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Thread: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

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    DX User Jinnai's Avatar
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    1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    This is irritating me and I can't figure it out, especially in the cold weather in Colorado Springs. I was driving down the highway, saw that it overheated, pulled over, checked the coolant, it barfed it out the radiator, I put more in, continued, made it home overheated, it barfed coolant out - I said fine, must be something wrong with the thermostat again, I took it out, tested it, it opened easily, I put it back in. Opened the air bleed valve and only air comes out. See this video for what's going on:


    I can't figure out how to fix this if it keeps dumping coolant out the radiator even when it's not overheated according to the gauge cluster. Also yeah, high RPMs, earlier it had a surge for a little bit but then evened out.



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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    Steaming like that pretty good chance the head gasket is blown.

    Let it 100% cool down and then fill it with water,bleed it. Start and run up bleeding all the time on/off with the bleeder like you are bleeding brakes on a car.

    See what you get there. I wouldnt waste money on coolant at this point.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    If your out of coolant the gauges aint gonna read. It reads water temp not steam!

    Also your heat will go out inside the car.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
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    DX User Jinnai's Avatar
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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    What do you mean in the first message - fill it with coolant, open valve, bleed air out, then what, what do I do if it never stops blowing air? That's where I was tonight.

    Yeah, I know the temp needle should drop when it's out of coolant. It might have done that early on without me noticing because it was so cold outside. The heat in the cabin did stop working.

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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinnai View Post
    What do you mean in the first message - fill it with coolant, open valve, bleed air out, then what, what do I do if it never stops blowing air? That's where I was tonight.

    Yeah, I know the temp needle should drop when it's out of coolant. It might have done that early on without me noticing because it was so cold outside. The heat in the cabin did stop working.
    Being so hot the water was just turning to steam and steam dont cool anything.

    With the car off and cooled down when you add coolant(water) eventually some should come out the bleeder.

    When you run it you need to bleed in on and off at least until the T stat opens up and you get full flow. You should get all water out the bleed screw whens its good. I run the rpms up a little crack the bleeder and then retighten it before I let the RPMS fall down...just like manually bleeding brakes in a way.

    Id honestly pitch the t stat I bets its bad.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    Pointed part of the thermostat is out correct? I dont think you can get it in backwards.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
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    DX User Jinnai's Avatar
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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    I'll try it again when I have more patience.

    I did test the thermostat in a pot of boiling water and it opened there.

    I don't think it can be in backwards either- it's long spring part pointing into the engine, round part sticking out, wiggler valve on top.

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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    remove the thermostat and then try? Run a garden hose and verify there is flow through the rad, engine, and heater core in both directions.

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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    First of all in the video your car is definately overheating and hopefully thats the only reason for all the steam.


    Start simple.

    1st. your top radiator hose should go to the thermostat housing. I can't tell if it is correct in the picture.
    2nd. replace your thermostat - Spring side toward the engine, little hole on thermostat should be on the top.
    3rd. Open your bleader valve (on the thermostat housing) and fill the radiator and reserve tank up with coolant, start the car and keep filling the radiator up (takes about 5 minutes or more if its really cold).
    4th. When coolant is a constant flow out of the bleeder valve with no bubbles, tighten it and put your radiator cap back on. You should have heat inside and the temp guage should read normal.


    If the above fails then i would check to see if you have a blown headgasket, there are testers you can buy that you put on your radiator cap with special liquid that turns colors when it detects exhaust gasses in your coolant.

    1988 Honda Accord LSDX-I

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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    I'd start with a compression test on that one.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Snooz View Post
    I'd start with a compression test on that one.
    Of the coolant system that is.
    Yeah, if you have a cap that is not holding any pressure, its going to boil at 212F (basically normal operating temp) with straight water, around 223F with 50/50 (fans are supposed to come on at 226), and the cap is supposed to raise the boiling point something like 39F, 3F per psi, the cap should hold 13psi or .9bar. Unless you are using heavy amounts of ethylene glycol (bad) then its gonna boil. Replace the cap since you cant pressure test with it on, then do a pressure test if you can get ahold of the equipment. I highly suggest you get a cheap coolant funnel and pressure tester, invaluable tools honestly.

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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinnai View Post
    This is irritating me and I can't figure it out, especially in the cold weather in Colorado Springs. I was driving down the highway, saw that it overheated, pulled over, checked the coolant, it barfed it out the radiator, I put more in, continued, made it home overheated, it barfed coolant out - I said fine, must be something wrong with the thermostat again, I took it out, tested it, it opened easily, I put it back in. Opened the air bleed valve and only air comes out. See this video for what's going on:


    I can't figure out how to fix this if it keeps dumping coolant out the radiator even when it's not overheated according to the gauge cluster. Also yeah, high RPMs, earlier it had a surge for a little bit but then evened out.
    Whats the lastest Doctor?
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
    336k miles running strong!
    Now running E85.

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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    Nothing much here. I might have sold the gold 4g that I've always hated and has hated me in return. I spent a small fortune rebuilding the engine. While I had it out, I detailed the engine bay, replaced all the hoses that lie buried under the engine, rebuilt the rack, replaced motor mounts and generally aced it out. It was my finest work. It repaid me by having oil pressure barely within the acceptable range, with no discernable cause. That damned car has been like that from day 1. Every chance it gets, it jabs a finger in my eye. It's time for it to enjoy the tender mercies of one of the field hands around here and to be savagely beaten to death. I won't come close to recovering what I spent on it. Even so, good riddance.

    And do a compression test on that engine before you waste any more time on the cooling system.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


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    DX User Jinnai's Avatar
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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    I swear I'll get to it soon! It's really cold in Colorado right now. I just came back from a trip that I had planned on taking the Accord on, but then it broke so I had to take the geo metro instead, as thats my only other car - that made it a hell of a lot less comfortable, but it got me there, so I'm thankful for that.

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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    You had to take the geo metro... god that must have been slow going

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    DX User Jinnai's Avatar
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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    Yeah, it was slow for sure. Thankfully I drive it in town and am used to not having cruise control, or my right leg would be in pain, and thankfully it has the 1.3L engine option, which is slightly less terrible than the 1.0L option.

    Well, the update I have isn't very interesting. I got a compression tester and tested all the cylinders, and they all measure 120-125. Not good, but it has 250k miles, and it doesn't indicate a blown head gasket. So I figured okay, the head gasket must have blown the water into the oil, but then I looked at the dip stick and it was just oil. So I bought a funnel thingy and just put coolant back in it and it has been holding it so far. I never heard of needing a coolant funnel to properly add coolant, so I don't know what's going on, but if it isn't overheating and is running, I don't know how to proceed.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinnai View Post
    Yeah, it was slow for sure. Thankfully I drive it in town and am used to not having cruise control, or my right leg would be in pain, and thankfully it has the 1.3L engine option, which is slightly less terrible than the 1.0L option.

    Well, the update I have isn't very interesting. I got a compression tester and tested all the cylinders, and they all measure 120-125. Not good, but it has 250k miles, and it doesn't indicate a blown head gasket. So I figured okay, the head gasket must have blown the water into the oil, but then I looked at the dip stick and it was just oil. So I bought a funnel thingy and just put coolant back in it and it has been holding it so far. I never heard of needing a coolant funnel to properly add coolant, so I don't know what's going on, but if it isn't overheating and is running, I don't know how to proceed.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    those things help burp air out of the system..there pretty much a must have on modern vehicles now. I tried not using one on the Hemi engine in my Jeep and that was a big mistake.

    If its running and your pretty sure its not over heating than I think your in good shape.

    I super heated mine(Honda) once and got away with just a thermostat change out.

    Id change the oil too when you can.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
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    Now running E85.

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    DX User Jinnai's Avatar
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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    Quick update - good news and bad news - good news is, it acted up again and I found a burst hose, was a bastard to get to, I don't know what exactly it is:


    After replacing that, which was a huge pain in the butt, it hasn't acted up in that way since. So it was just losing coolant. But the temperatures have been acting wacky, like it's usually running cold but sometimes seems to heat up to what I remember it used to? Feels like a thermostat, but I checked it a while back and it was not stuck open and it opened in boiling water. Oldblue you say you heated yours and replaced the thermostat afterwards, are those two things related? Think the heat could have cooked the thermostat?

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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    short version yes..

    I would pull it out and run it with out confirm you are not over heating then replace. Replacements sucks in general and I would NOT got one of those safe thermostats.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    Can you confirm that your radiator hoses aren't backwards. It kinda looks like they are in the pictures.

    The top radiator hose should go to the thermostat housing

    The bottom radiator hose should go to the metal pipe under the intake manifold which leads to the water pump.


    It does make a difference and you can experience exactly what is happening to you, its caused by air in the system because you can never properly bleed the air out of the system when the hoses are backwards.

    1988 Honda Accord LSDX-I

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    DX User Jinnai's Avatar
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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    Are you totally sure? It is backwards from what you describe!

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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    100% sure

    Fix it and your problems will go away. I had a shop replace a radiator for me and they got the hoses backwards and i had the same issues as you. I never ruined the engine by the way even with many many overheating episodes.

    What i describe is correct and from the shop manual, look at the manual of you want.

    1988 Honda Accord LSDX-I

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    DX User Jinnai's Avatar
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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    Nah I believe you can't wait to get them switched and see how it runs.

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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    Quote Originally Posted by conozo View Post
    Can you confirm that your radiator hoses aren't backwards. It kinda looks like they are in the pictures.

    The top radiator hose should go to the thermostat housing

    The bottom radiator hose should go to the metal pipe under the intake manifold which leads to the water pump.


    It does make a difference and you can experience exactly what is happening to you, its caused by air in the system because you can never properly bleed the air out of the system when the hoses are backwards.
    Great spot Conozo....!
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
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    Re: 1988 Honda Accord is overheating and barfing coolant

    For reference, Honda never crosses hoses, or really anything else. It will always run in parallel.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


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