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Thread: A20 Engine Rebuild Advice

  1. #1
    DX User
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    Feb 2019
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    A20 Engine Rebuild Advice

    Hello all, long time lurker, first time poster here.

    I am at a crossroads with my 89 Accord DX. Context incoming so bear with me:

    I own an 89 DX hatch with about 191,xxx miles. A couple months ago a radiator hose blew and my trusty accord died on the road. I got it towed to a shop who had done previous work on it getting it through smog (I live in California so smog is crucial here) and after various tests i was left with 3 options: engine rebuild, engine eplacement, or get a new car. I ended up getting a new car cause I need transportation, however I still currently have the Honda in my driveway having had no work done to it since the incident. I don't remember the exact issue explained to me since it was several months ago, but I remember "scorching in cylinder 1" and was informed that the block itself is the likely source of the issue. The car sat for two weeks at the shop while the guy looking over my car was calling various machine shops in the area to get a quote for them to machine the head/block and have the shop rebuild the engine. According to him machine shops in my area didn't want to work on this motor because parts would allegedly be unavailable if something else were to be at fault, so after getting that news from the garage my car was towed to back home where she sits to this day.

    I also have a donor 1988 Accord DX with 29x,xxx miles, which I have been using for parts as it had better suspension and other various goodies I've been scavenging. This donor car is currently in my driveway jacked up in the front because i had removed various suspension parts for my car. The engine in the donor is the same, also not running but can be fixed in its current condition. I believe the last owner (cousin, then uncle) said something fell into the cylinder head and he just didn't feel like fixing it so I got the car for free.

    Long story short I'm looking into using the block from the donor, since the guy at the shop says the block is the issue in mine, and attempting a home rebuild with stuff from my accord since it has almost half as many miles as the donor car. Anyone on here have experience with rebuilding these A20 engines? Is it even worth the effort? Time isnt an issue but id like to keep this procedure as cheap as possible as i am but a humble home mechanic. I've secured another car, but I'd like to get at least one of the Hondas back on the road.

    Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!



  2. #2


    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Vehicle
    88 LXi
    Location
    Knoxville TN
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    5,025

    Re: A20 Engine Rebuild Advice

    https://www.3geez.com/forum/showthre...-build-threads

    this might get you started.

    Finding a good engine shop is my problem too. I havent had any work done on anything in probably 15 years non Mopar.

    I dont think the complete reman motors available but that may be a start...at least you would have a complete motor parts and all have a shop tear it down look it over.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
    336k miles running strong!
    Now running E85.

    Oldblueaccord <<< MY YOUTUBE PAGE!

  3. #3

    conozo's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
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    1988 Honda Accord DX, 235,000 Miles, Daily Driver
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    Fort Wayne, Indiana
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    Re: A20 Engine Rebuild Advice

    These engines are easy to work on because there is no vtec, no dual overhead cam, no balancer at the bottom, they are so basic. I would start by taking the head off both engines to see the condition of what you got. Are the cylinder walls scored, pistons ok, etc. If these engines are both original and have not been rebuilt previously then you could combine the good parts to make a good engine.

    1988 Honda Accord LSDX-I

  4. #4
    DX User
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    Re: A20 Engine Rebuild Advice

    That Is sort of my plan, to take apart my accords engine and assess but I'm also not entirely sure of the actual source of the issue at hand, which is why I would want to start from scratch, so to speak, and rebuild the engine in its entirety to eliminate any potential failiure points. I'm not trying to build a crazy fast hot hatch or anything, I'm just trying to preserve the car as much as I can. I just don't want to tear into either of these cars and end up with a junked block (my accord did overheat several times before it finally kicked the bucket, which i know can stress and/or crack the block) or end up needing something I can't replace. I do have basically a copy of my car, but since it has almost twice as many miles I'm unsure of the general condition of any of the components. If any of you have any tips as to what to look for when inspecting the engine or some do's and don'ts for this type of procedure it will be appreciated.

  5. #5

    conozo's Avatar
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    Fort Wayne, Indiana
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    Re: A20 Engine Rebuild Advice

    Many on here including myself have overheated these engines many times without causing damage to the block or head. The head gasket may go but you'll be replacing it anyways, use the FelPro brand one for our cars. Also when you take the engine apart keep the cylinder walls, pistons, camshaft, etc covered with a layer of oil so it doesn't develop surface rust if its going to sit there.

    Take it apart and post clear pics here of everything, we will help guide you.

    1988 Honda Accord LSDX-I

  6. #6
    DX User
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    Re: A20 Engine Rebuild Advice

    Hey all! It's been a while since my last post but life ways seems to get in the way. I've since cleared my garage and have started to disassemble the parts necessary as ordered by the Haynes manuals as well as the shop manual online, mostly removing vacuum and radiator hoses so far. I will try to post my progress as I go, fielding the advice from the OG's on here. Not sure how to upload pics on this forum here but as soon as I figure that out I will be posting somewhat regularly.

  7. #7

    Re: A20 Engine Rebuild Advice

    Head is more likely to go from overheating than the block.
    There is a code stamped on the block somewhere that gives you the oem bearing sizes. If it's getting machined then just go with whatever they recommend based on the line hone. If I remember correctly all the heads are all interchangeable with negligible differences in the cam profiles.
    Eric
    3geez member since October 12, 2000
    "All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man." - Henry David Thoreau

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