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1998 Honda Civic 1.6L Ignition Timing Not Aligning

I put my finger over the number 1 spark plug hole. On the compression stroke I feel air coming out. Be careful, b/c it is possible to get your finger sucked into the spark plug hole when doing this. If you had the compression and exhaust strokes mixed up the engine wouldn’t start.

So when I feel Air come out and the white tdc mark is right on the pointer that’s when I have it on tdc on the compression stroke ?

Are you kidding George?

I had my whole arm sucked into the spark plug hole as I was turning the engine over by hand!



That must have hurt.

yes, presuming your are interpreting the pointer correctly. Like I say above, if the engine runs at all, you haven’t reversed the compression/exhaust strokes. I think that’s the purpose of the word “up” on the camshaft pulley.

How does someone reverse the compression stroke

On some cars it’s possible to set up the valve timing (incorrectly). When that happens the crankshaft still turns, and the valves open and close, but the spark plug fires on the exhaust stroke instead of the compression stroke. On your car I think that would be done (again incorrectly) by position the word “up” on the camshaft pulley in the down position, rather than the up position.

Would the engine run in that case, George?


Which engine? On OP’s engine best to set it up according to the manufacturer’s procedure.

I’m checking the timing marks and then update you.

So I only rotate the engine the way as if I was tighting a bolt right.

Follow the manufacture’s procedure. On my Corolla that’s correct, but not every engine is the same. You rotate it in the direction the engine normally runs, if that’s of any help.

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Turn the engine by hand as if you’re tightening the crank bolt.


Turn the engine (big pulley) on your Honda Civic counterclockwise - same as it turns when it runs.

Why would you need to know that? Just set the camshaft and crankshaft marks as shown in your post # 9 when installing the timing belt.

If you want to check the harmonic balancer to see if the outer ring has shifted, remove the # 1 spark plug and rotate the engine by hand until you see the piston at is’t highest point, next place a long wood dowel or something similar though the spark plug hole on top of the piston. Now rotate the crankshaft back and forth until you find the highest point, that should agree with TDC on the crank pulley.

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Thank you, I’ll take that in consideration

This engine rotates clockwise.

But some here have said that “the engine must be turned counter clockwise”.

I think that there has been some confusion here.
For Morris_ Castillo’s sake Clockwise is the way a clock runs VS counter clockwise.

I think that the timing is off a tooth because the engine was not turned by hand to recheck the timing.

I’d start over because if the engine was not turned over by hand, the timing belt tensioner could not have been set properly because the slop in the belt was not taken up. Thus opening the possibility of the timing belt jumping a tooth or worse, damaging the new belt.

This job should not have been done without at least a Hayes or chilton manual to reference.
If there was a manual…you were not following it step by step.


What should I do ? Can you guide me step by step ? What should I do now ?

What can I do ? Can you help me get an idea on what I should do now

Reinstall the timing belt.

When the timing belt is installed, there can be absolutely no slack between the crank pulley and the cam pulley on the left side of the timing belt.

If there is any slack, and when the belt tensioner pulley is released, it will remove that slack which causes the cam pulley to rotate slightly. And this can cause the ignition timing to be off.

Sometimes it requires rotating the cam pulley slightly counter clock-wise to get the belt on, and then rotate the cam pulley clock-wise to realign the marks while removing any slack.

Now all the slack in the belt is on the right side. And the water pump doesn’t care of it rotates slightly when the belt tensioner is released.


So there shouldn’t be any slack on the left but on the right there can be a couple of slack ?