'95 Civic EX: Slug or Sick?

I just put my newly acquired '95 EX sedan on the road today, and took it on a fairly long trip, mostly on long back roads. My previous car (still for sale) is an '86 Civic Si. I am struck by how little low
and mid-range power this 125HP sedan has, compared with my 91HP hatchback. It seems to be as much gearing as power curve, although both deserve criticism: the engine makes little low end power at all, and each of the gears feels like the next higher one on the '86. What was Honda thinking? If it was fuel economy, I've got news for them: the '86 not only has more power in normal driving - it also gets much better fuel economy. I figure this EX is running about even with our '95 Camry wagon in fuel economy: mid to high twenties, overall. And it should be noted that the EX is a 5 speed, while the wagon is an automatic.
I'm really hoping the air filter is plugged, but even if it is, that won't change the silly gearing...
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mjc13<REMOVETHIS> wrote:

check the weight difference between the two vehicles - the 95 is /significantly/ heavier. then compare power to weight ratios and you'll have your answer. that's one of the reasons i sold my 2000 and kept a 89.
that said, you need to make sure the 95 is in tune properly. good plugs, oil, filters, plug leads, valve lash set correct, ignition timing, timing belt not loose, etc. lots of little things add up.
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jim beam wrote:

I figured that, but unless the '95 is more than 30% heavier, it doesn't make power where it's usable, for no good reason. I'm sure that in a drag race with both engines redlined, the V-TEC would win. In everyday driving, however, the little 1.5 Si is *much* more fun, and quite a bit quicker.

It probably needs all of that - the owner fixed things as needed, but wasn't proactive. Still, the car starts and runs fine. The only thing that seems off is a low idle - about 500 RPM. I'm hoping it's the air filter. The timing belt isn't due until next year, so I'm hoping I can make due with a tuneup. But then I'm also hoping I can replace the broken left headlight without dropping the bumper, so I guess I'm just a wild-eyed optimist!
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"mjc13<REMOVETHIS>

The very first thing I would do is remove and inspect the PCV valve, then either discard it or clean with carburetor/PCV cleaner. It's a cheap part whose malfunction can drastically affect fuel mileage. If it's filthy and/or full of waxy buildup, you may have found the main cause of the poor mileage.
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Elle wrote:

Thanks. I'll do that today, if I can get the part. Do I have to go OEM or can I get one at an auto parts store?
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I would buy one OEM. It should run under $25 at the dealer. Or buy one online for around $17 total using the resources at http://home.earthlink.net/~honda.lioness/id9.html . If you have to wait for the delivery of the online order, then meanwhile just clean the old PCV valve, maybe in advance doing the check on it described at the online service manual site mentioned in my other recent post to you, to see if the old PCV valve seems to be working, more or less. Chilton's may also give this test.
The test will not tell if the PCV valve is working optimally, but it will indicate, more or less, if the valve has failed completely.
I replaced the original PCV valve on my 91 Civic in 1993 after about 140k miles (not knowing any better prior to this date). It was chock full of waxy buildup. Fuel mileage shot up.
By the way, ignition parts such as plugs, wires, distributor cap, coil, and igniter should be OEM, too. They pay for themselves in my experience, via longer life.
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Elle wrote:

I know about OEM ignition parts. I was hoping I could use a generic PCV valve, as they are pretty simple devices, and shouldn't have close tolerances. I will see if it's working.
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I would also do a compression test when you change out you spark plugs. If you have lo compression that will decrease power a mileage. I just got a 95 EX and besides a short ram intake it is stock and my car scoots right along, It's not as quick as my 90 Integra but it moves.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Low compression should be accompanied by other symptoms, like smoking. I'm not seeing any. And the gearing is definitely too high: I can easily compare tachometer readings with my Civic Si. I hope that the compression is ok, but if I change the plugs myself, I'll test it.
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stock wheels/tires or custom with a larger rolling diameter?
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
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On Thu, 21 Jun 2007 03:24:19 GMT, "mjc13<REMOVETHIS>"

I think you've got all the factors there, the 125hp rating is only on the cam, otherwise, especially at low RPM, the EX is tuned more to economy and low pollution, compared to an Si. Back in the day, the tradition of Euro sports cars was tiny engines with high revs and short gearing so that even your 56hp VW bug was fast off the line. Modern Honda engines just couldn't be more different. Lugging the engine at low RPM is optimal for pollution and almost for mileage and the computer prevents knocking, so there ya go!
J.
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JXStern wrote:

If it turns out to be the gearing, I might consider going from 65 to 55 height tires. More likely, I'll sell it in the Fall, and try a Corolla. That would be ironic, going from a Civic EX to a Toyota four in order to get decent performance and better fuel economy...
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JXStern wrote:

the si is more powerful, but it's not just the cam.

the bug is /not/ fast off the line. it's not high revving either. the rabbit was though.

no.
honda engines are among the most high revving of any stock engines on the market, even today. and all the action is at their top end. don't know where you got your info, but it's not very current.
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jim beam wrote:

He may not have all the partulars correct, but he's right in that the EX engine only performs well when made to scream. That doesn't make sense for the intended use. And while the Beetle wasn't *fast* off the line, it didn't feel like you were starting off in second, either...
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