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02hondafreak, Honda/Acura Technician
Category: Honda
Satisfied Customers: 440
Experience:  3 1/2 years in Honda/Acura dealership-have done it all. 15+ years automotive work history.
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1993 Honda civic: interstate..smelled..the timing belt and it

Customer Question

I have a 1993 Honda civic. While driving on the interstate, the car abrutly cut off and I smelled a burning odor. I have checked the timing belt and it is not broken. I have replaced the distributor, a used one. Please held me find the problem with my car
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Honda
Expert:  02hondafreak replied 8 years ago.

Welcome to Just Answer!


Have you got the car back running?

If so is the check engine light coming on & staying on?

If not running what have you replaced & checked?

Do you have spark & fuel pressure?

Can you describe in detail a little more of the car abruptly cutting off.

Did the car lose power as if someone turned the key off?

Please let me know, so I can further assist you. Thank you.



Customer: replied 8 years ago.

The check engine light is coming on and staying on
Fire is coming to the distributor but none is going to the plug wires, I determined this with my timing light

Expert:  02hondafreak replied 8 years ago.



It would probably be a good idea to determine what code(s) are stored within the ECU. 1 or more of the codes could be causing the no start condition. Here is what to do to retrieve the trouble codes stored:

1988-95 VEHICLES

See Figures 3, 4, 5 and 6

The quick reference troubleshooting charts (located at the front of the diagnosis part of the section) covers the most common failure modes for the PGM-FI. The probable causes are listed in order of most-easily-checked first, then progressing to more difficult fixes. Run through all the causes listed. If problem is still unsolved, go on to the more detailed troubleshooting. Troubleshooting is divided into different LED displays. Find the correct light display and begin again.

For all the conditions listed, the PGM-FI warning light on the dashboard must be on (comes on and stays on). This indicates a problem in the electrical portion of the fuel injection system. At that time, check the LED display (self-diagnosis system) in the ECU/ECM.

There is only one LED display. The LED will blink consecutively to indicate the trouble code. The ECU/ECM is located beneath the access panel, under the carpet on the passengers side of the vehicle.

Sometimes the dash warning light and/or ECU/ECM LED will come on, indicating a system problem, when, in fact, there is only a bad or intermittent electrical connection. To troubleshoot a bad connection, note the ECU/ECM LED pattern that is lit, refer to the diagnosis chart and check the connectors associated with the items mentioned in the "Possible Cause" column for that LED pattern (disconnect, clean or repair if necessary and reconnect those connections). Then, reset the ECU/ECM memory as described, restart the car and drive it for a few minutes and then recheck the car and drive it for a few minutes and then recheck the LED. If the same pattern lights up, begin system troubleshooting; if it does not light up, the problem was only a bad connection.

The memory for the PGM-FI warning light on the dashboard will be erased when the ignition switch is turned OFF; however, the memory for the LED display will not be canceled. Thus, the warning light will not come on when the ignition switch is again turned ON unless the trouble is once more detected. Troubleshooting should be done according to the LED display even if the warning light is OFF.

If the LED blinks codes that don't exist, clear the ECU, road test the vehicle and check them again. If the same codes repeat, replace the ECU.




Not sure how you are testing for spark, but should have spark getting all the way to the end of spark plug wire. Best to remove one wire at a time, find a good ground point like a valve cover bolt, have an assistant start the car over for about 2-3 seconds, should be getting spark from plug wire to valve cover bolt. Try this on all 4 wires, should have some spark from all of the wires. If not will need to isolate back further.

How do you know you have spark at the distributor?

How did you test for it, or what did you do?

Common problems for no start conditions:

-ignition switch (electrical part)

-battery/charging system


-fuel pump

-distributor (internal mechanics)


-ignition coil

-broken timing belt

-main relay

Those are the most common things that cause no start conditions especially on the older Honda model's. You can isolate each item in any order. Fot the timing belt, you may want to remove the distributor cap & disconnect the harnesses going to it & have an assistant turn the car over to see if the rotor turns. If the rotor does not turn, it would be safe to say the timing belt is broken. Any other questions, please let me know. Thank you.




Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Where is the main relay and ICM igniter?
What does each one look like?

I think I have eliminated the other potential problems you suggested.
I took the timing belt cover over the cam sprocket and noticed the belt was turning properly.
Expert:  02hondafreak replied 8 years ago.





The ICM/igniter is part # XXXXX or 9. the coil is part # XXXXX

Here are the tests for those:


  1. Check and service any Honda engine codes before proceeding.
  2. Check the No. 32 50A fuse on 1985-91 models, or the No. 39 50A fuse on 1992-95 models in the dash fuse box before testing.
  3. Remove the distributor cap, rotor and the leak cover.
  4. Disconnect the wires from the igniter.
  5. Turn the ignition switch ON.
  6. Check for voltage between the BLK/YEL wire and ground. If there is no voltage check the BLK/YEL wire and ignition switch.
  7. Check for voltage between the WHT/BLU wire and ground. If there is no voltage check the WHT/BLU wire and the ignition coil.
  8. Check the continuity between the WHT wire and body ground. Service the wire or connectors as needed.
  9. Check for continuity between the BLU wire and body ground. If no continuity check the wire and connectors between the igniter unit and the tachometer or the A/T control unit.
  10. If any tests were not passed, replace the igniter unit.
  11. Turn the ignition OFF.


Your model will be similar to this.


1993-95 Models

  1. With ignition switch OFF, remove the distributor cap, rotor and cap seal, then remove the leak cover.
  2. Remove the 2 screws to disconnect the BLK/YEL front terminal A and WHT/BLU from terminal B of the coil.
  3. Using an ohmmeter, check resistance between terminals. Replace coil if resistance is not within specification.

Resistance will vary slightly with coil temperature. Specifications are at 70°F (21°C)

  1. Check that the primary winding resistance between terminals A and B is 0.6-0.8 ohms.
  2. Check that the secondary winding resistance between terminals A and the coil tower is 12,800-19,200 ohms.
  3. If not within specifications, replace the coil.


Ignition coil terminals and wire colors for testing.

Main relay is located under dash on driver's side. Here:


There is the information you requested. Any other questions, please let me know. Thank you.




Expert:  02hondafreak replied 8 years ago.



Did that help with your problem?

Did you get the car working?

Please let me know. Thank you.