BOGGING accord engine...

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what up guys.. aite.. i got a problem.. i drive a 96 honda accord lx. 2.2l 4 cyl. 176,000 miles (*yes i kno its a old piece of shit*) last night when i was
getting off the highway.. i noticed my engine was jerking... didnt think much of it until i stopped at the red light and the car was idling back and forth as if it was going to stall out.. when i got home.. i checked my oil .. VERY LOW..... changed it same problem.. checked the spark plugs n noticed.. there was oil in the 3rd and 4th spark plug hole.. i decided it was a leak in the vavle cover.... now this can range from.. jus a faulty gasket.. to jus a simple tune up.. i later got info that it could be my piston rings.. how do i determine which it is ....? n how much would it cost to fix if it is my pistion rings
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A '96 with 176K isn't really that old. With proper maintenance (not too late to start!) it can provide many more years of reliable transportation.
Piston rings would be my last thought with what you describe. My first thought is for the age of the timing belt. I don't think that is the cause of your trouble, although it could be... and if it is, it is vital you not start the engine again until you replace the belt. Here's the deal on that: determine when the belt was last changed, and guesses or assumptions don't count. It should have been changed around the 100K mile mark (consult your owner's manual, hoping you have one). If you are on the original belt, or if you *might* be, you are flirting with serious engine damage from the belt failing. Let us know about this, because there isn't much point looking at anything else until that's settled.
Otherwise, if the timing belt is not overdue for change, you are probably looking at just catching up on routine maintenance and other minor stuff. (Glad you got oil in it!)
Mike
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96_f22b2 wrote:

check your coolant by looking inside the radiator, NOT the expansion bottle. if you're losing oil & coolant, the head gasket's gone.
and unless this motor is seriously abused, like running it without oil, 176k on a 96 is barely middle aged.
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No way is your car garbage for its age and miles. Like Mike implied, at your rate, it should take you to 300k miles, as long as a bit of regular maintenance is commenced.
Like Mike says, it could be your car just needs a serious tuneup. Otherwise, I would suspect a failing ignition coil. The oxygen sensor is also a possibility, but unless fuel mileage is down, and since you don't say you've got a "Check Engine Light" (which I'd expect in a 96, for OBDII), I think the O2 sensor is less likely.
Since they're both a bit expensive, and your car sounds like it could stand a tuneup, start with the less expensive tuneup items as follows:
-- New, genuine Honda ignition wires, plugs, distributor cap and rotor. These might make a big difference right away. -- New air filter and fuel filter -- Coolant drain and fill, using genuine Honda anti-freeze or Havoline Dexcool. Purge cooling system properly of air, using the manual. Air in the system can cause idle problems.
See how the car runs. If still giving you the problems, check the resistance of the coil, using a Chilton's manual as a guide. A new coil, without labor, will cost you about $67 + shipping at online OEM Honda parts sites. Add $75 more for labor. Also, if fuel mileage changes drastically, suspect the oxygen sensor. That costs around $100 + shipping from https://www.automedicsupply.com/ (best prices around for OEM O2 sensors). But like I said, ISTM you really should get the CEL on for a seriously bad O2 sensor on a 1996.
As for the oil in the spark plug tubes, your Accord has two seals per spark plug tube that could be leaking. Given your car's age, I would suspect the four O-rings that are lower in the tubes have hardened and no longer seal properly. Replacing them is kind of a big job--intermediate or advanced beginner's. With help from two of the regulars here, I did it recently on my 91 Civic, at about 172k miles. I documented the effort at http://home.earthlink.net/~honda.lioness/id3.html . If you've checked and adjusted the valve lash by yourself before, you can probably do it.
I would not suspect piston rings. This newsgroup rarely, if ever, gets reports of piston rings being blown for a car of the age you give. Unless it's been abused somehow. But I can't imagine how that might be.
I hope that timing belt is up to date, like Michael says. It's not my first guess, but it's always helpful to have the maintenance history posted here when troubleshooting someone's car problem.
Updates are welcome, for the education of others in the future. :-)

accord lx. 2.2l 4 cyl. 176,000 miles (*yes i kno its a old piece of shit*) last night when i was getting off the highway.. i noticed my engine was jerking... didnt think much of it until i stopped at the red light and the car was idling back and forth as if it was going to stall out.. when i got home.. i checked my oil .. VERY LOW..... changed it same problem.. checked the spark plugs n noticed.. there was oil in the 3rd and 4th spark plug hole.. i decided it was a leak in the vavle cover.... now this can range from.. jus a faulty gasket.. to jus a simple tune up.. i later got info that it could be my piston rings.. how do i determine which it is ....? n how much would it cost to fix if it is my pistion rings
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Elle, Excellent post. I agree:

I had this problem with my old 93 Accord. It took the mechanic over 4 hours to replace them. It happened while I was on a trip and had to have the car towed to the nearest Honda dealership. I will never forget that day. I had to set in the waiting room at the Honda dealership while the mechanic was working on the car. I only wish that the problem had happened while I was in my home town. Jason
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snip

two
your
lower
mechanic
trip
dealership.
room
the car.

my home

Did the dealer tell you the oil leakage was catastrophic and had to be done immediately?(?) If so, that sounds very suspicious. I drove over a year with a little oil leaking in every few months but in my estimation, getting progressively worse. (At the time I thought the non-OEM valve cover spark plug tube gaskets were the problem. But I wasn't sure, so I just kept wacthing it all and of course reading here, until Eric and Tegger said something to a guy with a similar problem, and light bulbs started a-lighting... )
Hey, four hours! Great, on my first time doing this job ever, going super slow, it took me about seven hours. Next time, I estimate I will have it done in under four hours.
Do you remember what the guy charged you? It's 98% labor, ISTM.
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There were two mechanics working together on the project since the manager knew that I was setting in the waiting room.They wanted to finish the job as quickly as possible. The problem was so bad that the car almost stopped running. The engine light came on so I pulled off the freeway at the next exit. I did not know what was wrong with the car until the mechanic discovered the source of the problem. I now keep a code checker in the tool box in the trunk. Jason
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properly.
snip for brevity

since
room.They wanted

so bad

on so

what was

source of the

trunk.
Wow--a catastrophic lower spark plug tube O-ring failure. Do you remember about how many miles were on the Accord?
I'll mention this catastrophic failure to my site on these O-rings, if you don't mind.
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About 85,000 miles--it was a 1993 Honda Accord EX. It's now in the junkyard since Sarah wrecked it. She ran off the road in the middle of the night. It was my guess that she went to sleep but she denys it. She was not hurt. Thank God there were no trees next to the road. Jason
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"Elle" snip

failure. Do

these
Oops, sorry: Also, about what year did the oil O-rings fail?

of the night.

She was not hurt.

A good reminder as we head into the American New Year's holiday. As a kid, my family had a neighbor that lost a son because he fell asleep at the wheel while driving home from college. He drove off a bridge, and so never woke again. Horrible.
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1997--That's a sad story. Lots of tractor trailer truck drivers have wrecked as a result of going to sleep. I hope that the auto. engineers develop a solution to the problem. I know that they are working on it. A camera is pointed at the head. If the head falls forward, a buzzer goes off. Jason
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E

son
from
drivers
the
that
If the

Interesting. And it does seem eminently correctable, like you say.
I'll mention the years and miles to catastrophic failure of your spark plug tube O-rings on my site.
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I recall in the 60s or 70s there was some buzz about a system that would monitor the correction rate on the steering wheel, watching for the little back-and-forth movement that keeps us nicely centered in our lane. Wonder what became of that?
Mike
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Elle wrote: <snip>

elle, you keep saying that, but i seriously doubt it to be true. the seals that typically leak are the upper ones. they are the ones that get disturbed every time the rocker cover comes off and they are the ones that have to bridge the least well defined gap. replacement of those upper seals cures 99.99% of leakage 99.99% of the time. the lower seals are good to replace if you need to do head or cam work, but other than that, leave well alone. inspect the spark plug tubes some time - the leakage path is /always/ [99.99%] from the upper seal.
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two
your
lower
true.
Jim, it cured the problem on my 91 Civic, whereas new valve cover spark plug tube gaskets did not. By my estimate, the oil leakage did get steadily worse over a roughly two-year, 20k mile period. Here's my data:
Feb 04, 151k miles: Replaced spark plugs as part of scheduled maintenance. My notes say two of the plugs had wet oil on them, which did concern me at the time. (Not sure if I observed oil in the tube or not. I didn't know to pay close attention. I was a bit boggled by the oil on the plugs. Never saw that before, and only once has someone else done the plugs on my car.)
Feb O4: Replaced upper tube gaskets (probably after reading here). I can't remember for sure if I used OEM gaskets or not, but I don't think I did.
Subsequently, from Mar 2004-Aug 2005: Had the valve cover off twice.
Sep O5, 170k miles: Inspected spark plug tubes. Two had oil in them--more than I'd ever noticed before. Wiped out.
Oct 05: Saw posts by Eric and Tegger troubleshooting another guy's oil-in-spark-plug-tubes problem. Probably checked tubes again in next week or so. Oily. Mopped out. Groups.googled on subject
Oct 05: Replaced lower O-rings.
Nov 05: Various little stuff, like cleaning distributor area, checking ignition timing, replacing valve cover gasket (but not upper seals). Tubes appear oil free. With long needle nose pliers, I stick a Q-tip down there to check.
The old O-rings I took out this past Fall were in fact quite hard compared to the new ones. They "break" as opposed to tear, brittle-like instead of rubber like. I doubt they were sealing.
Others have reported on these lower seals before here.

Here is the guideline that I think should be used upon seeing oil in the plug tubes:
First, the Honda owner should replace the upper gaskets. These are in the valve cover and so are a pretty easy DIY job. Monitor the tubes for oil accumulation once a week or so, depending on how much was originally seen in the tubes, for a couple of months, especially if the car has over 120k miles on it. Mop out every time. If oil continues to accumulate, check that your year and model of Honda has the lower O-rings (some Hondas do not), and replace these.
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Question: My 99 Accord (4 cyld.) now has 63790 miles on it. I will be getting the 75,000 mile service next year. Should I tell the service advisor at the Honda dealership to have the mechanic change out the upper gaskets? Should the timing belt be changed during the 75,000 mile service? Jason
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On spark plug tube gaskets (upper)

be getting

service
change out

during the

Do you have an owner's manual? It has a matrix of scheduled maintenance and will say when the timing belt (TB) is due. Ya oughtta track what's done, like on a spreadsheet.
If you don't have an owner's manual, then the American Honda site, under the free owner link services, says to replace the TB on the 99 Accord (4 cyl) every 7 years or 105k miles (whichever comes first) for "normal" driving. (It's more frequent if you do "severe" driving.) The Canadian Honda site says the same, except if you regularly drive in -20 F weather. Then the TB should be changed at about 62k miles.
So your seventh year commences sometime in 2006, and therefore the TB is due. You're right that the valve cover comes off for the TB job, and so it's an easy matter to pop out those upper valve cover spark plug tube gaskets (which your 99 Accord definitely has) and put in new ones. It's like five minutes of labor. Those gaskets are about $3 each at online OEM honda parts stores. At seven years, and at such low cost, I'd have the shop do them. They may be fine, but they may also fail within a few years. Consider also having them replace the valve cover gasket. (They may do this with TB jobs anyway.)
Mind you, since I'm a DIY-er, short of seeing oil in the tubes, I personally would put it off, 'cause I'd probably have the valve cover off for something else in 2007, and I'd be monitoring the spark plug tubes every few months, anyway, as I tinker with my car.
I see your 99 Accord does /not/ have the four lower spark plug tube O-ring seals. :-)
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I'll make a note and keep it in the car file. I'll have the TB, and upper valve cover spark plug tube gaskets and valve cover gasket changed. I'm glad that my car does NOT have the four lower spark plug O-ring seals. Thanks for the advice Jason
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What constitutes "severe" driving?
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In some areas of Canada, the weather is near or below freezing several months per year--that's "severe driving". If you drive your car over 80 miles per hour on a regular basis esp. in really hot weather--that could be considered severe driving. Obviously, if you race your car--that's severe driving.
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