Engine Work on 1992 Honda Civic CX Hatchback, August 2019

Problem: low oil pressure. Plan: remove and clean oil pickup tube, install new oil pump. It is also time for a new timing belt, so I will also install a new water pump while I have easy access. The head gasket is suspect so while I have the engine apart, I will also install a new head gasket.

The car needs bodywork, too.

I gave the car a little bath and put it in the garage:

First SNAFU, snapped heat shield bolt.

I had to remove the exhaust manifold to get to the oil pan. The nuts all came off without problems. I first sprayed them with Blaster. I used my pipe extension.

I had to pry off the manifold with a piece of rebar:

The manifold is forever bolted to the catalytic converter and front pipe. I removed the nuts from the front pipe support brackets and dropped the manifold/cat/front pipe as one unit. Here is one support bracket. It must be removed to get to the oil pan nuts and bolts:

This bracket must also be removed:

The flywheel cover blocks this nut and a nut on the other side of the oil pan, so the flywheel cover must be removed:

Flywheel cover coming off:

Oil pan nuts and bolts:

After all the nuts and bolts came off, I had to tap the oil pan with a rubber hammer to unstick it from the engine:

Oil pan removed, revealing the oil pickup tube.

I removed the tube and inspected it. Lots of debris clogged the screen inside. I sprayed it with brake parts cleaner, zapped it several times in the ultrasonic cleaner, first in mineral spirits, then in kerosene. Then I made a hook-end cleaning tool out of spring wire and physically scraped the screen. More brake parts cleaner, compressed air. Screen cleaned:

To get to the oil pump, I had to remove the timing belt. First I made sure cylinder #1 was at top dead center. The yellow dot on the ignition wire indicates cylinder #1. I looked at the rotor to make sure it was pointing to cylinder #1 wire. Check.

Simultaneously, the crankshaft pulley marks should line up with the notch on the timing belt cover. Check.

The cam shaft "up" stamp is up. Check.

Here is the belt before removal.

Remove the right engine mount:

Remove the crankshaft pulley bolt. Lots of torque required, and a brace (steel pipe) to keep the pulley from turning:

Bolt out, note the woodruff key. Don't lose it:

A Chilton's manual helps keep track of the process, includes important information like torque specs:

Washer over timing belt pulley:

Pry off the pulley with a screwdriver if it doesn't slip off easily:

Old oil pump with five mounting bolts removed:

Pump removed:

Scraped off old gasket material. I used a wood scraper, then Scotchbrite, then I sprayed it down with brake parts cleaner:

Please note: I discovered later that Scotchbrite should not be used to clean internal engine surfaces because it leaves aluminum oxide grit behind. I hope that spraying the surface with brake parts cleaner removed any residue from the Scotchbrite.

New pump and Permatex Ultra Grey gasket maker:

New O-ring in place

I put a continuous bead of gasket maker on the cleaned surface, along the edge and around the holes, about 3/16 inch wide:

New pump installed:

I degreased the oil pan and valve cover:

I wiped down surfaces that I could reach, installed the clean oil pickup tube:

New water pump:

I didn't reinstall the oil pan yet, thought I should wait till I did the head gasket.

To replace the head gasket, everything connected to the head and intake manifold had to be disconnected. Throttle position sensor:

This stuff under the distributor:


I used a piece of rebar to pry this hose off after sliding back the clip with channel lock pliers:

Gas line:

Fuel injector wire harness is unbolted from the fuel rail:

These clips on the fuel injectors can be released with a screwdriver:

The accelerator cable is unbolted from the throttle body. Then the cable can be worked out of its keeper:

This is on the back of the throttle body...

This too...

And this:

Underneath are a couple of plastic cable keepers. I cut them to release the wires. Then I removed the bolt holding the intake manifold to its bracket.:

Is everything disconnected?

I loosened all the head bolts starting in the middle and working out to the ends:

Once I loosened a bolt, I spun it out by hand, to feel if there was any funny stuff going on:

I made a bolt rack to keep track of the bolts. I will clean them and put them back in their original locations when I put the head back on:

I used a cherry picker hoist to tug on the head/manifold unit. It didn't want to come off:

I double checked for possible connections I may have missed, didn't find any. I gently rocked the head back and forth while pulling with the hoist. Then... it came loose:

I found a rear hose still connected:

I disconnected it and raised up the head/manifold unit:

I set it down on a cart. See the bracket I fashioned from a piece of scrap metal, for the lifting strap:

I unbolted the intake manifold and checked the old gasket. It didn't look too bad but I was happy to put a new gasket in, for peace of mind:

I scraped the bits of old gasket off, using a wood, scraper, then a plastic scraper, then the metal edge of a straight edge on the difficult places, being very careful not to scratch the mating surfaces. Then I checked for flatness, found no warping:

I sprayed the head with lots of brake parts cleaner:

Then I soaked it in hot soapy water with Dawn detergent:


Blow dry:

Then I oiled the moving parts and cam lobe surfaces to protect them from oxidizing:

Here is the block with the surfaces scraped free of old gasket.

With the new gasket in place:

Here is the underside of the head:

Here is the intake side:

Ready to attach intake manifold:

Torque manifold nuts starting at the center:

Head/manifold back on the block, no head bolts yet:

Before I install the head bolts, I must install the exhaust manifold so I have to install the oil pan. Here is the gasket, with dabs of gasket maker on the sharp corners:

Bolted on:

I cleaned the head bolts by spraying them several times with brake parts cleaner and shooting them with compressed air:

The parts cleaner also tried to erase the bolt numbers...

I dipped each bolt in clean motor oil, then spun them into their respective holes:

I torqued the bolts in the sequence from the center out in two sessions. First I torqued each bolt to 22 ft-lbs, then I took each bolt to 47 ft-lbs. These specs depend on the motor number, which I double checked before this operation:

Torquing head bolts:

With the head torqued down, I tightened the intake manifold bracket bolt underneath and I tightened the exhaust mounting nuts and bolts:

Next, the timing belt. Align the timing belt pulley mark with the arrow on the oil pump. I was able to make small adjustments by putting the car in gear and turning the brake rotor:

Align the cam gear:

Put on the belt tensioner. Make sure to put the tensioner bracket over the orange tensioner pin! Do not tighten the tensioner yet:

The belt-tightening procedure: put the belt on with tensioner loose, turn crankshaft pulley counterclockwise 1/4 turn, tighten tensioner to 33 ft-lbs. New belt on. This took at least three tries. Tensioner issues first, then I was off my one notch. Third or forth time's the charm:

Check belt pulley alignment with belt on:

I put the alternator belt on also:

Then I torqued the crankshaft bolt to 134 ft-lbs using the pulley brace:

I methodically reconnected everything I had disconnected, installed the valve cover with new seals, put in new spark plugs, too. Ready to start? No. The battery was dead...

After charging the battery, the car started with almost no hesitation. The oil light went out, stayed out as the engine warmed up to normal temperature. With the engine warmed up, I checked ignition timing:

It was nearly correct. I adjusted the distributor to correct it.

The car runs, no leaks, oil pressure up!

Now I have to contemplate some body work...

September, 2019

Update, May 2020.

The car is still running like a top! No oil issues, peppy strong engine with no leaks.