Honda Factory BS

On February 15th - my birthday - I was driving down to Florida on I95. Somewhere in South Carolina near Timmonsville at about 1AM, I made an ill-fated mistake. While I was at a gas station I decided to check the
oil level in my Civic, and it was a little low; so I get some oil and start pouring it and this Jamaican guy comes up to me and starts talking to me about how he likes the way I drive because it keeps him awake. It was hard to understand him with his accent, and I was too busy concentrating on him and wasn't paying enough attention to the problem at hand. Anyways, I closed the hood and drove off, not realizing that I didn't put the oil cap back on.
So I'm driving down I95S while I finally realize, OH SHIT I FORGOT MY OIL CAP. I pulled over at the first exit I could find and popped the hood. There was oil everywhere and the cap was nowhere to be found. I had to plug it with something because I had a long way to go, and waiting til morning was not an option since I had an emergency to tend to down in Florida, so I used the ONLY thing I could which was a wrapped up piece of cardboard. Now I had a piece of cardboard in the hole that's supposed to have an oil cap. I can't imagine what that extra paper fiber and such has done, getting into my oil and doing who-knows-what to my bearings and every other metal-to-metal connection in the engine.
A few miles down the road, I see "Honda Way" at Timmonsville, and the big Honda factory off the side of the interstate. I figured I'd pull over and see if I could get some help. When I pulled up to the guard station at the outside of the factory, I was met by this black lady with short hair. I asked her if she could please help me acquire an oil cap, and I'd be willing to pay just about ANYTHING for the help, but she just replied that "We don't sell car parts" with a snotty attitude and told me to drive down the interstate to the nearest Exxon station. Gee... thanks. I ended up driving the next 450 miles with my ghetto cardboard oil cap and my fairly-new engine is probably almost ruined. You can't tell me that they didn't have probably thousands of oil caps in that factory. This part that costs them a few dollars could've saved me thousands, but they don't have the courtesy to go a LITTLE out of their way to help a loyal customer? And to think I would've paid anything for that cap. It's disgusting.
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Just my opinion, but shucks no a factory is not an ordinary retail business and certainly not in the small hours of the morning.
How's the engine sound right now? You never got the low oil pressure light on, right?
If you have nothing but a greasy engine exterior, and have since found a suitable cap, then change the oil a couple of times (for peace of mind), clean up the engine (cover electrical parts with plastic wrap), and forget about this.
Enjoy your Honda. :-)
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Sure, they're not a regular business, but we're talking about something so small yet so important; something that could've been easily replaced to avoid major problems.

I never got the oil light but the engine does sound odd. I hear a noise that sounds like a valve ticking or something, the kind of thing I normally hear when the engine's cold, only the noise persists now and doesn't go away. I'm sick to my stomach just thinking about it.
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Hm. It's hard to imagine how a little cardboard material, deriving perhaps from your temporary fix, would cause serious problems. And the cardboard was wrapped in... ?
The engine at most pulses gases into the valve cover area: In, out, etc. So it's not like it would constantly suck the cardboard down there. I assume it was soaked with oil 450 miles or so later when you finally replaced it.
I think I'd just do those oil changes and have an independent import shop do a valve lash check and adjust, telling them what happened with the oil fill cap.
Not that the valve lash somehow is out of whack because of this mishap. Like you say, the ticking it happening all the time. Rather, it gets the technicians under the valve cover and subsequently checking things there.
It's hard for me to believe this would cause a serious mal-lubrication problem, even if driving for 450 miles. That wrapped up piece of cardboard stayed put, right?
Maybe clean up your PCV valve and connecting pipes, too. That valve can click with irregular flow. I am using carburetor cleaner on it lately. The carb cleaner can says to use it on PCV systems, too. I have also used PB Blaster on the PCV valve.
I dumped some STP gas treatment in my fuel system (twice!) a few months ago and probably should have done an oil change within two weeks, 'cause now it seems to be fouling my PCV valve (not seriously, but definitely noticeably--little waxy carbony oily specks). My mileage is down a bit, too, even for winter driving.
For the record, how many years and miles on this Civic?
Updates welcome. Hopefully your obviously careful followup will prove this to be inconsequential.
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wrote

On the Civic are 223k, but on the engine are approx 40k. I think you may be onto something about the PCV. I did notice that the rear of my car had accumulated an odd black stain, I suppose from burnt oil, and although the oil light did not come on, the oil reserve was nearly empty by the time I got to Florida.
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wrote

What do you mean by "the rear"? The rear of the engine compartment? The rear where the exhaust pipe ends?
This is probably beyond my Honda experience. Maybe someone else will spot something.
That PCV valve should cost under $25 from the dealer. If it's never been replaced before, maybe just go for it. Its spring does wear with time. Add something that may foul the oil system, and it may wear sooner, rather than later.
Depending on which Honda Civic model you have, one can disconnect the pipe to the PCV valve, put one's finger over its inlet (or in some cases, outlet), and one should hear it operate (click!). No click, no good. A click, maybe good, maybe not.
Again, just a theory.

I had an emergency repair in 2002 which required the tech to remove the valve cover. The kid put it back on in a rush and, I later discovered, twisted its gasket so the seal was improper. A few weeks later I was under the hood for something routine and noticed the engine's exterior covered with oil. I checked the oil and it was below the low mark. But I'd never had the low oil pressure warning light come on.
Something like 35k miles and three years later, my engine has been running fine.
So I think there's enough "reserve" in the oil lube system that one need only worry, as far as oil quantity is concerned, if the oil pressure light comes on.
Elle Original owner, 1991 Civic, 174k miles.
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Knut wrote:

Have a mechanic check out the engine. In my experience, driving with low oil for an extended period of time can damage the engine. This was especially true for older models where the camshaft lobes would get worn. It could explain the valve ticking that you're hearing now.
Eric
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I'm with Elle and TeGGeR; I doubt there was any identifiable damage.
I had an engine suffer from oil starvation many years ago when the filter split a seam, and the oil light didn't come on until I pulled off the freeway to see why there was a cloud of smoke following me. There was a very noticable swishing sound, like a whattayacallit brush on a drum, that didn't come from the valve cover and turned into a clear rod knock by the end of the week. But if you didn't even have the light when you idled I expect you're okay.
Pilots speak of their engines being "auto-rough in clouds" and I think that's the deal with the ticking - a valve sound you just didn't notice before, and now your nerves are on edge.
Mike
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Original post seems to be missing. Hmmm.
Elle wrote:

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Maybe your server has strict filtering... here's what I posted...
On February 15th - my birthday - I was driving down to Florida on I95. Somewhere in South Carolina near Timmonsville at about 1AM, I made an ill-fated mistake. While I was at a gas station I decided to check the oil level in my Civic, and it was a little low; so I get some oil and start pouring it and this Jamaican guy comes up to me and starts talking to me about how he likes the way I drive because it keeps him awake. It was hard to understand him with his accent, and I was too busy concentrating on him and wasn't paying enough attention to the problem at hand. Anyways, I closed the hood and drove off, not realizing that I didn't put the oil cap back on.
So I'm driving down I95S while I finally realize, OH SH*T I FORGOT MY OIL CAP. I pulled over at the first exit I could find and popped the hood. There was oil everywhere and the cap was nowhere to be found. I had to plug it with something because I had a long way to go, and waiting til morning was not an option since I had an emergency to tend to down in Florida, so I used the ONLY thing I could which was a wrapped up piece of cardboard. Now I had a piece of cardboard in the hole that's supposed to have an oil cap. I can't imagine what that extra paper fiber and such has done, getting into my oil and doing who-knows-what to my bearings and every other metal-to-metal connection in the engine.
A few miles down the road, I see "Honda Way" at Timmonsville, and the big Honda factory off the side of the interstate. I figured I'd pull over and see if I could get some help. When I pulled up to the guard station at the outside of the factory, I was met by this black lady with short hair. I asked her if she could please help me acquire an oil cap, and I'd be willing to pay just about ANYTHING for the help, but she just replied that "We don't sell car parts" with a snotty attitude and told me to drive down the interstate to the nearest Exxon station. Gee... thanks. I ended up driving the next 450 miles with my ghetto cardboard oil cap and my fairly-new engine is probably almost ruined. You can't tell me that they didn't have probably thousands of oil caps in that factory. This part that costs them a few dollars could've saved me thousands, but they don't have the courtesy to go a LITTLE out of their way to help a loyal customer? And to think I would've paid anything for that cap. It's disgusting.
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Knut wrote: <snip>
translation: it's my own fault. i feel bad. i want to blame someone else so i can feel better.
you want sympathy? wait your turn.
bottom line is, as everyone else is saying, there's probably not much amiss. just drive the car. if there's a problem down the road, it'll be an [expensive] lesson on paying attention. bet you don't do it again. and if you /do/ do it again, stop, call aaa and get a tow home.
last thing, do NOT get the engine compartment steam cleaned. it can ruin electrical connections, contaminate brake fluid and cause multiple other reliability issues. clean with gunk and a gentle stream from a garden hose. replace belts if contaminated. replace brake fluid as a precaution.
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Actually, I am admitting fault here, and I'm not blaming Honda for my problem. That's not the issue. The problem is they didn't even put a breath of effort into even attempting to help, and that makes me rather angry.
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Considering that a security guard has no power what- so-ever, or even work directly for Honda. You have no beef with Honda. The guard probably did as much as she was permitted to do per the company procedures.
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Brian Smith wrote:

But she was black!
I don't know what that has to do with anything, but the OP felt the need to let everyone know the guard was an African-American.
I wonder what her version of the story is?
"Last night I was working my shift and some crazy dude shows up out of nowhere at 1am wanting to buy an oil cap for his car". "Seriously, he drives right up to the gate and asks me to sell him an oil cap, he thinks because it's a Honda factory I can just run in and grab an oil cap for him. Oh yeah, we got hundreds of oil caps, but ther're all attached to engines! Bwahahaha! What does he think this is Autozone? Come on, I told him to go to the Exxon station but he seemed kind of pissed but that's all I could do since I'm just a security guard and have strict orders. Now if it was Denzel Washington, I would have given him the oil cap off of my own car, but since he looked more like Carrot Top..."
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Knut wrote:

You didn't put a breath of effort into helping yourself.
You claim a piece of cardboard was the ONLY thing you could use to make a makeshift oil cap and that's silly. On I 95 there are about a zillion plastic soda bottles and other assorted types of discarded litter, very simple to fashion a good makeshift oil cap from something discarded or even something you had.
Then you drove 450 miles? Are you saying that in 450 miles there was not one Wal-Mart or other store or service station where you could have bought something to use for an oil cap? I don't get that part of the story at all. I realize you were in a hurry, but it would have taken maybe 10 minutes to stop. I'm sure you stopped to go to the bathroom, get a bottle of soda or coffee, etc. You took the time to go to the Honda factory, you could have taken the time to stop elsewhere.
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And if you're 450 miles from home, getting a tow home is going to cost an arm and a leg, and that wasn't an option to begin with. My mother suffered from a stroke and I was trying to get to Florida in a big hurry to see her. I didn't want to be waiting in another state all night over something so simple as an oil cap.
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Ditto to all of above.
--
TeGGeR

The Unofficial Honda/Acura FAQ
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said:

If it hadn't been 1am, with only a guard at the plant, you probably could have gotten to someone to help you.
Just bad luck...
--
Larry J. - Remove spamtrap in ALLCAPS to e-mail

"I've come here to enjoy nature. Don't talk to me
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Hmmm, sounds like yet another guard shack genius "just following policy". Nothing particular to Honda about that!
John
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