STEP 2: Timing Belt Test
The 1.7L engine in your Honda Civic uses a timing belt. The timing belt's job is to synchronize the engine's pistons and valves to allow the engine cylinders to breathe in air, compress the air/fuel mixture, and then expel the exhaust produced (from the combustion of the air/fuel mixture).
Timing belts don't last forever and will break when not replaced according to their recommended interval. If the timing belt breaks, the engine will not start.
The following tutorial explains how to check the timing belt's condition:
The timing belt is NOT causing the no-start problem if:
- The timing belt is OK and rotating the camshaft gear.
If the timing belt is OK, the next step I recommend is to check for a blown head gasket. Go to: STEP 3: Blown Head Gasket Tests.
The timing belt IS THE CAUSE of the no-start problem if:
- The timing belt is broken and is NOT rotating the camshaft gear.
NOTE: The 1.7L engine in your Honda Civic is an interference engine. So if the timing belt is broken, the cylinder head valves will be bent.
STEP 3: Blown Head Gasket Tests
If the engine does not start after overheating, there is a possibility that the head gasket has blown.
Testing for a blown head gasket isn't difficult. The following tutorial will help you test the condition of the head gasket:
A blown head gasket is NOT causing the no-start problem if:
- The engine oil has a normal color (in other words, it doesn't have a milky-white color).
- The coolant in the radiator remains undisturbed when cranking the engine (with the radiator open).
- The engine passed a block test.
Your next test is to check the engine's compression. Go to: STEP 4: Fuel Pump Pressure Test.
A blown head gasket IS THE CAUSE of the no-start problem if:
- The engine oil has a milky-white color (like coffee with too much creamer).
- - or -
- The coolant in the radiator shot out when cranking the engine (with the radiator open).
- - or -
- The engine failed a block test.
STEP 4: Fuel Pump Pressure Test
NOTE: This section applies only to gasoline powered engines.
The fuel pump, located in the fuel tank, has to output fuel under pressure to the fuel injectors. This fuel pressure output must be within a specific range for the engine to start and run optimally.
When the fuel pump fails, it will do one of two things:
- The fuel pump will not send any fuel to the fuel injectors.
- The fuel pump will output a fuel pressure below the factory specification.
You can test the fuel pump with a fuel pressure gauge and a special adapter (that you'll connect between the fuel injector rail and the fuel input line).
The fuel system is NOT causing the no-start problem if:
- Fuel pressure is within the specified range.
If the fuel pressure gauge registers the indicated fuel pressure specification, then you can confidently conclude that the fuel pump is working and delivering enough fuel to the fuel injectors.
You can also conclude that the fuel pump is not behind the engine's no-start problem.
The next step is to check engine compression. Go to: STEP 5: Engine Compression Test.
The fuel system IS THE CAUSE of the no-start problem if:
- Fuel pressure is 0 PSI (or anything below the fuel pressure specification).
This confirms that the no-start problem is caused by a lack of fuel. This usually means that the fuel pump is bad and needs replacement.
STEP 5: Engine Compression Test
The engine compression test is probably one of the most overlooked tests when diagnosing an engine no-start problem.
Testing the engine compression on your Honda Civic's 1.7L engine is not difficult. The following tutorial explains how to perform an engine compression test and, more importantly, how to interpret its results:
An engine compression problem is NOT causing the no-start problem if:
- The compression of each cylinder is above 120 PSI.
An engine compression problem IS THE CAUSE of the no-start problem if:
- 2 or more cylinders have 0 PSI compression.
- - or -
- All cylinders have 0 PSI compression.
No-Start Troubleshooting Summary
Troubleshooting and resolving an engine no-start problem boils down to a process of elimination.
The purpose of each test is to see if spark, fuel, or compression (air) is missing when trying to start the engine.
Don't forget that you'll need some essential but inexpensive tools to perform the tests. You can buy most of these tools online for a lot less than at your local auto-parts store.
More 1.7L Honda Civic Tutorials
You can find a complete list of 1.7L Honda Civic tutorials in this index:
Here's a small sample of the tutorials you'll find in the index:
- How To Test The Crank Sensor (2001-2005 1.7L Honda Civic).
- Maintenance Required Light Reset (2001-05 1.7L Honda Civic).
- How To Do A Cylinder Balance Test (2001-2005 1.7L Honda).
- How To Test The TP Sensor (2001-2005 Honda 1.7L).
If this info saved the day, buy me a beer!