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Old 05-05-2014, 09:33 PM   #1
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CEL and engine choking hesitation on highway

Guys I'm having a problem with VX engine. Engine gets CEL (check engine light) and chokes/hesitates/stumbles and shakes due to choking while on high speeds on the highway. Once the CEL comes on the symptoms go away and car drives normal.

CEL very rarely happens during city driving and it operates normal.

I pulled codes threw ECU and got Code 9 which is No.1 cylinder position sensor. I digged into deeper people say it's faulty distributor.

Here where confusion comes in. The mechanic has installed new distributor 42U on my vx so i can not somehow convince myself it's dizzy.

Any thoughts? I have lost faith in finding the issue. I already spent $600 for labor and dizzy and car still has choking/hesitation and cel on highway. As far as MPGS i get 48, recently got 51mpgs with some hwy driving too. Was getting 36mpgs in polar vortex temps. Seem normal. Stumbling irritates me a lot tho.
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Old 05-07-2014, 05:39 PM   #2
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Anyone? I have a feeling it's either cylinder firing timing or badly grounded cable or bad 02...i don't know. So many options. The mechanic was a joke to honest.
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Old 05-08-2014, 05:41 AM   #3
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Don't count out the new distributor. It could be the wrong one, mislabeled. It could be defective. The mechanic could have installed it incorrectly, using a procedure for a similar Civic. A wire or connector going to it (on a 20 year old car, after all) could be corroded or fatigued somewhere not easily noticed and disturbing it to install the new distributor could have exacerbated it.

I don't think it sounds like the O2 sensor, since your fuel economy is normal and there's no O2 code. I don't know from experience but I think both of those conditions would not be true in a VX if the O2 was bad.

What about fuel supply? Fuel filter, fuel pump, wiring for fuel pump, injectors/injector wiring, etc.

Tangent: My 1980 Buick has symptoms I would describe exactly the same except no computer so no codes. I've got a ton of maintenance to catch up on including cap/rotor/wires, fuel filter, etc.
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Old 05-08-2014, 07:13 PM   #4
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I'd start by pulling the plugs and seeing if anything looks off, then while they are out do a compression test. Then maybe a valve lash check/adjustment. Unless there are other signs of ignition issues (acting up on start up on rainy mornings). Then ohm test on the injectors, if that looks good swap them around and see if the problem follows.

Tangent; really happy to hear that Buick is still going.
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Old 05-08-2014, 07:49 PM   #5
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Guys. The mechanic mentioned that distributor is incorrect that it has too low of temperature or something. I explained to him that this is VX vtec-e model of civic not regular civic but he didn't understand that and he thought i was some crazy modder and i'm telling him fairly tails. He didn't buy it. I made a mistake thinking he was good where he baddddd. Ok so I checked dizzy online few times and it was 42U and was VX one listed in few places as correct. Also the fitment was good. I installed first one and then he did something with it and turn in car to me with leaking oil from dizzy. I was furious and pointed it out to me. He said it was my incorrect installation that did that. Nonsense i think. I installed it same way it came of old one. Ok so under warranty i got second one and he installed second one. He again moran said dizzy is incorrect. He possible was wrong that he was whole time thinking my car is civic dx or different kind as he kept telling me it's non vtec and i kept telling him it's vtec-e. Again he showed he didn't know anything. Anyway he also changed fuel filter. He said fuel pressure is good.

Originally my car died by choking and never started which is why i was fixing car at his place. He supposedly fixed it (made it run)/put a patch or whatever and said that timing of valves was off and he adjusted it. Again i do not know to what specifications...vx, dx, si, ex...no clue. I kept telling him it's vx model vtec-e engine model. He said compression on one or two (i don't remember now) was low. Is that fixable without changing any parts? He did not change any parts besides dizzy and fuel filter which were both mine but nothing else.

End result. My car is fine in the city and occasionally i get CEL in city and it doesn't really choke in city condtions, which use to be the case sometime in city before. I don't feel in city is fixed but he made it better as it was worst. But always on highway after choking car CEL comes on then choking ends, CEL comes on and car drives normal. Like ECU is disabling something that is interfering with engine operation and after disable it runs normal. CEL is on until car is turn off.

I really appreciate help with this guys. This issue makes me hate my car and i do wanna like it. Any further thoughts with additional info i gave?
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Old 05-09-2014, 06:10 AM   #6
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Yikes, it sounds like that mechanic could have really botched a lot of stuff up. That part about valve timing is especially scary.

If there's low compression, that's likely a repair that needs extensive disassembly, parts replacing, and possibly machining. With a more common engine I'd say to get a new engine, but there's probably not tons of VX engines just waiting to be bought. On the other hand, if he really messed up valve timing then that could be the compression problem.

Where are you located? Perhaps somebody can recommend a mechanic who understands the VX to clean up the other guy's mess.
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Old 05-09-2014, 09:30 AM   #7
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TheHolyCow thanks a lot man! My impression of what mechanic this is as follows.
He made my car run again after car just choked and died. That was the issue before he even laid his hands on the car. I think he put a patch on it and made it run but did not fix the CAUSE of the choking. Could the timing been wrong and off when i purchased the car. MOST LIKELY YES. I paid $600 his service. The low compression he said was before he allegedly fixed my car. Now i do not know if it's low or good. Car runs better in city but on highway chokes until CEL comes on, then runs great and normal. I do not understand why it runs normal after CEL comes on? That's odd to me. Problem with getting used engine is that I do not know what i would be buying if it's any good and then i still would have to pay someone installing it. So this is risky in my book unless i now engine is brand new. I know restoration of engine cost around $2200 here. That's an option but expensive one i think. Any other thoughts would be appreciated and thanks a lot again guys.

I live in Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. If someone knows anyone that knows VXs that would also be appreciated.
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Old 05-09-2014, 10:23 AM   #8
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When the CEL comes on the car usually goes into open loop. Meaning it is no longer using the oxygen sensor readings to adjust the fuel and air mix. Instead the ECM will follow some default fuel map. Which is usually richer than needed to err on the side of keeping NOx emissions low.

From what I read in the below thread, the ECM may also be ignoring the cylinder position senor and going by the top dead center one.
http://honda-tech.com/showthread.php?t=2904710

This is happening on the highway, and sometimes the city? Could it be related to lean burn operation? Was this the only code?
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Old 05-09-2014, 11:40 AM   #9
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Trollbait thank you very much. I will read this thread. Well the code i got from dashboard by blinking light. It was blinking in only one way pattern. 9 flashes. No other flash pattern so i'm assuming only code 9. I didn't get a readout from some scanner tho. It's possible my lean burn may not be working. I dunno. So what you saying this is oxygen sensor issue?
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Old 05-09-2014, 02:49 PM   #10
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I'd check the valve timing. I suspect whatever your mechanic set it to is fine up until the v-tec or lean burn activates. Then it is out of spec for those running conditions, limiting the fuel to the point of causing trouble. Then ECM throws a code, turns on the CEL, and runs the engine by the default parameters which happen to run fine.

That thread has instructions on how to check if the sensor is good, but it sounded like if it were the culprit, it would be a continous problem.

The oxygen sensor should be fine.
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