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My car just randomly died while I was driving...

06-07-2006, 09:41 PM
I have a 94 civic LX. The owner before me was an older guy who changed the oil like clockwork and as far as I know, kept up on all the other maintenence. I haven't missed an oil change and I've had the car for almost a year. Haven't ever had ANY problems whatsoever, the engine wasn't acting weird at all before this happened, or anything.

So anyways, I was driving and I'd just left my apartment parking lot and was driving down the road for maybe 10 seconds when the engine just shut off. Didn't make any funny noise that me or my friend heard... just turned off. I was still moving so I coasted into a parking lot and parked it. When I tried to start it again, the engine turned and everything but the car wouldn't start. I tried this for awhile but to no avail. I popped the hood but I couldn't see anything wrong with it, so me and my friend pushed it back. I just went and looked at it again and tried to start it, but it still won't work.

I just changed the air filter so thats not the problem and the gauge is still showing a little less than a 1/4 tank of gas. I'm at a loss here... anyone have any idea what the deal is?

06-07-2006, 11:53 PM
check fuses, and check if your getting gas... your fuel pump might have went out, OR your ecu could have crapped out on you. i have had an ecu do it, and i have had it be a fuel pump also, and the only reason i say fuses, is because it could be a $2 fix!

06-09-2006, 02:42 AM
My first guesses would be 1) fuel pump and 2) fuel filter. Though I think if the fuel pump went out it would have died before you could even get it in gear and out of the original parking spot. If the fuel filter has never been changed though it could be clogged and not enough fuel could be getting to the engine. Give them a shot. And check the fuses like eurobeaner suggested. With any luck that is where your problem lies.

06-09-2006, 09:42 AM
as with any ohter car that will not start.

check spark? fuel? timing? power?

those will lead you to the problem ;)

06-09-2006, 05:15 PM
I am about 70% sure it is coil, dizzy cap, and the rotor. Change spark plugs while you are at it. It id doesn't fix, then you'll still be glad for replacing everything.
And do not replace just the coil, it will break again.

06-09-2006, 08:28 PM
check fuel, spark, timing, and power before throwing any money at it ;)

06-09-2006, 08:33 PM
Not really sure if this is too important or not... but I forgot to mention that I'd just finished driving it to the store and back not 5 minutes earlier before this incident. I had got some stuff and forgot to get milk so I went to make a trip back up there right after I got back to my house when this happened and it worked perfectly fine then.

06-09-2006, 09:42 PM
Not really sure if this is too important or not... but I forgot to mention that I'd just finished driving it to the store and back not 5 minutes earlier before this incident. I had got some stuff and forgot to get milk so I went to make a trip back up there right after I got back to my house when this happened and it worked perfectly fine then.

so did you check spark, fuel, timing, and power yet then??????????????

nothing isnt going to happen unless you start checking ;)

06-10-2006, 02:07 AM
so did you check spark, fuel, timing, and power yet then??????????????

nothing isnt going to happen unless you start checking ;)

LOL, I haven't had a chance to yet. :P I've been working, but tomorrow I'm goin under the hood. What do you mean by check fuel and power? I'm assuming "spark" means the spark plugs... what do I need to look for on those? And I don't think I can check the timing unless theres some way a person with out those super-cool timing checker thingamajigs can do it. :lol:

06-11-2006, 09:07 PM
i going with broke the timing belt. everyone forgets about this belt untill it breaks.

06-12-2006, 01:50 AM
EDIT: To check your 'spark' you need two people. Pull the plug on one cylinder and hold it close to a metal part of either the engine or the frame. Have your friend try to start the car. While they're trying you should see small sparks appear at the end of the wire. Check each wire. If you don't see sparks on all of them, then you either have a bad coil, dizzy, or wires. If you have an automotive electrical tester, you can use that to test the wires. Connect the dizzy side to the positive terminal of the battery and check the plug end for power. If you don't get power make sure that your tester is actually touching the metal for the plug and make sure you are still touching the positive terminal at the dizzy end. No power means bad wires. If you don't have a tester, buy a set of wires and test them like you tested the wires the first time. If you get spark where there was none before, your wires were bad, if not then you got a prob with the dizzy or the coil.
Post up when you've checked that.

06-12-2006, 11:36 AM
Don't forget about the ignitor. Costs $100. Located within the distributor cap.
The same situation happened to me once. Parked my car for about and hour. Started it, ran for 5 seconds and died. If you have the shop manual, it tells you what readings you should get from different locations on the ignitor. I am going to bet that that is the issue, but try all the other items above. When you find out the issue, please post for myself and others.
I had an issue once where the car sputtered, ended up being the fuel filter.

06-14-2006, 11:40 PM
I checked for spark a bit ago and I got nothin. I had read in a few other places that it might be the main relay, but I eliminated that as being a problem. I also read in a few places that it could be the ignitor. I'm thinking that is probably the problem. I haven't done that test with switching the plug wires out with new ones though. I'll try that first. If that doesn't fix it, what should I try to swap out next?

edit: I don't have any of that electrical testing stuff. All of my tools consist of a socket set and a buncha screwdrivers... :lol:

06-15-2006, 12:36 AM
Voltmeter with ohms is all you need, some cheapie, $3. If you have a Harbor Frieght, go there.
Checking the ignitor is easy to check.
Good luck

06-15-2006, 06:16 AM
Have you checked your oil recently and have you noticed a problem with overheating, even a small amount?

06-15-2006, 11:55 AM
Just wondering, what would minor overheating cause?

06-15-2006, 03:11 PM
Have you checked your oil recently and have you noticed a problem with overheating, even a small amount?

oil's fine and haven't had any overheating

06-15-2006, 04:26 PM
OMG! wtf is up with the screw holding the rotor on???? I can't get the damn thing off!!

06-15-2006, 05:08 PM
Make sure the head is big enough on the screw driver and pray that you don't strip it! If I recall, it can take a socket, or is that the bolts that hold the distributor cap? Good luck.

06-15-2006, 06:13 PM
the screwdriver is the proper size but it just will NOT budge :mad:. And yeah, the bolts that are on the outside of the distributor cap are the ones that can take a socket

06-15-2006, 10:31 PM
The small overheating could be signs of other problems. I had to replace my dizzy because one of the parts inside melted, I had a very small overheating problem which is now a very large overheating problem. Have you seen my post in the Tech Disscusion forum. LINKY LINKY (

Are you talking about the screw on the side of the rotor that's holding it in place. Here's some pics of my dizzy.

06-15-2006, 10:32 PM
Try some WD-40 or PB Blaster (in that order, PB blaster has been known to eat through plastic) and see if that does the trick.

06-16-2006, 12:31 AM
Holy crap those are huge pictures. Barely fits on the screen. :) I can't tell what area melted. Is it shown in the last picture?
BTW, fiberglasscivic, I just looked at your post and it didn't mention anthing about the melting issues, just overheating issues. I think it's time to get yourself a new engine. Seems that the previous owner didn't take care of the engine @ all. That must really suck. Your stock civic will soon have transplants from other failed engines.

06-16-2006, 01:03 AM
yep... thats the screw i'm talkin about. I tried WD40 and didn't have any luck at all. =\ I HATE this kinda stuff when it comes to working on cars. If it weren't for these types of annoyances, I might actually ENJOY working on my car more like I used to.

06-16-2006, 01:28 AM
They sell an impact wrench which uses a hammer. It looks like a large screwdriver. You can put in a standard phillips #2 or #3 bit and using a hammer, hit the back of the screwdriver. It turns the head of the bit ever so slightly, along with the added help of the hammer action for extra force so the bit doesn't jump. That's about all I can think of.
I have a good one. I replaced my short springs to original OEM this past weekend. In the process, I needed to put the camber back to original specs. I ended up shearing off both bolts that hold the arm (rusted). Only option, weld it to the frame.

06-16-2006, 06:49 PM
those pics are of my new(er) dizzy. The middle of the old rotor got so hot that it seperated from the outside. I started loosing tons of power and then just stopped dead in the middle of the interstate. It really sucked.

Have you tried using a socket wrench with a socket that matches the changeable tips for multipurpose screwdrivers. That might help but be careful because it's easy to round the corners on the screw that way.

06-16-2006, 06:54 PM
I ended up taking it to the mechanic and he had to break off the rotor to get the screw out. So thats one problem down... Now another problem... where is the ignitor at? Its inside the distributor, right??? Are there any pics of it being removed?

06-16-2006, 07:11 PM
I can post some. Give me a few minutes.

06-16-2006, 07:24 PM
There isn't really any way to disassemble the ignitor. It's filled with protectant. What makes you think that ignitor is bad? Have you checked the signals going to it?

06-16-2006, 07:31 PM
From alotta other places I've researched, they say that when what happened in my situation happens, the two most common problems for that are either the main relay or ignitor going bad. I checked the main relay and its okay so I'm assuming its the ignitor... I just don't know what it looks like or how to get it off the distributor. I figured it would be obvious once I opened up the distributor but its not. :[ I don't need to take it apart, I just need to stick a new one in.

06-16-2006, 07:57 PM
Oh well then, in the last picture the big black box on the left would be it. It has a spring in the topmost part.

06-16-2006, 10:35 PM
Ignititor, do I win the big pot of $$$? Kidding. We are not 100% sure if it is.
Here is a pdf
In the manual it is referenced as ICM (Ignition Control Module) on page 7.
Careful fiberglasscivic before you jump the gun, the part with the spring on it is the ignition coil. He want's the ignitor. The ignitor has 4 wires coming from it, small like a tic-tac box.

06-16-2006, 11:08 PM
Sorry about that. It would be on the top right then. Three wires on top and one on the left side (in the pic view).

06-20-2006, 11:20 AM
Hey Guys, I know this is an older thread so hopefully I'm not breaking any rules. The same exact thing happened to me where I was driving and the engine simply shut off, after investigation it was my distributor. You can get them rebuilt from auto zone for like $180 w/ lifetime warranty. Check it out. Good luck.

06-20-2006, 11:42 AM
Right on, good to know.

06-20-2006, 06:22 PM
YYYEEEESSSS!! I FINALLY got my car running!! I went and got an ignitor (aka ignition control module) from Autozone for 83 bucks and swapped it out but my car still wasn't working. So I took that out and brought it back hoping they would let me exchange it for a coil (which they did luckily). I brought it home and stuck it in and my car started! UGH! I'm SO glad this is finally over. Thank you guys sooooo much for helping me out... I really really appreciate it. Also, is a very very good site and it helped me ALOT. Thanks again and God bless the Internet!!!

06-21-2006, 12:02 AM
Very cool. You know how much $$$ you saved doing the work yourself. Buy yourself a keg and call it a night.

Thank you for posting your results. Maybe the next time a guy has an issue, you'll be able to help him out.

01-03-2007, 10:42 AM
my demon honda pulled this same stunt on me, it was the ecm, i guess 92, and early 93 hondas are prone to computer troubles

09-30-2008, 05:55 PM
The exact same thing happened to me! First they said it was the motor relay and it ran ok for a week, then it happened again and the ignition ignitor failed the test so they fixed that and now it runs. They immediately were able to rule out the timing belt, and said there were 3 things. One thing still passed and I don't know what that was but they feel like it's fixed. When they fixed the motor relay they also fixed distributor cap area ....

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