'92 Civic DX Hatchback Idle dropout problem

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In their defense, it is a bit of a struggle to get the belt to go on right; the cam doesn't like to sit at TDC. (That's why so many of us were suspecting it!) But you're right - professionals should not only get it right, they should triple-check it is right before buttoning it up.
Mike
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One point I forgot to mention: having to readjust the ignition timing after timing belt change is a *huge* red flag pointing to getting the timing belt a tooth off. The engine runs terribly if not readjusted and badly if it is, but simply having to change the timing means the belt didn't go on the way it came off. Feh!
Mike
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That's the wierd thing. It idles a bit rough, I think, but someone who didn't know the car would likely think nothing of it. Then of course the idle dropout (clearly something new, something wrong). And lastly, the sense at high speeds that the car is really struggling. It used to cruise at 85 mph down the Mass Pike no problem. Now, it's clearly topping the engine out. I'm amazed that it runs at all with the valves opening/closing ~10 degrees before (after) they should!
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snipped-for-privacy@alum.mit.edu wrote:

usually just the apprentice. and i guarantee they never followed the honda service manual to the letter - which you absolutely must do. in this respect, you might be better off doing the job yourself now you have the lid off.
anyway, congrats on persisting enough to get the diagnosis done!

after all this, you may not need the idle adjust done at all! add valve lash to the list of things to do as now's the time to do it with all the covers off.
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They did the valve clearance adjustment, twice! First time car seemed like it didn't just have tons of work done ---- felt even "older". After I insisted, they re-checked clearance, found it "way too loose", and corrected it, at which point the car is now, with much improved idle problem. The offset T-belt shouldn't affect valve clearance, should it? Or does the T-belt/timing need to be correct so that you know that the valve is closed/open the right amount at the right time? (Is valve lash is same as valve clearance?)
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snipped-for-privacy@alum.mit.edu wrote:

still a factor.
either way, judging by your experience with these guys, you should consider absorbing the extra cost and just take it to an independent honda specialist. continued ineptitude will cost you a good deal more in the long run. if you want to take it back to the same place to prove a point, /insist/ on having a senior mechanic do the work. insist on meeting them - before and after.
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I'm a glutton for punishment, I guess. Back to Honda this morning, met w/ the sr. mech. He seems sharp (as wasn't the one who did the incorrect valve lash the 1st time). They tore it apart, and together we examined the timing marks. They actually did the T-belt right, which is a relief. The confusion is shown well here, http://www.cadvision.com/blanchas/54pontiac/honda.html ; you use the horiz. marks on the cam pulley for the 1.5L engine (which I have), and at the pointer for the 1.6L VTEC. Also, there's two white marks painted on the *inside* of the cam pulley, that line up w/ the cyl. head for the 1.5L.
That settled, they're a bit at a loss as to why the distr. is set so far forward. But, will replace distr. head & rotor w/ genuine Honda, as they say they've had bad experiences w/ off-brand parts.
IACV/idle stumble also clearly still bothers them. Coolant was indeed bled to remove bubbles. They're putting in a new thermostat. When I disconnected the IACV elec. conn., it should have generated an Check Engine code, but it didn't. Hmmm. They also are thinking that there could be a blockage inside the throttle body. Any more suggestions/ ideas RE: IACV/idle?
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Successful end to the story:
Dealer replaced thermostat, distributor cap & rotor. One of those three completely fixed the idle dropout problem.
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