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TOV Forums > TOV Asia > > Re: Civic boggs/bucks/stalls in hi rpm, help/advice needed!

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Profile for 98Ferio
Civic boggs/bucks/stalls in hi rpm, help/advice needed!    (Score: 1, Normal) 09-03-2004 12:39
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Guys, I need your help here. Sorry if this post is kinda long, coz I'm trying to give an accurate desc on the prob.

I have also post this question at the Strictly Technical Forum about two weeks ago, however, I have not been able to attract rreader responses. I was hoping readers of this forum may be able to shed some light into this. Apologize if I'm being redundant.

Here goes.
Car is a 98 Civic Ferio (Asian 4 dr sedan), with stock 1.6 L SOHC VTEC D16Y8 motor, MT, rated 125 HP @ 6400 rpm stock. Mileage is 60,000 km or about less than 39,000 miles.

I/H/E, Crane Cams PS92 external coil, Crane Cams Hi-6 ignition pack (p/n 6400-6440), ported/polished head, electrical grounding kits, Magnecor plug cables, Torque master plugs, Unichip/Dastek piggyback ECU. 16 inch rims. Everything else is stock, and normally aspirated. Dynoed at 147.1 HP @ 6800 rpm and 264.2 Nm @ 5500 rpm. Uses 95 Octane gas. Compression ratio is stock (9.5 to 1).

After a long time of perfect running [sic], I had the car garaged for 3 months. Warmed it up once a week for 20 minutes at a time. On the 3rd month, when I was gonna take it out for a drive/wash, engine failed to start. After numerous cranking, engine fires OK. Then, check engine light came on. While the light is on, engine would sorta sputters, and throttle rev can't go over 3500 rpm, as if some launch control is on.

Took it to the Honda dealer, diagnosed the problem with error code of 4 blinks and 8 blinks. According to Honda manual, they are the TDC Sensor and the Crank Position Sensor inside the distributor. Take the distributor apart, found some rust and debris inside. Clean them inside out and reassembled them. Car was running fine again, for about two weeks.

Then another problem.
Once in so often, when the engine is warmed up, if I floor the throttle (WOT), when the rpm reaches 5500 or beyond, all of a sudden the engine stalls, and the car bucks. While this is happening, I can see the rpm tach needle is dropping slowly, but the engine didn't died. Engine will not respond to throttle stabs. Once I pulled over, engine would be idling fine. Rev it up, and it's gone. Drive it again, but easing off the throttle, I could reach the redline [7200 rpm] until the limiter kicks in, and the car is running OK. Only if I floor it, it will buck at around 5500. Once this happens (bucking), even if I rev up the throttle while the car is not moving, sometimes I got the problem of engine sputtering [plus some hissing exhaust sound] as if it is misfiring, at 3500 rpm. No matter how deep I throttle the engine, rpm would stay in 3500 rpm range. Turned the engine off, restart it, and it's normal again. Drive it hard again, and sure enough, it bucks in 5500.

Steps taken so far, but not yet solved the problem.
Clean distributor inside out, clean/spray contact cleaners on all electrical sockects leading to ignition.
Check and retightened all power and grounding cables/kits.
Replace plugs with stock NGK plugs (was using torque master plugs before).
Replace plug cables with stock cables.
Take off, drain, and clean fuel tank. Clean entire fuel line. [Minimal dirt found inside tank]. Clean fuel pump filter. Replace fuel filter. Clean Throttle Body, EGR, EACV, idle up valve etc. Clean and recalibrate all injectors.

Then, to add to this, I also:
Disabled the Unichip/Dastek Piggyback ECU, so running on stock ECU.
Disabled the CraneCams Hi 6 Ignition pack, routing the distributor connection to the PS 92 coil direct. [Had run in this mode for years before adding the the Hi 6 unit without any prob].

What I haven't done:
Replace the fuel pump. Not sure how to check it if it is gone bad in situation of full throttle, or when it is very warm (extended hard driving).
Replace the distributor set, with fear that some sensors like the TDC. ICM, Crank Position, Ignitor etc have gone bad.

The two items above are very pricy in the place where I am (Indonesia), and would easily run me over US$ 900. I hesitate to immediately spend on them, unless it is the main cause. The local Honda dealer is dumbfounded, and suggested me to just replace those two items (fuel pump, and distributor set).

Can any of you spare your 2 cents? Many thanks

BTW, Updated troubleshooting findings per Sep 1, 2004:
While going back and forth to the dealer, I have discovered that somehow, my timing got shoved way too retarded. After a lot of guess work, I figure it must have happened when the Honda Dealer mechanic took my distributor apart and clean the sensors inside (problem with check engine light on, 4 and 8 blinks). Since with the piggyback installed, my tuner purposely set my distributor angle adjustment to most advanced (while this is referred as zero timing mark, and the engine timing is supposedly within range) -- to avoid minor changes in the timing during regular tune ups. So something must have been changed to make my timing way off the mark. Since repeated disassembling and reassembling the distributor doesnt improve my timing, I tried adjusting the dwell plate inside the distributor. Then, voila, my timing is back on track again.

Test the car for 5 days, with many occassion to WOT it, drive it hard daily, and the engine stall hasn't come back, nor does the engine miss in 3500 rpm range.

Great, I thought problem solved. Then on day 6, after replacing my leaky muffler in the shop, when I rev the throttle to test the new muffler sound, the engine all of a sudden misses again at 3500. Popped the hood, replace the plugs woth another set of stock NGK plugs (BKR7E), and then no more misses. Drive the car back to my piggyback tuner, and upon another dyno and troubleshooting session, all seems normal and no problems in misses or stalling.

Matter of fact I took the car for a road test today, and managed to beat an Evo 3 (Mitsubishi Lancer) by three car length, doing about 207 km/h on 4th at redline.

I'm still dumbfounded as I have no idea, nor does my Honda dealer, and nor does my tuner, on what is causing the engine stall (5500 rpm) and the engine misfiring at 3500 rpm to begin with. I have had the fuel pump tested with the fuel pressure gauge while the car was on the road, and the result was normal.

I'm just glad I haven't spend my money into buying a new set of fuel pump and distributor set. Please enlighten me with your experience, as what may have contribute to my problem in the first place.

Many thanks.
Profile for 98Ferio
Hi Wong, care to advise?    (Score: 1, Normal) 09-04-2004 12:58
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Wong, is my problem too out of this forum? Desperate for some advice, thanks.
Profile for WongKN
Re: Hi Wong, care to advise?    (Score: 1, Normal) 09-06-2004 10:48
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Actually I feel your question belongs more to the technical forum but since you tried there and didn't get any progress and furthermore you have been working with a mechanic, I have been thinking how best to help you. I think at this point, the key is to find the cause of the problem. Do you have access to a dyno ? I think it's best that you try recreate the problem on a dyno instead of driving it and trying to figure out what's happening. Ideally if the dyno has 'load control', you get actually hold the rpm to 5000rpm and then hook up a diagnostic tool to see what's happening, ideally a PGM-Fi tester. If you're staying in KL, I would have recommend you go to Aerotech since they have both (dynojet with load control and a Honda PGM-Fi tester). If not, you should try to get your car on a dyno and then simulate the problem at the same time running a diagnostic tool.
Profile for 98Ferio
Well, yes and no Wong    (Score: 1, Normal) 09-07-2004 11:56
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Yes, my car was at the tuner's shop for this troubleshooting exercise. Yes, my car is loaded into a rolling dyno.

No, unfortunately, the dyno doesn't employ a load control. So tuning and testing is sorta manual aided with tuning tools.

No, I'm not in KL, but in Jakarta. in the Jakarta/Indonesia tuning scene, shops with dyno are numbered (few). PGM-FI tester is not an available option, not even with Honda Indonesia manufacturer shop. OBD 2 tester is available in the dealer, but only have connectors to test Honda's post 2002 production, aka Jazz/Fit i-DSI engine and CRV/Stream/Accord K series engine. None available for my D16Y8.

After 3 additional dyno sessions, my tuner couldn't duplicate my stalling @ 5500 rpm problem, nor can he on the missfire at 3500 rpm. Granted these probs are intermittent, but the frequency of it is increasing to the level of two three times daily happening, and it's quite frustrating to me.

What my tuner summarize, are:
1. Engine power delivery are still optimal, and similar to last dyno sessions. No problem spots detected. Even timing is read normal (after that dwell plate adjustment I made).
2. Fuel delivery system are working fine. Pressure tested the fuel pump on all dyno and road test session, all OK. Injectors flow OK.
3. Run the engine 5 hours non-stop, during dyno sessions and road test (hard driving, and stop n go driving -- the tuner's version), all OK. No stalling, no misses.
4. Advise to drive the car regularly as usual, and note the frequency of the stalling/misses while at it. Then asked me to bring the car back once the problem appears predictably, when and how, rather than randomly like now.

Still skeptical on the results, I hesitantly took the car home. Sure enough, in the past 2 days, it had stalled once (WOT, at 5500 rpm), and had missed twice (after the stall). What I also note, despite the timing seemed to be in range/normal, I could sorta sensed it that sometimes the engine doesn't feel too responsive (as if the timing is missed), and other time it felt fine.

What do you reckon? Could it be a partial failure in any one of the sensors in distributor, such that most of the time the readings are fine, on certain unpredictable condition it becomes faulty? How about the Crank Position Sensor, located near the crank pulley (lower engine part)? Could a faulty crank sensor do this?

Right now, piggyback is disabled; external coil and CDI pack (Crane PS 92 and Hi-6) are disabled, stock plugs and cables. Convert distributor back to stock with internal coil.

Appreciate your two cents/regards,
Profile for rvittori
Re: Well, yes and no Wong    (Score: 1, Normal) 09-07-2004 13:55
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A couple of suggestions.

Fuel Filter, has this been changed? If so, how dirty was it?
Fuel Tank, how much fuel is in the tank when these problems occur? Is it low?
Have you tried to clean/clear the fuel lines? Is there sediment in the tank? Is the fuel pick up clean? Maybe you are picking up some dirt from the tank on occasion and you have the problem until it clears itself.

Sounds to me like you may have an intermitent fuel delivery problem.
Profile for Culicine
Re: Well, yes and no Wong    (Score: 1, Normal) 09-07-2004 23:40
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I had an old mini that would almost stall at high speed, and had to keep pressing the gas to get fuel moving through. Seems the wiring on the electric fuel pump was bad. Once that was fixed it was ok. I'm not sure if thats like the problem you have though. I guess ur mechanic whould have already checked that though.
Profile for 98Ferio
Doubt that rvittori ...    (Score: 1, Normal) 09-08-2004 10:11
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Thanks for sharing.

On my first troubleshooting exercise, I tried to isolate the problem. between fuel-related and ignition-related.

On the fuel thing, I have:
* Taken the fuel tank down, drained it, inspect for dirt/mud/water sedimen, clean it inside out. Only few debris (less than 5 grain-stuff-like debris).
* Blow compressed air in the entire fuel line, just in case something is clogging it. Result OK.
* Inspect fuel pump, tested it for fuel volumetric flow (liter/hour) --> results OK. Clean the fuel-pump filter (minimal dirt).
* Test fuel-pump pressure, while on dyno and while driving/road test. Result OK.
* Replace fuel filter, although I'd only used it for 5000 km. It was clean, but replaced it anyway.
* Clean fuel rail, fuel delivery lines into injectors and back into return purge valve
* Clean and recalibrate injectors. All OK.

The stalling problem in 5500 rpm range, and misfire at 3500 rpm occurred regardless of the fuel level. I usually top off my tank once it gets around 1/4, never have the habit of driving with low fuel level.

The exact rpm range where the stall and misfire would occur indicates something beyond fuel related, as I have ruled it out after the exercise above. The stall and misfire doesn't have to occur all at the same occassion, but once I experienced a stall, next few times I throttle the engine, engine would misfire/sputter. Never had the misfire occur before the stall. Then, to make matters more irritating, the problem would clear up by it self. Frequency of problem (stall, then misfire) goes up from once every 4-5 days into 3 times a day, while driving. I have to WOT the engine/drive it hard for it to occur. If I ease off the throttle, I can push the engine to red line (7200 rpm) without a problem.

More thoughts?
Profile for 98Ferio
Not exactly, but thanks for sharing    (Score: 1, Normal) 09-08-2004 10:20
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When I experience the stall, it happened right while I was flooring the throttle, and the engine rpm is climbing beyond 5000 rpm. Right around 5500 rpm, occassionally, the engine all of a sudden bogs/bucks/stalled. While this is happening, no throttle response is returned, either by flooring the pedal, nor by stabbing the pedal. The engine speed would decline slowly, until it reaches idle, but it didn't died. Once it idles, which is fine I may add, I could go at it and floor it again, and 2 things may happen.

1. throttle response is good/ turned OK again, all the way to red line, or
2. the engine would rev up to 3500 rpm and started missing, as if you have a launch control of some sort turned active. If this happened, if I let the engine go back to idle again, next time I tried revving the it, it would be OK again.

I have also checked the wirings for the fuel pump, checked the relays, even clean up all related wiring sockets with contact cleaners. No problem detected there.

Any more thoughts?
Profile for WongKN
Re: Not exactly, but thanks for sharing    (Score: 1, Normal) 09-08-2004 10:32
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A thought suddenly occured to me. In my old Civic 1.6EX (MDM, 105ps dual carb'ed), I also had the external ignition coil mod done. If I may guess, the shop probably removed your original integrated ignition coil, drilled and install a 'connection point' in the middle of the distributor cap and then did some simple wiring mods to connect the firing switch to the external ignition coil. You then use a 5th plug cable to connect up the external ignition coil to the new 'connection point' on the middle of the distributor cap. All in the name of a 'better' spark from the spark plugs.

Well, now I remember I had similar problems with my Civic then. Occasionally the engine would sputter and a few times it almost stalled too. And it comes in at really annoying times, like when I was in the middle of overtaking a slow moving car uphill and there's on-coming traffic. It really sounded like the engine was misfiring or the spark plugs are missing some firing sequence. And then when I stopped the car at the side of the road, the problem would magically dissapear !

Unfortunately I never did have it fixed because I actually sold the car shortly after and upgraded to my Integra. So I don't really know what was the cause of the problem in that Civic.

For your case, what I want to suggest is that maybe you should 'dismantle' the external coil mod. I.e. source for an original distributor (new or old) and replace that into the engine. Run with the stock distributor (with the integrated ignition coil system) for some time to see if the problem persists. If it goes away, you can reinstall the external coil system and see if it comes back. I think after reading and thinking through everything, this seems to be a likely cause. If you are really desperate and irritated at the problem, which I can sense you are based on what you're writing, then I would go so far as to strongly recommend you try this out. Best of luck !
Profile for gila
Re: Doubt that rvittori ...    (Score: 1, Normal) 09-08-2004 12:53
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Difficult to dignose over the net but my guess is that the distibutor problem was not entirely fixed. Can you `borrow' a used one from your shop or swop one from a friend's car just to check?
Profile for 98Ferio
Good advice Wong    (Score: 1, Normal) 09-09-2004 08:39
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Your note blow some relieve to me, as with others in the net. At least some other people had experienced this intermittent stalling/misfiring in their Honda. I have also read a post on another forum, that a Honda guy in Ohio, US, is experiencing the exact same problem as I described, on an 89 Honda Civic. What happened to his was right after the stall, the check engine lit up. Errors found was 4 blinks, which is TDC sensor (happened on mine too, but before the stalling occurred). I believed he had it fixed by replacing his entire distributor unit, and his car was stock, no mods in ignition whatsoever. I had my share of the check engine error, and had it corrected by cleaning/disassembling the distributor. The stalling came after the distributor was dis/re-assembled (see my previous notes).

Yes, I have tried disabling all external mods (ignition + piggyback) and plugged in a stock distributor with integrated coil into the car, courtesy of Honda Prospect Motor, the Honda car manufacturer in Indonesia. I tested the car and tried very hard to get the stall/misfire to happen, by driving the car hard for 2 hours or so. No problem what so ever.

Then, after plugging the existing distributor back, timing was checked, and we all discovered it was too retarded. It was then I realize that my timing is screwy, and no matter how all mechanic tried to carefully reassembled the distributor back, we couldn't get the timing to be normal. Then I realized that the dwell plate inside the dist can be adjusted, so we did. Timing was back normal again, and engine is running perfect for 5 days. Then, it happened again.

Yes, you are correct, that for the sake of better spark, I modified the distributor cap, and re-route the coil trigger wire from inside dist to outside. I even tried swapping distributor cap with another spare (but modified) unit, and no change in the problem (still happened).

Perhaps I didn't borrow that stock distributor unit long enough to test it. Just few days back, I managed to acquire a full set of stock distributor unit, unmodified. I was gonna install it today for testing in the Honda dealer, but low and behold, a bomb blew up near my residence, close to the Australian embassy in Jakarta. Traffic is on a stand still for most of the day. So I have to postpone my trip to the dealer, and perhaps do it tomorrow.

Will update you all after the stock dist unit is installed, and the driving impressions. Yes, you summed up my frustration correctly, that the stalling/misfiring occur in the wrong time while trying to pass other cars, or be in the wrong lane while passing, etc. Then you should know how bad I feel about it.

Thanks for sharing
Profile for 98Ferio
Gila's point    (Score: 1, Normal) 09-09-2004 08:45
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Well taken man. I did tried it in the past, using a borrowed stock distributor unit, and test drive the car hard, for 2 hours on end. Couldn't get the engine to stall/misfire.

Perhaps I didn't do it long enough, like for 5 days straight. Just recently I managed to get a stock distributor unit, which I will put in my engine in the next day, to have it tested for longer period.

I will update my findings then. Have also read similar problem on an 89 Civic from a guy in Ohio, and he found out it was his TDC sensor inside the distributor causing it. He may have replaced the entire distributor unit to have it fixed.

Any thought on TDC and Crank Position sensors? I did have a check engine light error, pointing to these 2 sensors in the past month. Then after no longer seeing the check engine light lit up (clean distributor and internal sensors), stalling and misfiring occurred.
Profile for bpeesy
Re: Civic boggs/bucks/stalls in hi rpm, help/advice needed!    (Score: 1, Normal) 07-20-2005 14:47
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does anyone know if this problem was fixed. I have a similar problem in my 95 civic ex. it boggs down at 3500 rpm's
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