How often to my Honda's valves REALLY need to be changed?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

We own a 1990 Honda Prelude. In the owners' manual, it is recommended that the valves be adjusted every 15,000 miles. Do you think this hundred dollar expense is really necessary so often? The car is driven to and from work. We bought it new, and had the valves adjusted at 15,000 miles. Now it's getting close to 30,000, and is time to have them adjusted again. But the car is running perfectly. What could happen if the valves were left alone? And how could you tell when they really need to be adjusted?

TOM: Well, George, there's really no way for the average driver to tell. You wouldn't notice any decrease in performance or mileage, and you probably wouldn't hear any noise either. But the truth is, valves do go out of adjustment.

RAY: And there are two ways the valves can go out of adjustment. They can become too loose, or they can become too tight.

TOM: Kind of like underwear.

RAY: And either way, it's bad for the engine. So it's a good idea to have the valves checked and adjusted at regular intervals. Whether it's really necessary to do it every 15,000 miles, I don't know. 30,000 may be fine for most cars.

TOM: Maybe Honda is treating you like my wife treats me. She wants the garbage taken out once a day. So she tells me to take it out twice a day--knowing I'll forget to do it half the time.

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