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Car Talk

BY RAY MAGLIOZZI

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

DEAR CAR TALK:
I was told I have a seized engine in
my 2012 Hyundai, with a 3.5 V6.
How does one check to confirm this
conclusion?
— BLAIR

Two part question: Which of the
above explanations is right and why,
and how much should I pay for a valve
adjustment? Thank you for your help!
— GORDON

DEAR BLAIR:
When you pick up your checkbook
do you hear a whooshing sound? The
sound of money rapidly leaving your
account is a pretty good confirmation.
I assume your car suddenly died on
you, and the engine would not restart.
The first thing we’d do is check your
engine oil level.
Running out of oil is a frequent
cause of engine seizing. So, if you’re
out of oil, that’s a big clue that you ran
out of lubrication, and your engine
parts rubbed themselves together into
a permanent sculpture, rather than a
functioning engine. If checking the oil
is inconclusive, or if there is still sufficient oil in the crankcase, we’ll try to
turn the crankshaft with a wrench.
Every crankshaft has a pulley, which
is held on by a bolt on the front of the
engine. You can put a wrench on that
bolt and use it to try to turn the crankshaft. So, we’ll put a socket on the
bolt, attach a breaker bar and see if
the crankshaft will turn. If it won’t turn,
that tells you that you no longer have
engine parts. You have an engine part.
If you don’t have confidence in the
mechanic who diagnosed it for you,
you can have it towed to a mechanic
you trust more and ask him to do
these tests.
However, if you know you did
something drastic, like never changing the oil, running the car out of oil,
or overheating the bejeebers out of
the engine, then you may very well
have seized it, Blair. In which case, the
engine is toast.
That means it’s time to film “The
Blair Engine Project.” Or “The Buy Blair
a New Car Project.” Good luck.

DEAR GORDON:
They’re both right, and since this is
a V6 engine, it could easily cost you
$400-$500 to have the valves adjusted. That’ll include new valve cover
gaskets.
You could be cheap and try to put
the valve covers back on using the old
gaskets, but that’s kind of like taking
a shower and then not bothering to
change your underwear.
We’ve found that Hondas do require
regular valve adjustments. Honda
recommends it every 105,000 miles,
when you change the timing belt. But
we recommend our customers check
their valves every 75,000 miles.
Here’s why: Honda valves have a
unique propensity to get too tight
over time, and if valves get too tight,
you don’t hear anything.
But valves that are too tight won’t
close all the way, and if they remain
open during the combustion process,
hot gasses will blow past the valves
and eventually melt them. Pretty soon,
you’ll have a five cylinder Pilot. Then a
four cylinder Pilot, etc.
If you think a valve adjustment is
expensive, just wait until you need 24
valve replacements. That’s thousands
of dollars.
Having valves that are too loose is
a problem, too. But at least with loose
valves, you get a warning — a clattering noise — if you pay attention to
such things.
Now, it’s possible for some of your
valves to be too loose (that’s when
they make noise) and some of your
valves to be too tight (when they
don’t make noise, but they’re even
more apt to be damaged).
So, you should go to a mechanic
who knows Honda engines. At the
very least, let your regular mechanic
know that you understand
that Honda valves sometimes get too tight,
and you want to be
sure he checks for
tight valves as well as
loose valves.
Those tight valves
are what the kids
call silent but deadly,
Gordon. Get it done
soon.

DEAR CAR TALK:
I’m hearing a clicking or tapping
noise from my 2010 Honda Pilot.
It has 110,000 miles on it. The
valves have never been
adjusted, nor has the timing belt been replaced (I
know it’s time).
I’m reading and hearing all sorts of comments that when the
valves get noisy, they are
in need of adjustment.
But I have also heard that
when valves get tight,
that is when they
need adjustment.

Got a question about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando,
FL 32803, or email by visiting the Car Talk website at cartalk.com.
(c) 2019 by Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman

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