Reader asks why he needs to ad­just valves on his Honda Ac­cord

The Maui News - - AUTO - By Ray Magliozzi

Dear Car Talk:

My Honda dealer says the valves on my 2013 Honda Ac­cord should be ad­justed. As I write this, the car is about to hit the 100,000-mile mark. Do I re­ally need to pay $150$200 to ad­just the valves? And how come my dealer also says I don’t have to re­place the tim­ing belt (not that I’m com­plain­ing)? Thanks. — Steve

Yes, you do have to ad­just the valves, Steve. And $150 to $200 is the right price.

This is a prob­lem that seems to be unique to Honda: Honda’s valves have a ten­dency to get too tight. On most cars, valves get looser over the years and start to clat­ter. But Honda valves tighten up, so you don’t get any warn­ing noise.

Hon­das are prone to some­thing called “valve seat re­ces­sion” (I’m sure we all re­mem­ber the great valve seat re­ces­sion of 2008): The con­stant pound­ing of the valves into the valve seats ac­tu­ally drives the valves fur­ther into the cylin­der head. Over time, that move­ment causes the valves to tighten up.

The dan­ger is that if you don’t ad­just the valves, the valves stop clos­ing com­pletely. Then the hot com­bus­tion gases can sneak by a valve and burn the edges of it. We me­chan­ics call that “burn­ing a valve.” Fix­ing it re­quires a valve job, which we me­chan­ics call “a boat pay­ment.”

So it’s well worth a cou­ple of hun­dred bucks to ad­just the valves, even though noth­ing seems to be wrong. And most likely, this will be the only time you’ll ever have to do it. Be­cause by the time this car has 200,000 miles on it, you’ll prob­a­bly be driv­ing a 2023 Ac­cord.

And the rea­son you don’t need to re­place your tim­ing belt, Steve, is be­cause your Ac­cord doesn’t have a tim­ing belt — it has a tim­ing chain. Got a ques­tion about cars? Write to Ray at Car Talk in care of King Fea­tures, 628 Vir­ginia Drive, Or­lando, FL 32803, or email by vis­it­ing the Car Talk web­site at

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