'89 Civic questions

I recently bought an '89 Civic with 165K miles for a commuter car, and have a couple of questions that I hope someone can help me out with;
1. The car is consuming oil at about a qt/800 miles. The car does not
smoke at all though, not at startup nor 70 MPH. After searching past posts I replaced the PCV valve. What else should I check? 1a. One poster also suggested removing the PCV tube, but I couldn't reach the clamp at the far end. Would just cleaing it out with a pipe-cleaner pose a risk or is there a better way to get at it?
2. While replacing the brake pads I noticed that the right caliper is leaking brake fluid around the piston. I have never changed calipers before, but it looks like a fairly straightforward operation to me. Any advice, suggestions or things I should know before I try it (or is this something better left to the pros)?
Thanks!
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Matt wrote:

yes, check the pcv valve, or better yet, replace. the genuine honda article [the only one worth using] is about $12.
the tube pulls out of the collector box under the manifold. clean it up, or buy a new one.
apart from mechanical wear, other factors affecting oil consumption include: 1. mixture - if your oxygen sensor is failing, you can have rich mixture which in turn dilutes & burns oil 2. insufficient coolant - causes rich mixture because the engine temp sensor is not sending the right signal to the ecu. 3. timing - if too advanced, can cause higher than normal combustion temps. not necessarily going to cause overheating as per the temp gauge, but will run the pistons hotter than normal, cause more oil vaporization than normal, etc... 4. if an automatic, egr valve operation. apparently, correct egr valve operation reduces combustion temps.
also check for leaks, particularly the oil pan gasket - sometimes bolts disappear. replace if necessary. the main seal on my 89 leaks badly with some oil brands, not others. so far, castrol gtx seems to be treating my oil seals just right. may take a couple of changes for that to show though.

easy to do yourself. read tegger's faq's, especially the bit about using genuine silicone grease on reassembly.

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check your valve cover gasket and the little spark plug tube seals. that's the main spot where you'll lose oil from. with that high of miles it's probably due to have that changed. it's $30 for a fel pro set at autozone and you can install it yourself. just becareful how you remove the valve cover not to scratch the surface of the head. wrap a soft rag around a screw driver to pry it off the head or tap it lightly with a rubber mallet until it breaks loose. i have the same year of civic. mine needed that replaced and all oil consumption stopped. as far as the brakes they're not hard to fix as you saw. it is a common sense step by step mechanical repair.
-jeff
"jim beam"

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On that note, i have just bought a 87' civic commuter car. 32k when i got it, over 40k now. It's a auto w/carbs, fueleconomy.gov says 28mpg for this model. I am getting about 32mpg, last tank was 33.8mpg but i am thinking of bumping up the timing a touch to see if it improves. The car is only driven on the highway back and forth to work, parked all weekend. I found the timing light in the garage (from the days of points),so i can see where it currently is at. Maybe different heat range plug along with a timing increase to improve mpg a little more?

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Bad idea. You can cause detonation, which can wreck your engine in short order if bad enough. You have no knock sensor to save you. Leave it where it is. Any mileage gain will be hardly noticeable.
Also, with the mileage you report, you may be running pretty lean already. Do you have emissions testing in your area? If so, you can bring it in and get the readings. That will be a *big* giveaway for how lean you're running.

Won't do a thing.
One thing that *can* result in an increase in mileage is the Motorvac engine clean service. If there are significant deposits on your intake valves and/or in the combustion chamber, Motorvac will remove much of it, bringing the engine closer to its design specifications.
However, at 32mpg you sound like you're doing pretty well as it is. By tinkering, you risk breaking what ain't broke. Our '99 Tercel gets about 33mpg on the highway.
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Thanks for the reply, well said, i'll leave all alone. I'm happy with the mpg just wanted to try for a few more. No emission testing here in PA. other than visual and gas cap check. Tailpipe does look black though, plugs are fine, i guess you don't see the gray color anymore.
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Gray was with leaded gas. Black is the norm now.
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Set the timing to factory specs and leave it there. Detonation is a very Bad Thing - I once inherited a Volvo that had the timing advanced, and every piston had a broken compression ring from the detonation. Could have been worse... chipped valves and holes in pistons, things like that.
If you're doing better than the EPA estimate you are already pushing the envelope.
Mike
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Matt, I read the other posts and they provided some great advice. I hope those low cost solutions solve your problem. If not, do a pressure (aka compression) test on each of the cylinders. It's possible that one or more of the rings needs to be replaced--it's very expensive to replace rings since it involves taking the engine apart. However, with older cars that have over 150,000 miles on the odometer--it's one of those things that has to be done if you plan to keep the car. It's one of the main reasons that lots of people trade in their cars after they have over 150,000 miles on the odometer. In some cases, it's cheaper to install a rebuilt engine. Jason
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hondas normally don't need an engine overhaul even beyond 200,000 miles if they were maintained normally. my last civic was an '87 and it had about 210,000 miles on it when i sold it and it still didn't burned any oil. if he sees blue smoke from the exhaust then he'll know the rings are bad or vavle guides and then it will be worthless to fix the minor oil leak unless thats taken care of to. but i know from having that same year of civic that he has and the 16 valve engine in them are excellent and would've had to have been neglected alot for the rings to be shot. my civic was neglected when i bought it and even has a tick in the engine and still is not burning oil. my main thing is to keep the oil changed with a good name brand of castrol or valveline (valveline in the winter) and fram oil filters.
-jeff
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Jeff, I agree that if a Civic is well maintained, it should not need an engine overhaul until after 200,000 miles. However, as you probably know, many cars--including Accords and Civics--are not well maintained. Since the original poster did not see blue smoke fromt the exhaust, we can all hope that his motor does not have to be rebuilt. Tegger provided some excellent advice and mentioned some items that I did not even think of until I read his post. It's been a long time since I done any serious work on engines. It's great to have tegger in this newsgroup since he is an expert on Honda engines. I learned a lot from visiting his website. Jason
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Pull off the end you can reach and stick a pipe cleaner or Q-Tip in there. If it comes out loaded with sludge, then you've got deeper problems than just a plugged breather. If it's clear, then you're fine.
The car will not smoke until you're down to 100-200 miles/qt. Before then the cat burns it all off.
If you have no external leaks, then you either have 1) Worn oil control rings, or 2) Worn valve guide oil seals.
Watch the exhaust first thing in the morning after the car has sat overnight. If there is NO puff of blue smoke as the engiine fires, then the valve guide seals are OK and your rings are bad. It can also be a combination of both rings and seals.
Seal replacement basically means removing the head, and it's not cheap.
My guess is your rings are bad. At least $2,000 to fix that.

It is.
Your caliper piston is rusty and has damaged the hydraulic seal, or else the rust on the caliper body has migrated in far enough to push the seal our of its groove in the caliper body. Either way, replacement is the cure. If it's the piston causing the leak, a rebuild is possible.
More info here, not hydraulically related: http://www.tegger.com/hondafaq/rustybrakes/brakes1.html

Don't get any dirt in there while you have the hydraulics open.
Go to www.googlegroups.com for: tegger saran caliper
for another post on this subject.
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i'll bet he has no internal engine issue and it has a bad valve cover gasket. my '89 civic had 148,000 miles on it when i bought it and it had a nasty leak from the valve cover gasket. pull a spark plug and if it comes out with oil soaked around the threads then you'll know what i'm talking about. oil gathering from worn out spark plug tube gaskets. you'll know if you're burning oil from a bad engine because smoke is going to show up sooner or later.
-jeff

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hondaman wrote:

I changed the plugs soon after I bought it and there was only a small amount of oil on the threads of two. I have been using the "high mileage" Valvoline (though this weekend was just the third time). One thing I forgot to mention in the original post was that I noticed a significant amount of oil buildup on the pan when I was draining it. I can't tell where it's coming from, but it looks like too much to be just from road grime and such.
I am headed to the auto parts store this afternoon, and will start with the valve cover gasket and spark plug seals.
One more question: Is replacing weatherstripping around the doors a do-it-yourself type of thing? (The passenger side is pretty rough, pulling away and sticking out.) I would think so, but want to make sure there aren't any special tools I need before I pull it off and then can't get a new one on.
Thanks
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Super easy.

No special tools. Rip the rubber off, then go around with a pair of pliers and pull out all the old little plastic clips. Be careful not to scratch the paint when you do this.
As you feed the new rubber's clips in, make 100% sure they are going in the correct holes! It you accidentally push one through the wrong hole, there is a very good chance you will damage the new rubber attempting to remove it.
Note that some weatherstripping has color-coded clips. The odd-colored one will go in a specific hole, such as the middle, etc.
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TeGGeR wrote:

i vote the o.p. spends some time addressing the easily fixable problems before stressing about serious [expensive] mechanical stuff. especially using a "non-leaky" oil. if he does everything else and it doesn't reduce oil consumption, sure, fix the motor. but i'll bet you lunch that it does. especially on the 89 civic. it doesn't have the ring problems of the 88 accord discussed recently. my crx has 305k, near enough, and no appreciable oil consumption unless it's thrashed [!]. ;) even then, it's less than a quart between changes.

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For sure.
My price was meant to be a deterrent.

Now that's something I never thought of. Supposedly those "high-mileage" oil formulations can help swell seals and get a little more useful life out of them. It's worth a try.
Also, using a heavier regular oil can often reduce oil consumption enough to extend the engine's useful life. Something like 20W-50.

An '89 Civic is "basic transportation" to the insurance company ($500- $1,500), and about $1,000 on the used car market. Putting $2K into fixing the motor does not make economic sense unless the car is in unusually good condition and has a known history.

Lots of city driving and short trips will eat up the oil control rings relatively quickly. Highway driving will see them lasting longer.
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TeGGeR wrote:

so far, i'm having plenty of luck with plain castrol gtx 5w-30. my main seal's pretty much stopped leaking now.
regarding oil consumption, mine took a dramatic hike after working on the distributor recently. turns out i'd set the timing a little too advanced. not enough to cause audible detonation, but the issue about higher ignition temp seems to be real. now that i've fixed it, consumption is back to zero. i drove down to las vegas today, dipstick showing the same as when i left. 600 miles, high ambient temps, big long hills at full throttle. somehow managed to get here nearly 2 hours earlier than anticipated. get my drift?
i recently found my old bosch automotive handbook - 3rd edition. if you get a chance, take a look at a copy - current is 5th edition. lots of useful info about the whole theory of injection, ignition, etc. including tghe above info on egr valve operation. there's also something on plug selection. apparently, there /is/ a small power yield difference related to plug running temperature. using plugs that are too cool reduce power output.

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I would think (not having read your book) that this would only be true if the current plugs were overheating or getting dirty and producing a weaker spark. If the current plugs are not producing a weak spark under heavy load, then cooler plugs won't affect anything.
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TeGGeR wrote:

showing power yield as a function of operating temp. has 3 lines showing too hot, correct & too cold. but the amount is unquantified, they're just trends. i'll check again when i get home.
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