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02 Civic, 140k miles is now putt putting

My car has been known to putt putt or hesitate up hills in the last 50k miles or so. This coincided with oil change time and it seemed to me it was my little car’s way of telling me to to get my oil changed NOW. This time the oil change did not help the problem.

The mechanic test drove it and experienced it also. He calls it misfire, but there is no backfire sound, just a small jerking motion and it happens inconsistently.

The engine light was on and the mechanic checked all the codes to no avail. He also checked & switched around the spark plugs, ERG, and coil.

Finally he came back and said the suspension is dangerously bad and this is what is causing the misfire. He said its causing one tire to rotate faster and that signals the engine in a funny way.

I just previously had one bushing replaced by a different mechanic and noticed the drive is much smoother, but there is still a pull to the right. But he did not say suspension needed more work.

Can suspension really cause the misfire/putt putt/hestiation? It just feels so much like an engine or fuel problem.

And again, it mostly happens up hills and around 30-40mph.

I was hoping to postpone the more costly suspension work until I have steadier income. But he says I MUST do this now for safety.

Thanks for any help!

 [b] [i] the suspension is dangerously bad and this is what is causing the misfire. He said its causing one tire to rotate faster and that signals the engine in a funny way. [/i][/b] 

There is something wrong with that. It does not make sense.

Could you get the actual codes Format : [P1234]

I’d have to double check. I wonder if they’d be on the invoice? But I’m pretty sure he said it was the first three or four. 1,2,3,4. And he said he checked all those codes out.

There is no way I can imagine that a suspension problem or wheels rotating at different rates can affect the engine in any way. Maybe a very slight possibility on a new car with stability control, but definitely not on an '02. That the mechanic would come up with this idea makes me doubt his competency greatly. Or perhaps his integrity is to be questioned if he wants to sell you unnecessary suspension components.

What precisely did he say was wrong with the suspension? And what codes were coming up? If he won’t tell you, you can get them read at an Autozone parts store.

You need a new mechanic, and you need one NOW.

There’s no way the suspension is causing a misfire. NO WAY.

The suspension doesn’t cause one tire to rotate faster than the other. The only thing that can cause that is tires that are drastically different in size. Or you drive in tight circles all the time. Do you drive in tight circles all the time? No, of course you don’t. Do you have drastically different size tires on the front of your Civic? Unlikely.

The mechanic who told you this BS is not to be trusted. RUN AWAY!

You said he “checked all the codes to no avail.” That’s really sad. Checking the codes is supposed to give a mechanic information with which he or she can do more diagnostics and figure out what’s wrong. The mechanic you went to didn’t do this, either because he can’t or because he won’t. Either one is bad.

You REALLY need a new mechanic.

And then we have to ask how often you change oil? You said your car’s been putt-putting for 50K miles, and this coincided with oil change time.

I sincerely hope you change oil more frequently than every 50K miles.

We need a vital piece of information you’ve neglected to provide.

Does your Civic have a manual transmission or an automatic?

If your car has suspension problems, which it might, that’s a separate issue, and is not connected with the misfire.

One thing at a time.

misfire would probably mean the spark plugs need replacing and it might not hurt to replace the fuel filter either. Going uphill, it could also be the fuel pump.

Also, do NOT go back to that mechanic, not even for directions to a Jiffy Lube. Going by your screen name, I’m going to assume you’re female, and this guy is probably just trying to take advantage of you.

I’m in agreement with the others that you may need to find someone else to look at his car.
Hopefully you’re not going an obscenely long time between oil changes because an oil change should have nothing to do with a problem like this, UNLESS the engine is trying to seize up due to lack of oil changes.

Just offhand, I might guess at the fuel filter. When, if ever, was this last replaced?
If this is fuel filter related and it’s been doing it for the last 50k miles then you can pretty much expect the fuel pump to go belly-up sometime in the future.

Oh some of you guys cracked me up with those comments. Even with my little car knowledge, I figured it couldn’t be the suspension and became quite suspicious of this guy, which is why I wrote in here.

OK - so the codes were P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304

This mechanic checked out the coil, the spark plugs and the valves after getting those codes. A completely different mechanic had recently replaced my spark plugs not too long ago and this guy confirmed they work fine.

And to clarify some of the points brought up from below:

  • I do change my oil - about every 5k miles. I don’t wait 50K! Is that even possible?

  • This problem hasn’t been consistent for the last 50k miles, I just noticed it perhaps two times previously, but only since my car hit the 100k mark AND both times it was at the same time an oil change was due. After I had the oil changed, the problem stopped and my old mechanic said it was that my gas cap wasn’t on tight enough so I didn’t pursue a fix. Now, it is happening daily.

  • Oh - and it is a manual.

Fuel filter? I’ll have to check my records. Perhaps that was changed when the spark plugs were, but I don’t remember what all was done.


Just mentioning, I posted some more info in a reply to the first response. Not sure how this notifies you all, but I answered a few different commenters questions at once.
Thanks for you help!

Your comment about the oil led me to suspect that you were allowing it to run low. Are you, or are you checking its level regularly?

The suspension, or even one tire rotating faster than the other, will not cause an engine to misfire. It can, however, cause that pull to the side that you mention. You need to get that checked out by a competant mechanic…not one who tells you it can cause a misfire.

The codes you posted indicate misfiring on all four cylinders. That, combined with that fact that it’s happening only up hills, makes me suspect a fuel delivery problem, either a clogged filter as already mentioned or a dying pump. The pump can be tested by any competant shop.

You need a competant shop. These symptoms are not rocket science to diagmose. And have them look at that chassis too, regarding that pull to one side. It’s not relate dto the misfiring, but it needs to be looked at.

And if you’re not checking your oil regularlly, you should start.

Forgetting the engine for a minute, you could also have a bad suspension, it’s just not causing the engine problem. Have the suspension checked out at different shop.