Honda Civic with Rebuilt Head

While picking my daughter up from College for her Christmas break. I had something go terribly wrong with the engine. When I finally got home and took it to the shop they said it had a blown valve most likely, $2000 to repair. A friend of mine suggested we rebuild the engine ourselves as an educational experiment. Not wanting to spend $2000 to fix the engine, I said sure. Like many of your readers I don’t even change the oil any longer. So, we ripped apart the engine took the head off, had all the valves grounded and two replaced. We put the engine back together, set the timing and it actually ran on the first turn.

The problem, the engine seems to misfire on all or three cylinders (1,2,3) when first started. If the engine is running for 5 to 10 minutes, turned off and restarted in a few minutes it does not seem to misfire. No codes come up.

Other observations. The motor idles very very slowly (manual transmission). Sometimes dies due to the low idle(didn’t mess with this). Also the distributor points (I believe) had some corrosion or damaged that I polished off with Emery Paper. The distributor and rotor, spark plug wires and spark plugs were all replaced at the shop about two years ago. So, I didn’t think these are the issue but right now I am trying to pass emissions and need to solve this problem. Any help would be wonderful.

Thanks, Great Show!!!

What YEAR Civic??? Total mileage?? Have you ADJUSTED the valves since your repair?

And what engine? Civics come with several in each model year.

1998, 200,000 miles almost all highway, No, adjustment of the valves, not driven much.

1.6 L Engine, Honda Civic LX

Pull at least one of the spark plugs which you think is misfiring before you start the engine and check to see if there is engine coolant on the spark plug. I had a similar problem with a 1990 Ford Aerostar which was fortunately under warranty. The dealer first replaced the head gasket and the problem went away for a while, but returned. When they stripped off the heads, it turned out that one cylinder head was cracked. Enough coolant had leaked into the combustion chamber that the engine was replaced on warranty.

Since you had work done on the cylinder head, I would assume that the head was checked for cracks. However, this is a possibility.

This is a mechanical lifter engine and valve lash adjustment is critical.

So let me ask this. Are you the one who reinstalled the camshaft onto the cylinder head or was this done by the auto machine shop?

I am kind of amazed that a motor of this late date still has points. Are you sure it does not have a magnetic pickup? In any case, points are cheep to replace, so replace and gap them and set the dwell angle. Or use a brass feeler gauge to set the gap on the magnetic pickup, and then set the timing angle with the vacume advance disconnected and pinched off. Do you have new plugs installed? Set all the valve clearances according to the manual, usually this is done hot, but sometimes cold, the manual will tell you. Gap the plugs as well.

IIRC the distributor on this engine is on the rear of the camshaft i.e. on the head. I know this is basic but did you check the dynamic timing of the distributor?

On the point issue, I maybe off base. What are the pegs inside the cap? They are flat pegs on the inside that the rotor contacts.

The plugs are fairly new but could be replaced again and the gap has been checked.

A compression test will tell the tale…You must have a service manual, look up “Valve Adjustment” and DO IT…

I responded to this post but it didn’t get posted.

This is certainly possible that some coolant is in the combustion chamber.

I did notice a small amount of weeping of radiator fluid right below the top radiator hose. No other location. Can the head by tightened slightly more than the spec?

The engine head was checked for cracks by the professional who did the valve work.

Apparently no answer to my question about who reinstalled the camshaft will be given.
If the OP did this; more than likely, oops.

Yeah those are not the points. the distance between the rotor and those posts is important, as the greater the distance the more the spark will corrode the end of the arm and the inside of the post, but this is fairly long term degradation, and it is not “critical”. It is good that you cleaned them and you should clean the top end of the posts as well if they show signs of corrosion. Still, if there is a magnetic pick up in the distributor, you need to set that gap, and use a brass feeler gauge to do it.

I will check this. Thanks.

I am having trouble getting my responses posted.

I have the service manual and will look into it.

I replaced the Cam Shaft using the manual and making sure it was correct by rotating the engine before turning it over.

I will try as many of these suggestions as I can.

I appreciate all the comments and suggestions.

Sorry, my answers do not seem to come up.

Thanks for all your help!!!

thanks for stayhing on the post, and for doing your best to answer our questions. You are a good OP, and we wish you good luck with your efforts.

Again, my posts are not coming up.

I really appreciate everyones comments, I am sure one of them is the problem.

I really had one further question. Can the head be further tighten, to reduce the radiator fluid weeping? It seemed like the torque was not that great.

use a calibrated torque wrench, and stick to the manuals recommended torque. the last thing you want is to strip out the threads. did you use a sealant on the head gasket, or is it recommended, some are not.

Thanks, I followed the torque spec in the manual, did not want to over tighten.

No, I used no sealant on the head gasket. It was not mentioned in the manual. I did use sealent on the valve cover gasket in the corners and that worked very well, no oil leaking at all.