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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
New to the forum, and have NO clue as to how to work on or diagnose my own vehicle. Been dealing w issues for 3 months now. Here's the facts:
1. 90 si d16a6 (I've had the engine replaced, twice) 275k miles. changed cap, rotor, plugs, wires on 11/7/2011

2. bad valve #1. Mechanic #1 (Johnny, note these are not honda specialists by any stretch, but they've worked on some other stuff for me, including #1 above) determined this on 11/7 since pulling the plug makes NO difference in the state of the engine when running. (it was already running rough and would not idle.) Arm maybe broken or something like that. I disconnected the fuel injector so as not to dump fuel there, which helped mpg

3. trans had been acting up for a while. needed to skip a gear every once in a while to avoid grinding.
4. had a crazy issue where my battery was about to explode ( according to mechanic #1, Johnny). I had been smelling a funny smell and took it to him to see. opened the hood and it was smoking and "sizzling". let it cool and added water. after that I drove a bit and checked on it, seemed fine. That next day (1/16), I drove 2 hours to Chat, TN. Next day, drove 2 hours back. checked battery and the little cover over the water had blown off. replaced that and had not noticed any battery issues.

5. transmission went out while driving on 1/20. had mechanic #2 (dave, different shop) replace: transmission, clutch, clutch cable, motor mounts, oil pan, alternator, axle. job complete 1/24-ish, drove for a couple of days and then took back to Dave on 1/25 to adjust clutch cable.

6. on 1/30 11:30 pm, only about the 3rd time driving since getting work done (90% of the time, I ride bicycle) I drove for maybe 15 min and it died as if it was out of gas (gauge showed very low but not on empty). walked to station, put in about 1gallon, nothing. towed to house, checked fuel pump and some other fuses, nothing (I could hear the fuel pump coming on). towed to Johnny on 2/2.

7. Johnny states the following:
"computer not sending fire to distributor. signal going to the computer. and computer is sending to injector. manually turning distributor results in fuel coming from injector, but no fire
no fire coming from plug. working as far as the injector. initially distributor was bad- replaced it (more than once)."
fyi- computer# 37820-pm6-a01

8. johnny at first assumed the following:
"computer only other thing that it could be. controls the fire. sends fire to distributor seems to make injector actuate ("skeet" fuel). doing that but not sending signal to make plug fire"
but we've verified that one blink means ecm is ok, or at least we think so. also note that my ecm starts a friend's crx.

9. updated: "there is fire going to the distributor, but none coming out of the spark plugs" they have verified that there is fire with a test light at the distributor. the distributor is new."

10. called Dave to see if he had any suggestions and to ask if maybe something could have been disconnected during the transmission job(s). He visited Johnny and looked at the car. could not figure anything but did note that he had changed the distributor when doing the transmission (meaning that Johnny had replaced a new distributor?) and said that he would start by checking the "rectifier" also known as the "module" that sits on the firewall. Here's the device he was talking about (https://plus.google.com/photos/10577251 ... 2664634593) but it's not the rectifier and I've since found that it is the injector resistor box and has nothing to do with spark. autozone did not know what it was and did not carry it (from what we could tell, noting that I did not know the actual name of the device at the time, doesn't control spark anyway). this might determine that Dave is way off base wrt the vehicle as well.

11. At this point, I'm looking for any help I can get. Original thread is here (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=55878) but that was posted back when I thought the issue was the ecm. Johnny still has the car, but if anybody knows of a CRX specialist in atlanta, please advise. My gut tells me the problem is a simple one. Thanks for reading this novel
 

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#10 thats a just a resistor box for your injectors..
all it is is 10k resistors, boxed inside a boxed thing.. you can get them at radio shack..
where did you buy the distributor? if oreillys or autozone, take it back and get another one.. they are faulty sometimes..
check the rotor inside it.. ppl are negligent to think they're brands new distributor is bad, but it happens, you never know who handled it and who would've dropped it..
check wiring for distributor..
also check your fuses.. if its getting fuel its not your ecu or anything involving fuel..
which only leaves your dizzy (distributor), get ur friend's crx dizzy and try that one.. don't try another autozone or the like until u try your friend's which u know for sure works..
 

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+1 on what Tian said. Also, on the "new" distributors that come with rotor and cap installed, check to make sure the rotor screw is tight and that it is pointed to the correct cylinder when installed. I believe these are the round shaft distributors that will allow you to incorrectly install the rotor 180* out of time. Double check all your grounds, especially the ones on the thermostat housing, transmission and valve cover. Check your firing order of the spark plug wires. That's something very common to screw up if you don't work on very many Hondas.

Is there no spark at the end of the plug wires?

Could the spark plugs be fouled out by now? I've seen that several times. It might be a good idea to remove them and check.

Check cam timing, just to make sure? Just tossing out some ideas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
thanks for the replies.

note that Johnny says that with original distributor, injectors would not "skeet". changing distributor caused injectors to shoot gas, but getting no spark at the wire end (even before the plug; this eliminates the plugs as an option). Distributor came from autozone, and after the first one didn't start the car, he took it back and got a second. same exact result. what that could mean, though, is that in changing the dizzy, something else came undone. I say this bc I had at first noted that I was driving when the problem occurred, and had correspondingly eliminated some potential causes. prematurely so- it could be anything at this point.

verifying/testing with a known-working dizzy wold be great, but we can't find anyone willing to let us mess w their vehicle to that extent.

@lay- I read your suggestions to him over the phone, and he confirmed that screw was tight and correctly pointing. thanks for that, though- that's the first time I had heard to check that (I was hoping that was it)

He states that he's checked all fuses, relays and grounds several times, but you know how that can be. At this point, he's just as frustrated as I (seemingly). What I really need is someone who knows these cars inside an out. I bet $10 the problem is basic. sheesh.
 

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Layspeed said:
I believe these are the round shaft distributors that will allow you to incorrectly install the rotor 180* out of time.
you cant install a honda distributor 180* out, the teeth on the distributor and indents on the cam are offset slightly to prevent this.

the fact that your mechanic replaced your distributor and your injectors started spraying fuel doesn't make a whole lot of sense. yes both of those are controlled through the ecu, but they're independent systems.

so
7. Johnny states the following:
"computer not sending fire to distributor. signal going to the computer. and computer is sending to injector. manually turning distributor results in fuel coming from injector, but no fire
no fire coming from plug. working as far as the injector. initially distributor was bad- replaced it (more than once)."
doesn't make a whole lot of sense. manually turning the distributor made the injector work?

so your car is getting fuel, but no spark. there's an 80A ignition fuse in the engine bay fuse box, you can see if it's blown just by looking at it. on the fuse box cover its labeled as '80A IGN'. if all the fuses check out (seriously, people say they're good but they dont actually check each one with a test light) i would start probing around with a multimeter.

are you sure your plug wires are on in the correct order?
~Tim
 

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ChokolAwt said:
Layspeed said:
I believe these are the round shaft distributors that will allow you to incorrectly install the rotor 180* out of time.
you cant install a honda distributor 180* out, the teeth on the distributor and indents on the cam are offset slightly to prevent this.
you can't install the dizzy 180 but u can do that with the rotor.. seen it done before on a no start situation :wink:
 

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^^ Tian, you got to it before I could. Thanks. Also, does your mechanic know of anyone who has a Snap-On Vantage lap scope? There is a good series of tests that he can do to check the primary side of the ignition system. I can't remember the checks off hand, but if I have time, I will try to access mine and post some info.
 

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Ignitor? (That's a piece inside the distributor, it can go bad which will result in a no-spark condition.) Even a "new" one could be bad.

--DD
 

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Dave, they've replace the distributor a number a times now with new ones. He needs to get a hold of a known working unit like Tian said and try that. That would be the easier way to rule out the distributor all together.

I got this from AllData:
"This sensor, contained in the distributor housing, consists of three rotors, TDC, CRANK, and CYL, their associated pickup coils, and a common shaft. Since the rotors are coupled to the cam shaft, they turn together as a unit as the cam shaft rotates.

The CRANK sensor determines timing for fuel injection and ignition of each cylinder and also detects engine rpm. The TDC sensor determines ignition timing at start-up (cranking) and when crank angle is abnormal. The CYL sensor detects the position of No. 1 cylinder for sequential fuel injection to each cylinder."

I'm beginning to think there is a pin that is pushed out or terminal that is loose in a connector somewhere, possibly right at the distributor (which has two) If the injectors are firing, theoretically, the pickups in the distributor are getting their required signals and sending them to the ECU and the ECU is doing something with those signals. It is very strange that you have no spark though. To see if the Ignitor is getting it's firing signal back from the ECU, a lab scope would come in handy. If your mechanic has an led test light such as a power probe or similar, he could check for "pulsing" at the BLUE wire of the 2pin distributor plug while cranking (There is also a blue tach signal test connector on the somewhere near the driver side shock tower/fender area under). A normal incandescent test light is hard to decipher if it's actually "pulsing/flashing."

If it is, then he should double check the ignition coil (even if it's new). Resistances of the coil are: Primary side, between terminals A & B = 0.6 - 0.8 Ohms
(Terminal A has the Ignitor's White/Blue wire attached to it. Terminal B has the Black/Yellow wire attached to it)
Secondary Side, between terminals A and coil tower = 9.76 - 14.68 K Ohms
You have to remove the distributor cap obviously to do these tests. It would be a good idea to take close look at the distributor cap's coil terminal also. They are fragile and can break off easily which would not allow any spark from the coil to reach the rotor/spark plugs.

Also, I know you said the plugs are ruled out as a no start condition, but with all this testing and cranking going on AND the injectors squirting fuel into the combustion chamber, the plugs could easily be fouled out by now. So even if you fixed the no spark issue, the engine may still fail to start and run with fouled out spark plugs.
 

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Is the ECU putting out any codes?

With the history of engine replacements I would take a really good look at the ECU ground to the thermostat housing. A bad ground here will cause all sorts of engine sensor problems.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
sheesh. I'm still checking into all this (car is not exactly local to me, nor my bicycle) but wanted to come on here and thank you all for this great feedback.
one thing that I might note @lay: if the CYL sensor detects the position of cylinder 1, that may be the whole problem. you see, I've been running on 3 cylinders for about 4 months now (the 4 months prior to all this starting). my cylinder #1 went bad and I disconnected the injector to keep from dumping fuel there.
however, that would not explain why it would work fine (though rough, and no idle) for those 4 months and even for those few days after I had all the work done. it cut off as I was driving and acted like it was out of fuel.

another thing: the guys that have the car have not the tools nor the skills to pull off most of the tests mentioned herein. I'm still working off the troubleshooting guide found here: http://techauto.tripod.com/

ECU is blinking once

@chok "manually turning the distributor made the injector work?" will be checking into this. are you saying that it is possible to manually actuate the distributor? and that doing so with cause fuel to spray from the injectors? (excuse my ignorance here)

No way to test w a known working distributor since 1. there are very few crx's on this side and 2. anybody who has a working one would NOT trust these guys who clearly know little about the cars taking theirs off, putting it into some project, and then replacing it.

wonder how much one of you would charge to come take a look at it. right now it's at 2680 Donald Lee Howell Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30318 (send me a PM, or whatever it's called)

and again: thanks a million for all your assistance
 

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The distributor detects Cyl #1 based on the one of the sensors inside the distributor. It wouldn't matter if you're #1 injector was unplugged or not. Like you said, it ran prior to the repairs. Sounds like you do need to find a real shop to take a look. Can they check the compression of each cylinder? If it flooded the cylinders from all that cranking and not firing, you could have "washed" the cylinders down causing low enough compression to not start. But you say there's no spark coming from the distributor or the spark plug wires. To me, it sounds like a wiring issue somewhere. Double, hell triple check that ground location on the thermostat housing as Mike mentioned. It commonly gets corroded, and sometimes left loose after a thermostat replacement.

Questions to you:
1. If these fellas are incapable of fixing your CRX, how come it's still there?
2. Is this costing you money for them to "diagnose" or are they doing it for free/barter?
3. If you get it running, what are your plans for "fixing" the dead #1 cylinder? What was the cause of problem cylinder?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
1. It's still there because I have no place else to take it, honestly. These guys have helped me before on simple things but it seems as though they've exhausted their expertise with this issue
2. No additional money for the diagnostic (at least I hope not) but I will, of course, owe them for initially changing the distributor
3. Once I get it running, I'll need to replace the head
I'll see if they have the tools to do a compression test on each of the cylinders. I welcome any suggestions on a shop that specializes in these vehicles.

Thanks again.
 

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FYI
A word to the wise...

even if you manage to find some one kind enough to let you test his dizzy on your car... know this first.
if your car has a bad ground and so it happens to be part of the dizzy, the car will not start
forget about new this or new that. something caused the dizzy to stop working, whether its a bad ground, bad cable or a short somewhere, find out first. even if you put a dizzy from Honda if the car has (like I said before) a problem with the wiring, a new dizzy will do nothing for you.

most electrical problems are directly associated to a bad ground(check main relay). I'd start there. get a wiring diagram and save yourself a lot of headaches. just make sure cables are in good condition by testing them.

keep in mind that looks are deceiving so make sure to use the right tool for the job.
 
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