No go deed goes unpunished

My girlfriend’s son bought a car, and 90 Integra with a 93 civic engine. He drove it up from Florida to Ohio to pick his girlfriend. On the way, we received several panic calls about the car not starting, etc. When he got here, he said there was ice in his distributor cap which he defrosted and dried out (if Gilligan’s boat looked as bad as this car, 30 more years on the island would be an easy choice). Prior to his return trip to Florida, I convinced him to replace the distributor cap and rotor button which I helped him do. Well on his way back home, the car broke down in Georgia (so I haven’t seen it), he said the rotor button was installed incorrectly (30 degrees out of time), destroying the rotor button & cap which then caused the engine to blow. I don’t think any of that is possible. The distributor spline from the engine was slotted (so the button could only fit one way) and the setting/mounting screw threaded into the spline. To get the spline in position to tighten the screw, I had him bump the engine a fews times. He re-installed the distributor cap. I’ve done a fair amount of auto repairs and this was “easy”, but he’s insistent that it’s all my fault. Is there anything that I could have done wrong?

Offer a full refund of the amount you charged for the work. That’s the only fair thing to do…

The only thing you did wrong was try to help an ungrateful jerk who doesn’t want to assume any responsibility for his crappy car.

The rotor can only go on in one position, so it couldn’t be 30 degrees out of time.

If it were 30 degrees off, it would never have started in the first place.

The car barely made it to Ohio in the first place. It obiously had another serious problem that killed it.

You’ve learned this kid is a total jerk and won’t assume responsibility for his own car and wants to blame others for his problems. Whatever you do, don’t become this kid’s step-father. Then you’d be making a big mistake. You think you have issues with him now? Just wait.

If it is 30° out of time, it wouldn’t be due to the rotor. It probably isn’t out of time, but the rotor could be pointing 30° away from the button on the distributor cap when it fires, that would be because the whole distributor is in wrong, off a tooth, although I don’t think you can even do this on a Honda.

The distributor hooks up to the end of the cam. I don’t know if it goes directly into the end of the cam on this model or if there is some sort of adapter. If there is an adapter, it might be possible during the engine rebuild to screw it up. But I guarantee, you did not do that.

I agree. That rotor can only go on one way so that’s near impossible to get wrong. That vintage honda does have a module inside the distributor called the ignitor that has a tendency to fail at random but it wouldn’t have started with a bad one, unless the one in there had some sort of intermittent problem.
No offense intended towards your GF but the kid sounds like an entitlement sporting runt.

You should wash your hands of this car and any involvement with it because it’s already apparent your life will be a living hxxx over this thing and you will get the blame for every single problem that car suffers.

To be honest, going from FL to OH to pick up a butchered rust bucket does not sound like an intelligent thing to do and “it’s all my fault” comment would lead me to bluntly tell him to take a long hike on a short pier.

My mistake. My train of thought led me to think the car was purchased in OH. No matter, the car is a heap and you should avoid both car and any discussion with the owner.

I don’t see how the engine could run at all with the rotor and or cap installed incorrectly. And even if it was . . . how did it run from Ohio to Georgia? On hope? I would walk away from this one and chalk it up for future reference. Rocketman

N-O-P-E…You didn’t do the distrib cap and or rotor incorrectly at all…You did it the one and only way it can be done…and IF you removed the distributor itself…you also installed that properly as well…it is IMPOSSIBLE to do otherwise. They can only go on the head in ONE WAY…the correct way. If she ran afteer your distributor work…I assume you put it back into time…by marking it before you removed it? You wouldn’t be able to run the car if you had the distrib rotated and the ignition out of time…in excess so you probably put it back near or exactly the way you found it…and it probably ran fine…No?

What I believe has happened (after he drove all that way) is that he MORE THAN LIKELY snapped his T-Belt or sheared off some belt teeth/jumped time…and then he looked at and judged the rotor position to be 30 degrees off after the fact. That is the ONLY way a Honda can appear to be 30 degrees off rotor wise… This is all a shame…it sounds as if the civic engine in this Acura needed regular scheduled preventive maintenance that it DID NOT receive… You fellows put a tune up on it…but what it really needed was a complete T-belt job, among other things probably.

T-belt jobs are what I do on EVERY single vehicle I buy that has a T-belt…IF the owner cannot prove it was done and when…that is the VERY FIRST thing I do to the cars…that way I know it was done and done right…then I can drive it with mucho Peace of Mind.

Sorry to hear about your issues…doesn’t sound fun…at all. Snapped T-belts never are…


Wow. Merry Crankymas.

You didn’t do anything wrong.

Your girlfriend’s son is not a “jerk”. I don’t know the people who are saying he is, so have to assume they aren’t either. Or at least pretend to. :wink:

Wash your hands of the car and him. He bought a butchered car with a smaller motor than stock installed in it. Who knows what else the previous owner also messed up. Acura and Honda are both really Hondas but the 2 engines are different 1.8L in the Acura and either 1.5 or1.6L in the Civic. Was everything done correctly? Proper ECM, Sensors? Who knows. He bought a nightmare waiting to happen.

Agree with Pvt. and everyone else. Doing things from afar is a lose, lose in a car with very questionable heritage. In my experience, timing 30% degrees off could technically damage a motor…that’s only if you could ever get it running to begin with, which I seriously doubt. The car belongs in Cuba. Great picture Pvt. !

When I install the rotor, I always tighten the screw and then put a plug of silicone in the screw hole. Why? Because sometimes that screw backs out, and then the spinning rotor knocks it around inside the distributor and destroys the components inside - expensive stuff like the #1 cylinder position sensor.

That said, even if the screw backed out and flew around in there, it wouldn’t blow the engine. What probably blew the engine (And got the rotor 30 degrees off) was that the timing belt on this rolling pile of crap broke because no one had changed it, and the kid is too ignorant to have known to check to be sure the belt wasn’t overdue before he bought it.

Tell the kid to take a flying leap.

“the kid is too ignorant…”. "tell the kid to take a flying leap"
Shadow…don’t hold back, express yourself ! You’ll feel better. :=) Happy holidays. PS, I agree !

You didn’t do the job wrong. The timing belt or chain gave out and caused the engine to quit, possibly damaging the valves. The car was obviously beaten for years before it was sold to son of girlfriend. An older, beaten car is always likely to have problems.

he bought a 22 year old vehicle with an 19 year old engine.

Did the car have one of those overly huge fart cans for a muffler and/or a ginormous spoiler on the back of it as well?

Shadow…don’t hold back, express yourself ! You’ll feel better.

I really do need to work on not beating around the bush, don’t I. :wink: Happy holidays to you too!