Piston Slap: The Anchorman Plays Valve Roulette

piston slap the anchorman plays valve roulette

Stay Classy, Honda!

TTAC Commentator Anchorman33 writes:

Hello Sajeev,

Love TTAC, and the Piston Slap series. I’m not a fixer, mainly because of time and space, but knowing a community like the B&B/TTAC is out there definitely makes me think about my automotive choices more than I ever did before.

I’ve got a 2006 Honda Odyssey that’s coming due for it’s 105k mile service. I’ve had it for about the last 3+ years and done basic maintenance, to include changing the brake and transmission fluid about 10k miles ago. don’t know when/if they had ever been changed before. It’s been in at least two wrecks, rear ended before I bought it and not fixed properly – the driver’s side rear bumper has about a 6″ bolt holding it on; and side swiped on the drivers side about 18 months ago, fixed properly. I Overall it’s an ok ride,but definitely showing it’s age cosmetically and mechanically. The current plan is to keep it for another 6-8 months and replace it with a new(er) van that’s a keeper.

The local independent shop (SoCal) is quoting me $1100 for the timing belt, water pump, radiator hoses, fluid and oil change. Local dealer is saying $1850 for all that plus valve adjustment. My question for you and the Best and Brightest is, how big of a gamble is it to just change the oil and hope the rest of the items can make it 8-12K more miles? I obviously don’t want to blow up the motor, but I’m having a hard time swallowing that much cash outlay on an older than its age/miles would suggest vehicle that I’m planning on getting rid of in less than a year. Thanks.

Sajeev answers:

I am 99% sure this motor is an interference engine. In plain English, that means if you don’t change the timing belt, you play a fun game called “Valve Roulette.” If you win, pass that repair bill to the next chump that buys your wagon. If not, the game will eat your motor and you’ll be out thousands for a replacement. I rather hate interference engines with belts (instead of chains), for this reason alone. And while I do love Hondas, especially the Odyssey, this is another time where a later model Ford/Chrysler(?)/GM minivan is a less stressful, much more wallet friendly alternative. Then again, nobody blames you for avoiding Buick Terraza DNA in your ride.

But I digress. Is this game worth the risk? In my mind…absolutely not. Pay for the fix, save all your receipts and put that baby on craigslist when its time to get a new van. Mention the service history, mention the care and attention put into this vehicle. It will sell, and the money put into the belt will pay off when the right buyer shows up. And they always do, in a hurry…all it takes is the magic of service receipts and a properly worded craigslist posting.

On the flip side, this van isn’t exactly in the best of shape. And timing belts don’t blow out immediately after they reach their intended service mileage. If you think you’ll keep the miles down, feel free to forget about it and pass some bad vibes to the next owner. It probably won’t hurt your karma, especially with the magic of trading in a vehicle to a faceless dealership. With any luck the dealer that eventually sells it (I suspect yours will go straight to auction) will have the belt serviced, but that’s not your problem.

Too many variables to know for sure, too much time to overthink them all.

Stay Classy, Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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  • Mnm4ever Mnm4ever on Sep 13, 2011

    Why dump money into it OR take a risk driving it for 6 more months?? Its at a major service point, and if its rough, dump it now and put the $1100-1800 into additional down payment. And, this is a good lesson in why you dont beat up on a car. If you keep the cosmetics up, then spending money on maintenance is justified... people will buy a high mileage car thats in nice shape and has been maintained. Almost no one will buy a beater just because it had been serviced recently.

  • TOTitan TOTitan on Sep 16, 2011

    This annoying timing belt issue is why I pass on Hondas/Toyotas and buy Nissans/Infinitis. Their engines have chains and will happily run beyond 200,000 miles with just regular maintenance.

  • 285exp I am quite sure that it is a complete coincidence that they have announced a $7k price increase the same week that the current administration has passed legislation extending the $7k tax credit that was set to expire. Yep, not at all related.
  • Syke Is it possible to switch the pure EV drive on and off? Given the wonderful throttle response of an EV, I could see the desirability of this for a serious off-roader. Run straight ICE to get to your off-roading site, switch over the EV drive during the off-road section, then back to ICE for the road trip back home.
  • ToolGuy Historical Perspective Moment:• First-gen Bronco debuted in MY1966• OJ Simpson Bronco chase was in 1994• 1966 to 1994 = 28 years• 1994 to now = 28 yearsFeel old yet?
  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.
  • FreedMike I just don’t see the market here - I think about 1.2% of Jeep drivers are going to be sold on the fuel cost savings here. And the fuel cost savings are pretty minimal, per the EPA: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/PowerSearch.do?action=noform&path=1&year1=2022&year2=2022&make=Jeep&baseModel=Wrangler&srchtyp=ymm&pageno=1&rowLimit=50Annual fuel costs for this vehicle are $2200 and $2750 for the equivalent base turbo-four model. I don’t get it.
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