'96 civic clicking

'96 civic 180k miles. Just had timing belt replaced but has been clicking when cold so mechanic checked & adjusted valves. Still clicks on startup until warm, less than 5 minutes, as it has for the last year or more. What could be the problem?

Valve lash adjustment?

Who did the timing belt job? Was it a Honda dealership, a national chain, an independent mechanic, or someone else?

When you look at the engine of a FWD Honda, and compare it to another FWD car, everything is backwards. What would be the front of the engine on a RWD car normally faces the passenger side of the car for most manufacturers, but Honda does the opposite. It’s engines are turned to the driver’s side.

When you replace the timing belt on a Honda, or adjust the timing, everything is backwards, so you need to make sure that whomever changes the timing belt on a Honda really knows what he is doing, and sometimes this isn’t easy. I’ve heard many stories about someone letting a friend or an independent mechanic change a timing belt on a Honda and having problems afterwards because it wasn’t done right.

If you have any question about whether your mechanic is competent enough to handle a timing belt job on a Honda, you should go to the dealership to have it done, even if it costs more.

Anyway, I think that is what is wrong. Your mechanic didn’t align the cam shaft properly, and the timing is off. The solution depends on where you took it, so I will wait for the answer to my question to advise you on what to do next.

Things are not really “backwards” on Hondas. In RWD vehicles…the engine front is at the front of the car. On FWD vehicles it can go either way and does not affect how you replace the T-belt…it all relative as you are essentially working on the Front of the engine no matter which way it faces. None of this has anything to do with the quality or integrity of the T-belt job itself…

But Whitey is correct the engine orientation is a bit different on Hondas sometimes…but again none of this affects how the T-belt is installed on the engine…because the T-belt goes on the front of the engine…No matter which way it faces.

Clicking…or more commonly we call it “tapping” is most often caused by excessive valve lash…meaning that there is space between either the rocker arms and the top of the valves OR that there is space between the shim over bucket top and the cam…Honda’s nowadays dont even have traditional valve adjustment provisions… Many X you need to use a micrometer to determine the shim size to take up this space… Its a bit more difficult to do and rarely needs to be messed with. What I am far more worried about is if the Mechanic has the T-belt on correctly AT ALL… If he is one tooth off…in the “Advanced” direction…all hell can break loose. Because the tapping you are hearing is the valves hitting the pistons. Does the engine run as it should? Is the idle quality the same as before or does she run rough now?

Take it back obviously… But is this noise more pronounced than before? Did it always tap? The mechanic really needs to get this ABSOLUTELY PERFECT…there is no “close enough” when it comes to Cam timing.

I am not so sure the OP should take the car back to whomever did the work. It really depends on who did the job, which is why I was waiting for an answer to my question.

If the job was done by a dealership, or a national chain operation, like Goodyear or Firestone, yes, take it back, but insist a different mechanic take a look at the timing belt installation to make sure the timing is correctly set.

If the job was done by an independent mechanic, I am not sure whether I would take it back to the same guy. It would depend on how much I trust him to make it right. If I did take it back to the same guy, I would first buy a manual for this car and bring it with me so he can refer to the manual when he fixes whatever he did wrong. I might be inclined to take it to someone else, and then ask for my money back from the first guy.

If the job was done by a friend or a backyard mechanic, definitely don’t take it back. Take the car to a reputable mechanic and have the job done properly.

I know “backwards” isn’t technically correct, but it’s how I’ve heard mechanics describe what it’s like to work on Honda engines. Even if we were talking about a RWD car, it would describe the direction of the rotation of the engine in comparison to most other engines used in cars.

Usually, when someone does this job wrong, it is by a backyard mechanic or an independent mechanic who got in over his head, who thought that since he could do a timing belt job on a Toyota, doing a timing belt job on a Honda would be just as easy. Unfortunately, if you don’t know how to line up the pulleys on a Honda, and you line them up incorrectly, this is what happens.

Thanks for all the input, but it was clicking/tapping well before the timing belt replacement. As a matter of fact, it sat all day at work, from 8 am to 9:30 pm, and started tapping on startup, then stopped when it warmed up (which is what is has been doing for the last maybe 40-50k). But, while he had the cover off to replace the belt, I had him check the valves. He adjusted but it’s still tapping. Any comments?

If the tapping goes away then yes you are referring to valve tap. What is happening is that you have excessive “play” in the valve train. On a 96 Civic the valves are actuated by the cams and rocker arms…In this Honda you have a traditional rocker arm adjuster with a slotted screw and a lock nut… You then just go through the adjustment procedure which has you start at TDC on #1 and then adjust the valve lash on a few specific valves while rotating the engine to the next correct point to do the next series of valves… Its a whole procedural thing that needs to be followed and this needs to be done to the valves periodically.

You stating that the noise abates when hot is further proof of needing the adjustment. When the steel gets hot and expands it changes the valve lash…thus getting quieter. Really has nothing to do with the T-belt change and not sure why you grouped this together with the T-belt job when you then stated that it did this before your T-belt job… No worries, just time for adjustment

I think you simply need to adjust your valve train.

Thanks Blackbird. I’ll get them to redo the valve adjustment.