92 Civic Won't Fire Plugs

Discussion in 'Civic' started by JD, Jul 4, 2010.

  1. JD

    JD Guest

    I don't know a better way to describe the problem.

    In 2009, I had a loud screeching noise coming from my distributor like
    the bearings were going bad so the local Honda dealer rebuilt the
    distributor. Everything seemed to be fine.

    Six months later, the car would turn the engine but it wouldn't start.
    It was like there was no power to the spark plugs, however, when I
    giggled the key in the ignition, it started with no problem.

    The problem got worse over time but giggling the key in the ignition
    seemed to fix the problem, temporarily. It might go a week or a month
    but every time it wouldn't start, giggling the key in the ignition fixed
    it, again temporarily.

    Local Honda dealer replaced the ignition switch and problem went away
    for about three months. But, then it returned.

    Now the car won't fire the plugs and the local Honda dealer is not sure
    why. I think it is the rebuilt distributor. The only other item they
    replaced was the "oil pressure switch."

    I don't think the problem was the ignition switch but neither myself or
    the local Honda dealer can figure it out. They have tried new relays and
    that didn't fix the problem.

    Any ideas? Or should I just junk this 18 year old Honda and try another
    brand, like a Mazda CX9?

    JD is at his wits end and the the local Honda dealer doesn't seem to
    have a clue as to how to fix the problem.

    It's a 1992 Honda Civic hatch, if that's any help. It has less than
    40,000 miles. I don't drive much.

    Thanks for reading this far. :cool:
    JD, Jul 4, 2010
  2. Were the spark plugs ever replaced, especially when or after the distributor
    was rebuilt?
    Eternal Searcher, Jul 4, 2010
  3. JD

    JD Guest

    No, the spark plugs have never been replaced. Over the life of these
    plugs the Miles Per Gallon have not decreased so the plugs "were" doing
    their job. Why do you ask about the plugs? At this point, I'm willing to
    replace the plugs.

    The local Honda dealer did mention something about the "park inter-lock"
    acting up but I'm not sure what that is. And they did mention there is
    some type of "switch" in the distributor that fires the plugs and powers
    the fuel pump but I'm not sure about that either.
    JD, Jul 4, 2010
  4. JD

    Tegger Guest

    Do you have a tachometer?
    Tegger, Jul 4, 2010
  5. JD

    waybel Guest

    Check the pickup or coil in the distributor
    waybel, Jul 4, 2010
  6. JD

    JD Guest

    The car has one next to the speedometer. I don't have my own.
    JD, Jul 4, 2010
  7. JD

    JD Guest

    The local Honda dealer replaced the rotor head assembly, the distributor
    housing and cap assembly when they rebuilt the distributor. I'll ask
    them about the pickup and coil unless those are part of the above items.
    JD, Jul 4, 2010
  8. JD

    Tegger Guest

    When you crank the engine, does the tachometer needle jiggle ever so
    slightly, or is it dead-still?
    Tegger, Jul 4, 2010
  9. JD

    JD Guest

    The car is currently at the dealer. I didn't notice the tach jiggling
    when I was cranking the engine but I wasn't really looking for that.
    Should it be dead-still when cranking? And what would it mean if it
    isn't? I'll certainly pass on any information to the dealer when I talk
    to them tomorrow.
    JD, Jul 4, 2010
  10. JD

    Tegger Guest

    If the tach needle is DEAD-STILL when cranking, the igniter is dead.

    This is a common failure-point in aftermarket-remanned (or aftermarket-new)
    distributor assemblies.
    Tegger, Jul 5, 2010
  11. JD

    JD Guest

    Thanks Tegger. I'll talk to the local Honda repair department tomorrow
    and mention the igniter. The parts used to rebuild the distributor were
    supposed to be Honda parts but it is a remanned distributor, in a sense.
    JD, Jul 5, 2010
  12. JD

    Tegger Guest

    OEM Honda parts are extremely expensive. I don't know what you paid for
    your remanned distributor, but my guess right now is that they used
    aftermarket "OEM spec" parts.
    Tegger, Jul 6, 2010
  13. JD

    JD Guest

    The local Honda dealer rebuilt the distributor. They said they used new
    Honda parts:
    Rotor Head Assy-$17.95
    Distributor Housing: $156.68
    Cap Assy: $35.70
    Labor: $143.86
    Shp/Hdlg: $10.00
    Labor and Parts Total: $364.19

    I e-mailed them with your suggestion regarding the igniter but I haven't
    gotten a response.

    Unless the Cap Assy, Distributor Housing or Rotor Head Assy includes the
    igniter then it was not replaced.
    JD, Jul 6, 2010
  14. JD

    Tegger Guest

    The igniter (ICM) is about $100 by itself and has its own part number.
    The distributor housing does not include the coil or the ICM. They appear
    to have swapped over the internals to the new housing.

    An additional tidbit: Usually, when the igniter fails, you'll get a Check
    Engine light with a Code 15.

    It's critically important to watch the tach needle when cranking. If the
    tach needle is DEAD-STILL, then the ICM is bad (or a wire is broken). If
    the needle jiggles the tiniest bit, then the coil is suspect. Coil failure
    will NOT set a Check Engine light.
    Tegger, Jul 6, 2010
  15. JD

    jim beam Guest

    don't let yourself get talked into getting worried about this igniter
    nonsense. they're going to give you back a car that works. if the
    sensor failed because the bearing blew, the igniter and coil are almost
    certainly fine. and if so, there's absolutely no point worrying about
    replacing them.

    if at some point in the future you have any reason to suspect igniter
    problems, it's easy enough to test. i submitted the following to tegger
    for his faq's
    jim beam, Jul 6, 2010
  16. JD

    jim beam Guest

    in theory, but not in practice. all the failed igniters i've seen,
    there is no code set because it's the igniter output that's failed, not
    the input which is the only bit the computer can sense.

    in that case, neither of my hondas would start. but they both do. that
    is NOT a reliable means of seeing whether the igniter works.

    nor does typical igniter failure.
    jim beam, Jul 6, 2010
  17. JD

    jim beam Guest

    it is an essential component! if it's not working correctly, the
    vehicle won't start. while the links below is not exactly the same for
    your car, the same principle applies for your interlock:

    jim beam, Jul 6, 2010
  18. JD

    jim beam Guest

    do you have a large heavy key ring? it is common for keys with lots of
    junk attached to not return fully to the "run" position after starting.
    and in that case, you will quickly burn out the ignition switch
    contactors. separate your car keys from all the rest and keep them with
    just a lightweight tag, and make sure you turn the key back to the
    "notchy center" of the "run" position after starting.

    do you know this? or are you saying this because the car doesn't start?

    without proper diagnosis, you can't say this. what did you do to test?

    which relays?. check:

    bad relays are more commonly seen in hot weather, so it's a seasonally
    more likely cause.
    jim beam, Jul 6, 2010
  19. JD

    JD Guest

    I haven't heard from the local Honda dealer since I e-mailed them
    yesterday. Keep in mind this problem was intermittent. Most the time it
    starts but sometimes it won't and it died on me once while driving it.
    JD, Jul 6, 2010
  20. JD

    JD Guest

    Please keep in mind this was an intermittent problems. Most of the time
    it started but sometimes it wouldn't. Since the car is still at the
    local Honda dealer I can't say what the start status is. I'm at their
    mercy and I'm getting a little worried. The service manager said once
    the car wouldn't start then their tech would be able to diagnose the
    problem in less than an hour. They've had it for a week.
    JD, Jul 6, 2010
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