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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hi there - i've taken my 2005 MDX to a local shop for various things, and recently learned that one of the mechanics does some work on his own. I guess he has a shop he has put together for himself to do some side work, etc. Anyway, I wanted to try and get the timing belt service done inexpensively so I asked if he could do that and he said yes.

Now since I have gotten the vehicle back, I noticed I have oil in my coolant and white smoke coming out the exhaust.

Is it possible that this could be related to something he did during the timing belt service? I just didn't realize what a precision job this needed to be - now I wish I had just taken it to the dealer for that.

I do know that it seemed to be burning oil before I brought it to him because he told me it was very low, but I didn't notice any issues with white smoke before, and I'm not sure about whether oil was in the coolant because I hadn't checked in a while.

As a side note - I'm guessing this is now a pretty big deal to get fixed (head gasket or something) - is it worth putting in one of those imported engines from Japan with ~50-60k miles? Is that a job that a decent local mechanic can do?
 

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I agree with skirmich - the timing belt replacement itself (even including the water pump and tensioners) shouldn't compromise the barrier between the "oil system" and the "coolant system". Chances are if it was losing oil before, the problem already existed - maybe at a slightly lower level that didn't produce enough smoke to notice.

I'd suggest having some diagnostics done on the engine to determine for sure that it's a head gasket (most likely). Then it's not a HUGE deal to get it fixed, though it's going to cost quite a bit - and sadly, would have been a good time to add the timing belt change for just a couple hundred bucks more while the engine was apart). I haven't priced head gasket jobs, but they're clearly going to be less money than a "new" engine, and IMHO is a much better choice, as pulling and replacing an engine can lead to all sorts of difficulties from the trauma to all the wiring and hoses that might cause other problems in the future, or in subtle but annoying incompatibilities between the engine you end up with and the vehicle it's been put into.
 

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If burning oil, I would caution it might be more than a head gasket. You might need a valve job too. A mechanic can test and diagnose as mentioned.

If the belt was incorrectly installed off time, I suppose a valve (or valves) could have gotten bent and now causing more oil to leak into a cylinder(s) and burn but hard to prove if the mech caught it and fixed it. If valves did get bent, there could be clacking that wasn’t there before.

You might want to check your oil. Look for light streaks on the dip stick and look under the oil filler cap for a Vaseline-like gel. Either could indicate coolant in the oil. Gel under the cap would suggest it’s been there awhile.

Btw, how many miles on your engine and did you change the oil and filter on schedule?

Maybe have your mechanic quote both ways, used engine vs head gasket and compare cost/warranty. Head gasket(s) will probably be less but both have a chance of other incidental costs - you might ask to have them listed so you have a good idea what it could cost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you everyone for the responses. The dealer got back to me today and basically just said that it needs a new engine - said that they think there is more than just a head gasket issue. So I guess I'm going car shopping soon since the cost of replacing it on this MDX probably isn't worth it (already has 240k miles on it). The dealer quoted me a price to install a junkyard engine with 130k miles at $5,600.

Any ideas on how long I might be able to drive this thing if somehow oil is getting into the coolant, but coolant does not appear to be getting into the oil (at least right now)? Any suggestions on extending the life of the engine while I try to limp it along?
 

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In this scenario, I would definitely explore one of the "snake oil" products that are specifically designed to "repair" a blown head gasket. The reviews (seemingly legit, in most cases) for some of the products seem to be pretty promising, particularly if the leak isn't TOO bad (which might be the case if your oil is staying clean).

I don't have any specific recommendations for which product(s) might work, but would suggest looking at several of them and reading what kind of luck others have had using them. Here's a good place to find (usually) reliable feedback on a lot of products: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_11?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=head+gasket+sealer&sprefix=head+gasket%2Caps%2C579&crid=3O55D4H4M7DWP

Truth be told, I've been dying to see someone try this to see how it works. I'd be a little hesitant to do it in some cases, but on a high-mileage vehicle with no real future due to the low value / high repair cost, there's little to lose.
 

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No guarantees but thinking the engine will eventually start running worse and then start misfiring before it completely dies so youll have some advance notice.

You could be in for a tow.

I think the additive is worth trying and go easy.
 

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In this scenario, I would definitely explore one of the "snake oil" products that are specifically designed to "repair" a blown head gasket. The reviews (seemingly legit, in most cases) for some of the products seem to be pretty promising, particularly if the leak isn't TOO bad (which might be the case if your oil is staying clean).

I don't have any specific recommendations for which product(s) might work, but would suggest looking at several of them and reading what kind of luck others have had using them.

I had GREAT success buying a head gasket (2 part) maker chemical from AUTO-RX dot com
My 1996 ford windstar was getting oil in the coolant reservoir and I got the head gasket repair chemical. It was 2 chemicals and it fixed my problem, for 6 years. After 6 years, the mixing happened again and I used the product again and it fixed the problem, for many more years.
People with the Cadillac north star motor use it too.
 
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