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Josh, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 1571
Experience:  13 years of experience, Factory training for Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Saturn
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Honda Accord: Ivan, a new question about my Honda Accord

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Ivan, a new question about my Honda Accord

Hello, I see it's been over an hour since you submitted your question, I'm going to go ahead and take a shot at your question unless you'd rather wait for Ivan.


The cylinder head Gasket on these is about as advanced a job as you could really do on your accord aside from rebuilding the transmission. Basically you're going to need to be comfortable with timing belt replacement, and the procedure to time the engine correctly. If you can hand that part the rest is a big job, but it's doable if you just take it one bolt at a time. Here's a basic rundown of what it takes, you're going to need to put the engine at top dead center, drain the coolant, disconnect the radiator hoses going to the head, remove the distributor, disconnect all the electrical connections to the head, unbolt the exhaust manifold from the head and slide it back, unbolt the intake manifold from the head and slide it back, you can leave the manifold on the head it seems easier, but it's harder to maneuver with the additional weight. Now you're going to want to remove the timing belt from the cam gear, then unbolt the cylinder head and remove it.


Once again, it's a big job, but if you have a service manual, a torque wrench, and patience it should be doable.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks. I was analyzing my worst case scenario if I attempt this. I've watched a lot of YouTube and think it is doable. My worst fear is breaking a stud on either manifold, but especially the rear. I think I can do the belts with a little guidance. I know there are a lot of marks to line up and TDC isn't a problem. I have a good timing light from a previous repair on this car (replaced the distributor seal). I plan to replace the head gasket, the spark plug tube seals, valve cover gasket, both timing belts, the tensioner and manifold gaskets.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If I do break a stud isn't it easier to fix since I'm removing the head?

I wouldn't worry too much about the manifold bolts/studs, worst case you take the head to a machine shop to have them extracted, it's something we do every day. On an accord engine you should have two belts under the timing cover, a balance shaft belt and the timing belt. The balance shaft belt is the only one that's somewhat difficult, since it has to be on the correct revolution when you time it. (there's a plug on the back of the engine that you remove, allowing you to slide a screwdriver in to lock it in place)

While you're there you're going to want to verify that a balance shaft seal retainer has been installed, if not pick one up, they're only a few bucks at the dealer, or Dorman also makes them if you want to go through a parts store. Or you can order it from summit racing at the link I posted below.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Saw the good video about the balance shaft belt and where to place a 6 X 100 bolt or screwdriver to make sure everything is copesthetic. I presume my non-VTEC has the same situation with removing the bolt which keeps debris out and then using the bolt. It's a 95 Accord LX with 208,000 miles.

Yup, it's exactly the same vtec or non vtec.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Any particular brand of belts and head gasket you recommend? I'm thinking Fel Pro for the spark plug well gaskets.

I usually use either I usually stick with Honda parts for things like this since it's so much work to redo it. But Felpro makes fine products, I've yet to have a problem with them, I just tend to be overly paranoid about things like head gaskets. Also, It's not going to be in the instructions, but always use gasket sealant for the same reason, Hi-Tac by permatex is probably the most widely available.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK. Should I remove the cam assembly first and then the head? Here's where I'm paranoid since I know you have to make sure everything is just right or bad news. Does the cam assembly have to be removed before I take the head to me milled?

Generally speaking, yes, I've yet to have a machine shop that would mill a head for me without removing the camshaft.

As far as bad news and the camshaft, you already have the camshaft disconnected from the crankshaft when you pull the head, it's not much further to pull the camshaft from the head. Once again, just be patient.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have good tools--IR impact tool, IR deep and shallow sockets, wrenches, etc. What about torque wrenches? I have a 25 year old Sears DigiTork (3/8" drive) and a a two year old 1/2" drive one I bought at AutoZone or Advance for about 70 bucks. I'm a little hesitant to use the old Sears one since it's pretty old. It can't be calibrated since it isn't manufactured any longer. I'm a little worried about the 1/2" one too-only 70 bucks. Should I buy new ones and any particular brand? Snap On was way to expensive for my occasional use.

Your half inch torque wrench should be fine. You might want to replace the 3/8 though, just a simple craftsman will work for a do-it yourselfer. Otherwise you're getting up into the snap-on price range. Also, I forgot to mention, you're going to need a crankshaft holding tool so you can remove the crankshaft bolt.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Considering what I'm saving in labor costs that little tool is cheap even if I only use it once. I've seen different videos about how to remove the bolt and this I think is the best method. The Haynes says place a screwdriver in the flywheel--I see that as being a disaster. I broke one of the sleeves doing the lower ball joints so I can only imagine the torque on the bolt. I figure if the bolt is tough it will be the holding tool, long extension, long cheater bar, and my 230 lb frame. Wish I had a lift though.

The torque is about 200 pounds, which wouldn't be a big deal, but it's mounted to a movable crankshaft, so most impacts aren't able to remove it. The screwdriver in the flywheel is fine for locking it at top dead center, but I wouldn't trust it to hold it while you remove the crank bolt.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK, almost done. Where does the balance shaft retainer gizmo go? I didn't see it on a parts diagram on a Honda site. Do I need to replace the tensioner since I'm doing the water pump, pump seal, and belts? Does the Hi-Tac go on both sides of the gasket (thin layer)? Oh, found a nice Sears electronic torque wrench for 90 bucks.

That torque wrench looks like a knock off of the snap-on version I have, it should be all you need. The retainer goes over the balance shaft seal, they have a problem with the seal popping out. I've never replaced a tensioner as a maintenance item, but the water pump I certainly have. The hi tack sprays on both sides of the gasket and the surface of the head, block, etc.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK, do I adjust the valves after I'm done also? I presume once I torque the tensioner to spec it adjusts to the proper tension between that and the spring.

The spring sets the initial tension, the tensioner doesn't actually move once you've tightened it down. Basically, you install the timing belt, let the spring set the tension, tighten the bolt, then roll the engine over 2 times to verify the timing is correct. Prior to each compression stroke you'll see the belt loosen up on the tensioner side, at that point, loosen the bolt, then retorque. Go through that routine a couple times until it looks like it's as tight as it'll get.

If you've not done a valve adjustment recently you should do it while you have the valve cover off. Here's a link to a hXXXXX XXXXXttle tool for that.

You'll also need feeler gauges if you don't have a set.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK, it'll take me a few weeks to get this underway. Putting in a can of Stop Leak didn't seem the way to go. I noticed that I was losing a pint or two of coolant a week with no obvious leak. I took it by a mechanic and he did a pressure test. When he added pressure the car would miss. I got the block test kit from NAPA and the liquid looked a little yellow.

That's usually a pretty solid indication that you have an internal coolant leak.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for the help. I'll be back if I hit a snag.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Josh, another quick question. Saw a digital Sears torque wrench (it's digital, but also clicks) and an Eastland fully electronic torque wrench. Both about the same price. Eastland a better product? Eastland also had an electronic torque-angle one also. Overkill with that one?
Go for the torque angle, it's a really handy feature. Read the instructions though, torque angle usually has to calibrate each time you select it, so it won't work if it's not oriented correctly during calibration.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

A couple of questions. I pulled the oil pump pulley assembly (not the oil pump) and am replacing the large gasket. The old one was brittle and broke like a saltine cracker. Haynes and Chilton says to add some silicone to the ends of the threads when I replace. It also says to add the silicone (I have Permatex RTV black) to the face of the engine block then assemble. Is that necessary since it didn't have it originally? Shouldn't the gasket be enough? I'm supposing when I put the pulley back together that I should spin the pulley a few times to get it "balanced" and the timing marks should line back up roughly in the proper position. Oh yeah, I bought one of the 3/8" torque adapters for about 40 bucks and checked the accuracy of my old 25+ year old Sears torque wrench. Guess what, it's on the money after all this time.