Honda Accord – Good, Bad & Ugly

Some ramblings of my journey getting this little gem back on the road.  This is a work in progress, I’m 45% complete and will update this post as I go.

Vehicle: 1993 Honda Accord SE Coupe, CB7
Engine: F22A6
Miles: 165,000 
Transmission: Automatic
Color: Atlantis Blue Pearl

The Good

Picked up this little beauty for a song, knowing it had a no-start, no-run issue.  Everything else on the car was in great shape, a couple very minor dings but the paint was original & shiny, a previous owner installed TEIN coilovers, upgraded the suspension with poly bushings…you get the point.  The parts alone were worth more than I paid.

 

The Bad

Got it home, pulled the timing cover off and a decent looking belt was present.  Receipts in the car showed it only 40,000 miles on the timing belt.  So I put a new battery in it and gave the key a turn.

Thunk…No start.  Tried again…Thunk.

Solenoid was trying to engage, given the (likely years) of a small oil leak from the distributor seal running down the side, the brushes were probably a little dirty.  Gave it a third try, and it started right up!  Ran real rough.  Real rough.

Shut it down, saw oil belching out under the car.  F…

The counter balance shaft seal had popped out.  It was hard, likely many years old, if not original.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do yourself a favor, get this replacement that comes with a fix to prevent this from happening again (if you choose not to regularly service your vehicle).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next was checking the spark plugs.  Started on the left, cylinder #4.  It was hard to get out.  Not good.

Finally got it out and it was toast!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ugly

So what the hell caused this?  I dropped my inspection camera into the spark plug hole to inspect the damage, only to find a huge hole in the top of the piston.  She dropped an exhaust valve, as evident by the missing valve stem when I popped the exhaust manifold off.  Various reasons could cause this – could’ve jumped a tooth on timing, valve not seating correctly, fatigue on the valve keeper, valve/spring fatigue, bent valve, etc…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Replacement engine time!

Since the car is in otherwise excellent shape, and I got it for cheap, it’s replacement engine time.  I’m doing a straight swap with the same engine.  It’s going to be a commuter, not a street car.  I ordered a used engine from a parts yard, along with a transmission because in this case, I couldn’t drive it and I don’t know the condition of the transmission.  I’d hate to use the old one, get it all back together and find out it’s no good.  The salvage yard I found does a compression & leak down test of the engine before they pull it from the donor car.

So I started the removal process of several components.

Only remove what you need to clear the engine from the engine bay.  Make a list of parts to replace that would be easy to replace while the engine is out (like motor mounts.  One of mine is bad, the engine started rocking as I was trying to loosen the transmission drain plug)

As of 1/31/2022, engine is on order and should be here within a week or so. 

 

 

 

Component Removal

This isn’t a comprehensive list but it’s most of what will need to be removed:

  • Drain the coolant
  • Drain oil
  • Drain transmission fluid
  • Drain power steering fluid
  • Remove radiator & hoses, remove heater hoses
  • Remove front axles (pretty easy on this car)
  • Remove power steering belt
  • Remove alternator / air conditioning belt
  • Separate power steering pump from bracket (it will lay to the side, no need to remove the two 10mm bolts for the high pressure hose)
  • Separate A/C compressor from bracket, it will lay on the front fairing where the radiator was
  • Remove exhaust manifold, inspect for cracks/damage
  • Remove intake manifold
  • Remove wiring harness that runs underneath the exhaust manifold, disconnect all the connectors, remove a few bolts and it comes right out.
    Be careful with it.  Some wire insulation could be brittle.  One of my connectors (the fan switch connector) had a broken wire and had to be replaced. Solder it and seal with heat-shrink tube.  De-grease the harness & rinse it off while it’s out of the engine.  Blow out any remaining water in the connectors with compressed air.
  • Remove battery & tray
  • Remove air filter housing

Clean the engine bay while the engine is out, especially if there are oil leaks. Now’s the best time to make it look good!

This is how it looks when it is ready to be pulled.

Disconnect the speedometer sensor from the transmission housing.  Leave the hoses, just unbolt it from the transmission.

This is an automatic transmission, so I’m going to disconnect the shifter linkage from the back of the transmission.  There are a few 10mm and 12mm bolts, then the plate comes off and you can disconnect the cable.

 

Parts

Here are some important parts to replace while the engine is out.  Since I’ll be transferring some of the current components to the replacement engine, we’ll need some gaskets, o-rings, etc…  Also, replace the timing belt, water pump, rear main seal, camshaft seal, front crankshaft seal – best to do it now while it’s easy to get at!

  • O-rings for the coolant cross-connect tube between thermostat and water pump, located under the intake manifold, behind the engine.   There are two o-rings, same size.
  • Valve cover gasket, get the kit that comes with the spark plug tube seals!  They harden up and leak oil into the tube, which winds up getting into the combustion chamber.
  • Engine mounts (there are four, “dog bone” front mount, drivers side, passenger side, rear with vacuum diaphragm)
  • Timing belt kit with water pump (get the Aisen kit, don’t cheap out on this one).  It also comes with the balance shaft belt.  Also don’t get it from Amazon, there are a lot of knock-offs on the market and the timing belt snaps within a few thousand miles.  I got mine at Napa Auto Parts.
  • Intake/Exhaust manifold gaskets.  There are a few intake gaskets, along with the throttle body gasket.  Clean any carbon off the parts as well.
  • Along with the exhaust manifold gasket, the flange gasket.  Some of the ones I found had one hole, this car has two pipes that come from the manifold.
  • EGR gasket (again, clean carbon deposits)
  • Crankshaft rear main seal
  • Crankshaft front seal
  • Camshaft seal
  • Distributor oil seal
  • Distributor cap
  • Distributor rotor
  • Spark Plugs & Wires
  • Thermostat
  • Thermostat gasket
  • more to come…

Other Parts

Driver’s side door had a broken handle, passenger side was cracked too, so I installed these door handles and they fit perfectly.  We’ll see how long they last!

Stay Tuned

Pulling the engine/transmission in the next couple days, going to clean the engine bay and get it prepped.  Once the replacement engine/transmission arrive I’ll start transferring/replacing parts.

Removal Continued

Engine/transmission removal went smoothly.  Staged the hoist Friday night, got it all hooked up and ready for the following morning.

Tip: You have limited space to wiggle the engine to clear the side mounts. Remove the drivers side mount completely (the one with the bolt and nut), with the engine load suspended, take the mount out so you won’t have to fight it when cranking up the engine.  Remove the passenger side mount by removing the bolts that hold the plate onto the transmission.  That should make it clear the overhang of the passenger side mount a little more easily.

 

 

Once you have the engine free and moved out of the way, use some Purple Power (or other engine degreaser) and a pressure washer to clean up that engine bay.

Lay a tarp down underneath to catch the nasty stuff that falls down.  Dispose of properly.

Replacement engine hopefully goes in this weekend.  While it’s up on the hoist, we’ll replace the timing belt, counter balance belt, water pump, all heater hoses (don’t forget the two o-rings on the coolant connection tube), fuel filter, and all engine mounts.  The rubber on the rear mount of this puppy was sheared off and the vacuum-controlled linkage was completely disconnected.

Update 02/12/2022

Engine back in, new seals (cam, crank, rear main, counterbalance, distributor, spark plug tube seals, axle seals) installed.  Transmission installed easily.

Install tip: take the engine mount off the transmission (the one that bolts to the passenger side) and install it after the engine has been lowered into the engine bay.  Also leave the crankshaft belt pulley and timing cover off as well.  This will make it easier to get into place.

Before you reinstall the power steering pump, install the pump seal kit.  I didn’t know it at the time because I got the car as-is/not running, but the power steering pump had a leak at the input shaft and was sucking air into the system, creating foamy bubbles in the reservoir – consequently causing some minor cavitation and whining noises around turns.  Installing the seal kit will take care of any rubber components in the pump, and it’s extremely easy to install.  Clean all metal mating surfaces prior to install, coat the new seals/bushing with thin layer of power steering fluid prior to install.
Torque on the power steering housing bolts are 8ft/lbs, pulley nut is 47ft/lbs.
Important Note:  The Pulley nut is left hand thread, so that’s righty-loosey, lefty tighty.

Once re-installed, wiring hooked back up, new spark plugs, plug wires, rotor, distributor, oil, transmission fluid, coolant, turn the key to on for a few seconds and then off.  Do this 3 or 4 times to get fuel going through the new filter.  Then try to start the engine.  Only crank the engine for 3 to 4 seconds at a time.  Mine started on the 3rd try, it idled around 1,600 RPM then settled down a bit but then started surging 1,000 RPM, then 2,000 RPM, back to 1,000 RPM repeatedly.  This is the result of a fouled or failed IAC (idle air control) sensor on the intake manifold, drivers side.  I shut the car off, tapped the IAC gently, restarted the engine, no issue.  But after it started to warm up and the exhaust got hot, all sorts of white smoke started billowing out the tailpipe.

The blown piston caused oil to be tossed up into the intake, the exhaust manifold, and down the exhaust pipe to collect within the catalytic converter.  We let it run and get to operating temperature to burp the cooling system of any residual air, held the RPM at 2,500 for a bit.  The smoke began to taper off so we took it for a test drive and really got on the throttle on an open road to burn the oil out of the tailpipe.  Got home, no more smoke.

Perform a valve adjustment when the engine is out of the car to make sure they’re within spec, it’s easier but if you do it in the car it’s not that difficult.  My F22A6 replacement had a noisy rocker and adjusting the valves took care of it.  Otherwise your engine could sound like a lawnmower, Honda engine valve lash adjustments are critical.

Update 02/22/2022

After driving through a tank of gas, my mileage wasn’t as great as I hoped (24 MPG, mostly highway, but I’m also not very light-footed at times…) but I forgot about replacing the O2 sensor, which would’ve been a good idea since a bunch of oil made it past the hole in the piston and out the exhaust, saturating it, for who knows how long.

Denso 234-4095 Oxygen SensorThere are two possible sensors, the first one the parts guy gave me was the wrong connector.  You want the male connector, on an 8″ pigtail.  I got this one and it fit perfectly, even came with some copper anti-seize for the threads in the sensor (be careful to not get any on the sensor part).  Stay away from non-OEM brand sensors, lots of reports of mileage getting even worse.  Stick with OEM brands, NGK, Denso, etc… Hopefully I’ll see some improvement on the next tank of gas.

Took a little slack out of the throttle cable, re-verified the transmission kickdown cable was adjusted properly.

Next up – Replacing front captive rotors, hubs & bearings.

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