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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, i was on my way home from school today. I had just started it up and it seemed to be running fine. As soon as i started accelerating, the CEL came on and my car started sputtering around 3-4k rpms. I pulled over to the side of the road and turned it off. After a few minutes, i tried it again and got the same thing. I left the car off and tried a bit later and it worked fine(go figure) i was able to drive the 6 miles home with no problems. Anyone know what might have happened? I'm stumped.

Oh, i was working on the valve cover last night. Its been leaking oil. After i put it all togher, i drove it for a minute, same thing as today, but there were 2 loud pops from the engine. That didnt happen today. Just stalled. I'm about to go out and chech my compresson. I'm also going to change my oil.(needs it.)
Any advice would be helpful. Thank you. Its running righ now, i just dont want to get stuck anywhere again untill i know whats going on.

BTW, as a side note...dose anyone else ever have there car fix itself? I swear, every time something breaks, its working again in a few minutes. I have had bulbs burn out and start working again.
 

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See what trouble codes the ECU is throwing. Pull back the carpet in the passenger side footwell. There should be a metal plate there with a hole in the middle so you can see the ECU's diagnostic LED. Switch the ignition on and count the flashes. If there's more than one error code, it will pause between groups of flashes. It will repeat the codes over and over, so don't worry about missing one when you switch the ignition on.
For example: If you have codes 3, 4 and 8, you will see: 3 flashes, pause, 4 flashes, pause, 8 flashes, pause, 3 flashes, pause, 4 flashes, and so on.
 

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Don't bother checking your compression as a possible cause to your problem because it isn't. Compression remains the same from one day to the next; it isn't intermittently high or low. What you're experiencing is fuel or spark related.

First thing you should do is the simplest: with the driver door open, get on your knees outside of the car (seriously), put your head near the clutch pedal, then reach up with your right hand and turn the ignition to the "on" position. As soon as you do you will hear a click from the left driver kick panel. Sometimes you can't hear this click because of the buzzer(s) that are turning on at the same time you put the key in the on position. Listen carefully. About 2 seconds after that there MUST be another click from the same relay that made the first click. If you do not hear this click, your main relay is bad. Fix that before proceeding. Beware, main relays that are just beginning to go bad will work when they're cool (at first start-up) then as the relay warms it can then fail to operate properly. Do this "2-click" test before start-up and after the car dies. Note the difference if any.

Next thing you should do is to identify the trouble codes if there are any. Follow the instructions bobski gave.

Additional note: As bobski mentioned, check that your thermostat ground is clean and secure. This is the ground for the main relay. Without it, the pump never turns on. If it's loose, that may explain your car fixing itself.
 

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Also, listen to your distributor.
If it sounds like a coffee grinder, either the bearings are going bad, or the cap. The cap is an easy fix.

Check all your spark plug wires. If they appear dry and brittle, good chance they're "leaky". The coil also tends to go bad with similar symptoms.
Finally the ignitor module itself can go bad. And it's impossible to test, except swap it out with another one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all your help, i'll be doing some PM tomorrow and i'll check it all out. Unfortunatly, the CEL turned off, but if it does go on, i'll make sure to check the LED. Thanks for telling me that though, i never knew about the LED cuz my CEL only went on once before.
 

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The ECU stores the error codes until you disconnect the battery or pull the hazard lights fuse for a few seconds. Just switch the ignition on and it will display them.
The CEL light only comes on for a few seconds when you switch the ignition on or when the conditions are met to diagnose a problem. For instance, a code 1 is for the oxygen sensor. The ECU waits for the engine to get up to normal operating temperature and then for the engine to coast down slowly from over 3000 RPM (I think? it may be a different number) such as when you're coasting down to a stop light. When you let off the gas and coast, the ECU cuts off fuel (as it always does), so the oxygen sensor signal should swing to lean. If it doesn't, the sensor must be faulty, so the ECU switches on the CEL and stores an error code.
Now say you stop the car and switch off the ignition. When you switch it back on, you'll get the normal 2 secs on the CEL light and then nothing. If you pull back the carpet, the ECU will still be flashing a code 1. If you repeat the above conditions (coasting down with the engine warm), the ECU will re-diagnose the problem and switch on the CEL, but you'll still only see a single code 1 from the diagnostic LED.
 

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a long shot, but im thinking code 1 (o2 sensor).

mine did that after i slapped on an oversized camshaft. it would run fine until it reached proper engine temp, then the cel would flash and it would bog down around 3000-4000rpm.

but then again, it's just a long shot.

if it IS your o2 sensor, you might have more problems than the sensor itself. it could be leaky valves or a lean/rich mixture making it malfunction.
 

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A failed O2 sensor shouldn't cause sputtering or even a noticable loss in power. You'll just loose a chunk of your fuel economy because the ECU can't adjust the air/fuel mixture on the fly. On the other hand, I have seen a slipped timing belt cause a code 1. When the static timing jumps a tooth, it tends to shift the power band either up or down the RPM range depeding on which way it jumped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
OK, i checked the code, i'm getting a 4 and an 8 i believe. I dont konw what they mean though. Any help plz?

Update: So i guess code 4 is the Crankshaft position sensor. Code 8 is The Top Dead Center Sensor. Where are these located? And what could this mean? It seems like they would go together.

Another Edit: I found that both of the sensors were in the dizzy. I checked the wires and one was badly frayed and exposed. There was very little copper still connected. I replaced it with some new wire, and it runs like new. Thanks for all the advice. Just glad it wasnt anything expensive.
 
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