Quite a few issues can cause the 1.7L engine, in your Honda Civic, to not start. Problems like a bad crankshaft position (CKP) sensor or a bad fuel pump, to name a few.
Thankfully, testing an engine no-start problem isn't as difficult as it seems. In this tutorial, I'm going to share the diagnostic strategy I've used to get to the bottom of what's causing an engine no-start problem.
Contents of this tutorial:
- Difference Between A No-Start And A No-Crank Condition.
- Engine No-Start Diagnostic Basics.
- What Tools Do I Need?
- STEP 1: Ignition System Spark Test.
- STEP 2: Broken Timing Belt Test.
- STEP 3: Blown Head Gasket Tests.
- STEP 4: Fuel Pump Pressure Test.
- STEP 5: Engine Compression Test.
- No-Start Troubleshooting Summary.
- More 1.7L Honda Civic Tutorials.
APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:
- 1.7L Honda Civic DX: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005.
- 1.7L Honda Civic EX: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005.
- 1.7L Honda Civic LX: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005.
Difference Between A No-Start And A No-Crank Condition
Before we get going, it's important to note that there's a big difference between an engine no-start problem and an engine no-crank problem.
You turn the key in an engine no-start problem, and the engine cranks but doesn't start. It's important to note that the starter motor functions and turns the engine over in this type of problem.
In an engine no-crank problem, you turn the key to crank and start the engine, but nothing happens. This is because the starter motor does not come out to play.
If your vehicle is experiencing an engine no-crank problem, you need to start by testing the starter motor. The following tutorial will help you.
Engine No-Start Diagnostic Basics
The engine needs three things to start. These three things are:
In a nutshell, when the engine in your 1.7L Honda Civic doesn't start, it all boils down to one of three things:
- The engine is not receiving fuel.
- The engine is not receiving spark.
- The engine is not producing compression (this is the 'air' part of the equation).
Knowing the above information, you and I can perform several tests to confirm the engine is receiving (or not receiving) air, fuel, and spark.
In the following sections, I'll go into more detail about these tests.
What Tools Do I Need?
You'll need a few essential tools to troubleshoot your 1.7L Honda Civic engine's no-start problem.
The cool thing is, you don't need any expensive or exotic diagnostic testing equipment.
- A spark tester.
- A fuel pressure tester.
- An engine compression tester.
- A multimeter.
- A code reader.
For the ignition system spark tests, I recommend that you use an HEI spark tester.
The HEI spark tester is the most accurate spark tester that you can buy and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. You can find out more about it and where to buy it here: HEI Spark Tester (at: easyautodiagnostics.com).
You'll notice that I didn't include a scan tool in the list. But if you have one, it will come in handy. Why? Because some of the components that cause a no-start condition can leave a specific trouble code (when they fail).
STEP 1: Ignition System Spark Test
Several ignition system components can cause an engine no-start problem when they fail. These are:
- The ignition coil.
- The crankshaft position (CKP) sensor.
Thankfully, these ignition system components are easily tested (to see if they have failed or not), and you can find their tests here:
- How To Test The Ignition Coils (2001-2005 1.7L Honda) (at: easyautodiagnostics.com).
- How To Test The Crank Sensor (2001-2005 1.7L Honda Civic).
The ignition system is NOT causing the no-start problem if:
- All ignition coils are sparking.
You can also conclude that the crankshaft position (CKP) sensor is good.
If the ignition system is creating and feeding spark to the engine cylinders, the next step I recommend is checking the condition of the timing belt. Go to: STEP 2: Timing Belt Test.
The ignition system IS THE CAUSE of the no-start problem if:
- The four ignition coils ARE NOT sparking.
The most common cause of this no-spark problem is:
- A bad crankshaft position (CKP) sensor.
Your next step is to test the crankshaft position (CKP) sensor. The following tutorial will help you test the CKP sensor: