Car loses Power while driving?

Tiny
TURKS5
  • MEMBER
  • 1993 HONDA CIVIC
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • MANUAL
  • 213,000 MILES
When I hold down the gas My car will pick up speed then lose power than it will go than lose power again then it will go. It is only when I am in a low gear the higher gears are usually fine. And it is worse when my car is cold. And sometimes when I am idleing my RPMS will go up and down up and down with out me touching anything.
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Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 AT 6:26 AM

60 Replies

Tiny
2CEXPT
  • MEMBER
Sometimes, what feels like a hesitation is actually ignition misfire rather than lean misfire. The causes of this we can find using this guide.

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/engine-has-low-power-output

Please run down this guide and report back.
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Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 AT 6:47 AM
Tiny
HOCKEY35
  • MEMBER
  • 1993 HONDA CIVIC
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 139,000 MILES
It is a 93 honda civic 1.5L auto with 139,000 miles for the last two weeks it has been acting weird. All of a sudden the car wont accelerate past 20mph and really has no power when this happens the brakes become hard to compress and there is a slight smell of something burning however the car makes no strange sounds in fact it sounds just like it should there is no engine light and no trace of any smoke coming from under the hood nor the exhaust. All fluid levels are where they are supposed to be and its not burning coolant or oil. The steering wheel shakes when at a stop but that just went away after we put some fuel injector cleaner in it but im not convinced that made the steering wheel stop shaking. The thing is that the car will work fine one day and then the next day it wont.
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:22 PM (Merged)
Tiny
F4I_GUY
  • EXPERT
Sounds like you have an intermittent misfire. These can be hard to diagnose. Typically would I look at first would be the tune-up items, such as spark plugs, wires, ignition cap and rotor.
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:22 PM (Merged)
Tiny
JDMSTYLEZ
  • MEMBER
  • 1993 HONDA CIVIC
Hi. I have a 1993 Honda Civic SI and it has 220,000 kms on the engine. I have inherited this car from my brother and it was running in perfect condition until one day it just completely shut off. That week, the speedometer needle would sometime drop dead to zero for a while then come back on after a few minutes then the odometer also stop and come back on after a while. I was gonna get it looked at but didn't get the chance, one day I was driving home and just a block away from my place, the radio started messing up, it would turn off then come back on just like the speedometer and odometer. Right away I thought it had something to do with the battery, I remembered my brother mentioning to get it replaced since hes had for a long long time and it was time to get it replaced. Minute later it died! Completely.I tried re starting it I can hear the clicking but it wont go over. The car still had power which I thought was weird but it was slowly dying. I had a friend come to boost the car but no success. We bought a new battery but we thought wrong. There's something else wrong with the car. I have been asking a few people and also calling some local shops to get an idea of what could be wrong. But cant get a clear answer because they want to check the car first. Which gives me another problem, I have to pay for towing just to take the car to a shop and I am worried that I might not even have enough money to have it repaired.I just cant take that chance right now, they said it could be the alternator, timing belt or it could be simply just be the spark plugs. I really need help guys, I don't know anything about engine problems at all and i'm on a tight budget here. So any suggestions or help or any info at all would be great! Thanks. :D
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:22 PM (Merged)
Tiny
ASEMASTER6371
  • EXPERT
Good morning,

If you have a volt meter, can you test the voltage to the battery? You need 12.4 to 12.6 volts.

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/car-battery-load-test

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/how-to-check-a-car-alternator

Make sure the cables are clean and tight. Dirty connections will cause all these issue. If you have low voltage, the systems will shut down.

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/everything-goes-dead-when-engine-is-cranked

Roy
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:22 PM (Merged)
Tiny
MANNY76
  • MEMBER
  • 1993 HONDA CIVIC
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 130,000 MILES
When my honda is in park with the engine running the acceleration starts going up and down
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:22 PM (Merged)
Tiny
LEGITIMATE007
  • EXPERT
Yes check your idle air control valve. But first clean the throttle plate and throttle body along with the linkage. If that doesnt help then your idle air control valve is the culprit
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:22 PM (Merged)
Tiny
LENNY11717
  • MEMBER
You should try checking you antifreeze because ive had the same problem with my 93 civic and I didnt have enough fluid
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:22 PM (Merged)
Tiny
LEGITIMATE007
  • EXPERT
Well thats a given, you should always check your fluids, that is alway the most important step
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:22 PM (Merged)
Tiny
GO_GETTA88
  • MEMBER
  • 1992 HONDA CIVIC
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 206,000 MILES
When I try to accelerate my Civic, the rpms reach the 4,000 range (which I believe is above the normal limit, about 3,500), and after it changes gears I smell something that smells like rubber burning. What could this indicate? Several people have said the timing needs to be re-calibrated, but I want to make sure before I proceed with this task. Any help would be great thanks.
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:23 PM (Merged)
Tiny
F4I_GUY
  • EXPERT
Rubber burning could be some of the harness melting somewhere. Pop the hood and try to locate the smell.
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:23 PM (Merged)
Tiny
GO_GETTA88
  • MEMBER
It seems to be coming from the passenger side, by the timing belt. Where would I locate the harness if that's the issue?
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:23 PM (Merged)
Tiny
TORITOCHIS
  • MEMBER
  • 1992 HONDA CIVIC
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • MANUAL
  • 145,000 MILES
Have a 92 honda civic that pulls to the left whenever I come out in 1st gear. The car has never been to an accident, no bent rims, or suspension parts. I had it aligned several times & swapt the front tires left to right & right to left. Also tried swaping the rear to the front. The car pulls slightly to the left when driving. Tires don't have a significant sign of uneven wear.
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:23 PM (Merged)
Tiny
2CEXPT
  • MEMBER
WHY STEERING PULLS

Three simple conditions must be met for a four-wheeled vehicle to travel in a straight line:

1. All four wheels must be pointing in the same direction.

That is, all four wheels must be square to each other and square to the road surface (in other words, parallel to one another, perpendicular to a common centerline, and straight up and down).

2. All four wheels must offer the same amount of rolling resistance. This includes the "caster effect" between the front wheels that steer.

3. There must be no play in the steering or suspension linkage that positions the wheels.

If all three conditions are not met, the vehicle will drift to one side depending on which forces are at work. This creates a steering pull which the driver will counteract by steering the other way. Having to constantly apply pressure to the steering wheel to keep the car traveling in a straight line can be tiring on a long trip. It can also be hard on the tires, too.

WHEN TOE IS OFF THE MARK

The crooked mile we referred to at the beginning of this article is no exaggeration. Only 1/8 inch of toe misalignment front or rear produces the equivalent wear of scrubbing the tires sideways 28 feet for every mile traveled. Yet many toe specs allows for this much variation!

The need to have all four wheels pointing in the same direction and square to each other and the road sounds obvious enough, but it is surprising how many alignment jobs fail to achieve it when the wheels are aligned anywhere between the maximum and minimum specs rather than to the preferred specs.

Checking toe will tell you if the front and rear wheels are parallel to one another and how close they are to the preferred specifications. If they are within the acceptable range of specs, but the tires show obvious signs of toe wear or the vehicle has an off-center steering or a pull to one side, then it should be obvious that close enough is not good enough. The wheels need to be realigned to the preferred settings.

It is important to remember that rear toe is just as important as front toe, especially on cars and minivans with front-wheel drive or vehicles with independent rear suspensions. If rear toe is off the mark, it can create a rear axle steer condition that a simple front wheel alignment check will never detect or cure.

Rear toe is also different from front toe in that front toe misalignment tends to be self centering. When the front wheels are toed-in or toed-out with respect to one another, the two wheels share the toe angle equally while rolling down the road with tread wear being about the same for both tires. With rear toe that is not necessarily true because the rear wheels are not free to steer nor are they tied together with a steering linkage.

On a rear-wheel drive car or truck with a solid rear axle, a cocked axle will toe-in one wheel and toe-out the other by an equal amount. This kind of misalignment will make the vehicle dog track and create a thrust angle that induces a steering pull as well as toe wear in the front wheels (turning the wheels, even slightly, causes them to toe-out which can increase tread wear). If the rear axle misalignment cannot be corrected by repositioning the spring mounts, installing aftermarket offset control arm bushings, etc, you can at least minimize the problem by having the front wheels aligned to the rear thrust angle.

On applications that have an independent rear suspension, or front-wheel drive cars or minivans that have a one-piece rear axle, one wheel that is toed-in or toed-out will also induce a steering pull. If toed in, the wheel will push to the inside. If toed-out, it will pull to the outside. This can also create dog tracking problem with both tires suffering toe wear (though the wheel that is off may show more wear).

CAMBER CAPERS

When camber is set to factory specs, the wheels should be more or less perpendicular to the road at normal ride height (a good reason for always checking ride height prior to aligning the wheels!). Camber will vary as the suspension travels through jounce and rebound, but as long as the camber changes are the same side-to-side, there should be no "bump steer" or twitch to either side.

But factory specs allow for a lot of camber variation. A typical spec may have an acceptable range of up to a full degree of camber either way. If one wheel is at the maximum acceptable limit and the other is at the minimum acceptable limit, you could end up with a difference of almost two full degrees side-to-side! That is way too much camber difference. Consequently, the vehicle will pull towards the front wheel that has the most positive camber or away from the wheel that has the most negative camber. Keeping camber differences to half a degree of less should minimize this kind of problem.

Rear camber is just as important, too. If there is a difference between rear camber alignment, the rear axle can drift to one side or the other, creating a condition similar to rear axle steer that makes the vehicle steer crooked.

So what do you do if a vehicle has no factory camber adjustments, or the limited range of adjustment is not enough to equalize readings or to achieve the preferred settings? Before any shims, wedges, offset bushings or other alignment aids are installed, the suspension should be checked to make sure something is not bent, broken or worn. A weak or broken spring, a collapsed control arm bushing, a mislocated strut tower or engine cradle, or a bent strut or control arm can all throw camber off the mark.

Checking and comparing SAI readings side-to-side is a good way to identify "hidden" problems such as those just described. Even though we tend to think of it as a nonadjustable angle that is built into the suspension itself, it is still a useful angle to look at (even if specs are not available) because it can reveal conditions or damage that affect a vehicle's ability to steer straight. On front-wheel drive cars where the lower control arms are attached to the engine cradle, a shift in the cradle's position to either side will upset SAI as well as camber. The result will be a steering lead towards the side with the least SAI. Ideally, right and left SAI readings should be within half a degree of one another.

CASTER

Like camber, caster readings should also be set to the preferred specs and be within half a degree side-to-side. A greater difference side-to-side can make the vehicle lead towards the side with the least caster. Increasing caster increases steering stability because it forces the suspension to lift when the wheels are steered, while decreasing caster eases steering. Sometimes steering wander can be a problem if the front wheels have insufficient caster. Steering pull that is caused by road crown can sometimes be compensated by adding positive caster to the left front wheel.

If caster is out of range, check for worn strut or control arm bushings, a mislocated MacPherson strut tower or a bent lower control arm.

OTHER FACTORS

In addition to wheel alignment, anything that creates unequal rolling resistance or friction side-to-side on a vehicle's suspension or brakes can make it steer crooked. This includes such things as underinflated tires, mismatched tires or dragging brakes.

Before wheel alignment is checked, the tires should be inspected. Check and equalize tire inflation pressures. Note tire sizes and brands. A vehicle will pull towards the side that offers the greatest rolling resistance. So if the tires on both sides of an axle are not the same construction (bias ply or radial), diameter, tread width, tread pattern and even brand in some instances, there may be enough difference in rolling resistance to induce a slight pull to one side.

A dragging or frozen caliper, or weak or broken return springs in a drum brake can create enough friction to also cause a noticeable steering pull. If you suspect brake drag, the easiest way to find the offending brake is to raise the wheels off the ground and spin each one by hand.

A vehicle's ability to steer straight can also be undermined if there is excessive play or looseness in the steering linkage or wheel bearings. Loose tie rod ends, idler arms, a worn steering rack, even loose rack mounts can all have an influence on directional stability. So be sure to perform a thorough inspection of the steering and suspension before aligning the wheels.

The alignment of the steering linkage itself is also important. If the rack, center link and/or steering arms are not parallel to the ground, it may create unequal toe changes that result in a bump steer condition when the suspension travels through jounce and rebound. Measuring and comparing the height of the inner and out tie rods ends on each side can help you identify this kind of problem. Another technique is to check for equal toe changes on each side when the suspension is raised and then lowered.

Another condition that may even cause a vehicle to steer crooked is a power steering problem. Internal leaks in the power steering control valve can route pressure to where it is not needed. The pressure imbalance may make the car drift to one side or, if bad enough, the car may try to steer itself with no assistance from the driver! You can check for this kind of problem by raising the wheels off the ground and starting the engine. If the steering wheel starts to turn all by itself, power steering work is what is needed here, not an alignment.
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:23 PM (Merged)
Tiny
CHRISTOPHERBYMAN
  • MEMBER
  • 1992 HONDA CIVIC
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • MANUAL
  • 282,000 MILES
I have a 1992 Honda civic dx.4 cylinder. It idles normal w/o the a/c on but when I turn it on it bogs down and almost dies. (Idles very low) What would cause this? Thanks. Chris
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:23 PM (Merged)
Tiny
F4I_GUY
  • EXPERT
Your IACV (idle air control valve) may not be compensating enough for the extra load. Try servicing the throttle body and idle motor first. If that doesn't work you will have to raise the idle up 100rpm or so.
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:23 PM (Merged)
Tiny
CLEARBLUE
  • MEMBER
  • 1991 HONDA CIVIC
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • MANUAL
  • 198,000 MILES
My Honda has burnt oil for many years, now burns about a quart every 600 miles. I add oil and oil treatments regularly and keep up with the changes as well.

While highway driving the engine suddenly started to hesitate and choke, losing power and slowing down. I made it into town and with each stop, the idle was horribly rough, and it choked and jumped going through the gears, but seemed to have short spurts when it would smooth out.

I then parked and turned off the car, it restarted barely, making a high pitched noise while cranking that I have never heard before from this car. It choked and sputtered then stalled and would not restart.

What kind of repair could this be, noting it is an old car and I just want to do the bare minimum to keep her going till she croaks!

Thanks!
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:23 PM (Merged)
Tiny
JASONRAY
  • MEMBER
She may have just croaked! Maybe not. A quart of oil every 600 miles is a lot. Seems like that would try to foul the plugs regularly. Could have been what happened to ya. If a ring broke on a piston, or something happened in the head letting even more oil into the combustion chambers, it could foul the plugs even quicker. Not for sure if that's what happened but it's a thought. You also could've lost a timing belt. This could possibly explain the 'different' noise you hear when trying to start it. If ALL compression is gone, it's going to spin over way faster than what you're used to hearing so it might make a 'whine' noise to you. The belt may have just come unraveled(check my spelling) and that's why it didn't just drop dead in it's tracks. It could've slipped a tooth or 2 as it unwrapped and caused it to run really bad and then came the rest of the way apart. You can pry the top timing cover back enough to see the belt and have a friend spin it over. See if the cam pulley is even turning. Try that and get back with me. Hopefully, we're on to something.
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:23 PM (Merged)
Tiny
LATKI3
  • MEMBER
  • 1991 HONDA CIVIC
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • MANUAL
  • 174,000 MILES
My car just out of the blue lost power while I was driving. I geared down and had no power in any of the gears, the car just shook and hesitated. If I turn the car off and then drive minutes later the problem is gone for a period of time. It only happens intermittently. I've changed the fuel filter, checked the spark plugs, and the air filter is fine. Is the problem possibly my fuel pump, or how can I know?
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:23 PM (Merged)
Tiny
BRUCE HUNT
  • EXPERT
I assume that the plugs were dry in their plug wells. The plug wires can be a factor and should be considered. I might even try taking off the EGR valve and checking it's operation and clean it.
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 AT 1:23 PM (Merged)

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