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George H.
George H., ASE Certified Technician
Category: Honda
Satisfied Customers: 18305
Experience:  ASE Master Tech 15+ years
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My son has a 1999 hatchback Honda Civic. We just purchased

Customer Question

My son has a 1999 hatchback Honda Civic. We just purchased it about a month ago. When he drives to work or home from work which is a*****north and south on I-95 at 70mph his car overheats just before he arrives at work. He checks the resivour and usually it's full but the radiator is empty or usually very low. We replaced the thermostat and the radiator cap. No change. Strange thing is, when I drove it for 2 hours in the city around our home non-stop it didn't overheat at all! This makes no sense. There is no white smoke or radiator fluid smell coming from exhaust so I don't feel its a head gasket but not sure. What do you think? It's like the 45 minute 70mph commute sets it off for some reason but nothing else.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Honda
Expert:  George H. replied 4 months ago.

Hello I will help you with your question,

With your son's high speed commute he puts more heat into the engine than you did on the around town driving so it all dumps out as he slows down and he gets the overheating from the combustion gass leaking into the cooling system theough the failing head gasket and that causes the radiator to boil out.

Replace the head gasket and you should be better. If it has been severly overheated several times the piston rings will lose their tension and it will burn oil.

Please let me know how I can help you with this question

Thank you

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Is this the only thing it could be? I want to go the mechanic and make sure I know what I"m talking about.
Expert:  George H. replied 4 months ago.

With those symptoms it is a head gasket leaking.

Best to let the "mechanic" come to their own conclusion but if they start talking about blockages and such I would move on. An independent asian shop would be my first choice.

Let me know how I can help


Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Also, I did forget to add in the beginning that I checked the oil and it's not frothy or chocolate milk looking. Shouldn't there be coolant in the oil if it was a head gasket? Also, no white smoke or sweet smell from exhaust.
Expert:  George H. replied 4 months ago.

The combustion gasses are leaking into the coolant when it gets hot. There is no coolant leaking into the oil. The catalytic converter does a good job of buring the coolant so you don't see white smoke.

This is called spewing if you do a high speed run and the raditor empties as it gets hot at the end of the run. See it on Subarus all the time. A chemical test might show gas in the coolant but that is not a very accurate test and it will confirm gas if it changes color but I would not rule it out based on no color change.

Let me know how I can help

Thank you