around though... It was below the minimum mark last night, but this morning it was above the minimum mark, and I haven't done anything to car.
So here's what I'm wondering:
  • Is that definitely coolant in my oil?
  • If yes, do I definitely have bad head gasket?
  • If yes, can I replace it myself or would I need a machine shop to level something off?
  • Could the valve adjustment have somehow caused the dirty oil, even though I change the oil after doing the adjustment? Or could I have caused an issue with the head gasket during the valve adjustment?
  • And this one's subjective but I'd appreciate thoughts if anyone would like to give them: How worried should be? Do I need to start saving for a new engine, or can my E handle a little dirty oil just fine if I've caught it soon enough? What are the warning signs I should be looking out for that I've done some serious damage to my engine, and is there a way to know how long there's been a problem?
Thanks a bunch everyone.
 

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Coolant in your oil looks like a chocolate milkshake, much lighter than what you’ve got going on there. Look up your nearest caterpillar dealer and ask if they have an oil analysis lab or look up the nearest oil testing outfit and send in a sample. That will tell you everything you need to know.
 

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2009 LX, Auto, AWD, Omni Pearl Blue
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--Is that definitely coolant in my oil? CAN'T TELL 'CAUSE THE COLORS IN YOUR PHOTOS ARE WASHED-OUT.
--If yes, do I definitely have bad head gasket? IF THERE IS OIL IN THE COOLANT, OR COOLANT IN THE OIL, EITHER YOU PUT IT THERE ACCIDENTALLY, OR THERE IS SOME COMPROMISE BETWEEN THE TWO SYSTEMS, MOST LIKELY A HEAD GASKET.
--If yes, can I replace it myself or would I need a machine shop to level something off? YES, YOU NEED A MACHINE SHOP TO RESURFACE THE HEAD AND YOU SHOULD EXAMINE THE MATING SURFACE ON THE BLOCK (the DECK) TO INSURE THAT IT IS IN-SPEC.
--Could the valve adjustment have somehow caused the dirty oil, even though I change the oil after doing the adjustment? NO, UNLESS YOU ARE CHARLIE BROWN's FRIEND Pig-Pen.
--Or could I have caused an issue with the head gasket during the valve adjustment? NO
--And this one's subjective but I'd appreciate thoughts if anyone would like to give them: How worried should be? Do I need to start saving for a new engine, or can my E handle a little dirty oil just fine if I've caught it soon enough? What are the warning signs I should be looking out for that I've done some serious damage to my engine, and is there a way to know how long there's been a problem? DON'T WORRY, JUST ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS ONE AT A TIME.

My question is, what happened at mileage 204.804. Water pumps don't just "break." Their bearings go out, or they seize-up, or the seal leaks, or cavitation causes the impeller to disintegrate, etc., etc., etc. What really happened when your water pump "broke." Was there steam everywhere? Did the temperature gauge shoot up? What happened? How long did you drive it in that condition?

Dark oil between the first and second oil changes at 5,000 miles is normal.

At what mileage did you buy this car? Since you've owned it, what is your oil change interval and do you use dino oil or synthetic?
 

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Also just wondering, what were your valve specs like before you adjusted them? If you find you do need to do the top end over, you should weigh the benefit/cost of replacing the entire engine with a used unit or just rebuilding the top, since you already have almost 210k on this motor, and cannot be sure how long the lower end will hold up down the road. Leakdown and compression test at a reputable indy shop that specializes in Hondas, might be a possible next step from here.
 

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2004 EX 4WD MT | Sunset Orange
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Alright, the consensus seems to be that it's not coolant. I guess I'm used to looking at oil that's either brand new or 5000 miles old and didn't know what to expect. I was comparing it to some photos I found online and thought the swirls looked similar (https://i.redd.it/u3lavxydke2y.jpg). Other signs (steady engine temp) pointed to there not being a problem, but I didn't know what to make of the way the oil looked.

My question is, what happened at mileage 204.804. Water pumps don't just "break." Their bearings go out, or they seize-up, or the seal leaks, or cavitation causes the impeller to disintegrate, etc., etc., etc. What really happened when your water pump "broke." Was there steam everywhere? Did the temperature gauge shoot up? What happened? How long did you drive it in that condition?
Bearing went out. It was going bad for a while (I could hear it rattling) but I was struggling to find time to replace it. It ended up failing while I was driving, the serpentine belt slipped off and tore, I had the car towed home, and then I rode my bike everywhere until I finally got a chance to replace it.
At what mileage did you buy this car? Since you've owned it, what is your oil change interval and do you use dino oil or synthetic?
Bought at 184743. Oil changes are mostly every 5k. I went to 6300 once. Mobile 1 full synthetic. I actually knew next to nothing about cars before getting this one, but I wanted to take good care of it, understand it, and not throw money at the dealer or a mechanic, so I've been using this forum (thanks), youtube (thanks, ETCG), and my service manual to learn everything.
 

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2004 EX 4WD MT | Sunset Orange
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Also just wondering, what were your valve specs like before you adjusted them?
Actually better than I expected to find them. All of the intakes were in-spec, but most on the loose side. The exhausts were all in spec except for 3, which was at 0.009 for both. The other exhausts were on the loose side. I actually did the adjustment because I was having rough starts in cold weather and rough idles before the engine warmed up, and it does start easier and idle smoother now, despite the adjustments being small. I also have maintenance records (no idea how thorough) back to about 130k, and there's nothing about a valve adjustment. I figured that if it hadn't been done yet, it was definitely time, and probably wouldn't be a bad idea to do it again if it was done around 100k or so.
 

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Did you do a full flush on the coolant system when you replaced the water pump? Any time the bearing and impeller have been grinding for a while then grenaded like yours did it sends super fine metal particles throughout the cooling system. You gotta flush all that out or the metal will eat up the bearing and seal on your new water pump and clog capillaries in the radiator and heater core. You've got to make sure it gets flushed in both directions, backward and forward. If you live in a cold state I'd take it to a radiator shop and have them handle it. That way you don't end up with irreversible freeze damage.
 

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2004 EX 4WD MT | Sunset Orange
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Did you do a full flush on the coolant system when you replaced the water pump? Any time the bearing and impeller have been grinding for a while then grenaded like yours did it sends super fine metal particles throughout the cooling system. You gotta flush all that out or the metal will eat up the bearing and seal on your new water pump and clog capillaries in the radiator and heater core. You've got to make sure it gets flushed in both directions, backward and forward. If you live in a cold state I'd take it to a radiator shop and have them handle it. That way you don't end up with irreversible freeze damage.
Interesting, thank you! I did a really thorough drain and flush and drain and flush etc. a while back, but it was before the pump broke. So obviously not gonna help with any problems caused since it broke. What do you mean by flushed forward and backward? And by freeze damage do you mean the coolant freezing in the radiator or engine as a result of the drian and flush somehow? Thanks again for the info.
 
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