Reader asks why he needs to adjust valves on his Honda Accord
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 www.car talk.com.