Of course they didn't tell you. They did it wrong, which caused the new gasket to prematurely fail. I hope you didn't get the second one fixed at the same place. They obviously don't know what they are doing.
"I think this generation of Civic is not as reliable as older Civics were."
You can say this about virtually every car. They don't make anything as well as they used to. We live in a disposable world nowadays, and the only thing that concerns any business is when you'll be back to buy more of their products.
If your car has been allowed to overheat, you will continue to have head gasket issues. As a mechanic I have seen this problem constantly. Once a modern engine runs hot, it will never be dependable. A new engine or new car is the only real answer. If you drive a modern car after the "hot" light comes on, or after the heat gauge is into the red area, your engine is no longer an engine. It is a boat anchor. I try to tell people this, but they will still drive after the car has overheated. The worst case was a guy who drove his expensive sports car until it got so hot the engine seized. If he had stopped when it first overheated, the repair (a tiny pin-hole in an overflow tube) would have cost him maybe $25 at a shop (it's a 30-second repair with a 50 cent piece of plastic tubing). As it was, his tab was over $7000.
I don't know if you are correct, or wrong. It used to be, and probably still is that you can replace a head gasket. Obviously, it has to be done correctly. The head has to be ground absolutely plane and the torquing sequence for the head bolts has to be followed to the "T". Sometimes the threads of the studs or bolts have to be chased or new bolts/ studs have to be used. If the mechanic uses shortcuts, the repair will likely be short lived.
I am the original poster.
The engine never overheated under my ownership (the last 4 years). The symptom was air bubbles in the coolant, I heard air bubbles in the heating circuit. They tried to purge the air, but air bubbles were back a few minutes after. The new head gasket solved the problem, but for how long?
I had no other problem with this car except a knock sensor replacement.
Not sure how old these posts are, but I'm dealing with the exact same problem right now with my 2004 Civic. I've never ran it hot, but it's in the shop right now for my second head gasket repair. I've also had the thermostat changed twice, and the engine flushed over and over again. The issue with my car is when my foot is on the gas, and I have the heat on, it blows hot air, but as soon as I come to a red light and stop - it blows freezing cold air. Strange thing is, it doesn't happen every time, just SOME of the time.
In the last 3 years, I've taken my car back to the dealership over 10 times for this exact same reason. They've now given me a rental until the head gasket is fixed -- again.
I will never buy a Honda Civic again. I figure I just got a 'lemon', but still. I'm so tired of all this. Maybe something like it will happen to whatever I get next, but no more Civics for me!
I too have the same problem with my 2004 Honda Civic with bubbles in the coolant.
Solution : Never buying Honda again. Going back to Toyota.
I'm the original poster. Today I found on the web a Honda service news bulletin about gurgling from the heater core accelerating thru 1400rpm. This was my problem. The fix is not two new head gaskets, but bleeding the cooling system in a specific way. Same for Civics not blowing heat at stops or idles. The problem is trapped air in the heater core. I'm wondering how many thousands of Civic head gaskets were replaced for nothing?