Running on 2 cylinders after timing belt replacement & valve job

A few weeks ago I had the timing belt replaced on my 2000 Honda CR-V (189K miles). This also required a valve job to be done, due to the timing belt breaking while I was driving on the highway.

Since I got the car back, it runs very roughly and it dies every time I stop. Occasionally it idles normally, but usually it’s idling too low to stay running. It’s also burning a quart of oil every 4-5 days (and blue smoke emits from exhaust).

I discovered by removing the spark plug wires, one by one, that it’s only running on two cylinders (pulling 2 of the wires causes the engine to die, pulling the other 2 does not change the way it runs). I replaced the spark plugs and wires, but there was no improvement. One of the spark plug wells had oil in it. The “check engine” light is on with the code for a cylinder misfire.

It seems to me that something was not done correctly when the timing belt/valve job was done, as these problems didn’t exist before the repair. I’d appreciate any ideas about what might have caused this problem to begin after the repair. Thank you.

Something is very wrong, you should take it back immediately, whoever did the work didn’t do it correctly.

Have you taken the car back to the shop that did the timing belt valve job?

It must be timed correctly to run at all on 2 cylinders. That tells me you have some damage from the event when the timing belt broke. A bent valve?, some valve guides leaking oil?, perhaps some head damage? It appears your motor is pretty sick and needs more work.

The valves bent when the timing belt broke, due to it being an interference engine, apparently. So they had to do a valve job. The bill lists “1 head set” and “R&R cylinder head” (in addition to timing belt, water pump, valve job, etc.). So it doesn’t seem I should have a bent vale or head damage after the repair. But from the 2 comments so far, it sounds like they did something incorrectly.

I’m in agreement that something was not done correctly.

You mention a head set being charged out. This is a top end gasket set and there should be some valves charged out as the intakes are the ones that usually get bent when a belt snaps.

The oil consumption could be caused by one of 2 things, hopefully not the first.
The first is that sometimes piston and/or piston ring damage can occur when valves hit hte pistons. This can cause oil consumption. (Even rod bearings can be damaged by this.)
The second is that someone omitted or incorrectly installed the valve seals during the valve job; or alleged valve job.

The head set should include a new valve cover gasket and spark plug well seals so there should be NO oil in the plug wells at all on a fresh job.

I’d hit them up about all of this and see if what they say sounds plausible. You might post back with what is related and maybe we can determine if the BS Meter needs to be activated.

Why didn’t you take the car straight back to the shop that did the work when it became apparent that something was wrong with the work? If something like this happens, the last thing in the world you want to do is any work to the car yourself. It makes an easy cop-out for the shop to dodge responsibility. The oil leak and consumption, and probably the misfire is very likely related to the work or the failure. The valve cover gasket and spark plug well seals are obviously not installed correctly, hence the oil in the spark plug wells. This may have contaminated the spark plug boot and resulted in the demise of one of your coils, or is causing it to constantly arc to ground rather than firing two of your cylinders. Hopefully the oil is going past the valve guide seals and there is not bottom end or piston ring damage. The former would fall on the shop that did the work.

I didn’t take it back right away because I thought it was unrelated. When I left the shop, they gave me a rundown of other problems the car has (cracked CV boot, etc.), as shops normally do, to get you to come back for more repairs. And they mentioned the misfire at that time. My thinking was that if the misfire were related to the valve job repair, they would have known that. It wasn’t until I checked the spark plugs and saw oil in the spark plug well that I suspected the problem was related.

I know, I should have been more suspicious immediately. I will take it back first thing on Monday.

Thanks, everyone, for your valuable input.

Have the mechanic do a compression check on all cylinders. If any are low, do a leak down test to determine where the air is going. Either the valve job was not done correctly or there was piston damage that was not appreciated.

BTW, did you make it to 189K on the belt that broke? – just curious. Good luck on this.

I’m amazed they turned it over to you in that condition as though it was perfectly normal.

Did you have the misfire and flashing check engine light prior to the timing belt failure? If you did not, the problem is related to the repair and you never should have accepted the vehicle back from them. I certainly agree with a compression test and leakdown test to determine if there is a mechanical problem with the engine. I suspect it almost has to be since you said it has been doing it since they gave you the car back. I’m really amazed they gave it back to you in that condition. I would never…

Run a compression test and if those cylinders are down there is something that might be considered.

I’m not saying the shop did this but what about the possibility (and factoring in the plug well oil leaks which should not be there at all) of the shop simply replacing the belt and peripherals and claiming they did the valve job when in reality they did not?

If they had no qualms about turning this car back over to you while running poorly then anything is possible.