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Old 05-13-2008, 03:34 PM
greg-ster greg-ster is offline
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How to check if my car's timing chain is properly adjusted?

I've been toying around with the idea of giving my car a tune up. I know, at 34,000 miles it's pretty early in the car's life to think about this, but I figure that since fuel prices are only going to continue to go up, the return on investment would come pretty soon.

As far as engine health, I do know from my used oil analysis from Terry Dyson, the engine's wearing well but with a lot of fuel dilution. Ignition timing was something that I flagged when I examined the data from my AutoEnginuity, since spark advance just tended to be kinda low/somewhat retarded.

I was thinking about making sure that the valves and timing chain were properly adjusted...along with assorted stuff like EGR and PCV valves.

Would I be better off trying to check this stuff out myself, or take it to a shop and have the car given the old 'once-over'?
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Old 05-13-2008, 04:26 PM
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The timing chain is either adjusted right, or not.

There is no in-between. The automatic hydraulic (oil fed) tensioner maintains tension on the chain while running. If the engine is rotated backwards the tensioner will retract. This is intentional, if the tensioner needs to be replaced, there is an access panel on the front cover that's removable to facilitate replacing it should it be defective.

If it's not, you'll surely hear it as the chain smacks around in the case hitting things it shouldn't.

You can check base mechanical timing, by pulling the valve cover, turning the engine by hand clockwise, lining the mark on the front pulley to tdc and then looking at the cam sprockets, the marks should align as seen in the manual.

The valves will more than likely be fine, even at 110k I rarely see K engines have any issues with excessive or insufficient clearances.

If you have a lot of fuel in the oil, either you are not driving the car enough to get it up to operating oil temp, or you do way too much of stop and go.
There is a slight possibility of not properly seated rings, or pistons with excessive clearance allowing too much blowby.

The oil analysis won't show either, unless they are grinding themselves up, the only clue is the dilution.

Since you're using AE, it does tend to be inaccurate on many pids. It's a well known issue that it should be used as guide. Only a factory tool is accurate when trying to diagnose certain issues. I've seen it on all makes not just Hondas when it comes to after market scan tools, and it's all of them, not just AE. (btw, I have AE, but when I question something that looks odd, I will refer to a factory tool if I can)

btw, spark advance and base engine timing are somewhat unrelated in most modern motors with coil on plug or distributorless ignition. You'd get cam-crank sync codes, sometimes vtc codes and check engine light if base timing was out, usually even just 1 tooth is enough.
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Old 05-13-2008, 06:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg-ster View Post
Ignition timing was something that I flagged when I examined the data from my AutoEnginuity, since spark advance just tended to be kinda low/somewhat retarded.

Interesting . . . This could just be a characteristic of the K24 or maybe the engine is sensing early detonation and retarding the spark. Try running a couple of tanks of 91 or 93 octane and see if the timing changes.
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Old 05-14-2008, 04:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fredsvt View Post

You can check base mechanical timing, by pulling the valve cover, turning the engine by hand clockwise, lining the mark on the front pulley to tdc and then looking at the cam sprockets, the marks should align as seen in the manual.
Thanks for all the info, Fred! i just learned a ton about my car, right off the bat

I guess that the only thing that would be checkable at this stage is to check the base timing. If I pulled the valve cover to check the alignment of the cam sprockets, would i need to replace the head gasket? I remember vaguely someone on BITOG saying something along those lines.

I just looked over Terry's comments in my UOA, and while engine wear is very low, the oil sample (Mobil 1) took a beating because of fuel dilution. Terry highlighted issues with combustion efficiency...last summer, after the UOA, I replaced the air filter and spark plugs, to try and address this. The accord now typically spends the majority of most driving trips on the highway for at least 8-20 miles each way, with some occasional local trips.

The (factory/original) spark plugs were fairly even between themselves, in terms of coloring, but were all on the dark gray side.

Is checking the base timing on the right track to finding any issues with combustion efficiency? Also Fred, is there anything else you would suggest looking at? Terry mentioned checking the PCV valve in his comments - does this sound plausible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trip View Post
Interesting . . . This could just be a characteristic of the K24 or maybe the engine is sensing early detonation and retarding the spark. Try running a couple of tanks of 91 or 93 octane and see if the timing changes.
This was actually an experiment I was looking into, back when I first got my AutoEnginuity...I should definitely follow up on it.
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Old 05-14-2008, 05:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg-ster View Post
Thanks for all the info, Fred! i just learned a ton about my car, right off the bat

I guess that the only thing that would be checkable at this stage is to check the base timing. If I pulled the valve cover to check the alignment of the cam sprockets, would i need to replace the head gasket? I remember vaguely someone on BITOG saying something along those lines.

No, you'd only need to change the valve cover gasket itself. The cam sprockets are clearly visible once the cover is off.

I just looked over Terry's comments in my UOA, and while engine wear is very low, the oil sample (Mobil 1) took a beating because of fuel dilution. Terry highlighted issues with combustion efficiency...last summer, after the UOA, I replaced the air filter and spark plugs, to try and address this. The accord now typically spends the majority of most driving trips on the highway for at least 8-20 miles each way, with some occasional local trips.

The (factory/original) spark plugs were fairly even between themselves, in terms of coloring, but were all on the dark gray side.

What's the OCI you're using with the Mobil 1? There should have been no reason to change the plugs at such a low mileage, they will easily go 110k no problems. You do seem to have an overfueling situation or something going on. On all K series I take plugs out of they are very white, as in very lean. Did you put the Iridium plugs back into it?

Can you look at the top of your engine, on both sides of the head, do you see 1 or 2 cam sensors? Some have 1 some have 2. If you only have one, it's remotely possible that 1 cam can be out of time, there will be only subtle clues that it is, such as a slight rough idle, slightly low power, or in your case rotten fuel mileage or as you're seeing fuel in the oil due to improper cam timing. A very remote possibility is a semi restricted catalyst, which I rarely see on any Honda causing some issues.

Is checking the base timing on the right track to finding any issues with combustion efficiency? Also Fred, is there anything else you would suggest looking at? Terry mentioned checking the PCV valve in his comments - does this sound plausible?

See above on the first two questions. The PCV, you could change it, no Honda dealers seem to stock them, I see the springs break in them occasionally at around 60k.

The only other thing I'd recommend having done if base timing is correct, have a cylinder leakage test performed. This is done by placing a regulated 100 psi of air pressure into the cylinders when each are at their TDC, valves closed. There are two gauges, one showing input pressure, the other showing how much the cylinder is holding. There should be, imho, no more than 4 to 8% max leakage on an engine so new. Listening to where the air goes, will show what's not sealing if it's too high.



This was actually an experiment I was looking into, back when I first got my AutoEnginuity...I should definitely follow up on it.
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Old 05-14-2008, 07:02 PM
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Well, the M1 was in there for about 9000 highway miles. After that, since there was a big slow down in our driving habits, the car got moved over to Havoline Dino, being changed yearly right now (about 2500 miles on the oil).

Fred, if your shop is around Marlboro, would it be OK for me to set up a time to drop by your shop and have the car/engine looked over (hopefully by you)? You're like the Prince of the east coast

Would the shop have stuff like the valve cover gasket handy, or would I need to bring that with me?

Thanks!
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Old 05-15-2008, 09:38 AM
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www.collegehillshonda.com has the pcv valve in stock for an 05 2.4 Ex. $13.52 + shipping.
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Old 05-15-2008, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg-ster View Post
Well, the M1 was in there for about 9000 highway miles. After that, since there was a big slow down in our driving habits, the car got moved over to Havoline Dino, being changed yearly right now (about 2500 miles on the oil).

Fred, if your shop is around Marlboro, would it be OK for me to set up a time to drop by your shop and have the car/engine looked over (hopefully by you)? You're like the Prince of the east coast

Would the shop have stuff like the valve cover gasket handy, or would I need to bring that with me?

Thanks!
The shop I work at is in Farmingdale. Off exit 100 gsp or exit 31 (not sure of I 195) Let me know when/if you want to drop the car. We can get the valve cover gasket prior to you coming. PM me for details.

You may want to change the oil more frequently or drive the car more. If you're only going 2500/yr right now you need to take it out and get it good and hot for the miles you're doing.

On the highway driving, how long (time/miles) were you driving at steady speeds greater than 50 mph? I need to know, to decide whether 9k on M1 is too long. I know Honda's "regular" interval for the K engine is 10k, but those conditions have to be absolute ideal to do it.
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Old 05-15-2008, 04:57 PM
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The car's old routine was a 60 mile commute each weekday, plus another 20ish highway/suburban miles on the weekends. Now, for the past year-ish, the car gets just weekend trips, with the occasional trip to upstate NY; The Accord usually spends most days parked nowadays.

Now, there's the possibility of the Accord getting moved down to Georgia at the end of the summer, and it'll actually get used now

PM sent!
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Old 05-16-2008, 06:04 AM
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I'll be interested to see how your timing changes with the higher octane fuel. Keep us posted
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Old 05-22-2008, 04:11 PM
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It's been a long day, for sure, but there's a bit of good news to report. My car's timing chain is off by one tooth, apparently from the factory! I've got a case open with American Honda, and they actually seem quite interested in this matter.

I'm actually quite glad I finally found this is the issue. The big thing is that it explains the big issues the car had when it was new - awful MPG and really rough idling. Granted, the idle without A/C has gotten a lot smoother, and the MPG improved a bit (on light, highway driving only - it plummets fast in any kind of idling/accelerating/local driving), but i'm still less than thrilled with the Accord in these areas.

It's also a bit of a pick-me-up, since I lost hope in dealing with dealerships who all thought my expectations for the Accord were unreasonable. In a way, they actually kinda succeeded in convincing me

Anyways, enough with the rambling, here are the pics. The problem is, as best I can recall from Fred explaining it to me, that the camshafts are both one tooth off with relation to the crankshaft.

The Camshafts -





The Crankshaft, I think... It's not aligned with the camshafts



Thanks again to Fred, especially for the great thinking - taking pictures and suggesting that I bring this to the attention of American Honda.

I'll keep you all posted on how this turns out. I guess the only thing is that i'm kinda worried about having one of the dealership techs try and fix this...meh, I think i'm being too cynical. American Honda wants to know which dealership do i want to go to, to do the repair...
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Old 05-22-2008, 04:15 PM
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WOW!

That is an amazing find. Keep us updated on what Honda wants to do.

Could this have damaged the motor at all? I doubt it, but just wondering.
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Old 05-22-2008, 04:15 PM
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I'm also going to have to ask AHM, when they get the pictures, what is up with the paint marks - it looks like someone kinda smeared white out on the cams...not a neat application at all.

Now I know what Fred was taking about
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Old 05-23-2008, 03:28 AM
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WOW!

That is an amazing find. Keep us updated on what Honda wants to do.

Could this have damaged the motor at all? I doubt it, but just wondering.
Well, I remember that Fred mentioned that if the camshaft/crankshaft were out by two teeth or more, it would have bent the valves. I'm not sure what can happen to the engine if it is off by one tooth, over a long period of time.

Fred did say that the motor runs well considering that the timing is off, though...
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Old 05-23-2008, 03:22 PM
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With the way the cams are off, I'm not so surprised that the idle is slightly rough.
The cams are "retarded" in relation to the crank, as the valves are opening later than they should.

It may only be a small amount, but that 1 tooth can cause problems. I used to see this on older Toyota engines (3sfe and 5sfe) that had very hard to see camshaft timing belt marks. They'd be off 1 or 2 teeth and the only complaint most people had, especially when they had multiple Camrys was one got great mileage and the other was miserable, but they both seemed to run the same.

This, when on an engine with fully fixed valve timing, normally causes rough low speed operation, and poor low rpm performance. But, the car will run well through the midrange with better higher rpm power.

Since the K24 uses variable intake cam phasing, the PCM can modify the timing of the intake cam in relation to the crank to try and correct the problem. The exhaust cam can't though, as it's timing is fixed.

I'm still quite surprised that the 1 tooth off has not caused cam/crank sync codes to be generated.
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