I do all my own vehicle maintenance, typically with good results. Not so much today. The VX had developed a miss under low RPM acceleration, so I picked up a can of seafoam, synthetic oil & filter, ordered the NGK ZFR4F-11 plugs (out of stock) and an air filter.
Here’s what I did:
changed oil & filter
removed EGR valve and soaked in seafoam
poured seafoam into the egr port in the intake manifold
seafoamed the engine via the brake booster vac line
removed old spark plugs (NGK ZFR4F-11), reset gap and reinstalled
forgot to reconnect the ground wire to the valve cover
forgot to reconnect the vacuum line to brake booster
On the initial test drive, the idle oscillated up and down, but went away once I thought to reconnect the vacuum line. But of greater concern, the car was missing badly at higher RPMs and the tachometer was jumping all around, dropping to zero then coming back. I nursed the car home and reconnected the ground. On the next test drive missing was worse, not better. Car is hard to start and essentially undrivable now.
Quick internet search leads me to suspect the ignitor, but would prefer not to randomly throw parts at it. Any advise where to look or how to troubleshoot?
Quick update - car won't start at all today. I will do basic troubleshooting this evening. I suspect there is no spark. Yesterday it was cutting in and out and when it cut out, the tach would drop to zero; I suspect indicating no ignition when it did. Other times it would bounce around as the car cut in and out.
Have you had the alternator tested? I had crazy electrical things happening when my alternator was on its way out. Basically the cars ecu couldn't function properly as it wasnt getting the right amount of power. Check the battery terminals, and the cell levels too, I'm sure you've already tried that but just incase.
I didn't specifically test the alternator, but believe it to be fine. I did check for spark on all 4 cylinders and found none. Found the following troubleshooting steps on Honda-Tech, and performed/ruled out a thru d. Looks like I need to pull the distributor and check/test for a bad ignitor and/or coil. I'll go ahead and replace the cap/rotor/plugs/plug wires for good measure.
a) Check whether the timing belt snapped or stripped. This is most easily done by removing the oil filler cap and, while a buddy cranks the engine, by peering into the hole with a flashlight to look for evidence that the camshaft is turning (e.g., movement of the rocker arms). If the belt snapped (=no rocker arm movement), install a new timing belt, tension it properly, and then compression test the cylinders. The latter step is essential as major engine damage may have occurred when the timing belt snapped/stripped.
b) Check whether the important G101 ground wire on the thermostat housing (see FAQs sticky) is loose or corroded. If so, clean it thoroughly with steel wool and tighten. By the way, if G101 is disconnected or loose, the engine will lack both spark and fuel.
c) Check whether the CEL remains ON when the key is turned to ON(II). If so, pull the code(s) (see Codes sticky). If a code for one of the distributor sensors (codes 4, 8, or 9) or the igniter/ICM (code 15) is retrieved, then the distributor subassembly or igniter/ICM, respectively, is possibly bad. Further troubleshooting here would be:
--->(for sensor codes) measure the resistance of the sensors (spec = 350-700 Ohms) and their corresponding wires for a short or open.
--->( for code 15) (i) have AutoZone test the igniter/ICM, (ii) test the Blk/Yel wire attached to the coil and igniter/ICM for battery voltage with the key in ON(II), and (iii) test the Yel/Grn wire running between the igniter/ICM and the ECU for a short or open.
d) Check whether battery voltage is reaching the coil and igniter on the Blk/Yel wire in the distributor when the key is turned to ON(II). If not, there may be a bad wire from the ignition switch (or for 98-00 Civics, a blown fuse 9 in the under-hood fuse/relay box). A bad ignition switch is another possibility but, in this case, the engine will lack both spark and fuel.
e) Check whether the coil or igniter/ICM in the distributor is bad. Again, there are resistance tests for the coil (see FAQs sticky and above), but take the igniter/ICM to AutoZone for testing.
f) In some cases, lack of spark is due to a bad ECU. This is usually only considered if all tests described above yield negative results.
To close out this thread; VX is fixed and running perfect again. I suspect the igniter went bad, but instead of troubleshooting and overhauling the distributor. I bought a new one from Rockauto. The WPS DST17404 for $99 and change was 100% new and included a cap and rotor. If you haven't done one before, civic distributor replacement is a snap; you will need to set the timing afterwards.