1996 Honda Civic Pinging Cold Engine

I bought this car new. It had 223,000 trouble free miles… Only “complaint” is that it pings on a cold engine when accelerating. Timing belt has been changed regularly… spark plugs and wires also changed

It might need a valve lash adjustment. Open the hood and look at the emission sticker. It should reflect the valve lash spec and the condition at which the valve lash should be adjusted.


Can you elaborate just a bit how valve timing affects what appears to be ignition timing? Does lash open up or close up over time?

The valve timing and ignition timing is not the issue. As the distributor is directly connected to the cam shaft.

Valve lash opens up over time. And this is the clearance between the rocker arms and the valve stems. When the valve lash becomes excessive it can cause a pinging sound until the engine heats up. Then rocker arms/valve stems expand from the heat and the valve clearances closes a little more and the engine runs quiter.

At 223,000 miles on your Civic, it would come as no surprize that the valve lash needs adjustment.


I understand that logic, but the strange thing is, and I will have to check is that I should be able to hear that tapping sound at idle and I don’t think I do. It is only on acceleration that the pinging sound happens.

Which Civic do you have? Is it the CX, DX, EX, LX, or Si? Are you using the correct fuel? I am pretty sure the Si uses premium fuel and the rest use regular fuel.

Regarding Tester’s advice, check with the people who last changed your timing belt to see if they checked and/or adjusted the valves. If they did check and/or adjust the valves, you might consider other causes.

Pinging can happen for many reasons. Try putting a couple bottles of fuel system cleaner (as opposed to fuel injector cleaner) through the tank. You could also try using high octane fuel or octane booster to see if the symptoms subside. If the symptoms subside, you might have a bad EGR valve or a faulty knock sensor.

It is an LX.

In that case, I believe it uses regular low octane fuel.

I have the feeling the EGR on this engine is not a simple valve but enabled via a channel in the manifold that may be clogged after all these miles.

by the way… whoever is you are on the other end of this … check out www.yanengines.com and let me know what you think. We are trying to build a full scale demonstration engine.

I think that web site looks untrustworthy, simply based on the lack of a physical address on the contact information page.

What I think is you should take your money and run. It looks like a scam to me.