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Steve, Auto Service Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 5494
Experience:  25+ yrs experience as a professional working technician; ASE L1 master technician
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1995 Honda Civic DX: engine light came..the timing belt..water pump

Customer Question

My car's check engine light came on and I took the car in for service. It is a 1995 Honda Civic DX with 75k miles. The technician replaced the timing belt, the water pump, the power steering pump and the power steering hose. When I got the car back, it had lost all acceleration. I can barely climb up hills. It has even stalled going from dead stop at red light to a green light. Service center says it's a transmission problem? When I turn on the A/C the car is even worse. Please help????
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Steve replied 11 years ago.

From the description of the problem, I would suspect that the technician has accidentally installed the timing belt a tooth or 2 off from where it belongs. This would result in a dramatic power loss, rough idle/ stalling at idle (especially under load such as when the compressor comes on). The most important clue is that it had normal power when brought in for the maintenance.

I would suggest contacting the manager of the shop that performed the timing belt replacement and make him aware that the power loss was not there before bringing it in, and ask if they will double check their work at no charge to make sure that the engine is in time; most shops would readily agree to do so.

If they refuse, then take it to another reputable shop and make them aware of the history of the problem; the Honda dealer would be even better as their diagnosis may hold more credibility. If they find the timing belt installation to be the source of teh problems you describe, make sure they document it in writing and then present the bill to the original shop for reimbursement. If they performed an incorrect repair and refuse to correct the problem when given an opportunity, and the incorrect repair is confirmed and documented by the dealer, I would suspect you would have an excellent chance of obtaining reimbursement in small claims court.

But, again; give them the chance to double check the cam timing without being threatening or anything. Everyone makes mistakes, and I don't know a tech who has never installed a belt a tooth off accidentally. (Usually you can catch this on a test drive before returning the vehicle to the customer though!)

If they agree to investigate the complaint, I would suggest going for a ride with the service manager before and after the repair to verify that it is indeed fixed.

Good luck!

If I have answered your question adequately, please click on my accept button; if not, please let me know what further information I can provide to improve my answer. Thanks!

Expert:  Steve replied 11 years ago.
One thin you dont mention is what they did about your check engine light complaint: none of the items you mention is in any way related to correcting a check engine light problem... If nothing was done to diagnose and repair the original complaint then there may possibly be more than 1 fault in this vehicle, contributing to your symptoms.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Steve7654's Post: To address both of your questions:

1. I brought the car back in yesterday. I went for a road test. They have been well aware of the problems. They keep telling me it's the transmission, but I don't really believe them. They worked on the car for 3 hours, claiming they checked the timing belt, put a light on it?, and connected the car to the computer.

2. I was told the check engine light was due to the timing belt failure and the water pump needing to be replaced. Since they have done the work, the light hasn't been back on, but the car SUCKS!

To respond to one of your comments, it doesn't really stall at idle, it stalls when you try to accelerate from a stop position.

So, after having them verify their work to no avail, I am bringing it to Honda tomorrow morning to check it out. Other than the timing belt, what could it be?

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