Vehicle: Honda Civic 2004 1.4L

Issue: According to thermometer, engine temperature changes from normal (about half) to maximum within seconds, and back to normal equally quickly. For example, it might take 10 seconds for meter to jump to maximum, then, after few minutes, it descends back to normal within 10 seconds. While I have noticed that engine consumes coolant (needs refill every month or so) I can't spot any white smoke coming from exhaust, or leakage.

What could cause this problem? Any advise is highly appreciated.

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! 1.4L? Is this the CNG model? Jul 22, 2022 at 14:39
  • I meant engine size in litres. It's gasoline fueled hatchback. Just like this: fin.auto24.ee/kaytetty/3416981 Jul 22, 2022 at 14:47
  • It is what I thought. The vehicle you showed in the link has a 1.7L engine, which is standard ... and unfortunately I know exactly what the problem is. Jul 22, 2022 at 15:28

1 Answer 1


Your model/year of Civic comes with a D17 engine in it. These are known for having head gasket leaks. I had a 2003 (bought it used with 190k miles on it - 2001 through 2005 used the same D17 engine, though some were VTEC and others not). Engine ran great, but sipped coolant. After 2-3 days of driving, it would do exactly what yours is doing with the temps. I can almost guarantee you have a head gasket leak. The problem usually lies in the fact people do not use the Honda blue coolant which is prescribed by Honda. Regular coolant will, over time, eat through the head gasket and start leaking into the cylinder(s). The head gaskets Honda used were very susceptible to this issue.

You might be able to get away with doing a head gasket on it. I found when I took mine apart, the camshaft had some severe wear on it. Replacement of the cam and components alone (cam for it from Honda would have been more than $600US) would have cost more than a JDM engine, which I ended up purchasing. The JDM engine, which they claimed had ~60k miles on it, was ~$550US including tax. I don't know if JDM engines are available in Finland, but it might be something to consider.

  • Your knowledge is amazing. Do you know if car can be driven with head gasket leak, or does it require immediate attention? Also, do you mean D14 engine (1.4 litres as it is)? Jul 22, 2022 at 18:39
  • @Paulster2 - The seventh-generation Civic did come with a 1.4L gasoline engine in the EU market. Engine code D14Z6.
    – Chris O
    Jul 22, 2022 at 20:36
  • @Mr.Engineer - Paulster2 is very likely correct about the head gasket leak. And no, it is not a good idea to drive a car with a leaking head gasket. Aside from wasting coolant and fuel (because the engine is not running at design spec anymore), it will eventually damage your engine beyond where it is economical to repair.
    – Chris O
    Jul 22, 2022 at 20:38
  • @ChrisO - Fair enough :o) Jul 22, 2022 at 20:41
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Would it be too difficult to replace the head gasket by myself? Do I need to time the engine after taking the belt off? Jul 23, 2022 at 13:30

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