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Honda Man
Honda Man, Honda Technician
Category: Honda
Satisfied Customers: 4942
Experience:  ASE Certified as an L1 Master Technician with extensive experience in Honda products
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How do I adjust the timing on a 1990 Honda Civic Dx?

Resolved Question:

How do I adjust the timing on a 1990 Honda Civic Dx?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Honda
Expert:  Honda Man replied 10 years ago.

Honda recommends that the ignition timing be checked every 60,000 miles (96,500 km) and adjusted (if necessary).

On all Civic series engines the timing marks are located on the crankshaft pulley, with a pointer on the timing belt cover. All are visible while looking at the driver's side of the engine compartment. The timing is checked with the engine warmed to operating temperature-176°F (80°C)-idling in Neutral (manual transaxle) or Drive (automatic transaxle), and with all vacuum hoses connected.

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 1: Timing mark location on the timing cover and crankshaft pulley-1984-87


Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 2: Clean the notches prior to setting the timing. This will make identifying them much easier

1988-91 MODELS


Except CRX

See Figures 7 through 10

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 7: Location of the service check connector for 1992-95 models-shown is post-1993 model which also includes a 3-pin data link connector


  1. Start engine and allow to reach normal operating temperature (cooling fan comes on).

  2. Remove the YEL rubber cap from the ignition timing adjusting connector. This is located at the rear of the engine compartment on 1988-89 models or under the right side of the dash on 1990-91 models.

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 8: Location of the ignition timing adjusting connector-1988-91


  1. Connect a jumper wire between the BRN and GRN/WHT terminals of the connector.

  2. Connect a timing light and check timing using the red timing mark.

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 9: Aim the timing light at the crankshaft pulley-1988-91


  1. Timing should be:

    • All Models Except Wagon-16-20° BTDC 675-750 rpm

    • Wagon Models Except 1988 4WD-16-20° BTDC 700-800 rpm

    • 1988 4WD Wagon-16-20° BTDC 675-750 rpm

  1. Adjust timing as needed, by turning the distributor counterclockwise to retard the timing, clockwise to retard the timing.

  2. Turn engine off, remove jumper wire and install the rubber caps.

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 10: Timing mark locations on the timing cover and crankshaft pulley-1988-91



CRX

  1. Start engine and allow to reach normal operating temperature (cooling fan comes on).

  2. Remove the YEL rubber cap from the from the ignition timing adjusting connector, located at the rear engine compartment on 1988-89 models or under the right side of the dash on 1990-91 models.

  3. Jumper the BRN and GRN/WHT terminals of the connector.

  4. Connect a timing light and check timing using the red timing mark.

  5. Timing should be:

    • STD Models-16-20° BTDC at 675-750 rpm

    • SI Models-16-20° BTDC at 700-800 rpm

    • HF Models (Except California)-12-16° BTDC at 550-650 rpm

    • HF Models (California)-12-16° BTDC at 600-700 rpm

  1. Adjust timing as needed, by turning the distributor counterclockwise to retard the timing, clockwise to retard the timing.

  2. Turn engine off, remove jumper wire and replace rubber caps.


Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Honda Man's Post: What should I do if I can't get the car started? Everyone I asked keep telling me my timing is off that's why it won't start, what do I do?
Expert:  Honda Man replied 10 years ago.

That's another whole issue.

The ignition timing won't change by itself. If you suspect the timing belt has jumped, then you will have to remove the covers and check the timing marks on the pulleys.

Unless you have some legitimate reason to suspect the timing belt, you usually want to start with the basic troublshooting for a no start condition and if it passes all those tests, then you would begine to suspect the belt.

Here is the prodedures for isolating the problem.

Every engine requires spark, fuel and compression to run. That's what we have to look for.
You need to first test a few functions during the failure.

1) Test for spark at the plug end of the wire using a spark tester. If none found, check for power supply on the + terminal of the coil with the key on.


2) Test for injecter pulse using a small bulb called a noid light. If none found, check for power supply at one side of the injecter with the key on.


3) Use a fuel pressure gauge to test for correct fuel pressure, also noticing if the pressure holds when key is shut off.

Once you have determined which of these functions has dropped out,
you will know which system is having the problem.

Here's what the noid light looks like.

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