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Help me!! For the love of Pete (or in my case Chris), we can*t figure out what is wrong with my 1993 Honda Civic LX. Five years ago we took it in (to a "reputable" repair shop) for routine maintenance as we were planning a road trip from Baltimore to Montreal to see the Canadian Grand Prix. We get the usual, tire rotation, oil change, etc. and are told that we need a new radiator. We agree to that repair. Once we get the car back (a day before our trip and $1400 poorer) we take the car home and proceed to pack for Canada. On the way there (in NYC) the check engine light comes on. The car begins to over heat! Upon examination, it appears the mechanics did not put the radiator cap on! We fill the radiator, replace the cap. The check engine light remains on. After four days in Canada (where it was much cooler) we head back to Baltimore. At times the car would idle high, over heat, and stall if we came to a slow crawl (again NYC) or stop for a traffic light. Needless to say we are livid. After we return home we take the car back to _______ Automotive. They keep the car for over a week and tell me they can*t figure out what*s wrong.(or why my 10 favorite CDs are missing from my vehicle) They agree to replace a mirror I was missing for free since they can*t solve the problem. Ha! Like that is compensation. They proceed to tell me that their expertise is manual transmission vehicles and hunch their shoulders. It should be stated here that they were the only place I went to for maintenance since I*ve owned the car, and they never told me that before! I took the car back vowing to never return and to never recommend that place which saddens me because prior to that mishap I loved ________ Automotive. Well, its been five years and with the exception of oil changes and minor things, my beloved husband has taken care of repairs promising that a new car was/is just around the corner. In the winter months the car runs fine (I don*t take it far), when it is over 70*F however it is prone to overheating and I must put the car in neutral to prevent stalling. This is a tremendous hassel when I have to parallel park! Additionally, my A/C stopped working (sort of, it works if the outside temp is below 80, but who needs it then?) and I sometimes have to turn the heat on in the summer to cool the engine. My husband lowered the idle, so that helps some. Can you please tell me what is wrong!? I feel lucky to have been able to drive this car for five years with this problem, but I would love to know if this is some weird anomaly or something that can be fixed (for real this time. The car has 136K miles and we really are getting a new car this month, but I would like to pass this one on or donate it if it can in fact be repaired. I*ve had a lot of good times in that car and it gets good gas mileage, so I would like for it to find a good home with someone else. Oh...by the way...my sister has the exact same car (different color) and she insists it is a small problem with the thermostat but I am "once bitten, twice shy" and don*t want to get taken by another repair shop. Many blessings upon you if you can solve this mystery.

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Lori Johnson, Owner and Instructor at Ladies Start Your Engines Dear L, There are a couple things to look at if you are having an overheating problem. You replaced the radiator, so it shouldn't be that. If there are any leaks in the system and the coolant gets too low it will overheat. The thermostat can cause overheating if it isn't working properly, and if there is a blockage in the system somewhere that is keeping the coolant from flowing properly it can overheat. Because this is a pressurized system it is imperative that the air is 'burped" out of the system before installing the radiator cap. When you were on you trip and you added water/coolant and put the cap on, you most likely trapped air in the system. This can cause the vehicle to overheat as well. The best advice I can give you is to take it to an ASE certified shop or dealership and have a diagnosis made by someone who knows what they're doing. It sounds like your previous shop was doing a lot of guessing. That usually just costs you money and takes up your time going back and forth until they figure it out. The dealership is the best option at this point. Good luck. Lori Johnson

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