On Saturday, I got the call from my mechanic Pat telling me the Civic was ready to be picked up. He had welded up my broken header and rebuilt my sketchy distributor with parts we both had laying around. I convinced Alex to come with me to the South Shore to pick up the car and we headed home in separate cars. The check engine light was off for the first time in months. Suddenly, as I was about to get onto Champlain Bridge, the engine just died, while I was driving. I pulled over to the side of the road and tried to restart it, but there was nothing I could do. I called Pat and he told me that the igniter in the distributor must be old and must have overheated. I called a tow truck and waited for a tow home. When I got home, the car started right up, as Pat had predicted it would, since the overheated components had cooled down.
|Flatbed tow #1|
I had a brand new ignitor at home (from the 2000 Civic I sold to Carl), so I figured I could do the repair myself. My intitial plan was to change the ignitor without removing the distributor, so as not to affect the timing. However, I was unable to loosen the screw holding the rotor in place so I couldn't access the distributor's internal parts. I marked the position of the distributor and brought it into the house to work on it on the kitchen counter. I had a lot of trouble getting the screw out, but managed after a while. It was tight and on the verge of stripping by the time I managed to get it off. Several other small screws were also hard to remove, but I managed. I put everything back together in the dark, even dropping and finding the tiny ignition coil spring, and the car started right up. I was pretty self-satisfied and happy I would be able to go to Monday night lapping.
Imagine my surprise when the motor conked out again Monday on the way to the track… I was on the highway and managed to coast to the nearest exit. I had to stop at a red light and then get help to push the car around the corner to safety. I was on a small side street and had some tools with me, so I figured I would take a look at the distributor in case something I had installed had come loose. Everything was intact… I called Pat and he was quite surprised the car had died again… I decided to wait an hour to see if the car would start after a cooling off period. During the wait, I did some online research to see if it was possible that the coil had failed this time, and not the ignitor… It seemed like it might be the coil. Of course, I didn’t have one on me, but Pat did, so I called CAA and had the car towed from Ste-Thérèse to La Prairie, which is a pretty long way (50 km). This was my second tow in 3 days! Luckily, we hit no traffic at all and I was at Pat’s before sunset. Even after all this cooling off, the car would not start. We changed the coil and the car started right up. We decided to drive around as much as possible to see if it would die again, but it didn’t, despite over an hour of driving around. We plugged in Pat’s programmable ECU to see of there were any error codes, but only found a code related to idle speed, which we could ignore. So now, I guess that I will only know if all is well when I next head to the track. As I’m going away Labour Day weekend, I will probably go to ICAR next Wednesday to do some testing. Stay tuned!