I have a '99 Civic auto sedan and have been using Chevron 87 gasoline.
After having the timing belt replaced, I noticed the engine seems to
ping a lot. I tried a tank of 89 octane and it didn't ping. Is it
possible the belt is maybe off a tooth causing the spark to be too
advanced? It runs fine otherwise.
it's definitely a possibility, but check the ignition timing first
though. if that shows OK, and the distributor is at one end or the
other of the rotation slots, the belt's ou. make sure the fix is done
by the head mechanic, not the apprentice - timing belt tension on a
honda needs to be just right and whoever did this job last time doesn't
know what they're doing.
Comebacks at a shop are usually handled by the tech that initially did the
work. This system allows them to learn from their mistakes. Many shops pay
their techs flat rate. Thus, the tech would have more incentive to get the
job done right as they would be working for free on a comeback (and there's
little incentive for a shop to pay another tech for warranty work). Such a
situation may not be the case though if the initial tech was doing work that
was clearly beyond their capability.
Take the car back to the shop that did the timing belt replacement as soon
as possible. The most likely cause for your pinging problem is that the
mechanic did not get the mechanical timing correct and failed to check
either the mechanical timing or the ignition timing after the belt was
replaced (another possibility is that the belt was not tensioned correctly
and slipped a tooth or two). Adjusting the distributor is not a suitable
solution. Although you may be able to get the ignition timing in a
reasonable place, the valve timing will still be off and cause the engine to
have poor performance (or if the belt slipped initially, it could slip again
leading to bent valves). Note that driving around with excessive pinging
can destroy the piston ring lands causing the engine to burn oil
necessitating a rebuild of the lower end of the motor. Also note that if
your car ran fine on 87 octane gas before the belt replacement, then it
should most likely run fine on it afterwards unless there was a problem
resulting from the belt replacement.
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