92 Civic Won't Fire Plugs

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

  1. JD

    JD Guest

    The key was on a ring by itself attached to an old hotel key fob. Not
    heavy at all.
    That was a guess on my part but the local Honda dealer has confirmed
    this. Sometimes, the engine will turn but there is no power to the
    plugs. They said it may be a switch(?) in the distributor.
    Car never had this problem until after the distributor was rebuilt. I'm
    just working my way backwards to when the problem started.
    The service manager said the tech replaced the main relay but it did not
    solve the problem. Looking at the above page, I'm surprised their
    replacement main replay didn't help. The car did die on my once but
    started right back up. Once I got it home it wouldn't start. When the
    tow truck got here it would start. Towed it to the local Honda dealer
    and it wouldn't start. They tried it the next day and it did start. They
    replaced the ignition switch and a few days later it died while it was
    idling. They haven't been clear as to whether it now starts or doesn't
    but they have not been able to figure it out.
    As I stated in my other reply to you, the problem was intermittent. It
    didn't seem to be dependent on the outside temperature. It sometimes
    would not start when it was cold outside, warm outside or hot outside. I
    live in west Texas so our seasons run from pretty cold to very hot.
    JD, Jul 6, 2010
  2. JD

    jim Guest

    You seem to be unaware that your description of the problem is all over the

    You just said in your previous post:

    " 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."

    That makes it pretty clear the car is starting just fine for the dealer and
    they have never been able to reproduce the problem you were having. So there is
    no way the dealer knows that the problem is "the car won't fire the plugs" as
    you claim.

    Trust me. If you say the car won't start because the passenger door window
    won't roll down, you are going to get some people giving you advice on how to
    get the window to roll down. That sort of advice isn't going to help you solve
    your problem.

    jim, Jul 7, 2010
  3. JD

    Tegger Guest

    This sounds very much like a dying coil, especially if accompanied by lack
    of a Check-Engine-light illumination.

    It is NOT possible to reliably diagnose a bad coil with a multimeter! If in
    doubt, pull a coil from a wreck for about $10. At least that way your
    experiment comes on-the-cheap.
    Tegger, Jul 7, 2010
  4. JD

    Tegger Guest

    The problem started when you brought the car to a garage that is unfamiliar
    with older Hondas.

    Dealers are fantastic for lots of stuff, but not for problems that involve
    electronics that their techs haven't seen in 15 years. Remember that 99% of
    the work done by dealer techs involves cars much less than ten-years-old.
    It takes a, rare, exceptionally intelligent and interested tech to diagnose
    a car as old as yours. This is where good independents are worth their
    weight in gold: /They're/ usually the ones that know the old systems best.
    Tegger, Jul 7, 2010
  5. JD

    JD Guest

    You trimmed out part of my reply.

    The problem is intermittent. It doesn't happen all the time but it is
    now happening at the dealer. They have been able to reproduce the
    problem but they don't have a solution. That's why I'm here.

    How about you just butt out if you can't help? I didn't say the car
    wouldn't start because the passenger door window is down. That would be
    stupid. Roll the window up. :cool:
    JD, Jul 7, 2010
  6. JD

    JD Guest

    I've met the tech and he's an older guy. He's familiar with older
    Honda's. He's been doing this for over 20 years. I've talked with other
    independent techs and I chose this dealer and this tech over them.

    I agree with you that it has something to do with the distributor.

    I appreciate all your help and if they can fix this I'll be back to tell
    you what it was.
    JD, Jul 7, 2010
  7. JD

    JD Guest

    I'm one of those people that doesn't work on cars. I was a advertising
    photographer for 20+ years. I can photograph a car and I can drive a car
    like a bat out of Hell but I couldn't pull a coil from a wreck unless
    you wanted a photograph of it. :cool:

    You're giving me more options than the dealer. I'll let you know if they
    can figure it out with the added information I'm providing from your
    JD, Jul 7, 2010
  8. JD

    jim Guest

    It sounded like they have no solution because the technician has never seen the

    You might as well have said that. It would get you just as far.....
    jim, Jul 7, 2010
  9. JD

    JD Guest

    Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Just as fart.... :cool:
    JD, Jul 7, 2010
  10. JD

    Tegger Guest

    That would be nice. If I'm wrong, I want to know, and to know /why/. Little
    learning is accomplished in the absence of feedback.
    Tegger, Jul 7, 2010
  11. JD

    JD Guest

    The service manager called today and they have replaced the igniter and
    the coil in the distributor. And they replaced the main relay.

    The car still won't start.

    Service tech wants to do more diagnostics, they figure about $300 for
    that but he's thinking it is a failure of the PCM which can cost
    anywhere from $600 to $900. The service manager will have a price for
    that tomorrow.

    The tech is supposed to call me tomorrow and give me a more technical
    review of his diagnosis to this point. He's not getting correct voltages
    at certain places(?) which is why he needs more diagnostic time.

    I don't know if I mentioned this before but when they rebuilt the
    distributor, the tech said there was something behind the glove box that
    he had to reset before he installed the rebuilt distributor. The
    distributor has to be placed back into the engine with the engine set
    with the first cylinder in a certain place.

    Is the PCM located behind the glove box?

    The only other work they have done on the car is to replace the timing
    belt and the belts and that oil switch I talked about earlier.

    I see you reply quite a bit in this newsgroup and you really are helpful
    so *help!* :cool:

    One bright spot to all this, they are *not* charging me anything at this
    point. All the parts and time are free because the service manager
    wanted to eliminate any problems caused by their rebuild of the

    I'm hesitant to spend that much money on such an old car but I've got
    about $15K in it including the purchase price and all the repairs up to
    this time. My concern is the car is going to continue to decline because
    it's so old. I only drive about 100 miles a month but I've got to have a
    reliable automobile. I guess everybody wants that.

    So I fix it and trade it in for a Mazda CX9. Any chance you know about
    JD, Jul 8, 2010
  12. JD

    Tegger Guest

    It's not a "PCM", it's an "ECU". This IS important!

    Here is the correct behavior of the Check Engine light ( I hope you are
    reading this carefully):
    1) Turn the key to "II"", CEL illuminates, and a click is heard from under
    the dash.
    2) Two seconds later, the CEL goes off and STAYS OFF thereafter. A SECOND
    click is heard.
    3) Turn the key to "III". As the starter engages, a THIRD click is heard
    from under the dash.

    Does the above sequence occur ***EXACTLY***, or is there ***ANY*** sort of
    deviation from the sequence, ***no matter how minor***?

    Somebody needs to pull the ECU and inspect it for corrosion and leaking

    My recommendation? Leave the old heap for people like me, who /like/ wading
    through old-car problems, and have some idea what causes those problems.
    Cut your losses; dump it and buy the Mazda.

    Mazdas are good cars. You will like your new CX9. Plus it will smell nice
    inside and have an iPod port.
    Tegger, Jul 8, 2010
  13. JD

    jim beam Guest

    if you're considering disposal, where are you located? a 92 civic hatch
    with only 40k is /definitely/ interesting.
    jim beam, Jul 8, 2010
  14. JD

    JD Guest

    I'm located in west Texas. If the sob would start it's a sweet ride.
    Like a little sport car with a hatch.
    JD, Jul 8, 2010
  15. JD

    JD Guest

    If the tech calls tomorrow I'll ask if it's a PCM or ECU. And then ask
    about the process you describe.

    Are you going to know this much about my Mazda?

    I'll let you know what the tech says.
    JD, Jul 8, 2010
  16. JD

    jim beam Guest

    you don't need to tell me dude - i /love/ those things. nearly laughed
    my organs off the other day buying some lumber. myself and a contractor
    were checking out some 8' pieces of studding, and found ourselves parked
    next to each other. he gave me one of those sneers to the effect of
    "how are you going to get it in that little thing?". he was still
    trying to tie down the overhang on his load as i was driving off with
    mine, with the hatch fully shut. hatchbacks - the most awesomely
    versatile vehicle format ever. combine that with honda reliability,
    comfort and 4-wheel wishbone suspension? it'll be a /long/ time before
    i give mine up.

    while it's almost impossible to help you through a diagnosis if you
    don't have physical possession of the vehicle, it would be great to help
    you keep such a low mileage vehicle on the road. trouble-shooting the
    engine electrics is relatively straight forward. even in the [highly
    unlikely] event of it being a dead ecu, they're abundant and cheap in
    the nation's junkyards, so replacement will be only $30 - $60.
    jim beam, Jul 8, 2010
  17. JD

    JD Guest

    I don't really do auto repairs. I can take something apart and put it
    back together but I'll have some extra parts. Oh, the wishbone
    suspension. That's the ride part.
    JD, Jul 8, 2010
  18. JD

    Tegger Guest

    Honda originally called their engine computers "ECU" ("Electronic Control
    Unit"). With the advent of OBD-II in 1995, the name changed to "ECM"
    ("Engine Control Module").

    "PCM" means "Powertrain Control Module". It's a fairly new device that
    combines the engine controller with the transmission controller. Your
    Civic's engine computer is a standalone (does not control the tranny), so
    it can't be a PCM.

    Nope. All I know in any detail is Hondas, and even then just the Civic-
    based ones.
    Tegger, Jul 8, 2010
  19. JD

    jim Guest

    Yes that is obvious, but that hasn't stopped you from telling the dealer
    how to fix your car. In all likelihood your problem has nothing to do
    with the ignition/distributer/sparkplugs nor firing. Probably, the fuel
    pump isn't kicking on. That would have been something easy to determine
    when the car was doing its no start thing.
    jim, Jul 8, 2010
  20. JD

    JD Guest

    I thought it was because the window was rolled down?
    JD, Jul 8, 2010
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