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98 Civic CX multiple misfire...

Discussion in '6th Generation Honda Civic (1996-2000)' started by nohandbrake, Nov 12, 2017.



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  1. nohandbrake

    nohandbrake New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Hello from Santa Cruz, California! Hoping somebody can give me some advice, as I'm running out of ideas.

    I've had a reoccurring issue for the last 2 years or so where my Civic will misfire, mostly at idle. I replaced the spark plug wires 1.5 yrs ago and that seems to have solved the problem for about 6 months and then it pulled the O2 sensor code so I replaced it and that seemed to solve the problem for another 10ish months. Well the problem is now back with a vengeance.

    Two weeks ago
    Starting about 2 weeks ago the car would start up fine for the first 30 seconds and then the misfires would slowly creep in over the next 10-30 seconds. Acceleration hesitates for a second and then 3 or 4 of the cylinders seem to kick in. The worst symptoms are felt at idle. For those two weeks cylinders 1 & 2 were the only culprits (only those 2 cel codes).

    I have been driving the car very little, and at low speeds and short trips only. It's pretty much to the point where I can't drive it now though and I do belatedly realize I may have damaged my catalytic converter.

    So I swapped the spark plugs and the problem was still contained to cylinders 1 & 2. I also replaced the distributor cap because the carbon piece in the middle of my old one was extremely worn down, but it didn't help at all.

    Yesterday
    I swapped the fuel injectors and still the problem stayed on cylinders 1 & 2. I also looked at the ignition coil, it had some light coating of white particles on the outside and one of the small bolts with a lead wire on it was rusted and corroded. I cleaned it as best I could.

    Today
    I now have misfire codes for all four cylinders and the misfires now start immediately rather than before where there was a 30 second delay on startup. The engine will now stall out at low parking lot speeds, only at times when it is going from 0 to 5 miles an hour or 5 miles an hour to 0 miles an hour.

    I used an inline spark tester and I'm getting a strong consistent spark on all cylinders.
    I just checked the oil today and it was low on oil. I do not believe it is leaking out of the car I think the car is burning oil. It had been many months since I checked the oil level. I added one quart today.

    I did a compression test today also. I ran out of time before I could perform a wet test. I forgot to push the accelerator down the first tests that I did. I will perform a wet test tomorrow and post the results.

    #1 161 dry test no throttle
    #2 163 dry test no throttle
    #3 145 dry test no throttle
    #4 170 dry test no throttle

    #1 155 dry test full throttle (gas pedal to floor)
    #2 164 dry test full throttle
    #3 100 & 110 dry test full throttle (tested 2x)
    #4 179 dry test full throttle

    The car has 160,000 miles on it and I generally drive it very very gently. It typically gets between 30 and 35 miles per gallon. The misfires have persisted regardless of how much gas is in the tank. As far as I know everything on the vehicle is stock. And the only other issue that the car has is randomly flickering headlights and instrument panel.

    I am not a mechanic and this is my first post on clubcivic so forgive me if I've left out some key information. I'd love to be able to save this vehicle but I am definitely getting out of my depth here! Shoot me some questions if you have any, I can post pictures and I do have a multi-meter as well. Thanks! Brandon
     
  2. boofoo

    boofoo Respected Registered VIP

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    Cylinder three is clearly bad. Do a wet test.

    Did you replace the distributor rotor?

    Did you install new spark plugs? What brand?

    Does the charging system warning light in the cluster occasionally flicker or turn on while driving?
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
  3. nohandbrake

    nohandbrake New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to read my post and help me out. I really appreciate it.

    I replaced all 4 spark plugs today with the same NGK V-Power spark plugs that were in it.

    I have never seen the charging system warning light on at any time.

    I did not replace the distributor rotor, but I did clean up the metal tab as it had some green corrosion on it.

    Upon startup this morning (with the new plugs) it didn't misfire for about 90 seconds, and when it did start to misfire it was much "lighter" missing (misfires were less frequent and much less shaking). I warmed the engine up for 4-5 minutes (like last night's dry compression test). I noticed the engine (in park) bogs down for a few seconds immediately after releasing the accelerator, then returns to a normal idle. No check engine lights came on during the warmup.

    I decided to redo the dry test this morning and here's what I got. All spark plugs were out for all tests (I hope that was correct to do so).

    #1 160 blocked throttle, dry
    #2 153 blocked throttle, dry
    #3 150 blocked throttle, dry
    #4 164 blocked throttle, dry

    At this point I was pretty confused by #3 and the difference between this morning and last night's reading. I then added about 2-3 tablespoons of oil to cylinder #1 (to start the wet test) and on a whim decided to double check #3 cylinder reading.

    #3 165 blocked throttle, cyl #3 dry (oil added to cyl #1)

    I then proceeded to test the rest of the cylinders adding 2-3 tablespoons to each (I only added oil to cyl #1 once).

    #1 260 blocked throttle wet
    #2 210 blocked throttle wet
    #3 212 blocked throttle wet
    #4 250 blocked throttle wet

    I'll attach a few photos that I've taken during this process. I included one of the junction between the engine and the distributor as I noticed some oil there. Not sure how much oil there warrants a new seal or attention.

    Thanks again for your time and guidance.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
  4. boofoo

    boofoo Respected Registered VIP

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    What do you mean by blocked throttle?

    The compression test should be done only at wide open throttle.
     
  5. nohandbrake

    nohandbrake New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Yes, wide open throttle on all tests today. I think I saw a video where they called it a blocked throttle, maybe because they were using a block to keep the throttle open.

    I used a rope today to keep the throttle fully open rather than depressing the accelerator. I wanted to make sure that the throttle was all the way open, and at the time I wasn't sure if pressing the accelerator to the floor would accomplish this. I have since observed that both methods keep the throttle fully open.
     
  6. boofoo

    boofoo Respected Registered VIP

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    Does the charging system light work?

    Install a new distributor rotor.

    Install a new distributor O-ring. That should fix the oil leak.

    How old are spark plugs one and two shown in your pictures? How did spark plugs three and four look?

    I don't see the rust in the last picture.
     
  7. nohandbrake

    nohandbrake New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Yes, I believe I see the charging system light every time I put the key in the ignition, but I'll double check tomorrow. I did install a new distributor rotor. The old one was actually in bad shape. It looks like the center piece on the circular rotor was completely black with carbon/melted plastic from the old distributor cap.

    The spark plugs are at least 4 years old, one of them might be a year old. The plugs all looked the same to me, light brown on the threads, light grayish colored particles on the tip, dark brown ring around the fattest ceramic portion. The plugs look darker to me now than 2 weeks ago. Here is a photo of the old plugs pulled this morning.

    The rust is on a small bolt with a wire attached to it, on the lower portion of the distributor. It is housed in off-white colored plastic.

    Assuming we get to the bottom of this, I will install a new distributor o-ring (unless you think I should do it now).

    I only had a chance to start the car up for a few minutes (with the new plugs and rotor). It didn't start misfiring for about 3 minutes or more. It's a definite improvement, I'll test more tomorrow (fortunately I have the day off) and post the condition.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. boofoo

    boofoo Respected Registered VIP

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    Your previous post indicated that you had not installed a new distributor rotor.

    When did you install the new rotor and the new spark plugs?

    What makes you think that the engine is still misfiring as opposed to the ignition timing being off?

    If there's no oil inside the distributor, the oil leak is not causing the misfiring. Fix the leak when you have time.
     
  9. nohandbrake

    nohandbrake New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Hey boofoo, thanks for sticking with me!

    I installed the new spark plugs and distributor rotor yesterday evening, just before my last post at 7:09pm. I then started the car up and it proceeded to run smoothly for about 3ish minutes. I realize now maybe it was running more smoothly (shaking less/misfiring less) because of all the oil in the cylinders? There was smoke coming out of my exhaust for about 2 minutes (which I've read means I put too much oil in during the wet compression test?).

    I am very inexperienced with engines and I have not done any diagnostics or research into the timing yet, besides looking at a few timing light videos. I've been using the word misfire to describe this problem, but really I don't know if or how that would feel/sound any different than a timing issue. I have noticed a lot of squeaking/chirping from the belt area on right side of the engine.

    I did start the car up again this morning and it started up fine for about 20 seconds. Then at the 20 second mark the engine shuddered quickly like before, but only once (maybe a single misfire?). It ran smoothly for the next 2 minutes, then the misfires slowly crept in, similar to about a week ago. Better than yesterday morning, the engine is not hesitating/bogging down after pressing the accelerator, and the rpms aren't dipping under normal idle after letting off of the accelerator. Not bad enough yet to pull any CEL codes. In my experience over the past 2 weeks with this issue, the car starts up fine, then gradually gets worse the longer it's running and the more days I drive it.

    Let me know where you think I should look next. If it's timing, then I'll go buy a timing light and research how to check the timing. Thanks again!
     
  10. boofoo

    boofoo Respected Registered VIP

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    Post a video showing what you describe as the engine misfiring.

    If the car is drivable, then reset the ECU and then drive it for 10 minutes to see whether any check engine light codes are set.

    The belts are actually on the left side of the engine. Also post a video with sound so that we can hear the squeaking noise.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
  11. nohandbrake

    nohandbrake New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Here's a video, the squeaking isn't as easy to hear on this, but you can hear and see the engine trouble.

    vimeo.com/242678209
    vimeo.com/242678120

    I parked level and checked the oil again today. The reading was in the middle of the two marks, so I added a quart. I also added a quart yesterday as the reading was significantly below the low mark.

    Also I just wanted to clarify to make sure I'm not misunderstanding, when I put the key into the ignition and turn it to the first significant stop, two dash lights are on, the low oil pressure and the charging system warning light. When I crank the engine and start the car, both of those lights go off (no lights are visible on the dash once the car has started).

    I reset the ECU and drove it in town for about 20 minutes. The engine doesn't shudder as much as yesterday (pre rotor, spark plugs, and added oil), or hesitate on acceleration like before, and it's not stalling out in parking lots or at low speeds, but it sound like the rpms are dipping very low at those low parking lot speeds (especially after I've let off the accelerator). It's also still misfiring at idle like in the video. No CEL codes came on.
     
  12. boofoo

    boofoo Respected Registered VIP

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    The cluster lights are behaving properly.

    The engine seems to be knocking not miss firing. The problem may be that the engine has been run low on oil one too many times.

    By the way, the solution is not to overfill the engine with oil. Just keep the oil level at the top mark, not above.

    You may be replacing your engine soon.
     
  13. nohandbrake

    nohandbrake New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Shoot.

    Hey, I don't hear the knocking, is it in pre-knocking stage before it develops a knock? Or am I just not hearing it (or maybe there are other symptoms in the video you're seeing that I'm not aware of)?

    I haven't had time to research next steps, do you have any suggestions for other tests that I can do or steps I can take to confirm specific problems with the engine?

    Thanks boofoo!
     
  14. boofoo

    boofoo Respected Registered VIP

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    The engine just sounds very noisy to me. Maybe I'm wrong.

    How does the engine run while driving?
     
  15. nohandbrake

    nohandbrake New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Gotcha. Well before I replaced the spark plugs and distributor rotor and added oil, the engine was sometimes running normally when I pressed the accelerator. More often than not it would hesitate for a second on the accelerator press and it also wouldn't accelerate as quickly as it should have. At times I could feel individual cylinders not firing, resulting in a very slight varying speed even though I was keeping my foot steady on the accelerator. Then there were times when I could feel all the cylinders firing correctly. The firing correctly and the herky jerky firing was totally random though. Might be fine for 10 seconds, then hesitate for the next few accelerator presses, then fine the next time I accelerate.

    I have driven it 4 times since replacing the spark plugs, rotor and adding oil. All the trips were under 30mph and around 10 min long. The acceleration is back to normal. It doesn't seem to be missing on acceleration or hesitating either, but I feel like it's just a matter of time before it regresses back to where it was a few days ago (stalling out at low speeds, lots of shuddering at idle, herky jerky acceleration, pulling CEL misfire codes). When it was pulling CEL codes, it was always #2 first, then #1. It only pulled #3 and #4 misfire codes once (then I changed the rotor and plugs and added oil. It still idles rough, same as in the videos.

    I'm wondering if I should look at the fuel filter or valve adjustment? Maybe vacuum leak? Drive it off a cliff?
     
  16. boofoo

    boofoo Respected Registered VIP

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    Download the 96-00 civic service manual from the stuck thread at the top of the forum.
    http://www.clubcivic.com/forum/thre...and-electrical-troubleshooting-manual.232049/

    After the engine is fully warmed up, what is the idle speed? You need an external tachometer or a code reader that reads live data to get an accurate rpm reading. See service manual for rpm specifications. If the idle speed is out of spec, use the service manual procedure to adjust the idle speed properly.

    pic_1 2.jpg

    Also use the directions in the service manual to set the ignition time using a timing gun.

    pic_2.jpg

    Then go from there.

    Check the engine oil regularly. Keep the oil level near the top mark on the dipstick. If the engine leaks oil, fix the leaks.

    Does your civic have an auto or manual transmission?
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  17. nohandbrake

    nohandbrake New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Thanks boofoo. I seem to have lost access to the forum for about a week there.

    Anyways, I am getting a tach soon, so I hope to work on this in a few days.

    It is an automatic transmission.

    I did get a timing gun a few days ago and warmed up the car for about 4-5 minutes, and revved it for another minute or so (though the radiator fan didn't come on, hmm). Had the jumper in the SCS connector too. The timing looked off to me so I tried to take a video but my camera aim/focus wasn't great. The 3 marks were definitely not very close to the gun sights at the cyl #1 flash though, I'd say they were about 1.5 to 2" away from the gun sights at the time of the flash. So I decided to try to rotate the distributor, but the engine performed even worse (more misfires and eventually stalled out) the closer to "lined up," I got...

    Anyways, I'll update once I can read/set the idle speed and I'll get a video of the timing uploaded too. I'll upload the timing video after I check idle speed unless you want to see it sooner.
     
  18. boofoo

    boofoo Respected Registered VIP

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    Vladimir Putin thinks it’s really funny to hack Trump and Club Civic occasionally.

    Keep in mind that the engine must be idling to spec in order to set and read the ignition timing correctly.
     
  19. nohandbrake

    nohandbrake New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Well I have more data, and a little improvement in the car behavior, but still missing at idle.

    In the time that this forum was down (I wasn't sure it was coming back up!), I posted on Civicforums and someone there recommended a valve adjustment, so I did that while waiting for my tach to arrive.

    The valves were all tight, and upon doing the adjustment the car does run better, the misses happen after about 2 minutes now instead of 30 seconds, but they do still happen with about the same frequency (maybe a little less?) as the vids I posted earlier. The misses seem a little lighter too, and they don't seem to be strong enough to pull CEL codes. Acceleration seems smoother, and the car isn't stalling or dipping below normal idle after I let of the accelerator. But the root of the problem remains...

    I checked the idle speed an it is in spec, averaging right around 700rpms. I then looked at the timing with a timing gun, after warming the car up until the radiator fan turns on and with the scs jumper in place (and no accessories on). The 3 grouped marks were about 1.5 to 2" away from being perfectly lined up with the gunsights, but the engine performs dramatically worse when I rotate (retard) the distributor to the max allowed (the marks are then only about 1" off). I don't know why this is, could the timing belt be off a tooth? Any easy way to check for that?

    I ordered a OBDII bluetooth adapter which has given me lots of data about my car in the last few days.

    Idle speed averages around 700rpm
    The radiator fan turns on at 205 deg F
    The engine load value is around 27 to 29 (i don't know what this means of if it's even important to us)
    intake manifold absolute pressure is at .3

    AT IDLE with SCS jumper IN, after about 5 minutes
    Timing advance is 12
    short term fuel trim -7.8 to -9.4
    long term fuel trim -.8
    Bank 1 Sensor 1% -8.5 to -10.1
    Bank 1 Sensor 1V bounces from .08 to .8ish
    Bank 1 Sensor 2% -8.5 to -10.1
    Bank 1 Sensor 2V .96 to .94 (no dramatic bouncing)

    AT 2500RPMS with SCS jumper IN, after about 5 minutes
    STFT -18.8 to -26
    LTFT -.8
    Bank 1 Sensor 1% -20 to -25
    Bank 1 Sensor 1V bounces from .08 to .8ish
    Bank 1 Sensor 2% -21 to -28.9
    Bank 1 Sensor 2V .66 to .7 (no dramatic bouncing)

    AT IDLE with SCS jumper OUT, after about 5 minutes
    STFT -8.6 to -10.9
    LTFT -2.3
    Bank 1 Sensor 1% -9.3 to -10.1
    Bank 1 Sensor 1V bounces from .08 to .8ish
    Bank 1 Sensor 2% -8.5 to -10.1
    Bank 1 Sensor 2V .8 (no dramatic bouncing)

    AT 2500RPMS with SCS jumper OUT, after about 5 minutes
    STFT -18.8 to -25
    LTFT -2.3
    Bank 1 Sensor 1% -21 to -24
    Bank 1 Sensor 1V bounces from .08 to .8ish
    Bank 1 Sensor 2% -17 to -25
    Bank 1 Sensor 2V .6 (no dramatic bouncing)

    So... the fuel trim, I don't know what's going on or what to check next but to my novice eyes, the fuel trim looks like it's tipping us off to a problem. That and the timing marks which I can't seem to line up correctly. Any thoughts?
     
  20. boofoo

    boofoo Respected Registered VIP

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    If you can’t set the ignition timing correctly, then the mechanical timing is likely off by a tooth.

    If the mechanical timing is off by tooth, as seems likely, then you adjusted the valves incorrectly.
     


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