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thebesthonda
thebesthonda, ASE MasterTechnician
Category: Honda
Satisfied Customers: 3084
Experience:  26 years experience
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Why is my 1995 honda civic running extremely rich?

Customer Question

why is my 1995 honda civic running extremely rich?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Honda
Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.
Is your check engine light coming on while driving? When did this start? After a repair?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

 

Chuck,

 

The problem started out of the blue. I did not have any work done on the vehicle in a few months. The problem does not trigger a check engine light. All four spark plugs are fouled out and they only have about 4,000 miles on them. The amount of gas is so much that it is cooking my cat. I removed the cat and it is still ok, light can still be seen throught it. If I unplug oxygen sensor check engine light comes right on, does not improve performance. If I unplug map sensor car stalls. The car actually idles smoothly, but cannot handle any movement of the throttle. I replaced the distributor cap and rotor, but it did not help. Hope this info is helpful. Thanks.

 

Jon

Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.

Thank you Jon. With the check engine light not being on, it will be harder to diagnose via email, but I will do my best.

 

What was the last work to be done on this vehicle?

Has the timing belt been replaced?

Is the car a dx, lx, ex, etc?

How many miles are on it?

Are you certain it is fuel that is fouling the plugs?

 

Thank you.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Vehicle is: 1995 Honda Civic LX, 1.5 liter SOHC

 

I bought the car with 115,000 miles on it. It now has 120,000. I did the timing belt and water pump before I put the car on the road. I don't think it is a timing issue because it idles smoothly. I did a lot of basic gasket work on the car: valve cover, oil pan, distributor o-ring. The last time I had anything apart on the car was probably at least 3,000 miles ago. It was running very well and then this happened out of nowhere. The car is not driveable. I am 99% sure it is fuel related, the plugs actually smelled of raw gas. I do not believe it to be any single cylinder with a problem since all plugs looked fouled. Let me know if you have more questions. Thanks.

Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.
Ok, thank you. So the car will not start now when you try to crank it?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Car starts just fine. Idles good. The second you start giving it gas it loads the engine right up and wants to stall. Fuel injection is so much that it is going into the exhaust. This is why the cat is getting so hot.
Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.

Ok, remove the distributor cap and look inside the distributor. See if there any metal shavings or rust residue inside it. Also, take a look at your distributor cap and rotor button to see if the contacts look burned.

 

I have included a worksheet to assist you. Click here. Let me know what you see.

 

Don't click "accept" until we have the problem resolved.

 

Chuck

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Chuck,

 

As I mentioned in the response with the timestamp of 10:21AM, I replaced both the cap and rotor. Unfortunately, it did not improve the problem. The rotor contacts did not look great, but this was not the root cause.

 

Jon

Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.

I'm sorry, I overlooked that. How about oil residue or rust residue inside the distributor housing?

 

If that looks good, try this to see if it makes it run any better. If the engine is truly getting too much fuel, you could pinch the main fuel line off slightly and it could make it run better. A pair of needle nose pliers would work. This would limit the amount of fuel flowing to the injectors. It is the top rubber hose that comes from your fuel filter located here on page 4.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

 

The inside of the cap looked clean. I will try to pinch off the gas line to see if that makes a difference. The fuel pressure regulator does not appear to have ruptured, the vacuum line is clean and open. I will not be able to work on the car for a few hours.

 

Jon

 

 

Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.
No problem Jon. I will be on here until 5 eastern, and I will check my mail tomorrow to follow it up for you. Meanwhile another expert may have another idea and can post it to assist you. Thanks!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I have been told that these motors have been known to have a problem with the fuel regulator giving too much pressure on the rail. Have you heard this before?
Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.

No sir I have not. As best I can remember, I don't believe I have ever had a bad fuel regulator on a 92-95 Civic. Of course, there is always a first time for everything, it would just be unusual.

If you have access to a fuel pressure gage, here is the test procedure for it.

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Category: Honda
Satisfied Customers: 3084
Experience: 26 years experience
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Chuck,

 

I have basically ruled out fuel pressure regulator at this point. So far today I have:

 

1.) Completely cleaned out the throttle body and intake manifold

2.) Replace the map sensor

3.) Car started and seemed like it wanted to run. I took it out for approx. 6 miles or so. Began running poorly again. By the time I got the car back the cat was glowing red hot and the car stalled out. Suggestions?

 

Jon

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
FYI - Timing is good. Just checked with timing light. See previous message for more info.
Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.

Hi Jon. Sorry it took me so long to get back with you. When your Civic starts to run bad, does it feel like maybe one cylinder goes down, like it's missing, or does it just bog down completely? I know you stated all plugs looked fouled, but I'm just trying to get an idea of how it feels.

Did you have to move the distributor to get the correct timing? Have you checked the timing marks (valve timing) to be sure it has not skipped a tooth? If not, here is how. When the engine runs good does it feel it should have the power it should have, or does it feel weak?

Thanks man. I will be here all day. Chuck.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Chuck,

 

Thanks for getting back to me. The car starts a bit hard, but will basically idle normally. Once you give it gas it seems to bog down completely. If I take it out and really start to warm it up then it definitely is completely bogged down. I did not move the distributor to adjust timing. I was suprised to see that the cat gets so hot that it actually glows red hot. I took it off again and can see some light through it. The car is weak, but I was surprised that when I cleaned out the intake and throttle body it almost seemed like it was going to run normally (this did not last long). I have not checked valve timing to see if a tooth slipped due to just having the motor apart 5,000 miles ago. If you really think that is a strong possibility, I can go through this procedure.

 

Jon

Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.

Tnak you Jon. I tell you what I would do first, just because it's easy and will rule something out rather quickly. I know you said you could see through the converter, but just to rule it out completely, unbolt it and take it for a drive. Your symptoms sounds just like a clogged converter. It's easy and wouldn't cost anything to try.

 

If that turns out to be ok, I would check the valve timing. It wouldn't take too long to remove the valve cover and top timing cover just to be certain. Just one tooth out will cause the car to run rich. Unfortunatly, finding your problem is going to be a process of elimination, so I like to start with the obvious things, especially the ones that don't cost anything. You being mechanically inclined helps a lot!

 

Let me know what you find I will be here all week.

 

Chuck.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I will try to drive it without the cat. I have started it this way a few times, but never actually driven it that way. Its never fun driving those little motors with no back pressure. I'm sure the neighbors will love me. I'll let you know how I make out. Thanks.

 

Jon

Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.

Yes. I know the feeling, my neighbors hate me too!! Lol!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Chuck,

 

I could not drive the car last night because of a snow storm (the car is definitely not in any shape to be driven in that). However, I did check valve timing. Timing is definitely OK.

 

That being said, I did find something out when removing the spark plugs again. My original theory that the problem is not cylinder specific is wrong. The #1 plug was wet on the threads and was very fouled out. When checking timing it appeared that the top of the #1 piston was wet. The rest of the plugs looked decent and those pistons were not wet. Could the #1 injector be stuck wide open. Ideas?

 

Jon

Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.

That is a strong possibility. I would check the compression on cylinder #1 to be sure it is building up enough pressure. If that was ok, I would swap #1 injector with #2 and see how it reacts.

You can also pull the spark plug wires off one at a time (with insulated pliers or it may light you up) while idling. Each wire you pull off should affect the running of the engine, if you pull on off that doesn't affect it (or has less affect than others ) that cylinder is not working properly. It's an easy way to narrow down individual cylinder issues.

 

Chuck.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

 

Sounds good. I wish I had pulled an injector while I was at the junk yard this weekend. I have not checked compression yet, but I am hoping that is not the problem. The motor does not puff any blue smoke to signal a weak ring and there is definitely a lot of vacuum being built up from the intake. Unfortunately I don't have any time to work on the car today, but I hope I am making some progress. All that gas and the cherry red cat is making me hope its just a bad injector.

 

Jon

Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.
I hope so too. It is unusual for an injector to be bad in a Honda, but not un heard of. I have seen a few. I worry about maybe a slightly burned valve being the problem, but a compression test will rule that out. Let me know what you find. I will be here. Thanks buddy.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Chuck,

 

Thanks for all of your help. Whenever you have a minute, could you please let me know what may cause a valve to go bad out of the blue? I really hope that is not the case since it will really make getting the car back on the road a big chore. The car acted up out of the blue with no check engine light. Thanks again.

 

Jon

Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.

No problem man. Thank you for all your patience. A burned valve can be caused by several things, spark plug too hot, mis adjusted valves, fuel overload, or sometimes just age. I hope it's not burned either. The 92-95 Civic's don't usually burn valves, but a comp. test will assure you.

 

Chuck.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Chuck,

 

Good news. Compression check was OK. I am going to pick up a fuel rail and injectors at the junk yard this weekend. Keeping my fingers crossed that I will be back on the road this weekend. Thanks.

 

Jon

Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.
That's great news! Yes, keep me posted. I hope the best for you man, I know you've worked like crazy on this. Did you ever drive it with the cat. disconnected?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I have not driven it yet, but I did run it a few times that way. I still need to put the valve cover back on. Unfortunately when I did the timing belt I put enough RTV in all the corners of the valve cover gasket to cause me a somewhat timely cleanup. I know that doing a compression check with the engine cold is not recommended, but getting that thing to operating temperature is not easy right now. I had the highest compression in the cylinder that seems problematic, which makes sense since it appears there is gas in there to help seal it up. I am thinking injector now that the #1 plug looked much worse than the rest and the car did not really idle or take boosts of throttle well with the cat off. NAPA actually had injector seal kits in stock, so I will pick those up on my way home from work. Thanks again.

 

Jon

Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.
You're welcome Jon. What was your compression by the way?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Anywhere from about 162psi - 180psi. I would assume this would increase if the engine was at operating temperature.
Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.
Yes, that's awesome.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Chuck,

 

And the saga continues... I replaced all four injectors and injector seals. The #1 injector was visibly burned (out of 8 injectors I had it was the only one that looked bad). Thought I may have had it fixed, but I had a bear of a time getting the thing to start and then it did the same old thing that it has been doing. I drove the car without the cat and it was not any better. I can say that the car seems to idle better than it arguably ever has and I was able to drive it a few miles as long as I was very easy on the throttle. The second a burst of fuel is given it starts to choke the engine out.

 

Unplugged the computer and then took it out a second time. Once the car got up to operating temp. it went downhill quick. Again, I was easy on the gas and that worked for a couple miles (still could not really get on it), but once it got warmed up the car basically quit, seemed to lose all power and I could barely get it home. Cat was cherry red again. Still no check engine light and the coolant does not get warmer than normal. The only other things I can think are to replace the whole throttle body (maybe its the throttle positioning sensor that is riveted on), or maybe the EGR valve. Any thoughts??? I may have to do something I have never had to do with one of my Honda's.... Take it to a shop :-/ Let me know. Thanks for all your help. Jon

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I am such an idiot! The spark plug wires were sending spark everywhere but at the plugs. Picked up a new set of wires and adjusted the timing. Thing runs like a brand new car. Damn, I feel dumb. Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate it.

 

Jon

Expert:  thebesthonda replied 5 years ago.

Wow! That was too easy for us, we made that way too complicated didn't we? Lol! Well, I sure am glad you got it fixed. I know how frustrating stuff like this can be.

 

Thank you!

Chuck.

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