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Story Time:
Recently, the RSX went past 150k miles and I took it in for a tuneup and 150k scheduled maintenance. The RPM has been going up and down from 1200 to 500 RPM during idle.
It is supposed to be at steady 850-950, but it kept going down below 500 and it almost shuddered to a stall after an hour long drive when I was ready to park.
I assumed it was a vacuum leak and took it in. The shop could not find a vacuum leak, but they did replace the following to identify what the issue was and also to do the 150k mile tune up: air filter, drive belt tensioner, spark plugs and the battery. They could not fix the RPM issue and that is when they figured out that the idle air control valve needed to be replaced. All of these parts and labor costed me $850.
When I took it out from the store, the gear changes did not seem normal (it seemed much rougher and there was a noticeable thump/shudder between gear changes) and about half a mile in, the CEL came on. I took the car back in and told them to figure this crap out. They held the car for two days and returned it saying that the reset after idle valve was replaced did not take place properly and that they attempted a second reset which fixed the problem. I drove the car around and the RPMs are steady..only when the AC is off.
Before I took it in, there was a small hissing noise behind the dashboard that came on when the AC was on. I assumed it needed a recharge. After I brought it back from the shop, the hissing noise was much louder and the AC was not working all the time. Before I took it in, the AC has always worked. They told me that it was pre-known issue since I talked about the AC hissing noise when I brought it in. It will cost me $800 to fix it. They did not take responsibility for the louder hissing noise or the AC not working anymore occasionally. It is really bad when I am on surface roads or in parking lots. As I start moving, the AC blows cold air, just fine.

Yesterday, I noticed that there was white smoke coming out from the front of the car when I was waiting at the airport parking lane for a few minutes. I switched off the car and opened the front to find that the whole engine area was very humid and the radiator had water/coolant boiling in it. The temp in the dashboard was pegged at the middle. Car never overheated. The smoke was not there once the car started moving. Once I got home, I checked under the hood again and there was not as much moisture build up as before.

I think all of this is related in some way or form, but I wanted to see what veteran RSX owners had in mind. Hose leaks? Vacuum leak? I don't think the head gasket is blown since the car has not overheated even after an hour or so of driving after I noticed the white smoke.

Bottom line: the AC is still not properly working, the RPM idles much higher with AC on (2000-1500 RPM) and fluctuates back to normal, there was moisture buildup when the engine was running and the car was stationery, The RPM does not fluctuate if the AC is off. It is steady at 800 RPM. Don't want to spend a total of $1600 on the car when the value of the car is slightly over twice that price. Thoughts?
 

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Update 1: Just checked my coolant level today. It was below the minimum required. I topped it off earlier today. This is confusing since the shop confirmed that they checked coolant levels and everything was within limits. When I checked it today, it was almost empty.
 

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Update 2: The cruise control went off randomly twice today. The light stayed on but the car did not hold speed and started to decelerate. A search in the forum makes it sound like a vacuum leak could be the culprit. Fairly clueless as to how go about fixing or finding the leak.
 

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The IACV valve does help regulate idle to compensate for the AC compressor load. The ability to idle without a load points away from a leak. I don't think an audible hiss is your refrigerant leaking out as it would be gone so fast your AC would never work. The hissing and the white steam coming from the motor seem related. There is a pressure switch that if it gets wet, it will shift poorly. The middle temp range is fine. Maybe they topped off the coolant and the overflow blew water out getting shit wet and so on--just a stab there. What do they want 800 more for? I think you need a new shop that can present you with a car that is fixed. Not sure on legal stuff, but I wouldn't pay a shop for things that didn't fix something.
 

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So I just read your two new posts, Id say for sure you have a coolant leak--the hissing and why you are low on coolant. This level can also mess with idling. I think there is a vacuum line to cruise actuator-- that could be leaking and could be your bad idle. Maybe small and only acts up under load.
 

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2002 EBP RSX 5m w/Leather
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The temp gauge should be below half when normal. (I have a base, not type S, not sure if it's exactly the same).

1) Does your radiator fan work? The reason I ask is, mine went out, but, because I use A/C a lot, that fan was running, and, the temp gauge stayed below the middle, but, now that I replaced the radiator fan motor, the temp is just slightly lower. (Both fans on the radiator should come on when A/C is turned on.)

2) If your fans are ok, and you sometimes have to add coolant, (brace yourself), check to see if the radiator is leaking, (check under the car as soon as you park, but, it may not be dripping as it may only drip when it's warmer with hard driving). I had to take the bumper off for another reason, and when I did I could see hairline cracks all along the front top plastic part of radiator. (Being plastic, this may be more affected by time regardless of how many miles you have on it.) For me, my radiator fan motor was out, and I'm not sure for how long, so, this may have made it run warmer and cracked sooner, but, IDK.
 
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