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Bad Gas

I just put gas in my 2003 Honda Civic, and the malfunction indicator lamp just came on not more than driving five miles on this new tank of gas. The engine shakes really bad, and I am unable to accelerate quickly with this drastic shaking. I have had a similar problem once before, and I took it to the dealership and paid $89 for them to tell me I have bad gasoline. Are there any solutions or remedies that I can try by buying something from Autozone so I do not have to waste an insane amount of money at the dealership?

At autozone they can read you the code for free typically.

I seriously doubt you have had “bad gas” twice. Something is amiss. The first diagnosis is plausible for the customer and the stumped mechanic. A 2nd time is beyond rare.

In my 20 years of driving and sadly 300k of buying the cheapestfuel around I have never had bad gas.

Thank you for your input. I will head to Autozone to try to figure this out before I go to the dealership.

Your CEL (check engine light) is on, right?

The owners manual calls it the Malfunction Indicator Lamp.

Get the DTC codes, then, bring those codes here. Then, you can decide on repair facility.

That was helpful (the terms are interchangelbe,many people get confused when we say Malfunction Indicator Lamp,we are here to help)

It’s unlikely bad gas is the problem and unlikely you had bad gas before. The problem you suffered now could very well be the same one you had before as a symptom can come and go.

Maybe the problem is the ignition switch. Your car should be under recall for this problem and it can certainly cause this kind of problem.
If this recall has not been done then get it done. It’s free and it just might solve the problem.

I got the DTC Codes for this issue. They are P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, and P0304. The description read, “The PCM has determined that multiple random misfires have occurred in all 4 cylinders.” The last time I had a similar problem was several years ago. How would an I know if there was a recall in the ignition switch? Would the ignition switch cause the misfires that I am experiencing? I was told by the employee at Autozone that I should take it to a Firestone or Goodyear store and ask for a tune-up if the problem continues over the next several days. Is this what I should do? I really can’t drive with this issue and I need to get it fixed soon. Thank you for all of your help!

Back to some basic info. How many miles on your car? Have you had all the 30K/60K, etc services performed? When was the last time spark plugs were changed?

The Autozone guy is partially right: getting a tune up or changing out air filter and plugs might change the situation, but there could be other issues (like bad gas, although I agree “bad gas” is both an excuse, but is also a less frequent occurrence than in the past).

Rather than Goodyear or Firestone, start up a relationship with an good independent mechanic, and let him diagnose the issue, along with accomplishing any required services that may not have been done yet. Use Car Talk’s mechanics files on the home page for recommendations.

Any Honda dealer should be able to tell you whether your Honda has any recalls out on it, based on VIN. Call your Honda dealer and find out.

Do not take it for a tuneup to correct this problem! A good mechanic will diagnose the real problem and usually correct it. Tuneup’s do not fix problems (usually) they are preventative maintenance for vehicle longevity and reliability.

Have the problem addressed by a competent shop, I would suggest a trusty independent(ask friends, coworkers, neighbor) in your locale.

My Civic has 102,000 miles on it. I have had it tuned up in the past and I have had major maintenance on it such as the timing belt. I bought it at 67K and I am unsure of the maintenance prior to that right now. I do know a local independent who specializes in foreign cars, and he has been working on them for many years. I will call him on Saturday if I continue to experience the problem. Or should I call him ASAP and bring it in to his shop?

Could this be a problem with any belts? I remember the last time I went in for an oil change (about 1,000 miles ago), they said I should replace two types of belts. I am not sure of what exactly they were at this time, but I will look at my old files.

The belts are not the problem and since this is apparently something that hits instantly it could be any one of a number of things. Fuel pump intermittently quitting, crankshaft position sensor, or even the ignition switch could be responsible for it as the switch provides power to the ignition coils, the engine computer, fuel pump, and just about everything else on the car.

Normally one would suspect the crank sensor on a multiple misfire problem but the ign. switch could also cause this. Since the switch is fairly simple and free this should be done first rather than spend any money or use a shotgun approach to any repairs.
Here you go.

Sometimes letters are sent out about recalls but that’s no guarantee that you would actually get one.

My info shows your timing belt is due for replacement at 110K miles. If done earlier, that is OK and you should be good for 110K miles from time of replacement.

The other two belts are probably drive belts like alternator and air conditioning belt. Some cars use a long serpentine belt, but either way, they generally break and do not cause misfires like the codes show you are having. Some good diagnostics are in order.

If possible, I would get the mechanic to look at the car this afternoon, or tomorrow. If he diagnoses bad gas, make sure you are provided with a large )quart size or larger) sample of gas removed and a write up, so you can confront the gas station owner/manager and demand a refund for your mechanic costs. The sample should clearly show the amount of water in the gas.

For this link you provided…it says on certain 1997 thru 2000 models. My Honda is a 2003, is this still applicable for me?

A station near us got bad gas last year, There were numerous failures and the station paid for the repairs, contact the station and see if others have had problems and if they have a fix in store for you!

Today the thought ran through my mind about the logic of taking a car that is having driveability problems and saying “do a tune-up” or saying “locate and repair the concern” the “tune up” items could catch the concern but then as a mechanic i did not like being dispatched a car with known driveability problems and told to do a tune-up. I must agree with andrew i and don’t rely on the "tune-up approach,maybe some others can point out what I am missing in regards to this issue 9is it the best way to proceed in regards to money/time?)

I usually recommend a start someplace when a performance (how an engine runs) problem occurs. That someplace may as well be where things have been avoided until a problem comes up full blown. And, that place is in the scheduled maintenance area. Why begin troubleshooting until the basics have been covered?
And what “tune-uppy” things are involved in scheduled maintenance? Why, air and fuel filters, spark plugs and other secondary ignition parts, of course. A mechanic can determine how well the engine has been running by examining the spark plugs, for instance.
After this preparatory stuff has been done, or confirmed if recently done, s/he can begin test of primary ignition, fuel supply and fuel injection, timing, etc.
In addition to scheduled maintenance items, are other things which should be done on a high mileage engine, such as yours: Clean the MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor, and the throttle body bore and throttle plate, and the iac (idle air control) valve.

Since I’m working from memory here I could be wrong about whether or not your vehicle is covered under a recall. However, there may be an applicable TSB (technical service bulletin) out on this car for the same problem. A TSB does not mean a free fix; it only points out a problem.

When it comes to recalls there are a lot of politics involved. A lot.
A recall may only cover certain years or Vehicle Id. Numbers but the same problem can, and does, exist even on years and models that are not covered.

I agree with getting AutoZone or someplace like that to pull the codes and post anything they give you back here. AZ will do this for you free and it only takes a few minutes.

To give you an idea of how things can be skewed due to recalls, I owned a Subaru that was under an official recall for a serious safety problem. Since I was a Subaru tech at the time and bought the car from the dealer who took it in trade and who also happened to be the dealer who sold it to the original owner in the first place I thought that not only would there would be no problem with getting this recall done, but actually performing it myself.

Two weeks of arguing with Subaru of America that my car “did not exist” even though all of paperwork was in order and every VIN on the car matched (dash, door jam, firewall, AND underneath the rear seat) and they refused to budge even though the VIN fell perfectly into the range.
Bottom line. They never did cover it and about 7-8 years later there was a failure of the part and it very nearly put me in the ditch on the turnpike at about 75 MPH.

As I mentioned in a response above…the response Autozone gave me on the codes was this. They are P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, and P0304. The description read, “The PCM has determined that multiple random misfires have occurred in all 4 cylinders.”