02 Civic LX with a all kinds of problems. Suggestions would be appreciated!

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Senior Member
This is a saga with several problems. I have been out of the Honda game for a while but I am hoping someone(s) on the forum can point me in one or several directions that I can search for the answers or help me find them.

It starts with 4 months ago I replaced the timing belt (HONDA OEM), water pump (Advanced Auto Parts OEM replacement) & belt tensioner (HONDA OEM) on my wifes 2002 Civic LX with 143k on it. I wanted to do it all in one day and Honda did not have the pump in stock. At the time for good measure I replaced the thermostat and did a compression test. Cylinder 2 was lower then the rest and I figured we had a head gasket/cracked head/cracked block issue. I put the car back together and had her continue to drive it because we did not have the money at the time to rebuilding the motor.

The car had started to spew anti-freeze badly (the wife needed to refill the radiator ever 2 days). The heat in the car would start blowing cold air at idle and the temp gauge started to go above normal but we never allowed it to get to red line. I had a shop do a diagnoses to see what they thought was the problem and if it was the same as my ideas (head gasket, cracked head, cracked block). They confirmed that it was one of the 3. They tested the radiator fluid and it tested positive for hydro-carbons. I asked if they did a leak down test and they said there was no need. Odd but I digress.

So this last week I started to tear the car apart to find the remaining issues. I pulled the head and had a machine shop pressure test it for cracks, clean it, re-ground the valve seats and replace the seals. Might as well while it is off. I wanted to be sure I don't have to do this again. I replaced the head gasket and almost every other engine gasket because they were leaking. I did not do the rear crank gasket. The block seemed to be in good condition with a little more then standard carbon deposits on the pistons and baked oil on the bearing caps. Piston #2 that had the blown gasket was clean and free of carbon. Standard of coolant and how it cleans a piston from a blown gasket. I put it all back together yesterday and car was running in limp mode. It threw 3 codes (I think) and still blows cold air at idle.

I did a compression test of all of the cylinders to check my work on the head gasket. All 4 test the same (150psi) within 1-2 psi, Carbon on the pistons I'm sure. The low one before the head gasket replacement, #2, is higher then what it was when I tested it 4 months ago.

Thinking that maybe the thermostat was blocked, I replaced that today. No luck. Still blows cold air at idle after the car has warmed up and it is still in limp mode.

One thing I am witnessing while the car is idling is that with the radiator cap off to bleed the air from the system, the fluid level fluctuates, sometimes erratically. After I shut the car down, I filled the radiator fluid to the top but noticed the level started to recede within minutes. I made sure to clean the underside of the car well when I was putting it back together and I have not seen any leaks.

In pulling the codes from the ECM using the paper clip method, I got 8 short flashes, pause, 2 long, pause, 2 long and 3 short flashes. I think that means codes:

I could be wrong but it makes sense with what I have read on pulling codes.

So my questions are:
Could the pos Advanced auto parts factory replacement water pump not be circulating the water well? It had an extremely poor designed impeller compared to a Honda unit.

What the hell are the codes for? I have searched and come up with the TDC sensor, Crank sensor, or something to do with either one. I am having trouble locating factory testing procedures for either one or both, such as ohming them out. I found one person that has several test steps with it connected in the car. Some have said that if you disconnect them they may not work again. This all sounds very voodoo to me. I have never in my years of wrenching had silliness like that.

Ideas, suggestions, thoughts and comments are all welcomed. I would rather them be positive or constructive as I would like to wrap this job up and move on to the next problem to solve. Thank you guys!

Update guys. I replaced the POS Advanced Auto parts water pump with a Honda OEM water pump. Within 2 minutes I had heat. Please for any others that read this post, learn from my mistake. NEVER, EVER use any other parts other then HONDA especially for the water pump.

Still have codes although only 2 now. A code 8 and code 20 (I think). I get 8 short flashes, pause then 2 long flashes. Code then repeats. Any one have a link for codes for the EM series Civics?

Thanks in advance!