With 225,000 miles, my 2000 Honda Civic was probably past due for a valve adjustment. The shop gave me a pretty high estimate, but that included some other stuff too. But I used to adjust the valves on my old Mustangs. The work on the Honda was a little more involved. Some of the instructions I found had me removing the timing belt cover, which involved removing some other stuff. But with some research, I found that I could set the pistons to top dead center (TDC) without removing the timing belt cover. I adjusted the valves, and now my engine runs quieter and smoother. I made a how to video of the process. Which is at: http://www.youtube.com/embed/612JaPC0HBc
Spark plugs ( I recommend NGK Platinum for Hondas)
Spark plug wires (I prefer NGK)
Anti-seize lubricant (for hi temps)
5/8 inch Spark plug socket with rubber insert. I recommend using one that locks onto your ratchet wrench extension.
Ratchet wrench extension
Various metric sockets.
Flat head screwdriver
Phillips head screw driver
It’s best to do this when you engine is cool. Open the hood of the car. Make sure you have lots of light. Pull up the plug wire from the plug on the far right. Let it hang. Using a ratchet wrench with an extension and a spark plug socket, stick it down into the hole and onto the plug. Unscrew the plug, and pull it out. Check out the electrode of the old plug. The new plugs should already be gapped properly, but you may want to check the gap anyway. Be careful when doing this as not to damage the spark plug. Put a little bit of anti seize lubricant onto the threads of the spark plug. Insert a new plug into the socket, and carefully extend it down into the hole. Using the plug socket on the extension, screw the plug in by hand. When it won’t turn anymore, use the ratchet wrench. It will often turn a little bit more before you feel real resistance. Turn the plug quarter of a turn. Reconnect the spark plug wire boot. Do the next three spark plugs the same way.
Now you want to remove the distributor cap. On mine, there are three small screws holding it in place. I usually use a small ratchet wrench with a long socket, or use a flex extension, or a combination of the two. Remove the three screws, being careful not to lose them. Lift off the distributor cap, leaving the wires attached. Now you want to remove the rotor which was located under the distributor cap. There may or may not be a small screw holding the rotor in place. If there is a screw, remove it. If there is a screw, but you can’t reach it, you may new to turn the engine over as if to start it. It won’t start though, but it will turn the rotor. Pop the old rotor off. Snap the new rotor on. It will only go on one way. Make sure it is fully seated. Replace the screw if there was one.
Now you are ready to install the new cap. Check the box for a new O-ring. Install the new O-ring and place the new cap onto the distributor. Install the screws. You may have gotten new screws with the new cap. If so, use these. If not, just use the old screws.
Now you are ready to replace the spark plug wires. It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that the new wires are connected in same way as the old ones. So I like to replace the wires one at a time. If in doubt, take a picture of how the wires are connected to the distributor cap beforehand, to use as a reference later. You can also mark the wires with masking tape and a pen as to which goes where. Start with wire for the spark plug on the far right. Remove the wire from both the plug and the old distributor cap. Pull out the new wires, and find the longest wire. Place a small dab of dielectric grease on the tip of a flat tip screwdriver, and smear this around the insides of the boots on both ends of the wire. Push the plug end of the wire onto the spark until it snaps into place. Now plug the other end of the wire onto the new distributor cap in the same location it was connected to on the old cap. Again, it should snap into place. Place the wire into the guides where the original wire ran. Proceed to the next wire and repeat the same process.
Remove all tools from the engine area. Start your car. Hopefully it starts and runs well. If it doesn’t run smoothly, shut it off, and double check your spark plug wire connections at both ends, to make sure they are connected securely. If the car still doesn’t run well, double check to make sure you connected the wires to correct locations on the distributor.
My wife and I just started our vacation, driving towards Boston. We were driving my 2000 Honda Civic with around 188,000 miles on it. This was the beginning of a trip that would take us close to 2000 miles of driving. Shortly into the drive, my Check Engine light came on. It has NEVER come on before. Even when I blew a head gasket, it didn’t come on. Fortunately I have a ScanGauge II installed, and was able to look up the code. It was “P0420”. But knowing the code didn’t help much, I didn’t know what it meant. I pulled off at the next rest area, and pulled out my laptop computer. Thankfully, all the rest areas on the thruway have free wifi. So I looked up the code, and found it meant “Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)”. What the heck does that mean. I did more research and found it could either be a bad catalytic converter, or a bad O2 sensor. I knew a catalytic converter could be expensive. But the problem didn’t sound like an emergency. Hopefully it was an O2 sensor. I cleared the code, and we got back onto the road. The check engine light came on again. Again I cleared it. We continued driving towards Boston, eventually stopping for gas. I filled the tank, got lunch, and got back on the road. I expected the light to come on again, but it didn’t. We kept driving. Later when I had some time, I started researching how to replace an O2 sensor. It didn’t look too difficult, but not something that I wanted to do on a road trip. But in the close to 2000 miles I have driven since then, the light has not come on. This leads me to believe that there is another cause for this check engine light.
1. Maybe some carbon got stuck in the O2 sensor when I Seafoam’ed my engine. But I had driven the car for a while after using the Seafoam. And then it suddenly got cleared out when I got fresh gas?
2. Maybe some water got into an electrical connection when I cleaned my engine? Again, I had driven the car after cleaning the engine. And I would think any residual water would have dried by then.
3. Maybe I got bad gas. This is what I am thinking. I had filled the gas tank shortly before we began the trip. And the problem went away after getting fresh gas.
When filling the tank afterwards, I tended to buy better quality gas, going to Exxon and Mobil stations, instead of the cheapest stations. Maybe that helped clean stuff out. So meanwhile, I am keeping an eye on it.
Seafoam will help clean the carbon deposits out of your engine. It’s easy to use, and doesn’t take too long. You can find Seafoam at most auto parts stores. I think Wal-Mart sells it too.
Check out the video below to what I am describing. Start by having the engine warmed up. Shut the car off. Locate the brake assist vacuum hose that goes into the brake booster. The brake booster is usually located on the firewall on the passenger side. On my Honda Civic, I just used a pair of pliers to slide the clamp back, and removed the vacuum hose from the brake booster. Slide a funnel into the end of the vacuum line. Start the car and let it idle. Slowly pour Seafoam into vacuum line. You need to pour it in slowly so the car doesn’t stall. If the car stalls, just restart it, and continue. Continue pouring in the Seafoam until you have poured in half a can. Then shut off the car. Let the car sit for 10 minutes. While you are waiting, reconnect the vacuum line to the brake booster.
After the car has sat for 10 minutes, start the car. Rev the engine, and bring the RPM’s up. Smoke will start blowing out the exhaust pipe. This is the carbon leaving your engine. The more carbon, the more smoke. If you don’t have much carbon, you won’t have much smoke. Keep running the engine until the smoke subsides.
Now take the car out for a drive. Rev the engine. Accelerate up hills. Work the engine. Drive until the smoke disappears.
Pour the other half of the can of Seafoam into a full gas tank.
Stuff you will need:
Hose with sprayer
Spray bottle for the degreaser
Leaf blower or air compressor (optional)
Start by washing your car, and waxing it. I use Armor All car wash stuff that washes and waxes in the same step. The wax will help protect the paint from the degreaser that you will be using. With the engine warm, but hot, park the car where you won’t mind the ground getting a bit dirty. This might leave oil stains on your driveway. Open the hood. Locate the distributor. Cover it with a plastic bag. Locate the alternator, and cover it with a plastic bag as well.
Spray the whole engine compartment with water. Do not spray the engine with high pressure!!!! Use a regular garden hose type sprayer. Using a high pressure spray can cause damage. Also spray on the underside of the hood. Also wet the fenders and areas of the car body around the engine compartment to help protect them from any degreaser they might get hit with.
With a spray bottle full of citrus degreaser, spray the underside of the hood, and all around the engine compartment. I used ZEP Heavy Duty Citrus Degreaser that I bought at Home Depot in a gallon sized bottle. It works great. Try to get the citrus degreaser on all surfaces, especially where the dirt and grease are the heaviest. After the whole engine compartment is sprayed with the degreaser, using a brush with long nylon bristles to scrub everything. I use a tire brush. Start with the underside of the hood, and work your way down. You don’t need to scrub hard as the degreaser will soften up the grease and dirt.
When you have scrubbed every surfaces you can reach, use the water hose again to spray everything. Start with the underside of the hood and work down. If there are still greasy spots, spray them again with degreaser, and scrub some more, followed by another rinse. Make sure you rinse off any painted surfaces such as the fenders that might have gotten degreaser on them.
Remove the bags from the distributor and alternator. Use a leaf blower or an air compressor to blow the water, and dry your engine compartment.
Now start your car, and let it run for a bit. The heat will help dry the engine. You can also use a rag to dry the wet spots. With the car off, you can use a damp rag to clean up the distributor and alternator. This is good to do before a tune up or other engine work because it is much nicer to work on a clean engine. And it you are doing a tune up, you will probably be replacing the cap and maybe the wires with new ones anyway. They even make stuff to spray in your engine, to make everything shiny and new looking. One such product is Meguiar’s Engine Dressing. I didn’t do this though.
That’s it. Enjoy your clean engine compartment!