2002 Honda Civic LX, 4-cyl, 1.7 L. Is it an "interference engine" or not? Conflicting info online

Some people say it is “technically” an interference engine, but the pistons are carved in such a way that they can’t actually hit the valves.

If the pistons can actually hit the valves, I will have to change the timing belt, obviously. It’s been overdue for a looong time (160k miles and never changed it).

But if such a thing cannot actually happen, then I’ll drive it until the wheels fall off.

If it has a timing belt, change it!!! NOW!!!

It’s an interference engine. You’re running on borrowed time.


What? Me Worry?

It makes sense to changeit ASAP, especially if the rest of the car is in good shape. Why waste a perfectly good car that could give you another 5 years of opertion?

Why are you not maintaining this car?
You really want to be cruising on a fast road in front of a truck on a rainy night and suddenly lose all power?

Take off the valve cover and adjust those valves also, before you burn them up

Interference engine or not, what happens when the belt snaps as you’re darting in front of 90k pounds of Kenworth tractor/trailer rig?

ok4450 wrote:
Interference engine or not, what happens when the belt snaps as you’re darting in front of 90k pounds of Kenworth tractor/trailer rig?

Then the wheels will be instantly removed from the vehicle (or what’s left of it), just as the OP plans.

Well, you’ve got a point there. :-

About 10 years ago while on I-35 I came upon an accident near Purcell, OK involving a 2 door Accord and a loaded semi. I have no idea what caused it but the Accord was cut clean in half right at the firewall. The front half with motor and transmission was in between the lanes and facing north. The rear half was a 100 yards away, down in the ditch about a 100 feet from the roadway, and was facing south.
If the driver survived that one they may never travel in an automobile again.

@ circuitsmith
Be careful you might get scolded for your suggestion.

In most areas the complete timing belt, water pump job, is about $600 or less. Many Honda dealers are actually very competitive in pricing this job. My '03 Civic with the Vtec motor is an interference motor. If the belt breaks my motor is pretty much trashed, yours is in the same category.

As said above, the 1.7 appears to be an interference engine.

From what I can see from a quick look-see at the specs, the change out interval recommended is 110K/84 months. 60K if operated below -20 deg or above 110 deg ambient. Go by what your owner’s manual says tho.

Experienced mechanics here have said that even on free-wheeling (non-interference) engines, severe valve & camshaft damage can still result if the timing belt breaks while the engine is running, especially if it breaks driving at highway speeds. Maybe not a good bet to continue on a wish and a prayer. You think? Maybe time for a $600 investment in a new timing belt, associated idlers, and a water pump. A good time for a coolant flush too. Your Honda I expect should provide you many years and at least another hundred thousand more miles of reliable service if you keep up the recommended repair intervals. Best of luck.

It’ll cost a lot less to get it done now than if it breaks in front of that truck that Circuitsmith and Lion described. And it’ll hurt a lot less than if it breaks in the wee hours of the morning in that dark and unsavory road that you took for a shortcut.

Not changing it is futile. It will eventually break. The only question is where and when. Odds are that it will not be in a convenient time in a convenient place.

I am really curious about something here. I have been following this thread hoping to get my answer with out having to ask this question. Florin Andrei, where have you seen anything online or elsewhere that indicates that this engine is a non interference engine?

Every source I know of says that it is an interference engine.

And by the way, I agree with Keith. My point was that even of it were not, it should be changed anyway. There’s no upside to a broken belt. But there can be one heck of a downside.

I’m going to guess that someone did a 2+2 = 5 kind of thing. Somebody saw a picture of a piston for this engine, and the piston had clearance ground into the top for the valves. They then mistakenly concluded that the clearance was in case of timing belt breakage. Actually, the clearance is required for NORMAL valve operation.

Break the belt, break the engine, in other words…

And I agree with mountainbike. I had a timing belt break on me during an ice storm out in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately I always had a warm sleeping bag in the car when making cross country trips in winter so I was able to survive until I was rescued.

Something like this:

What’s that got to do with anything?

@keith - the answer to everybody’s question of why the OP thought the Civic didn’t have an interference engine. See my post above.