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Pete, Auto Service Technician
Category: Honda
Satisfied Customers: 24736
Experience:  Over 17 years diagnosing and repairing automobiles various makes and models with some training and certifications.
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I have a 1998 Honda CRV that I recently had the distributor

Customer Question

I have a 1998 Honda CRV that I recently had the distributor fail due to oil or some type of condensation getting into the housing and causing severe pitting on the main electrical connection that I was getting misfire codes on cylinder #1. So I before I diagnosed that problem and replaced the whole distributor, I replaced the timing belt, water pump, fuel pump, and cleaned and verified all the injectors. My problem is not trying to set the timing. I know for a fact that the cams and crankshaft are all at top dead center, and if I put a timing light, I on the engine immediately after i start it, I can see the correct timing marks (3 positioned close together on the crankshaft pulley), but as soon as the ECU switches from open loop control of the fuel system to closed loop control of the fuel system the the timing goes so far off that I cannot see the marks to adjust and there is not enough play in the distributor mounting bolts to adjust. NOTE: this happens regardless of whether or not I jump the 2 pin service connector on the passenger side under OBD2 connector. And at idle the engine is at approximately 750 RPM with a timing angle adjustment of approximately 16deg.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Honda
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Rereading my original post, it might not be clear: My problem is trying to electrically verify the timing of the engine, after changing the distributor and timing belt. Some details I forgot to add are that I adjusted both the intake and exhaust valves to Honda clearance specifications, and did a compression test and results were 115, 120, 115,120 psi on cylinders 1,2,3,4. I also used a borescope type camera to verify that the cylinder #1 exhaust valves were not pitted, cracked, or burned. I can get the engine ECU # ***** prom revision if necessary. The car is running at present and seems to be idling fine, but is sluggish during initial acceleration until approximately 2000 rpm, then seems to accelerate and switch gears as before the distributor issues. At around 1500-2000 rpm the timing marks do appear to line up with the mark on the timing belt cover and then start to advance from there as I would expect. I think some sensor is causing the ecu to advance timing at idle and during initial acceleration. But I do not know why it does not appear to be repeatable in the closed loop fuel system control mode. Looking at some OBD2 generic software I have, I see anywhere from 14-17 degrees at idle (750 RPM +/- 10RPM) to up to 42 degrees at 60mph @ approximately 2000rpm. Maybe this is normal, but the 1997-2000 Honda service manual I have and everything I have seen online shows people being able to set the timing with a timing light when the service connector is jumped. What exactly am I missing? Is there a sensor that could be going bad that is giving a false reading to the ECU? The idle air control valve would be my first guess, but since idle looks rock solid at 750RPM, I didn't want to mess with until getting a professional opinion.
Expert:  Pete replied 1 year ago.

My name is ***** ***** I am a professional here at Just Answer. I noticed that your question had not received a response and thought I would see if you still need help with this.I apologize for the delay and I hope I can still assist you with this here.

Have you done the step where you start the engine and hold the rpm at 3000 rpm until the engine fan comes on then connect the timing light to number 1 ignition wire and checked the timing then?If not try this procedure and see if the timing is where it should be.If this was already done and did not work let me know.

If more help is needed, use the reply tab to continue our conversation. If no further assistance is needed, kindly rate my service.You can rate at any time and we can continue to work on your question as this will not close out your question.Keep in mind in some cases it can be difficult to fully diagnose or help repair your vehicle without seeing it and I work on delivering the best possible answer from what I see to work with.Thanks Pete.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have run the engine until the cooling fan comes on, then let return to idle and checked the timing.  The rpm is 750, but the ecu/pcu has the car in closed loop control mode for the fuel system and has advanced the ignition timing to the point that the timing notches on the crankshaft are not visible.  Like I mentioned before.  Before the ecu goes into closed loop control mode the notches are clearly visable with the timing light, and I set the distributor position there.  But the service manual says (just as you recommended), that the timing should be set with the engine warmed up.  I am 99.9% confident that mechanically camshafts and crankshafts are set correctly at top dead center of cylinder #1, so what sensor(s) would cause the ecu to advance the timing under 1500rpm.  Because below that using the timing light I cannot see timing notches as the timing is either to far advanced our not consistent, but at around 1500rpm and above using the timing light the notches show consistently lined up with the mark on the timing belt cover as I would expect and advance from there.  one last thing is that there are no fault codes showing on the odb2, and I ohmed the resistance of the crank and cam position sensors and they all are within specs.
Expert:  Pete replied 1 year ago.

O.k.,I will have to open your question up for others here to see if anyone else can assist further on this.I hope you can get this resolved with ease.

Thanks Pete