Civic slowly dying

I was driving my 94 civic lx yesterday, and noticed that on acceleration the car would die when exceeding 3000 rpm, so I proceeded driving not exceeding those rpms. After a few minutes, that “ceiling” decreased to 2700 rpm, then to 2500 and so on. In the course of 10 minutes the car died and would not start. I checked the spark, and fuel pressure everything seems to be fine. Does anyone have any experience with this? It cannot be the fuse because the car was dying slowly, like something was limiting the rpms.

Have you tried replacing the fuel filter?


I did replace it 10-15K miles ago. Also, when I pressure tested the fuel line I hooked up the gauge after the fuel filter. The pressure was 40 psi, right in line with specs.

A restricted fuel filter will still show the proper fuel pressure, but it might not allow the proper volume of fuel to the injectors.


Did it start again after half an hour, or even 10 minutes? Did you drive over something and crush a fuel line? Any check engine lights? Did you just buy gas and get a tankful with water in it?

More info needed.

Did not start after waiting 10min, 30min or 50min. No check engine lights. Spark on all 4 cylinders. Fuel pump is humming. Fuel pressure normal, new fuel filter… Running out of ideas 

fuel pressure, spark? good spark? bad coil? weak coil? so what did car do at 2400 rpm if you floored it? nothing? stumble? backfire?

How about clogged cat? If you have fuel, air and spark it needs to exhaust some where.

Gave up and took it to the shop for diagnostic. They said it was the distributor. Of course I did not believe them, since there is spark on all 4 plugs–I verified it yesterday before putting in a new distributor. (Drum roll please) It was the distributor!
–Why could not I determine that it was weak spark?
Now I just need to figure out the timing and I’m set. FYI, the quote from the shop was $500; I did it myself for $174.00. Had to pay the shop 100 for diagnostic, but it was worth it…

You could not determine it was a weak spark, because it was not a weak spark. The spark was not getting to the plug at the right time. This distributor’s job is to get the electricity to the correct plug at the correct time. Timing is everything.

Timing is not a constant either. When the motor is idling the timing might be a few degrees before top dead center. As the motor rev’s up the spark needs to be advanced to like 30 degrees BTDC. On the old model T’s there was a magneto advance lever on the steering column and it was up to the driver to adjust the timing as needed.

Modern distributors advance the timing automatically using a vacuum advance and mechanical advance mechanisms that are incorporated into the distributor. In fact, distributors are still “sloppy” when timing needs to be very precise which is why very few new cars sold today have a distributor at all. Timing is handled by the car’s computer to reduce pollution. I don’t think there is a car sold in the US with a distributor due to pollution controls.

On your Honda something in the internal workings of the distributor that was part of the spark advance system was worn out and falling apart.

500 total minus 100 for diagnosis? so new dist install would have been 400? what was breakdown for parts/labor? or did they just throw out “500”?

496 parts and labor plus 100 diagnostic, so $600 “out the door”

Also, I played around with timing (w/o timing light) and I think I got it running well. Accelerates idles good all around :slight_smile: All I want is another 200K out of this car…