Car is chugging / Towed forward in a forward gear? Front wheel drive



I recently had my radiator explode on me. I believe the cause to have been a combination of clogging and some recent hot humid weather. I’m not to broken up about the radiator, considering how old it is (it’s life as been extended once already with aluminum powder).

So the next day I got a radiator and had the car towed to my house. My friend hooked up my car to the back of his truck with chain while I sat in my car and steered. The process was done with my car in gear because my breaks wouldn’t work otherwise. Once we got the car home I installed the radiator and idled the car in neutral for a while to check for leaks, the car sounded normal at this point.

Later that evening I took my parents out to dinner. As I was climbing a hill the car started to chug. We pulled over to see what was wrong but there were no visible signs. When I started the car a second time I was able to chug forward a few feet then it died. I checked to see if it would start, it did, but I didn’t want to press my luck and we all walked home. Did I do something wrong while towing? Any ideas?


You say the car was in gear, but not running. Is this Automatic or Manual Shift?

I believe you did a very dangerous thing. Especially for the engine and transmission. The brakes should have been working, but, without vacuum to the booster, you’d just needed to use a lot more force, like maybe both feet.


You’ve provided a wealth of information, but left out some very important stuff.

What kind of car do you drive? Year, make, and model, PLEASE. Without this we are almost helpless.


I think that this is a new problem, unrelated to the previous actions. Treat it as a fuel/ignition problem. Dirty fuel filter? Some wiring came loose? Out of gas?


Sorry about missing the obvious. It’s a 1991 Honda Civic manual, the 1.5 liter. It has duel-point fuel injection.

I just went to go get my car today from where I left it. I found that I was actually able to drive it home, I took a rout with no hills. I found that it would chug all the way through 1st gear but when I got enough speed going in 2nd everything sounded fine again, I also noticed that trying to accelerate too much in any gear would cause it to chug but letting back on the gas makes it run normal again.


The engine was not running but I did have the key in the accessory position.


Again. Dirty fuel filter? Spark plugs and wires recent? Fuel pressure? Did you check for healthy spark form the spark plugs?


I think you are saying the engine was turning over but not running while you were towed home for a number of miles…
If this is true, then you might have done quite a lot of damage to your engine… Probably as a result of either fuel dilution of the oil (you were, in effect, pumping raw gas theough the engine, and not igniting it, some of that gas ran down the cylinder walss into your oil sump.), or possibly from poor/no oil distribution while the engine was grinding along for mile after mile without running…

From your symptoms, a possibility is severe cylinder wall scoring leading to loss of compression, You need a mechanic to evaluate this engine…

One other possibility is that you had the ignition on, rather than in accessory position, and burnt out your ignition coil, but I’m discounting that.

Another question is “What caused your radiator to ‘blow up’?”. Could this also be the cause of your curent problem?


Well, assuming that it’s a fuel injected engine and assuming it was only in the “accessory” position, there shouldn’t have been any fuel being delivered.

I’m assuming it’s a manual transmission vehicle (since having it in gear apparently turned the motor and made enough vacuum to run the power brakes) so there’s not transmission damage. I can’t really imagine that there’d be any damage due to the car just being dragged around like this-- I second the opinion that its unrelated.


Of course, I suppose he probably tried to crank it over a bunch before giving up and towing it… that could cause some problems.


The fuel filter was cleaned about a year ago. Spark plugs and wires are new. Haven’t checked the spark.


I did not do that till I had the new radiator in.