Honda Civic '02 Hates its life

I have an 02 Honda Civic (130,000mi) that is having a few problems.
Back story: During the summer about two years ago it would randomly die in the middle of intersections. I thought maybe it was the heat and humidity in Oklahoma but we ended up getting a brand new Interstate battery and it has worked just fine up until now.

Now: I am living in Utah and my car seems to HATE the hills, mountains, highway, being at a stop light…
I have to drive up Parley’s everyday (Curvy, mountain/Canyon Highway) My car has Major problems with this. As soon as it starts to incline my car hates going over 50mph. If I go the speed limit 65mph or any higher it makes a strange Putt-Putt noise. With every “Putt” It literally pulls back on the car and makes it jump forward and slow way down. The closest I can describe the feeling of it is it’s as if some one with a car that has excellent acceleration ability, I don’t, is quickly stepping on the gas and taking there foot off multiple times in a row so you’re going fast, then slow, fast, slow, etc. Kind of a jumpy feel.

While I am at a red light for a few seconds it starts to make that same “Putt-Putt” noise/feel and I have trouble getting it to start moving. It hasn’t broken down yet, but it feels like it is on the brink of dying everytime this “Putt-Putt” comes around. I personally would rather fix my car and keep it but with all these problems I don’t see that happening. I’ve taken it to Honda twice and they just can’t see anything wrong. Oh yeah, My SRS light is on too. Not quite sure if that has anything to do with it or if my car is plotting to kill me.

All right guys, Is it time for a new car, or is this a simple fix that Honda keeps missing?

SRS is the Safety Restraint System. It has an extended warranty. If that light is on, you are in danger. The air bags may not deploy in case of an accident. It sounds as if if could be either a restricted exhaust or fuel pressure issue. Exhaust backflow can be measured and fuel pressure can be monitored. First would be a clogged catalytic converter. The second a clogged fuel filter or intermittent fuel pump.

Thank you! I did take it to the Honda dealer with that SRS light on, He literally just “Reset the lights” as he told me. My check engiene was on as well and he put more oil in and said I would be fine. It isn’t and I do plan on going back.


“check engine was on as well” ?

Was the check engine light on?

Or was the low oil pressure light on?

I would have a mechanic check fuel pressure, oil pressure and compression.

Also have the mechanic hook up his scanner, retrieve any fault codes and evaluate all the live data PIDs from the PCM.

The check engine is on one day then the next it isn’t. It is almost always on because of a loose fuel cap. At least that’s what it always pops up as when I check it at Auto Zone. I have Changed that fuel cap a couple times now it always reads as that. At the time that I went in the second time to get it checked out the check engine and SRS lights were on. No oil pressure light.


Clearly the fuel filler cap is not the problem

You obviously have an evaporative emissions system problem

Most likely a major leak code

Could be a bad fuel pressure sensor

Could be a rotten hose

Could be bad fuel sender seal

Could be a bad evap purge valve


Next time you drop by autozone to get the codes read, have them give you the printout of the code from the cash register. At the top of the print out will be the actual code in a format of a P and 4 numbers, usually the first is a 0. For example P0446.

Post that code here, do not bother with all the recommendations printed under the code. If you do this we can help you better.

If you are in the habit of adding gas after the pump handle first shuts off, you need to stop doing that. The extra gas gets into the canister and just causes the engine to run too rich at times, setting off the check engine light and making it run rough.

BTW, when was the last time you had the spark plugs changed? Timing belt changed? Valve lash checked?

I would have to say this sounds like a fuel problem. Your pump may be on its last legs and this will leave you stranded. Get this fixed ASAP and take care of any other maintenance at the same time like timing belt, tune-up, etc.

No, it is not time to buy a new car unless you want a new one. Honda makes a good product and they run forever with proper care.

Thanks everyone, I think I kept my Auto zone Print outs from last time I went in around a month ago. I will put them on here later if I do. When I first got the car I would put too much gas in it, I haven’t done that for a long while Because it threw a fit a couple times in the gas station parking lot, Learned my lesson fast. I’m not sure about the Spark plugs, Timimg belt, or Valve leash. I will have to double check, but that probably means they haven’t been changed in a while. That is really good news that I shouldn’t have to get a new car though. Thanks again!

I have driven that road from SLC to Park City many times. You need a car with an engine that is working right to do that drive safely, I agree. Or you could stop half way at the golf course there and play 9 holes while the car meditates! lol … anyway, hmm … If this were my car … hmmm … probably first thing I’d make sure all the routine maintenance items were up to date, then I’d ask a mechanic to check the ECM codes and do a fuel pressure test. If that wasn’t the problem, next would be a compression test and a check of the valve clearances. If not that, I’d ask the mechanic to temporarily disconnect the cat and see if that fixed the problem. You may just have a plugged cat.

Maybe it’s time for a new car. I have a 99 civic and it would fly up a mountain.

Plugs and plug wires would be a good start. Buy the good ones, it does make a difference.

Ignition switch sounds like your problem: Common on Hondas to fail, causing stalling, hesitation, etc. I would look into that. Your car is also 11 years old. When were the spark plugs replaced? Fuel filter? Timing belt for that matter? Maintenance is key. Your SRS light is probably a seperate problem.

Auto Zone Codes: P1456, P1457, and P1249

Last one is actually P1259. Sorry.

1456 means a leak is detected in the fuel tank evap system
1457 means a leak is detected in the evap canistor system
1259 indicated a fault in the VTEC system

The evap system is supposed to prevent gasoline fumes from evaporating into the atmosphere and causing pollution. The fumes are trapped in a charcoal cannister instead, and then purged from there and burned in the engine when driving. Evap leaks can sometimes affect engine performance. Take a look at this link for an explanation. Sometimes these evap codes just mean you didn’t quite tighten the gas cap, or your gas cap seal is leaking and you need a new gas cap, that’s another possibility. If you have the original gas cap, might be worth it to just replace it with a new one.

You might try loosening the gas cap (temporily, it’s not safe to drive that way) and see if that helps with the engine symptom. If so, that would confirm the evap system needs immediate repair.

The VTEC is Honda’s variable valve timing implementation. It is supposed to boost power and improve fuel economy by opening and closing the valves either later or earlier than they would otherwise, depending on the engine rpm and load. Apparently for you it may be having the opposite effect. If fixing the evap problem above doesn’t totally solve your symptom, you’ll need someone w/Honda expertise to debug this for you. Make sure you have clean oil and it is full to the mark on the dipstick. You might look under the hood to see if any electrical connecter has come loose, in the valve cover area. You might get lucky and spot the problem yourself. Usually tho VTEC problems are related to some electrical part or sensor that has failed, or low oil pressure or oil that has become contaminated with sludge. In any event someone trained in Honda engines can figure out what’s wrong without much trouble I expect. Ask them to be sure to independently check the oil pressure with their shop oil pressure guage. Best of luck.

Here’s a reference list of Honda Civic codes:

Thank you all so much for your help! I have an appointment with Honda and now I know exactly what to tell them!