1994 Honda Civic DX Frozen Gas Line?

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  #1  
Old 01-31-11, 09:50 AM
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1994 Honda Civic DX Frozen Gas Line?

Hi:

I am living right now in Montreal (right now it’s -21˚) and my 1994 Honda Civic DX (4-door) won’t start. It cranks (I think you say this?) but it doesn’t catch to turn on. (It’s not that old an engine – a few months ago I had a second-hand engine dropped in with less than half the mileage of my original one!)

I just parked it overnight in -10˚C weather about a week ago and it hardly had any gas in it. Needless to say the next morning it wouldn’t start. So people are telling me that it is a frozen fuel line and even if I put in gas line antifreeze now it won’t help, that the antifreeze will just sit there in front of the ice in the line and that the only thing that will help is to try to move it into someone’s warm garage and wait until the gas line unfreezes. I have no means to do that so I am kind of stuck! It's parked off the street in a parking lot between 2 huge RVs.

Well, since then I have put Heet in the gas tank and topped up the gas to about 1/3 tank (went to a gas station with a gas can which I filled up). It still cranks but won’t start - I have a great almost-new battery and a new battery booster which is phenomenally efficient! So anyway, I checked online and have seen some stuff which makes me question whether or not it is really a frozen gas line.

I checked the oil and it is non-existant on the oil stick but is that normal for constant sub-zero weather for an unused car? Will having no oil stop the car from starting? My oil light comes on but only briefly as I crank the car and then it goes off.

I have some more questions if anyone can help me. I’ve made a list (?) which may be of help.

a) If the gas line is frozen, then where is the most likely point at which it freezes ? Would the freezing start in the gas tank (since there was hardly any gas in it)? Or would the gas line be frozen along the way to the engine or just before it gets to the engine? If I knew this, maybe I could heat up the line(s) with a light or a blow dryer or something? Or can you never tell?

b) Is the fuel line even accessible to be able to warm it up?

c) Would putting ethanol gasoline in the tank help?

d) I saw online that this could be a fuse problem. Which one, for Pete’s sake - they all look OK to me (I checked the ones under my steering wheel – left side – and under the hood – left side near the battery).

e) Apparently, according to all the online stuff (including this site!) you need fuel, spark and compression to start the car, but how do I check if the fuel line is flowing? Or check for the spark? Can I do these things without buying a garage full of tools? Or do I either have to get Canadian Tire to fix my car after buying a CAA membership and having it towed, or wait until Spring to use my car?

Note: I am moving to California ….

Thanks!
Suessy
 
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  #2  
Old 01-31-11, 10:20 AM
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Operating a car in a cold climate with a gas tank reasonably full is normally asking for problems eventually, especially if you do not periodically use a additive to remove the moisture that can come from condensation in the low tank.

At -21 (F or C?) and exposed car left out must be in good running condition (plugs, good spark, proper fuel mixture, correct oil type, clean fuel filter, etc.) to be relied on. Even -21F should not be a problem with properly running car, but when you get colder (down to -50F) some strange things happen.

You could always have it dragged and left for a day or so in a warm garage, so it will start and run and flush out the moisture, followed by a good fill and then get the electrical/operating system checked out. In cold weather you do need a good, strong battery since it takes more to get the engine going (do not over-crank).

Cold weather brings out the condition of the engine system, but you will have to make sure it is right even for warm weather, since a poor running engine can cost money in performance and fuel.

Dick
 
  #3  
Old 01-31-11, 10:37 AM
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Thanks anyway, concretemasonry. And it is -21C. Bummer. I was hoping maybe someone would have some wildly successful tips as I have no warm garage to tow the car to.

Take care,
Suessy
 
  #4  
Old 01-31-11, 12:07 PM
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To answer your other question about the oil. It should be up to the full mark or at least between "safe" and "full" if you have those. Not seeing anything on the dipstick, regardless of what the oil pressure is, is begging for trouble.

If there is moisture a good place to start is with the fuel filter. If you've never changed it, now would be a good time.

I'm with concrete too. If you can get it in someplace warm and it was just moisture you'll be up and running in no time.
 
  #5  
Old 01-31-11, 07:39 PM
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quick googling shows that gas does not freeze overnight even in Alaska. consensus is it does not freeze evet at -70. some say -90.

Fuels like gasoline are really a cocktail of hydrocarbons. Thicker, oil-like stuff at room temperature with some thinner ones, and also aromatics that are gaseous at room temperature. So by freezing, you mean, when does it turn solid? The heavier hydrocarbons will start to solidify sooner than the aromatics.

The flash point of gasoline is about -97F, meaning that it will still burn at 97 degrees below zero. Most labs won't even have the ability to chill a sample down that far to find out! Even the -97F mark is going to vary, based on the additives in the sample.

Of course, if there is any water mixed in with the fuel, it can still freeze at around 32F, but that may depend on if there are any alcohols mixed with the sample. Methyl alcohol is a common additive you can buy to help keep water in your gas tank from freezing at low temperatures.

The thicker, heavier hydrocarbons, like paraffin will become solid at atmospheric temperatures. Some of the aromatics won't turn solid until -200F to -300F. Not something you'll see outside of a lab.

For more information, the American Society for Tests and Measurements (ASTM) has written a whole bunch of methods for testing, well . . . everything really, but list some methods that may be relevant: Methods D1015, and D1016 talk about freezing points of refined hydrocarbons. For $12 each, you can buy the method from ASTM.


if you had water in it, it's different, as water and gasoline DO NOT MIX.


Density of Water and Gas
1. First, it's important to understand the basics of density when you are trying to figure out what will happen when you mix water and gas. A denser substance is heavier, so it will pull to the bottom of a less dense substance. For example, helium is less dense than air, which is why it attempts to float above the air. The density of water in liquid form at room temperature is about 980 kg per cubic meter. The density of gas is about 720 kg per cubic meter. So gas is lighter (less dense) than water.
When the Two "Mix"
2. Due to the differing densities of water and gas, mixing cannot occur. As soon as you add water to a tank of gasoline, all of the water will settle to the bottom of the tank. The lighter gasoline will float on top. You get the same effect as you would get when you mix oil with water. So before you try to mix water with your gas to make it "stretch" picture a layering effect. You will be hurting your car more than helping.
Potential Negative Effects
3. Mixing water with gas can cause serious problems for your car. The gas on top may run through your system normally for a short period of time and your car will run as usual.
That is, until the gas on top runs out. As soon as the water at the bottom of the tank starts getting pushed through the fuel lines and into the fuel pump, the car will have startup problems. In fact, your car probably won't start at all, and you will have to spend hundreds or more to get the problem fixed and the water removed. Water is not flammable and cannot fire up an engine like gas does.
Also, water freezes in the winter. So you could end up with a block of ice in your tank if you add water to your gas. If the water somehow gets into the fuel lines, it will freeze and block any gas from getting through. Your fuel system could be ruined.
A small amount of water in a gas tank is not likely to cause a catastrophic problem, but should be avoided. Be sure to put the cap securely on your gas tank when you are finished pumping, and don't gas up in the rain unless you are at a covered station.
Read more: What Happens When Water Is Mixed With Gas? | eHow.com What Happens When Water Is Mixed With Gas? | eHow.com


you have 2 ways to check if you have gas flow:

1. crank engine and pull spark plug out; if it's fouled with gas - daah, you have gas.
2. sometimes pressure regulator on fuel rail blocks gas from going into combustion chambers; disconnect fuel hose from fuel rail and crank engine. if you get stream of fuel coming out - well, you have gas.

94 Civics can have many reasons to not start. do you hear 3 distinctive clicks coming from dashboard, when you slowly turn your ignition key? if not, it's your main relay. this is about number one culprit for no starts. 2nd is moisture in disributor cap, then coil inside distributor, and ignitor.

here:

manuallinks - Backwoodz Tuner's One tracked Mind for the Honda/Acura Enthusist

you can not just find manual for your car but, also, a flow chart for no start for hondas specifically.

btw, my son's 95 civic did same 5 mths ago. turned out to be bad distributor.

oh, not to forget. if you have gas and had a bunch of no starts, you must de-foule your spark plugs. wet plugs will never start. i normally take butane torch to them and heat tips white hot.
 
  #6  
Old 02-01-11, 04:29 AM
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I wouldn't necessarily discount broken timing belt ("compression" in the basics); Suessy didn't say how many miles were on the used engine they dropped in.
 
  #7  
Old 02-01-11, 11:15 AM
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Thanks, ukrbyk and tow guy! They 'said' there were 67,000 km on the engine so it is supposed to be pretty new (it looks good to me but what do I know!)

I think the timing belt is OK - would that break overnight though - is that the belt you can see? Also, there was almost no gas in the car - I was kind of 'running on empty' when I parked the car for the night. The Canadian Tire guys looked at me as though 'what, are you dumb to not put gas line antifreeze in it and fill it up with gas?' They thought it was a no brainer, but I'm determined to check out everything you are all talking about!

So to take out a spark plug I just turn them right or left? It may seem like a dumb question but I tried that before and I didn't want to break anything - not that I can budge them. I turn counterclockwise, correct?

Where is the fuel rail? It is near the fuel filter which is near the battery, right? I will also try to locate the distributor and check for the 3 clicks - that would be the same for stick shifts too right? I don't have an automatic transmission.

How do you guys do this? Holy cow - I have a new respect for mechanics! What the hell! You have to be Einstein to figure this out and you have to have muscles like Arnold Swarzeneggar to loosen any of the parts on the car. I'm a girl - I don't want muscles but I haven't got the money to pay to have someone fix it so I am learning fast! I'm going to try a bit of methanol first. I'll try all the easy things first ... what the hay.

I hope nobody minds if I check in again to whine more if nothing works!

Suessy
 
  #8  
Old 02-01-11, 06:11 PM
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Thanks, ukrbyk and tow guy! They 'said' there were 67,000 km on the engine so it is supposed to be pretty new (it looks good to me but what do I know!)

I think the timing belt is OK - would that break overnight though - is that the belt you can see?

no. you can not see timing belt. what you see is one of the belts. yours should have at least a/c belt, and alternator/power steering belts. timing belt is hidden inside the plastic cover right next to the valve cover. on our 95 civic it was on the driver side engine, but they change engine orientation. anyhow, it's the round plastic cover on the all belts side. keep in mind, it's interference engine and belt must be replaced every around 65 000 miles. timing belt.

Also, there was almost no gas in the car - I was kind of 'running on empty' when I parked the car for the night. The Canadian Tire guys looked at me as though 'what, are you dumb to not put gas line antifreeze in it and fill it up with gas?' They thought it was a no brainer, but I'm determined to check out everything you are all talking about!

why do you seek engine advice from a tire guy?

So to take out a spark plug I just turn them right or left? It may seem like a dumb question but I tried that before and I didn't want to break anything - not that I can budge them. I turn counterclockwise, correct?

you will need long extension and special plug socket; plugs are inside plug wells; yes, lefty loosy righty tighty. counterclockwise is to take plug out.

Where is the fuel rail? It is near the fuel filter which is near the battery, right? I will also try to locate the distributor and check for the 3 clicks - that would be the same for stick shifts too right? I don't have an automatic transmission.

your distributor is a square box with all spark plug wires going into it, on the valve cover side opposite to timing belt cover. if you pop the distributor cover - please, do not remove plug wires or, at least, clearly mark them - you will see ignition coil in the right hand corner of the distributor casing and brownish looking piece, which is your ignitor.
3 clicks are coming from the main relay. in all Hondas of that year, main relay controls ignition and fuel pump. basically, it is a box full of coils that click, when close respective circuits. here's totally MUST READ for any Honda owner:
Honda/Acura Main FAQ Page
Starting Problems

clicks are coming from about where your left knee is, from inside the dashboard. that's where the main relay is.


How do you guys do this? Holy cow - I have a new respect for mechanics! What the hell! You have to be Einstein to figure this out and you have to have muscles like Arnold Swarzeneggar to loosen any of the parts on the car. I'm a girl - I don't want muscles but I haven't got the money to pay to have someone fix it so I am learning fast! I'm going to try a bit of methanol first. I'll try all the easy things first ... what the hay.

I hope nobody minds if I check in again to whine more if nothing works!

Suessy

there are female race drivers and female mechs either. it is really a no brainer, but simple ability to follow clear instructions and have right tools. we gave you instructions.

here's your engine:

 
  #9  
Old 02-04-11, 01:26 PM
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Thank you so much, ukrbyk! A picture is just what I needed! I am printing this all out and trying this stuff out this weekend which is supposed to go up to close to 0 degrees C.

Perfect timing for your advice!

I'll be back!

Suessy
 
  #10  
Old 02-04-11, 08:47 PM
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u r welcome. sorry for badly drawn pointers, i have not figured yet how to change color from black. at least, you have idea where timing belt and distributor are. fuel rail is the white metal rail with little UFO looking thing on the driver side end, which is pressure regulator valve. you can locate gas line coming into that rail and have it disconnected and see if stuff comes out. also, is a very good idea to replace ur fuel filter. look at the pic - it's on the firewall, right behind the throttle body, canister with 2 metal lines coming to the top of it. that can be frozen either.
 
  #11  
Old 02-05-11, 11:02 AM
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Hi ukrbyk (or anyone who can help and has helped and is interested ... ) - I followed your instructions as far as I could.

BUT ... I took the spark plug rubber thingees off the spark plugs one by one (there are 4 of them) and 2 of them were oily, and one of these was positively dripping with oil! I cleaned them all up and then I stood back and took a good look at the thing that they are in and I think it is the head gasket (I had this happen to my original engine years ago) that is no good because there is wet oil (not old dry encrusted stuff) all along the bottom part of the head (if that's what you call it too) even all along it above the gasket about an inch or two. And there is oil along the bottom 1/2 of the distributor. I couldn't get the distributor cap off because there are 3 screws and they are Phillips heads and the screws are in very tightly (any tips for releasing them?). Can the ignitor in the distributor be flooded with this oil just like the spark plug bays (or whatever they are called)? If so, would that prevent the engine from sparking?

I agree with your original diagnosis, I do not think it is a frozen gas line. The sun was directly on the car this morning and it must have been just over 0 degrees (Centigrade) so it wouldn't have been frozen - it was pretty toasty - I wasn't wearing gloves or a hat and was totally warm.

If it is the distributor and I can get the cap off, can I clean it up enough to start it and get it to a shop? How much does a head gasket repair cost? It's been so long I've forgotten (remember, my car is 16 years old).

Thanks again!!!!!!
 
  #12  
Old 02-06-11, 07:32 AM
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well, it's typical honda engine; or asian engines.

1. oil on spark plug boots is coming from blown valve cover gaskets and rocker arm seals.
2. oil underneath the distributor is coming from blown distributor shaft seal.
YouTube - Spark Plug Well Oil Leak Fix, Honda Accord

it's not your engine head gasket.

no, distributor components will not be fouled with oil.

distributor cap has not just phillips screws. those are, actually, 8mm bolts with phillips cut in heads. so, a 1/4 inch socket wrench with proper socket will loosen them. one on the very bottom is pain, as there's little clearance to get to it. i think it's 8mm, was a while.

you should have pulled at least 1 spark plug out. if spark plugs are fouled with oil, that engine will not start. NEVER REMOVE ALL PLUG WIRES. do one at a time. though they are specific length and are hard to cross, but...

if spark plugs are fouled with oil, find a propane torch, pliers, grab plug by the wire tip with pliers, and burn the junk off electrodes until they are white hot. takes good 5 minutes to do so. MAKE SURE NOT TO TOUCH PLUG WITH HAND THEREAFTER, they stay hot for quite a while.

my gut feeling is you have fouled plugs and wires.

btw, something as simple as bad distributor cap or rotor can cause no starts. esp on a car that is normally parked outside. moisture. rotors have tiny resistor or something in them, that likes to go bad.

sorry to say this, but this little car appears to be quite neglected on maintenance. also, unless you firm on your hand skill and have tools, i'd pass this onto a good buddy with at least basic know-how. it is all not hard to do, or expensive, but requires some of the above.
 
  #13  
Old 02-06-11, 10:27 AM
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suessy, can you, please, take a close up picture of your distributor with both electrical connectors removed? i need to see mounting bolts and connectors configuration. also, what does it say on the sticker on distributor side?
not the cap bolts, but the distributor to engine head bolts. they have several models with different connector and bolt pattern.
 
  #14  
Old 02-07-11, 10:55 AM
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Thanks again, ukrbyk - I will take a picture. I will try to remove the worst oil-filled spark plug and see what it looks like. I did check youtube for how to do it and I think I can at least do that no problem. What I don't understand though, is how it just stopped working from one night at about 8pm to about 10am the next morning! A gas line freeze would do that, but would fouled spark plugs? Don't they give you some trouble first, like stalling and stuff like that?

Yes, my car is really neglected! You are absolutely right but I have no money right now and am pushing things to the limit, so I am trying to do things by myself and if this were summer, of course things would be easier. My next expenditure is a CAA membership! (Even if I won the lottery, I would still fix up my car - it is so nicely designed - Hondas are great!)

I will take a picture and see if I can post it here.

Very grateful for all your help - am learning a ton!

Suessy
 
  #15  
Old 02-07-11, 07:20 PM
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yes, frozen line will do it. though i doubt...

life happens. moisture in the distributor cap can do same overnight either.or ton of other things, related to moisture/cold/parking outside.

those cars have tendency to be very reliable and well running, when well maintained. my son had 95 one, bought it with 120 000 miles, salvage title, put another prolly 65 000 on, and she was start and go for 4 years everywhere. then just died on him whilst driving. we still sold her for $1500. bad distributor.

you have to use Photobucket to post full pic here.
 
  #16  
Old 02-13-11, 10:56 AM
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OK - so here are a couple of pictures, ukrbyk - also, there was no coolant at all in the radiator and I put a quart of oil in the engine.



Thanks!
Suessy
 
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