shot in the dark: stalling at a downhill stop

A month ago I'm tooling along fine in my 1989 Civic, when everything just gradually shut down on a slight downhill grade (in heavy traffic, of course!).
I pulled over and it would not start, although it felt like it was trying to. I had plenty of gas in it. Before I found a spot to pull over (coasting), the brakes felt oddly stiff, suddenly, as if they were only half-working.
I had it towed to my wife's favorite mechanics. (She drives a Ford.) They called the next day and said I needed a new distributor. Since they had already replaced the distributor 10 months ago when my wife took it in, they gave my another for free, but said my fuel pump was shot and needed replacing. That rang true enough, so a couple days in the shop and $400 some-odd later, I drove it home. I live WAY at the top of a steep hill in the East Bay near Berkeley, CA.
The next day I headed down the hill and it stalled at stops on steep downhills, but started right back up. It also felt like it was going to stall on turns, but only lurched a bit. Then I noticed I could _hear_ the "new" fuel pump whining. I took it back and said I thought I got a bum fuel pump. They agreed and replaced it.
This time no sound from the fuel pump, but it still stalled on downhills. I took it back, told them every symptom I noticed, and left it at the shop while I went out of town for five days. I thought they could figure it out. They gave me a line that (suddenly) my gas guage is broken, that when it reads 1/4 tank it's almost empty, and all I need to do is keep more than a 1/4 tank in. Well, it wasn't broken before my troubles began, and, like I said, it runs just fine going up hills. They also said they plumbed out all my gas lines. What a drag.
They couldn't. And my car now feels pretty much like it did the first day it conked out on me. As if it's flooding every time I go down hill. Going up hill is no problem at all.
Anyone got a line on this? I regret I'm one of those guys who excelled in languages and literature and not practical stuff like troubleshooting car problems.
Thanks in advance for any and all pointers!
-Michael
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My first guess would be a dirty fuel pickup, or some kind of crud in the tank that's getting sucked into the pickup (or more specifically, onto its screen) when you're facing downhill, especially if it's a fuel-injected version. Normally you'd replace the whole pump/pickup assembly, but if they just replaced the pump, that could be the issue... it could also just be that there's a lot of crud in the tank that's affecting even a new pickup.
If it's carbed, I would suspect dirt in the carb's float bowl that's slogging around and plugging the main jet. I had a similar problem with my carbed '87 Accord, in which the crud in the float bowl would get sucked up and clog the jets on a hard left turn, and I'd have to wait a good 15-20 minutes for the pressure to back off before it would start again.
rmjon23 wrote:

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rmjon23 wrote:

any dents in the tank? internal baffles tend to get damaged in accidents or when the tank gets dented and they can bend the pickup and the float.
other than that, make sure the idle is set correctly. google this group for setup procedure.
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Jeez, what great responses. Sincere thanks to both Matt and Jim for the ideas and insight. (Esp Matt Ion) You guys RAWK! And maybe some of the info will lead to a solution...
-rmjon23
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rmjon23 wrote:

Just so we're on the same page, is this Civic carbed or FI'd?
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Matt Ion wrote:

I'm pretty sure that all 4th-gen Civics were fuel-injected.
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High Tech Misfit wrote:

I'd think so too, but I just want to be sure, since '86-'89 was a "crossover" generation for Accords.
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