97 Civic DX - weird issue

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gueppe barre

New Member
Hey -

This is bizarre problem. My daughter's Civic was running perfectly fine until she backed into a hillside and plugged the tailpipe with dirt. Naturally, the engine died; she cranked it and cranked it but it didn't run (she didn't know T/P was full of dirt). She came in the house and got me, I went out and found the dirt issue, cleaned it out, but engine has not run since. I began some troubleshooting and I have spark on all 4 and fuel gushes out of fuel line when cranking. Found compression on cyl 1 and 2 at only 30#. Haven't checked other two yet, but I'm sure this is a problem. Timing is correct, distributor, rotor, plugs and wires are brand new (4 weeks). Anyone heard of blowing a head gasket (or worse!) by trying to crank the motor with tailpipe plugged? Or did I trip some relay that is preventing injectors from firing? No DTC codes, by the way.
im thinking it was going bad as she was backing up, i dont think a stopped up pipe will do anything besides kill the motor
ok - problem found and corrected

Thought I'd get back to the forum and post results - for any future users with similar trouble.

It seems that the exhaust had been partially plugged by similar backing maneuvers earlier in history - the last event was simply the final one that completely choked the motor down.

Pulled the head and found why no compression - the combustion chambers were sooted up so badly from the choked air (and fuel) flow; the pistons had 1/2 - 3/4" of loose soot built up on them, also on valves, on bottom of head, and in head exhaust passages. Cleaned all this out - exhaust valves were scorched up good but not total loss. All valve seats were sooted up and were failing to seal, hence compression trouble.

Repair: pulled valves, lapped all faces and seats, replaced valve stem seals, put head back on with new gaskets all around, stacked everything back out, and motor fired up on about third hit (after fuel system was charged well - I had drained it earlier in the process).

OK now except for idle adjustment - working on that now - probably throttle cable.