Project Civic Si(gh): Esteem Driven Engine

2000 honda civic si trouble Things were going well. Too well, some might say. I’m not one of those types though, as the thought of good things happening doesn’t fill me with anxiety or thoughts of bad things to come. I could’ve driven a bit more cautious, of course, but I was thrilled to be back in my Civic. The kids at Norco High School had made it a vastly improved machine. A quick look at the fix list reveals a new bumper, hood, and grille, a cleaned up engine bay, and fresh paint on the steel wheels. More importantly, however, is the part of the list that shows the timing belt had been replaced. This is what some might call a “key piece” of the car and its forward movement ability. All of that went down the drain on Saturday… IMG_0546 I was cruising down the 5 Freeway, moving at a delightful clip. Traffic was lighter than I expected and I was making great time. The Civic was flowing upstream through the rest of the pack with nary a peep from my windshield-mounted 5-0 lookout. All of a sudden, it sounded like I had run over a rock. Something clanged up into the undercarriage of the car, and I looked in my rearview mirror and saw something kick up dust behind me in the dirt of the median. Immediately, I slowed down a bit. My eyes scanned for warning lights, smoke, and fluids. My ears listened for the sort of bad noises one expects after something like that. Nothing. The car seemed fine, and there was no apparent reason for alarm. Back on the throttle then! IMG_0541 My pace quickened, and the my next direction along the journey was about seven miles away or so. Out of nowhere, it happened again. There’s no way I hit another rock, especially when I didn’t see a rock either time. Was it possible that a tool had been left inside the car? As i was pondering what the hell was going on, the Civic began to power down. I downshifted, applied more throttle, but both the tachometer and speedometer were slowly arcing back to the left. Another lower gear brought another attempt to keep this craft afloat. It was inevitable though, so I was making my way to the right-hand side break down lane with the flashers alerting the world to my unknown trouble. IMG_0551 I was safely on the side of the 5 freeway. Well, I’ll throw quotes around the word “safe” because my positioning wasn’t great. Yes, I had pulled as far to the right as I could, but I had come to rest on the far side of a right-hand bend that also happened to be a small overpass. Large trucks and car loads of texting soccer moms screamed by me at 80-plus miles per hour. The Civic would not come back to life, so I called in the help of AAA. The tow truck driver arrived within 15 minutes, looked at where we were both parked and got the car hooked up as quickly as he could. The drive to the local garage took less than 10 minutes, and the the ensuing inspection took only a bit longer than that. The issue was quite clear. The first “rock” I hear was most likely the bolt that holds the crankshaft pulley in place. The second “rock” was most likely the pulley itself. While that part was working towards its vehicular freedom, the timing belt (that brand new timing belt) started to walk a bit and in turn began to introduce itself to parts of the engine bay it’s not supposed to talk to. It shredded itself. IMG_0556 At this very moment, the car is still sitting at the Oceanside, California garage where it was towed to, and it’s being more thoroughly examined. The crew at Bill’s Complete Auto Repair were a delight to talk to, and I know the car is currently in good hands. We chatted about classic cars, including the 76 Rolls Royce and 72 Camaro awaiting a 383 that were both parked on the lot. The master tech on the team is going to have a look at the valves to see if they’re bent. This is highly likely, unfortunately, yet I’ve read Internet tales of interference engines coming out unscathed after timing belt issues. Still, I’m not hopeful here. When we tried to turn the motor, it wasn’t budging. This could spell out a few possibilities for Project Civic Si(gh).

  1. The car is dead. Sell off any upgraded parts, and junk the rest.
  2. Spend lots of money on a salvage title Civic Si to rescue it.
  3. Time for LeMons!
  4. Let’s get stupid… Project Civic V8

I’m not happy about any scenario though, as I was happy with the progress (and cost) of where the Civic currently sat before that pulley decided to go Free Willy. The plan was to turn this Civic into an autocross machine, and I was just about to hit ORDER on a number of upgraded parts. Now though, we play the waiting game… [Images copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Jeff Glucker]

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