Honda Civic Overheating: Diagnosing The Sources Of The Problem

Engine overheating is dangerous in many senses. Not only is it unsafe to drive under this condition but also can cause permanent damage to the engine. The Honda Civic overheating is one such problem that many Honda owners have to deal with. It mostly occurs in models between 1990 and 2005.

Honda Civic Overheating: The Causes and Solutions

The internal combustion engine while burning fuel to generate power will make excess heat. If not cooled down in time, the engine will overheat, causing the risk of fire and explosion. Overheating is one of the most dangerous engine errors that drivers need to be aware of during vehicle operations. Additionally, the excessive heat in the car engine can warp the cylinder block or head, leading to an expensive repair. There are plenty of components that can cause this 2002 or 2001 Honda Civic overheating issue. We will discuss the most frequent ones:

1. The radiator

Replacing the radiator can solve the Honda Civic overheating issue because a clogged radiator causes this problem by not allowing the water to flow properly. Clean the radiator and fill it with antifreeze. Keep the cap open and warm up the car to see if the water is flowing properly. Bubbles in the water indicate a head gasket problem. Otherwise, just seal the radiator with a new radiator cap.

2001 honda civic overheating
The radiator of a 2001 Honda Civic. (Photo: anpadeh)

2. Coolant leak

If the car is eating up an excessive amount of coolant than it should be, then it must be going somewhere. Figuring out and fixing the problem will solve the Honda Civic overheating trouble.

We must say that the common cause of Honda Civic overheating comes from the coolant. When the engine creates heat, the coolant will help your engine cool down. The fluid is then cooled by the fan, transported to the tank, and recirculated back to the engine. When the coolant has problems such as leakage, blockage, condensation, or too low compared to the standard, … will cause the cooling process to be interrupted, and cause overheating of your car.

The antifreeze can end up either in the ground through a leak or into a component. If you discover small puddles of sweet-smelling liquid on the ground, there must be a leak somewhere. Look into the heater core if you find the passenger floor feels damper than usual or the air in the car contains a high amount of humidity.

The coolant can also get inside the engine, which is really bad news. Use a dipstick to see if the oil looks like a milky liquid. There is nothing to worry about if it looks like regular oil. But, a milky color indicates that oil and coolant have been mixing in the engine and you have to replace it to fix the problem.

3. Issues with a head gasket

The antifreeze can go into the combustion chamber too. In that case, there will be sweet-smelling white smoke coming off the exhaust system. Also, the smoke will feel extremely humid when coming out of the exhaust pipe. All these symptoms point to one component – the head gasket.

2002 honda civic overheating
A 2002 Honda Civic. (Photo: garagedreams)

Also, a compression test on the cylinders can lead you to the head gasket issue. Find the pressure in one cylinder is lower than the rest. It must be a bad head gasket that causes Honda Civic overheating by either pumping compression into the cooling system or burning the water in the engine.

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4. The thermostat

The thermostat is a part of the cooling system, coordinating the cooling solution. When the engine temperature reaches a certain threshold, the thermostat will open to allow cooling water to flow to engine parts. Therefore, when the engine is overheated, causing the thermostat to be stuck, the coolant fluid will not be distributed to the engine to cool down, causing overheating in the engine.

If you use a sealant in the coolant system, it will likely have brown gunk that can smudge the thermostat. An overheated thermostat is damaged, so it requires replacement. No matter what the source of the problem is, an overheated engine means the thermostat is already out of order.

5. Low engine oil

Low levels of engine oil can also cause the vehicle to overheat. Automotive oil is responsible for lubricating the internal components of the engine, helping to reduce friction (reducing wear), and cooling the engine (reducing overheating). Therefore, if the car is lacking in engine oil, the internal components of the engine will not be lubricated and cooled, leading to the car overheating. In this case, you should check the engine oil regularly and add the oil in time if the oil level is low compared to the recommended standard. Alternatively, if you detect an oil leakage, you should handle it as soon as possible. 

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