Honda Civic Engines: History, Features, Breakdowns, Repair

From 1972 to the present day, the Honda Civic was equipped with engines of different families, which differ from each other in volume, power, number of camshafts, valves per cylinder, and injection features.

In 2017, the Honda Civic lineup turns 45 years old. In its time, it was the car that brought Honda worldwide recognition and still remains its most successful development. Now the 10th generation of this model is already in production. Starting in 1972 and up to now, Honda Civic engines are equipped with different families, which differ from each other in volume, power, number of camshafts, valves per cylinder, the features of the injection (since 1996, released exclusively injection engines, before that were carburetor engines with monoflash). But almost all Honda Civic engines are gasoline four-cylinder inline. Only on the cars of the 8th and 9th generations were installed 2 models of turbodiesel engines of 1.6 and 2.2 liters.

Evolution of Honda Civic engines

An important characteristic of the Honda Civic engine is the transverse arrangement. This layout was the first time Honda used it in the Civic lineup. The performance of engines with a longitudinal arrangement is higher, but they require more under-hood space and thus eat up the useful space of the cabin. For a subcompact small car, this wasn’t an option, and engineers opted for a transverse layout. In addition to a more rational use of space, cars with a transversely oriented engine have other advantages:

  • Minimal energy loss when transferring traction to the drive wheels;
  • Improved controllability on slippery road surfaces;
  • low production cost.

But the ability to increase power and torque of such engines is limited. Power of the engine “Honda Civic” 1st generation was only 50 hp at 1.2 liters, it was a motor with 2 valves per cylinder. It was replaced by the first 15 liters CVCC engine with 53 hp with 12 valves (3 per cylinder). The last versions of 1st generation were equipped with 60 hp engines. The most powerful engine installed in the non-sporting Civics is the turbocharged L15B7 (174 hp), used since 2016. More powerful motors were equipped only with Honda Civic Si (up to 205 hp) and Honda Civic Type R (up to 221 hp).

The main “chips” of the Honda engines are CVCC technology and VTEC technology, which has several modifications. Many engines, which were equipped with the Honda Civic, are created with their application.

It was on the Honda Civic back in the 1st generation that the fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly CVCC engine was first installed. Most manufacturers installed a costly catalytic converter to clean the exhaust gases in order to reduce emissions. Honda, on the other hand, improved the design of the cylinder block by fitting each cylinder with an additional intake valve. Oxygen enrichment resulted in a more complete combustion of the fuel-air mixture. As a result, both gasoline consumption and emissions were reduced. CVCC engines were not too picky about gasoline quality and were inexpensive to produce.

Thanks to CVCC technology, the ED1 engine was included in the world’s list of the 10 best internal combustion engines of the 20th century.
In 1989, a new Honda development was implemented – the Honda VTEC technology, which allows to increase engine power without increasing the volume. The first engine based on this technology was the B16A with two camshafts (DOHC VTEC). Each camshaft had three spring-loaded cams to control the cylinder valves (previously two cams per cylinder were used). The shape and settings of the outermost cams were optimized for low-speed operation and the middle cam for high-speed operation. In addition, an oil pressure sensor was added to the system. Fuel injection and ignition angle were thus optimized, and the performance of the engines was improved.

A simplified version with a single camshaft (SOHC VTEC) was introduced two years later. Central cams were used only to control the intake valves because the spark plug arrangement did not allow for three cams on the exhaust valves. The SOHC VTEC-E modification of this version was designed for moderate riders and allowed for lower fuel consumption at low rpm. The 3-stage SOHC VTEC combines the fuel economy of VTEC-E models with higher performance, but the engines built with this technology are more complex and expensive to produce. In 2001, the intelligent i-VTEC system with continuous variable valve timing was introduced.

During the entire existence of the Honda Civic line, the engine volume of these small cars varied in the range of 1.2-2.4 liters. Engines installed on the cars were of the following series:

  • E (1973-1987), 1.2, 1.3, 1.5 liters, power in the 52-76 hp range.
  • B (1989-2001), engines with 2 camshafts, in which VTEC technology was implemented for the first time;
  • D (1988-2006) – with 1 camshaft, various modifications of VTEC technology were implemented in D15 and D16 engines. Most of the Honda Civic cars were equipped with engines of this series with a capacity from 1.2 to 1.7 liters of different power;
  • K (since 2001), all engines are based on DOHC i-VTEC technology, mainly installed on sports cars;
  • L (since 2001) – compact small engines, the Honda Civic is installed only in 1.3 liters, this series includes turbocharged engine L15B7 and a model LDA, which is used in hybrid cars;
  • R (since 2006) – engines with 1 camshaft, 4 valves per cylinder, i-VTEC system, 1.6, 1.8, 2 liter. Simple, cheap in production, and reliable at the same time.

Series production of the Honda Civic Hybrid line began in 2003. The car was created on the platform of the 7th generation sedan. Along with the gasoline engine LDA with an intelligent three-stage VTEC system it uses an electric motor with a capacity of 15 kW. Toyota is a pioneer in the field of creation of cars with hybrid engine, in its cars the electric motor can work independently from the gasoline one. In Honda’s variant, the motors work in parallel; the electric motor complements the work of the petrol one. The Honda Civic Hybrid has the IMA technology, which allows the accumulation of kinetic energy, which is released when braking the car.

Engine life, typical breakdowns

Practice shows that the service life of Honda Civic engines B, D, R series is 250-300 thousand km, K series – over 300 thousand km. The E-series engines have not been used for 30 years, B-series models now are also rare, L-series engines are mainly equipped with cars for the European market, R-series engines are not subject to repairs, because they are still young. The D-series engines are the most common, and the servicemen have to deal with them most often.

The weak points of the D-series include:

  • Crankshaft pulley failures;
  • Throttle valve (TCD) and idle valve (IAC) clogging manifest themselves by floating revolutions;
  • cracks in the exhaust manifold manifest themselves by a specific sound, as in the operation of a diesel engine.

The least durable parts of the engines of this line are tramlers and oxygen sensor. Oil pressure sensor can leak. The problems are mainly age-related, appearing after 250,000 km run due to the natural wear of the parts. The main enemy of the engine is a dirty oil.

The K-series has its own problems:

  • knocking of the engine “Honda Civic” K20, K24 is associated with either improper valve adjustment or wear of the exhaust camshaft;
  • oil leaks are usually associated with wear of the front crankshaft oil seal;
  • Floating revolutions, as well as in D series, are connected with choke and CCB clogging;
  • vibration, not accompanied by thrashing, is usually caused by wear of the engine pillow or stretching of the timing chain;
  • Overheating of 4 cylinders – a common problem for engines of K-series manufactured before 2003. If your Honda Civic has a hot engine, check the belt and water pump impeller, fan, thermostat, coolant level, pipe leaks.

If the engine on the “Honda Civic” is tripping, its operation is accompanied by increased vibration, popping in the exhaust system, a significant loss of power. The causes may lie in the coil of the ignition system, valves, spark plugs (weak spark), injector, sensor failure, clogging of the air filter injectors. It is necessary to run the self-diagnostic system and see what the corresponding Honda Civic engine error means. Very often the use of low-quality gasoline, pistons and valves burnout lead to the throbbing.

Engine pads are not filled with fluff or synthetics, but with hydraulic fluid

The engine airbags are filled with hydraulic fluid, not fluff or synthetic.
The owners of new cars equipped with R-series engines have to face the following problems

  • Knocking – most often the adsorber valve knocks, it is not a sign of malfunction. If the knocking is caused by the cylinder valves, they need clearance adjustment;
  • noise – usually caused by wear of the drive belt tensioner, which has a service life of about 100,000 km;
  • intense vibrations may be due to wear of the left cushion. Cold vibration, which disappears after the engine warms up, is a normal phenomenon.
  • Холодная вибрация, которая исчезает после прогрева двигателя, является нормальным явлением.

In general, the simplicity of these engines design ensures their reliability. Of course, the quality of gasoline and oil is important, it is true for any series of engines. In the R-series, the lambda probe and catalytic converter are primarily affected by bad gasoline, and the i-VTEC system is affected by improperly selected or dirty oil. For Honda engines 0W-20, 0W-30, 5W-20, 5W-30 engine oils are suitable. What oil to pour in the engine “Honda Civic”, depends on its model and the weather conditions. This model-specific information, as well as information on oil consumption, filling volume, and recommended replacement frequency can be found in the owner’s manual.

The most common causes of engine failures are:

  • natural wear and tear on parts;
  • use of low-quality fuel and consumables, unsuitable oil viscosity;
  • improper operation – frequent mode changes, frequent starts in the cold season;
  • mechanical damage of the crankcase, ingress of dust and dirt inside the engine (additional engine protection “Honda Civic” will help protect the crankcase);

Malfunction or contamination of the cooling system, leading to frequent overheating of the engine.

Types of repairs

On the second hundred thousand miles in Honda Civic engines usually have to change the lambda probe (oxygen sensor), drive belt, timing chain. In D-series models may require replacement of crankshaft pulley or entire crankshaft, exhaust manifold (cracks in it are not welded). When mileage is approaching 300 thousand miles, may need an engine overhaul “Honda Civic” with a complete rebuild and replacement of a number of parts. In the course of overhaul it is necessary to change:

  • oil and coolant, filters, gaskets, plugs;
    crankshaft oil seals and crank pins, camshaft oil seals;
  • piston rings, piston liners, piston liners, piston retaining rings, 4th cylinder half rings;
  • timing belt;
  • distributor cap, gasket and runner;
  • valves with subsequent lapping and adjustment.

In addition, you need to clean the intake valve and the CCX, nozzles, the inner surfaces of the engine, and the sump. The cylinder head must be rebuilt, its surface usually has to be milled and ground, and the cylinder block itself has to be cleaned. Cylinder boring in Honda Civic engines is rarely required if the clearance of the piston ring locks is greatly increased. In the course of repair, you need to measure with a dipstick or gauge these locks and compare the results with the values given in the table of clearances.

Often not only the cylinder block, but also the alternator needs repair. Its weak points are bearings, relays, diode bridge. During the engine overhaul it is recommended to inspect the coolant pump, power steering belt, pads, radiator and if necessary replace them. It is also necessary to verify the tightness of the cooling system, clean it.

When the purchase of a contract engine is justified

Usually overhaul allows you to extend the life of the engine Honda Civic. But it happens that the engine is badly worn, not for the first time is subjected to overhaul. It is necessary to change too many parts, in addition, there is a high probability that soon after the next repair there will be another malfunction. In this case, it is better to replace the power unit. But it is not easy to buy a new engine, the domestic online catalogs are presenting mostly either components, or used engines assembled – contract, from Russian scrap yards, remanufactured. Of course, he who seeks, he will always find, and to order a new ICE is possible, but is it worth it? You’ll have to wait a long time for delivery and put out a tidy sum. And there are no cheap non-original analogues of car engines, there are only non-original accessories for them. So most car owners prefer used Honda Civic engines – the price is lower.
Weighing all the pros and cons, Honda Civic owners often decide to replace a worn engine with a contract engine
But buying an engine from a domestic scrap is risky: no one knows what its life, and the origin can be criminal, and the lack of documentation for the number unit – a serious problem. Reconditioned engines are reliable if the restoration was done in the factory, and in Russia so far there is only a makeshift solution. And it is not always done by sufficiently qualified professionals, not every time new original parts are used. So the best option – contract engine “Honda Civic” from the Japanese disassembly:

  • Before the engine hit the salvage yard, it was filled with quality fuel and lubricants and operated in a gentle mode (this applies to units from Japanese scrap, Americans with their cars are not particularly ceremonious);
  • if something has been already changed in the engine, the work was performed at a service center and original spare parts were used for replacement;
  • Japanese cars usually end up at salvage yards with low mileage, due to the peculiarities of the legislation Japanese more profitable to buy a new car than to continue operating the old, so that the remaining life of the contractual engines is solid;
  • Contract engines come to Russia with the documents.

You have to be careful: sometimes used engines are sold under the guise of used engines, with no documents, no warranty, or they give a warranty only on starting but not on mileage. Buy a used engine only from trusted companies, then you can be sure there is no fraud.

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