2003 Honda Civic LX 4-door sedan leaks oil on top of engine block

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  #1  
Old 09-17-16, 05:53 AM
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2003 Honda Civic LX 4-door sedan leaks oil on top of engine block

This is my neighbor's car; she's a little old lady on a low budget, so when I heard of her car troubles I set out to fix 'em. It's had a radiator leak for a few months now, which she manages by pouring a gallon of coolant into the overflow tank every 100 miles, but more irritating is that it pools a little bit of oil in front of the head gasket, which she wipes away with a paper towel. Makes a strong burning smell as she drives.

The radiator I'm just going to replace.

The oil leak sounds like it needs a new head gasket. Probably overheated the engine at some point and burned a little hole it it.

Can it be some other problem, just to be safe?

Thanks,
 
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Old 09-17-16, 07:02 AM
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Hondas normally leak oil from valve cover gasket and spark plug seals.
Very good chance is oil seeps down and that pools in whatever depressions it finds on engine block.
So best bet is to give it good wash with some quality engine cleaner and then track leak.
I'd start there.
Thank you for being good Samaritan.
 
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Old 09-17-16, 09:20 PM
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Thanks for the advice. I did the engine cleaning, and followed the instructions on the can to run the vehicle for 10-15 minutes to be sure it dried out well. Didn't see any oil, but the owner says every once in a while she has to sop some up from the engine block with paper towels.

But the plot thickens -- as soon as I turned the engine on, I noticed that the plastic fan on the cute little radiator wasn't turning. It never turned in the whole fifteen minutes it ran. Dashboard thermometer stayed right in the middle once it warmed up. A new OEM radiator is $118 at AutoZone, but before I buy it, do you know if it comes with a fan? I saw no belt arrangement to turn the fan, so I figure it is an electric motor -- does that make sense? Am I simply missing a belt, or a fuse?

Whatever this woman's car needs I'm going to get fixed, but I wish I knew the territory a little better so I avoid unnecessary mistakes.

Thanks,
 
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Old 09-17-16, 09:47 PM
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Googling the problem, I came across this helpful information on the fan not turning, and other helpful details:

03 fans won't turn on without a/c on... - Honda Civic Forum

That gives me a couple of clues, at least.

Thanks,
 
  #5  
Old 09-18-16, 03:22 AM
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A new OEM radiator is $118 at AutoZone, but before I buy it, do you know if it comes with a fan?
The fan is a separate item. Usually you'll buy the fan motor and not the whole assembly. You can hot wire the fan to verify if the motor is still good.
 
  #6  
Old 09-18-16, 07:11 AM
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You have 2 fans to deal with.
1. Radiator fan, aka cooling fan
2. AC fan.
AC fan does not run unless ac is turned on. So don't worry about that.

Civic radiators are far less than a hundred bucks:

https://www.google.com/#q=2003+civic+radiator&tbm=shop

She made it so far, she can wait a bit for delivery.

As of oil leaks.
Take car to coin car wash. Pressure wash engine everywhere.
Buy can of oil dye, add to oil, and let it show where the leaks are under UV light. That's about the best way to do it.
 
  #7  
Old 09-18-16, 10:34 AM
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Sunday morning here. I ran the engine with the AC and fan knobs off. Neither of the two fans in the front radiator turned. When I turned on the AC no light came on, and no fans turned.

But when I turned the fan speed knob on the dashboard one notch, both fans came on full. Once the engine was fully warm, with the dashboard thermostat parked right in the middle, the fans began to cycle on and off together. I turned off the AC, and both fans stopped, and did not cycle on again.

Tomorrow, when the Honda dealer is open, I'm going to get a new OEM radiator cap, and ask him about oil dye. I already know the gasket leaks oil, so finding the exact spot it's leaking hardly interests me -- the whole gasket needs to be replaced, and the spark plug seals checked/replaced.

As to the radiator, IF the coolant leakage is due to a faulty radiator cap, that's easily fixed with a new OEM cap. IF the radiator is actually what's leaking, a new radiator at the best price I can find is the fix.

Thanks for the advice,
 
  #8  
Old 09-22-16, 03:33 PM
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Took it to the Honda dealer. Blown head gasket with no damage to engine; crack in the radiator; replacing the original factory issue timing belt; replacing fuel pump only because the sender unit that tells the dashboard gas gauge how much fuel you have is dead. Fuel pump is fine.

Good grief -- I saw the car -- you have to take everything under the hood apart just to get to the pieces you want to work on.
 
  #9  
Old 09-22-16, 07:41 PM
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Hmmm... Is car even worth it? They are between $2500 and 3500 on craigslist. Repairs will be around $1500? If not more?
 
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