98 civic sudden o2 sensor issues amongst other things HELP

Hi there,
1998 civic LX 270000kms (rolled that yesterday), 5 spd sedan.
This car has been bulletproof since I bought it new... never had a major problem that was not covered by a TSB or warranty.
I am having what seem to be a number of unrelated issues.... am hoping this is nothing too major...
Drove home in a major snow storm last night. Car performed well, and we got home safely.
The next day, I started it normally, but the CEL came on, and the speedo was whacked (even at a standstill). Every time I reved up the engine, the speedo went for a loop, going all over the place with no real logic, from 0 to 220 and back. Very weird.
Next, I noticed that there was a slight surge in the idle. This was not there before. I decided to take it to the store to see if it would clear itself up.... perhaps some moisture found its way where it was not supposed to? Inspected all connectors visible under the hood, nothing appears out of the ordinary.
Have read that the whacky speedo problem can be caused by a grounding issue and alternator issues. Checked my ground cable and VOILA! the clamp was loose on the battery. Stuffed a nail in there and tightened her up... still surging like crazy.
Ran my multimeter across the terminals at idle, it ranged from 12.4 - 12.8 volts.... a touch low... ?
I also found my code reader under the seat... so i plugged that in... it threw P0135 and P0141. Primary and Secondary O2 sensor malfunction..... Let the codes clear and they came right back.... what the hell?
In summary:
-Car surged at idle very mildly. -Negative battery cable was loose. Tightened. No more surge that I could notice. -Voltage across battery terminals 12.4 - 12.8 volts at idle. (couldn't rev it up as I had no assistance). -Codes P0135 and P0141 for Primary and Secondary O2 sensors won't go away.
What could the above have to do with each other? What would you do to diagnose this problem correctly?
I decided that I would give the battery a charge... if the alternator is struggling, perhaps that would help... I will let it sit for a couple hours and see where we end up.
Any input appreciated!
Terry in Winnipeg. :)
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OK Update!
Did some more googling on the topic, and the alternator fuse came up. Sure enough, mine was blown. I assume that it blew due to the short created by the loose battery cable on the battery (which is now fixed).
In the article on google, it was also suggested that a short of 2 wires underneath the intake manifold would cause future shorts which would blow the fuse. I think I am OK in this regard as the short probably occured at the negative battery terminal.
Let my code reader clear the O2 Sensor codes, and they did not come back, so I think I am in business.
Any other input or experiences are appreciated.
Terry in Winnipeg.
loewent wrote:

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I'm back. Same problem as before.... :(
Any ideas out there? Some suggestions I have had (obvious shotgun approach):
-Alternator -Battery -Short in the wiring harness somewhere
Also, to add to previous info in this post, when I check voltage across the terminals, the voltage does jump to 14.4 volts when the engine is revved up. I am pretty sure this rules out the alternator...
Please help...
Thanks Terry in Winnipeg
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You may be right on the last one. Honda has a TSB on exactly this (99-029).
Engine wiring harness is rubbing and shorting on the engine block. This is the part of the harness that is under the intake manifold, between the manifold and its diagonal bracket. you're supposed to put a section of corrugated plastic wiring tubing over the section that's rubbing.
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Will give this a shot today.
Seems like a mickey-mouse kinda repair... electrical tape and corrugated tubing?
Will report back...
t
Tegger wrote:

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those spiral tubings are commonly used in custom audio installations,they make the job look professional. and the plastic is heavier and wears less than the wire insulation,and can be easily replaced if needed. instead of tape,you can use heatshrink tubing for damaged insulation on individual wires.there's lso a heatshrink tape,so you don't have to cut and resolder wires to get the HS tubing on.
you might consider the use of cable ties to hold the wire harness AWAY from the rubbing points.(in addition to the spiral tubing.)
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Yeah, seems mickey-mouse for sure, but hardly unsual. Such fudge-fixes abound. In at least one case, Honda even has you loosening the front subframe and levering it to the right by 3mm to correct a camber problem.
Read enough TSBs from all manufacturers and you start to realize how often automakers employ fudge-fixes to correct problems created during design and assembly. The primary aim? To limit the cost of the fix!
Another one: Certain Accords had a problem with creaking noises on acceleration. Solution? Remove exhaust, scrape off body paint in the transmission tunnel, then add two welds in the afflicted location. Seems the factory forgot to put those welds in during assembly.
In your case, it's the same sort of slitted corrugated tubing the industry uses as a matter of course these days. It's a hard...I don't know what...vinyl? HDPE? polypro? You can find it everywhere, even at the Winterpegger's favorite Princess Auto.
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One thing Princess Auto does not have.... 7.5amp mini fuses...
Its a weird store, but a good store.... :)
I performed the mickey mouse fix, and zip tied the crap outta the harness where ever possible to prevent future rubbing. Used Thermal/Weatherproof electrical tape (wish it was more adhesive in cold weather, but I made it work).
I took a picture of the bare wire, as well as a perspective photo to see where I made the fix. Will try to find an appropriate place to post this once I download it to my computer. Tegger, any good places to post?
t
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"loewent via CarKB.com" wrote: <snip>

<snip>
As long as the wires are not pulled taut. There needs to be enough slack that you don't pull any tension on the wires as the car is bouncing around. Some manufacturer, don't remember which, had a recall because a wire loom was pulled to taut and wires would break at the connector end.
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these harnesses are pretty tight as is... too much slack is what caused the problem in the first place.
t
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Automakers go to extreme lengths to make sure the wiring does not move.
If the wiring must be allowed to move, it must move in such a way that movement does not cause abrasion or flexure of the wire at the crimp connections. Flexure will cause internal breakage, which can be difficult to locate.
The best thing you can do to ensure electrical happiness for your car is to make 100% certain that wires and connectors are never allowed to dangle or vibrate. If the stock fixings fall off or break, use zip ties (or something else) to re-secure the wires at that location. This becomes especially important as the car ages and wire insulation hardens.
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But did the fix work?

Send it to me. I can place it in my Misc folder so everybody can see it.
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so far so good. As you will see in the pic, it was a huge break in the wire, I am surprised this problem did not manifest itself a lot earlier.
Before, if I replaced the alternator fuse, we could run the vehicle for about 20 minutes before the fuse would pop. It was either that or when we got to some moisture, usually right when we got to the city (I live 20 minutes outside the city), or yesterday when I took it through the touchless wash before I was about to try and fix it.
I am taking the car to work today, so we shall see.
t
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Got your email.
The files are here for now: http://www.tegger.com/hondafaq/misc/96-99_civic_mil%26fuse15 /
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