Serious Rough Idle and stalling on 89 Civic

Discussion in 'Civic' started by mmdir2002, Jan 14, 2006.

  1. mmdir2002

    mmdir2002 Guest

    89 civic with 200K miles on it. I'm having a very serious rough idle
    and stalling problem
    lately for past 2 weeks. Previously I did had a little rough idle
    problme during warm-up and
    I ignored it as the car warmed up the rough idle is gone. Now in past
    2 weeks, it got
    worse. I thought it has to do with cold weather. During warm-up the
    rough idle is so bad that the RPM needle is moving up and down crazy
    and I've never had this terrible idle problem before. Not only that,
    the car is stalling when I stop at red signal. Never had
    that before although the car has never shut off. One thing I do know
    is that the car does not stall when I push the gas. Why is that
    stalling at idle? Is fuel filter is about to go? Shall I replace
    rotor or igntion coil? O2 sensor? PCV valve? Other?
    mmdir2002, Jan 14, 2006
  2. mmdir2002

    etienne Guest

    Possibly a worn out distributer shaft. I had a 92 Civic that idle rough
    and stalled. Took it in and the guy diagnosed it to worn out
    distributer shaft. I had the distributer replaced and the problem went

    A worn distributer shaft could cause the rough idle and stalling as the
    timing is not steady and varies all over the place.

    A way to check for distributer shaft, is open the distributer cap, and
    see if you can shake the shaft, ie does it rattle? Also connect a
    timing light and see if the timing is steady.
    etienne, Jan 14, 2006
  3. mmdir2002

    Elle Guest

    Here's what I would do, in order, based on my experience and
    some reading here:

    Properly purge the cooling system of air. Use the manual's
    directions. has a free online repair guide
    for your car. Remember, it will likely take at least 40
    minutes for the fan to come on twice. The coolant has to get
    as hot as possible, so as much air as possible is released
    during the procedure. The cooling system cools not only the
    engine but certain engine sensors which will affect RPM. In
    particular, the cooling lines to the EAC valve are a high
    spot where air can accumulate. This valve directly affects
    the idle.

    Ensure the ignition wires and plugs are genuine Honda or the
    ones Honda specifically recommends. NGK plugs seem to be the
    preferred ones. Prior to replacing the ignition wires, run
    the car and with an air mist sprayer, spray them down
    thoroughly with water. If the idle changes, definitely
    replace them. See 's section on
    running problems for elaboration on this.

    I am doubtful the air and fuel filters are the problem, but
    I would still replace them, and at least clean and check the
    PCV valve (with WD-40 or PB Blaster) as well. If it's the
    original PCV valve, I would consider replacing it with a
    new, genuine Honda one. Replacing these last three things
    (air filter, fuel filter, PCV valve) will minimize
    interference with your efforts. Besides, they are all
    routine maintenance items that have to be changed every so
    often, anyway. Total cost should be under $75.

    The distributor cap and rotor should be genunine Honda and
    not too old, also.

    Check and adjust as necessary the idle speed. See the manual
    for how to do this. Check and adjust as necessary the
    ignition timing.

    I would not suspect the oxygen sensor or coil at this point.
    An old O2 sensor can be a problem /after/ warmup. An old
    ignition coil also tends not to be a problem until after
    warmup, as well.

    On the other hand, replacing your O2 sensor pre-emptively is
    not a bad idea at this point. Aged O2 sensors do affect
    performance in general. The place from whom I bought my 91
    Civic's new, genuine Honda oxygen sensor had very low prices
    for them. I don't know if they ship outside the U.S., but
    for price comparison purposes, see them at . A sensor for your car
    from these folks should be under $50.

    Updates are welcome, to help someone else in the future.
    Elle, Jan 14, 2006
  4. mmdir2002

    mmdir2002 Guest

    Thanks for input but I'm looking for a specific part that is direct
    the problem.
    mmdir2002, Jan 15, 2006
  5. mmdir2002

    Elle Guest

    Do tell.

    Ever notice how manuals have "troubleshooting procedures"?
    For example, a certain troubleshooting procedure will list a
    number of symptoms, and the steps have the technician (or
    amateur do-it-yourselfer) investigating a number of possible

    But please give this tip of yours to all local mechanics and
    physicians. I too am tired of them not being able to
    diagnose a problem, and then fix it, the first time I
    present it. They mess around trying different things, and
    after an hour, some still haven't diagnosed the problem. Or
    worse, they'll insist (in true macho style) they have fixed
    the problem, and I'll be back within two weeks, with the
    problem still present.

    Anyway, I don't want to push you around. The School of Hard
    Knocks is superior to any old person sharing their
    experience. ;-)
    Elle, Jan 15, 2006
  6. mmdir2002

    mmdir2002 Guest

    Yeah I unassembled rotor and cap and cleaned the metal part bit of
    decomposed area with
    sand paper and I replaced PCV valve. The rough idle seemed to bit
    disappered. I will try to
    replace fuel filter next and see what happens.
    mmdir2002, Jan 16, 2006
  7. mmdir2002

    etienne Guest

    Did you shake the distributor shaft to see if it was loose? Did you
    connect a timing light to see if the timing was steady? Also do you
    hear ticking noise from engine? This is usually a sign that the valves
    need adjusting. All of these troubleshooting steps do not cost any
    money and do not require replacement of parts.
    etienne, Jan 18, 2006
  8. mmdir2002

    Elle Guest

    If the ticking goes away after warmup, perhaps a check is
    appropriate, but an adjustment may not be. The valve lash
    may simply be set at the high end of the spec, which is less
    risky than it being at the low end.
    Elle, Jan 18, 2006
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