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My son recently purchased a 2002 Acura RSX type S with 130,000 miles. He sold his STI and picked up this "less expensive" ($2300) vehicle to save money for a house. He has done quite a bit of work on the RSX already (clutch, transmission rebuild, vtc strainer, cooling fan, coilovers - because he could never get the alignment right with stock setup, etc). Thankfully, he does all the work himself in my garage, so it gives me more time to see him.

He opted to replace the valve cover gaskets because of yet another oil leak. He popped off the cover and was disappointed to see a ton of sludge in the engine. He surmised that the sludge may have been because the previous owner did not change the oil on a regular basis, he ran it with the non-functioning cooling fan (son replaced), or that the engine is prone to accumulating sludge.

He cleaned out what he could reach the best he could, but he is wondering what he should do to get the engine as clean as possible without causing giant chunks of sludge to dislodge and block oil passages or filters, etc. Should he keep running a high quality high detergent synthetic oil? Any recommendations on a brand?

I know you guys like pics, but neither of us had our phones during this project, so I scoured the internet to find a picture that closely matched the amount of sludge that our 2002 RSX had, and I found one. I was just going to post the pics without a disclaimer, and wait for one of you "inspectors" to notice it was not an engine from a 2002 Acura RSX type S. This pic is from a Honda Civic, but the sludge buildup is similar, maybe even a bit less than we had.
Sludge.jpg
 

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Ideally I would bite the bullet and look for another engine to replace it with. K20 and K24 motors are under 2300 dollars. Yes, costs about the same as the whole car, but I am sure there was a reason the car cost that much in the first place.

The reason I say you may need to swap the motor is because the bottom end won't be much different, let alone the oil pump. Surely the oil pickup is clogged up, so are the VTEC solenoids.

Sorry man. Your son can try all the internet gimmicks to fix the sludge without pulling the motor, but that will be temporary and a gamble.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ideally I would bite the bullet and look for another engine to replace it with. K20 and K24 motors are under 2300 dollars. Yes, costs about the same as the whole car, but I am sure there was a reason the car cost that much in the first place.

The reason I say you may need to swap the motor is because the bottom end won't be much different, let alone the oil pump. Surely the oil pickup is clogged up, so are the VTEC solenoids.

Sorry man. Your son can try all the internet gimmicks to fix the sludge without pulling the motor, but that will be temporary and a gamble.
Thank you, @smufguy and @longboat. He has mentioned that he wanted to upgrade the engine (to a turbo) anyway. This may prompt him to do it a little earlier than he wanted.
 

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I would agree with @smufguy about looking for another engine. However, it may not be a quick and easy thing if you cannot find a good motor to swap that is readily available. I've seen worse sludge and what we did years ago was to replace the oil filter and make sure there was enough capacity to put a quart of diesel fuel mixing it with the oil. Run for 15-20 minutes (DO NOT DRIVE OR PUT THE ENGINE UNDER LOAD). Yes, this is OLD School and what my dad had taught me with cleaning a sludged engine many years ago.....before catalytic converters. Once that is done, drain the oil and change the filter. Put in a good detergent oil or synthetic and a good filter. You will probably need to reduce the oil change intervals to get decent results as it will continue to clean the engine and dump that in the sump. You may even try adding about half a quart (with the drain plug out) to help flush any sludge that may have deposited in the sump as you make more frequent oil and filter changes. I would do this at every oil change till I was almost sure the sludge was gone or down to a minimal and continue to use a synthetic oil, possibly one for high mileage in this case.
Most everything you search for on the internet will advise using a chemical flush. Once he gets the engine cleaned up, he may find that it will use more oil between changes, therefore requiring an engine replacement or rebuild. You may also find that once the sludge has been cleaned out of the engine, it will have some blue smoke coming out of the exhaust as well as more engine leaks as the sludge is around a lot of seals and keeping them from leaking at the present.
You may also want to try using some Marvel Mystery oil or Seafoam in the oil and I would not try and overdo it with adding these to the oil as it will reduce the viscosity as it is cleaning. My suggestion would be no more than 8 ounces mixed with approximately a 5-6 quart sump. Best of luck and hope things work out for your son on this one.
 

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Since your son wants to go forced induction, question is how much is he looking to make and how he wants it managed. Cost cutting, as you both know, is not advised on forced induction route. Especially with Kseries that has higher than J tolerances. Rebuilding the motor is always best in going forced induction as it is best to be clear on the motor's 'birth'. He might as well use this sludge motor and rebuild it for forced induction.

Resources are out there for K than our J series. Best of luck!
 

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What do you get when you polish a turd. The answer: a turd.

I would clean it up as much as possible, maybe go with some high detergent, full synthetic oil like Rotella drive and change oil & filter after 1000 miles and repeat. Maybe a full synthetic 0w20 for a couple of oil changes would be better than the Rotella. Most likely top tier fuel should be run too.

Does this car have a body & interior on it that warrants all the mechanical upgrades? When does the saving money part start?

I'm no automotive expert but, I can play one on the internet and I always enjoy spending someone else's money.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Since your son wants to go forced induction, question is how much is he looking to make and how he wants it managed. Cost cutting, as you both know, is not advised on forced induction route. Especially with Kseries that has higher than J tolerances. Rebuilding the motor is always best in going forced induction as it is best to be clear on the motor's 'birth'. He might as well use this sludge motor and rebuild it for forced induction.

Resources are out there for K than our J series. Best of luck!
His new favorite auto place is KSeriesparts.com. Their actual store is near where we live. He loves that place. I know you are talking engines, but they have all kinds of performance parts for the Acura.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
What do you get when you polish a turd. The answer: a turd.

I would clean it up as much as possible, maybe go with some high detergent, full synthetic oil like Rotella drive and change oil & filter after 1000 miles and repeat. Maybe a full synthetic 0w20 for a couple of oil changes would be better than the Rotella. Most likely top tier fuel should be run too.

Does this car have a body & interior on it that warrants all the mechanical upgrades? When does the saving money part start?

I'm no automotive expert but, I can play one on the internet and I always enjoy spending someone else's money.
I agree with you on the money saving part. I think he is in the hole, dollar wise. The interior is great, but the exterior needs some work. He's a smart kid, so he won't throw good money after bad and I think he really loves working on the car. You know kids though, you never really know what they have in mind, until the package shows up on the doorstep.
 
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