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Hi,

I have a [1994 L reg 1.6 civic ESi VTEC automatic] and need some advice on several problems I have with it. I have taken it to the garage several times with money wasted and little success so it looks like I will have to learn how to fix it myself. I'm no mechanic but I've bought a haynes manual and some basic tools. If I need any spares or tools please mention this and I'll get hold of them (ebay for this?).

1) The first and most serious is a non-starting issue. It's a little complicated but basically if I do more than one or two very short journeys the car won't start again and I have to sit for about two minutes then try again, at which point it normally starts. When this happens you can hear the starter turning over ok- although often it sounds very slow. Sometimes the engine starts and then after about two seconds it dies again. Once again, I wait about one or two minutes and try again and it works. I can visualise a battery problem, as if there just isn't enough juice to turn it over fast enough. If the engine fires though wouldn't that keep the momentum? Also the battery's been checked by two garages and they both said it's fine and the garage that sold it to me said it was new about 18 months ago. I know you can get bigger batteries but I'm not sure that's what it is. I thought perhaps something is taking too much current such as dirty contacts, distributor or spark plug gaps too big etc? Just a guess!

2) When the engine is first started it sometimes settles into very high revs (e.g. 1500rpm) as if I'm putting my foot down and sometimes very low revs (650rpm). I haven't noticed a pattern yet and don't know if it's significant but it doesn't seem right. Sometimes the starter fires the engine almost instantaneously and sometimes it sounds close to death and starts very slowly.

3) While idling, the revs periodically go down for a second then back up, as if there is some kind of momentary power loss. Otherwise the revs are constant at approx 700 rpm. There is no obvious trigger for it.

4) I noticed while idling the other day the revs go down when I turn on my headlights. It was very repeatable and only very subtle but I could tell by the sound of the engine when my lights were on and off! I think this happens when the cooling fan switches on during idling too, is this normal?

5) The steering often feels unusual and a little out of control. There doesn't appear to be any play in it but it's almost as if the wheels go off and do their own thing and the feedback in the wheel feels unusual. If I could liken it to a supermarket trolley, when I go around a very tight corner or very small roundabout the wheels reach a point where they want to turn into the curve, pulling me into the centre, rather than wanting to straighten out. I often have to be careful because it this point the wheel snatches away from me and I have to pull it out of the curve. Also at speeds above approx 60 the wheel feels like it's moving all over the place and I have to work very hard to hold it straight. The whole problem only started when I took it in for it's MOT a year ago. They changed a track rod end but they said they checked them and the tracking, balancing and alignment several times and I had another garage check the same. I noticed an improvement twice- once when I lifted the adjustable steering wheel up (it's normally low) and once when I changed a front tyre which was worn. The car's roadholding is occasionally poor in the wet but the tyre treads are still deep and the worn tyre is now a spare. I can't afford new tyres to experiment! As I say the problem never used to be there (I think) but maybe I'd got used to the car with the faulty track rod end or maybe I used to have the steering wheel at a different height. Also I don't know much about toe-in and caster angles but no-one's actually mentioned these to me before and I think they may be significant? By the way I have power steering and Ceat Spider tyres (they sell them at kwik fit).

5b) I've noticed for a few months now the pulling power of the car has rapidly diminished. This I put either down to the engine or the brakes binding. There is no noise from the brakes though and it seems a coincidence that I also have engine issues. The mpg appears to have dropped from 30 to 28mpg. The powerful VTEC acceleration has dropped right off making overtaking a nightmare and there is almost no pulling power idling on the auto clutch.

6) Exhaust- a year ago the exhaust blew and the garage took off the third section near the rear of the car with the silencer and swapped it for (I think) a Stainless one. The silencer is *massive*, about twice the size of the old one. Now the car sounds like a tractor it's so loud and you can't hear anything above it on the motorway, it's ridiculous. I took it back to complain and they said they only had one type and it would cost £300 for a Honda one which I agreed wasn't necessary but I couldn't afford to scrap the new one and get another brand. On top of the deafening noise though when cold-starting there is a tremendous rattle, sounding like from the back end. When the engine is idling on the parking brake it's not too bad but when I put my foot on the brake and slip it into Drive and just sit on the brake, it gets much louder. I noticed today that if I turn the steering wheel to its absolute extreme left or right it goes quiet! I was told that cheap exhausts' innards often rattle when cold and I've heard that stainless are generally noisier but the rattle is definitely wrong. When starting from warm though the rattle's not there. I have had a cursory look at the back end and I can't see anything obvious but it's hard to get under the car to look.

7) Vibrations- apart from the exhaust, when I get up to 60 ish the car just rattles all over and on poor surfaces it's even worse. It feels like I'm driving my dad's Morris Minor. Can I smoothen the ride? Could there be a link either to the steering or exhaust issues?

8) When I put my foot on the accelerator there is a quiet 'ssshhh' sound coming from the engine bay, which varies in pitch as my foot moves up and down. I think it carries on after I take my foot off and slows down as the car loses speed. It sounds like a cyclical noise, not a release of pressure. Almost as if there's a miniature spinning part or a vibration. It doesn't appear to do anything adverse, it's just a little worrying and annoying. You can hear it at low speeds quite clearly but at high speeds the sound of the exhaust blocks anything else out.

9) The electric windows are very slow to operate. Can I speed them up easily? The passenger's central locking is sticky too so I took the fuse out. It used to open after about five cycles and the actuator did work, but but just a small amount each time. Can it be easily fixed? The rubbers also let rain into the door cavity which leaves through the drain holes but I'm worried about it damaging the steel or electrics. Should I worry?

10) There is a small cable (approx 4mm dia) hanging loose at the front right of the engine bay, near the radiator. It has a connector on the end with a hole through it for a bolt. I suppose it's an earthing strap which has come loose but I've been told it's probably not the engine earthing strap as it's too small. I do know it has to be fixed but I don't know where to fix it, what it's for or the best method for fixing.

11) When I turn on the blower I get loads of dried leaves coming out of the grilles! I want to clean out the ducts but don't know how or if it's a big job and can't find any documentation on it.

12) Sometimes the lights on the blower console are off (or low) and I don't notice until I move the lever or push a switch and they come back on. Dirty contacts perhaps?

13) Antifreeze- it's coming time to top up the levels- what is the best practice? Do I need distilled water, do I need to drain first, what ratio do I top up with? Will my previous coolant be compatible? I don't know what's in there now.

14) One final tip- I've heard a lot of electrical problems can be improved by removing the connectors and cleaning the contacts with shop bought contact cleaner. Is this required, a lot of work or unneccessary? Will it fix any of my problems?

I'm up to 1500 words now so I'll leave you with that!

Many thanks to all in advance.
 

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Christ that sounds a bit nasty! I'm at work at the moment but will try take apart your post and try and give you a hand over the weekend!
 

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11) When I turn on the blower I get loads of dried leaves coming out of the grilles! I want to clean out the ducts but don't know how or if it's a big job and can't find any documentation on it.

Take your glove box out...two small screws either side and the main catch up top
You should see a fairly big cylindrical black 'tupperwarelike' box find the screws around there and drop it out

give it a good clean and replace

did the same on the old EG 8-|

Hope this helps buddy

Welcome BTW :)
 

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Wow thats one hell of a first post, welcome, you mention taking it to garages has it been serviced properly I.E plugs, air filter, oil filter, fuel filter (as nobody changes these), dist cap, rotor arm, leads Etc... as list could account for 1 to 3 & 5.

Also common fault I've found on Civics when low on petrol if you do not wait until the engine management light has gone off and pressure has built up for injectors they won't start, my old civic when needle hit red I had to turn ignition on, let light go out twice then it would start first time.... otherwise it would crank over for ages.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for everyone's input, I have a few things to look at now. Regarding Civit's Pressure post, this sounds plausible but the problems seem to occur no matter how much fuel I have. I'll try to watch for a pattern though. Is there anything which would help with this problem?

I've had the car in the garage a few times as I say but unless the servicing points are routine I haven't taken it in for a single service since I bought it 18 months ago. I'm trying to learn how to do it myself and any tips or preferred mail order/ internet suppliers of parts would be very useful. I know the lack of servicing is a problem but could it really impact that much? Before I bought it it had one (rich) lady owner and it had been well looked after for its whole life by Honda dealers.

Last weekend I re-gapped the spark plugs- they were approx 0.7mm each, I increased them to 1.1mm (is this correct? I've read this value twice)- I thought this unusual as the gaps would normally need decreasing. The ceramics were medium orange and clean and the electrodes and body and a few threads were black. I used a toothbrush and white spirit to try to clean them but most of the deposits stayed put. There was no ash or grey colouring, just a very thin black coat. I wasn't happy putting them back in with white spirit on so I sprayed them with WD40 then reinserted them. I looked at the air filter, it had a couple of patches of black but didn't seem too bad. I'll change it anyway if I can find a cheap supplier.
I've never changed any fliuds before and don't have anywhere to work or even lie down as I've got a gravel drive and no garage. Is it important that the fluids are changed before I swap out the filters? If someone could give me a simple servicing guide and a shopping list I'll give it a go. It would be helpful to know if I might need spares before I start the job as I can't afford to have it off the road.

Thanks again

Noob
 

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1) sounds like the batterys not charging very well. and the stater motor is using most of the power to start up on the short runs. so i would check the alternator belt make sure its tight and the alternator i connected properly. if not try the main connetions for power apart from tht im not sure but tht could solve most o the eletrical problems.
2) sounds like its where you choke is cutting in when cold whic means its giving it tht extra bit of fuel to get going then wen it cutts bk out the revs drop back down.
3)my m8 had this on his swift gti i think it was because one of his HT leads had a split in it and was arking onto the engine. but its hard to tell unless looking at it but his would rev its self and sometimes not start.
4)turning on the lights shouldnt make a noticable diffrence but the alternator runs off the engine and if theres an eletrical problem the its trying to charge the battery bk up while doing everything else. u will also find the revs drop if u have power steering and u turn the wheels while you r stoppedwith the engine running. its just putting more strain on the engine.
5)try simply servicing. and check everything also tr spark plug gaps can siply cause los of power. apart from tht im unsure.
6) make sure th garage fitted it properly and there isnt a hole in the exhauts or gap in the join. if the silencers tht big it should be reli quite. also a big hole will make it sound alot like a tractor lol . also could answer the loss in power due to less back pressure.
5)a) get the tracking done and also get a garage to look at ur track end bearing and steering rods.
7) tracking/ balancing go to your local quick fit.
8)my old clio did tht but only somtimes wen i put my foot to the floor. its the exhaust. one of the joints wasnt together correctly and if i causght it wright i would just lose back pressure out through it. which ment loss in power.
9)could be down to alternator again not charging. cause all ur electrics work off it once the engine is started, i would try the belt for slackness to start with.
10)sounds like an earth cable find a bolt to fix it to the chassis but find where the original hole was............ its got to go somewhere.
11)yea got the same prob im my civic do wot MBK89 said :)
12)simply just get a aintifrezze testerkit.
got my numbers muddled up somewhere lol
14)you shouldnt need to clean any connections cause they should still b originaly seald. unless some1s being messing about with it. HOPE THIS HELP!!!! and u read it took ages to write lol
 

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What a post!

Had my EG9 Vti for almost 5 years now and i've encountered some similar problems.
First things first though don't ever use the garage which you have been taking your car too, sound like their taking the piss out of you there for sure.
1) Either battery or alternator by the sounds of it, i was supplied a brand new bosch battery that was faulty and needed replacing the next day. Car was slow turning over and after i got it running it cut out.
2 & 3) Possible your idle control valve, my car does this a bit mainly when cold and driving, when i come to a junction and apply my brakes the revs will sometimes drop to 750rpm and go up and down, nothing to serious here just a little annoying.
4) Sounds quite normal, i take it does this when you turn the steering wheel when stationary too?..
5) What wheels do you have on your car, i had a lot of similar problems when i had 17's on that had the incorrect wheel offset, definately sounds like your tracking without a doubt, has your car been lowered? If it has you might want to get some Skunk 2 adjustable camber arms to adjust the camber.
5b) This one's a little concerning, as it's a Honda i would def recommend changing all your fluids (engine oil, gearbox oil, clutch, power steering etc)Make sure you service it, replace all leads and spark plugs (if there's oil on the end of your spark plugs then i'd advise getting new rocker cover gaskets and spark plug seals (£20). Check your distributor (look for signs of brown dust inside the cap, if you see some expect a bill soon!)
6) That's a pikey garage that have bodged your car to the max by the sound of it, rip off that exhaust (you can buy OEM replacements online for £35-70) not genuine Honda but they'll see you through a couple of years.
7) Again this sounds like tracking issues, go to a place that uses 4 wheel laser alignment tracking system (i paid £90 +VAT) my car drives beautifull now. If not you have some dodgy wheels on ya car.
8) Not too sure on this one, have you got an induction kit fitted?...
9) Perfectly normal, my seals could do with replacing (round the windscreen) too. Would'nt worry too much about this...
10) Haven't come accross this problem i'm afraid, might be causing you problems with power though if your car is not earthing properly.
12) Mine has always done this too!

Stick with it my freind :cool:

Andy
 

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slystav said:
Hi,

1) The first and most serious is a non-starting issue. It's a little complicated but basically if I do more than one or two very short journeys the car won't start again and I have to sit for about two minutes then try again, at which point it normally starts. When this happens you can hear the starter turning over ok- although often it sounds very slow. Sometimes the engine starts and then after about two seconds it dies again. Once again, I wait about one or two minutes and try again and it works. I can visualise a battery problem, as if there just isn't enough juice to turn it over fast enough. If the engine fires though wouldn't that keep the momentum? Also the battery's been checked by two garages and they both said it's fine and the garage that sold it to me said it was new about 18 months ago. I know you can get bigger batteries but I'm not sure that's what it is. I thought perhaps something is taking too much current such as dirty contacts, distributor or spark plug gaps too big etc? Just a guess!

2) When the engine is first started it sometimes settles into very high revs (e.g. 1500rpm) as if I'm putting my foot down and sometimes very low revs (650rpm). I haven't noticed a pattern yet and don't know if it's significant but it doesn't seem right. Sometimes the starter fires the engine almost instantaneously and sometimes it sounds close to death and starts very slowly.

IS THIS WHEN ITS COLD OR WARM? IF ITS COLD ITS NORMAL IF ITS WARM THERE MAY BE A PROBLEM WITH MAP SENSOR OR IDLE AIR CONTROL VALVE

3) While idling, the revs periodically go down for a second then back up, as if there is some kind of momentary power loss. Otherwise the revs are constant at approx 700 rpm. There is no obvious trigger for it.

4) I noticed while idling the other day the revs go down when I turn on my headlights. It was very repeatable and only very subtle but I could tell by the sound of the engine when my lights were on and off! I think this happens when the cooling fan switches on during idling too, is this normal?

IT IS NORMAL BUT MAY BE EXAGGERATED BECAUSE OF A BAD EARTH ALSO ALTERNATOR MAY BE ON THE WAY OUT. CHECK TO SEE WHAT ITS CHARGING AT SHOULD BE AROUND 14.5V

5) The steering often feels unusual and a little out of control. There doesn't appear to be any play in it but it's almost as if the wheels go off and do their own thing and the feedback in the wheel feels unusual. If I could liken it to a supermarket trolley, when I go around a very tight corner or very small roundabout the wheels reach a point where they want to turn into the curve, pulling me into the centre, rather than wanting to straighten out. I often have to be careful because it this point the wheel snatches away from me and I have to pull it out of the curve. Also at speeds above approx 60 the wheel feels like it's moving all over the place and I have to work very hard to hold it straight. The whole problem only started when I took it in for it's MOT a year ago. They changed a track rod end but they said they checked them and the tracking, balancing and alignment several times and I had another garage check the same. I noticed an improvement twice- once when I lifted the adjustable steering wheel up (it's normally low) and once when I changed a front tyre which was worn. The car's roadholding is occasionally poor in the wet but the tyre treads are still deep and the worn tyre is now a spare. I can't afford new tyres to experiment! As I say the problem never used to be there (I think) but maybe I'd got used to the car with the faulty track rod end or maybe I used to have the steering wheel at a different height. Also I don't know much about toe-in and caster angles but no-one's actually mentioned these to me before and I think they may be significant? By the way I have power steering and Ceat Spider tyres (they sell them at kwik fit).

IF BOTH TYRES ARE NOT THE SAME YOU WILL LOOSE A BIT OF GRIP CEAT TYRES ARENT THE BEST EITHER. YOUR TOE IN TOE OUT IS YOUR TRACKING CASTER FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND CANT BE ADJUSTED ON STANDARD SUSPENSION.(CORRECT ME IF IM WRONG) IT SOUNDS LIKE THE TRACKING IS DEFINATLY OUT POSSIBLE A WORN SOMEWHERE TO OR A BALL JOINT

5b) I've noticed for a few months now the pulling power of the car has rapidly diminished. This I put either down to the engine or the brakes binding. There is no noise from the brakes though and it seems a coincidence that I also have engine issues. The mpg appears to have dropped from 30 to 28mpg. The powerful VTEC acceleration has dropped right off making overtaking a nightmare and there is almost no pulling power idling on the auto clutch.

6) Exhaust- a year ago the exhaust blew and the garage took off the third section near the rear of the car with the silencer and swapped it for (I think) a Stainless one. The silencer is *massive*, about twice the size of the old one. Now the car sounds like a tractor it's so loud and you can't hear anything above it on the motorway, it's ridiculous. I took it back to complain and they said they only had one type and it would cost £300 for a Honda one which I agreed wasn't necessary but I couldn't afford to scrap the new one and get another brand. On top of the deafening noise though when cold-starting there is a tremendous rattle, sounding like from the back end. When the engine is idling on the parking brake it's not too bad but when I put my foot on the brake and slip it into Drive and just sit on the brake, it gets much louder. I noticed today that if I turn the steering wheel to its absolute extreme left or right it goes quiet! I was told that cheap exhausts' innards often rattle when cold and I've heard that stainless are generally noisier but the rattle is definitely wrong. When starting from warm though the rattle's not there. I have had a cursory look at the back end and I can't see anything obvious but it's hard to get under the car to look.

7) Vibrations- apart from the exhaust, when I get up to 60 ish the car just rattles all over and on poor surfaces it's even worse. It feels like I'm driving my dad's Morris Minor. Can I smoothen the ride? Could there be a link either to the steering or exhaust issues?


8) When I put my foot on the accelerator there is a quiet 'ssshhh' sound coming from the engine bay, which varies in pitch as my foot moves up and down. I think it carries on after I take my foot off and slows down as the car loses speed. It sounds like a cyclical noise, not a release of pressure. Almost as if there's a miniature spinning part or a vibration. It doesn't appear to do anything adverse, it's just a little worrying and annoying. You can hear it at low speeds quite clearly but at high speeds the sound of the exhaust blocks anything else out.

9) The electric windows are very slow to operate. Can I speed them up easily? The passenger's central locking is sticky too so I took the fuse out. It used to open after about five cycles and the actuator did work, but but just a small amount each time. Can it be easily fixed? The rubbers also let rain into the door cavity which leaves through the drain holes but I'm worried about it damaging the steel or electrics. Should I worry?

TRY GREASING THE RUNNERS WITH SOME SILICON GREASE

10) There is a small cable (approx 4mm dia) hanging loose at the front right of the engine bay, near the radiator. It has a connector on the end with a hole through it for a bolt. I suppose it's an earthing strap which has come loose but I've been told it's probably not the engine earthing strap as it's too small. I do know it has to be fixed but I don't know where to fix it, what it's for or the best method for fixing.


THIS SOUNDS LIKE YOUR EARTH WHICH GOES ON TO THE THERMOSTAT HOUSING. IT WILL BE A 10MM BOLT PROB THE CAUSE OF ALOT OF YOUR PROBLEMS

11) When I turn on the blower I get loads of dried leaves coming out of the grilles! I want to clean out the ducts but don't know how or if it's a big job and can't find any documentation on it.

12) Sometimes the lights on the blower console are off (or low) and I don't notice until I move the lever or push a switch and they come back on. Dirty contacts perhaps?

13) Antifreeze- it's coming time to top up the levels- what is the best practice? Do I need distilled water, do I need to drain first, what ratio do I top up with? Will my previous coolant be compatible? I don't know what's in there now.

IF YOU ARE CHANGING IT 50/50 MIX EITHER THAT JUST TOP IT UP WITH PART WATER PART COOLANT I DONT BOTHER WITH DISTILED WATER OTHERS MAY THOUGH.


Edit:

if you can post sum pics of the problem parts eg exhaust etc
 

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I would check your fuel pump also. My car liked to cut out on me like that until one days it had had enough and threw in the towel. Walbro 255lphs are only about £55 and are a great upgrade for future mods. They drop right in too.

Definitely invest in a multimeter or at very least an ohm meter and figure out where these electrical problems are originating from. Chances are a lot of your electrics are faulty in the same place. Thats just how these things go. Good luck!
 

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I agree with sol0. I have similar problems with my 92 ESi and I believe it might be the fuel pump causing most of the problems. also with the lights on blower console I have the same problem and I think it might have to do with a wire somewhere coming unattached. and with the windows, my civic has the same problem, I think it might be because of age and the motors are just dying, Im gonna try to replace them when I get more spending money
 
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