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bemis

join:2008-07-18
Reading, MA
Reviews:
·Comcast

03 Civic engine clatter on cold days

On cold days (below 30*F) the engine of my 2003 Civic will clatter for a few minutes. It sounds like compressed lifters used to sound on old GMs, but I thought these engines don't have those?

It goes away within about 20-30 seconds. Occasionally it will be tapping as I pull out of the driveway and might tap up the street a bit. I try to keep the engine under 2000rpm within the first few minutes.

Is there a valve lash adjustment on these? Or is this clatter typical and benign?

One thing that worries me is that my corner mechanic, who is honest and walking distance from work, has been putting in 10W-30 (according to his receipts) when the cap on the oil fill calls for 5W-20... should I be worried about the oil weight, or is it not different enough to matter?

It's about to turn 75,000. I'd like to get at least another 3 trouble free years, up to say about 115,000.


mattmag
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois
kudos:3


I'm not a Honda expert, so I would check to see if the valvetrain is adjustable. I would most certainly switch to the recommended 5W-20 oil however, as that alone could be contributing to the start-up clatter.


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
said by mattmag:

I'm not a Honda expert, so I would check to see if the valvetrain is adjustable.

It is. I think all the VTEC engines are adjustable. They are a service item with a few more miles but there is also a clause in the maintenance book "if they are noisy". Shop labor rate is about an hour it looks like from other forums.

bemis

join:2008-07-18
Reading, MA
Reviews:
·Comcast
said by cdru:

It is. I think all the VTEC engines are adjustable. They are a service item with a few more miles but there is also a clause in the maintenance book "if they are noisy". Shop labor rate is about an hour it looks like from other forums.

For some reason I thought I remembered reading somewhere that this engine was not VTEC, but I'm not sure.

I have a recall for the headlight switch which means a dealer trip. I may ask them to perform this maintenance if it's something relatively routine for a Honda specific shop.

I need the timing belt changed due to age. I've been waffling on letting my independent guy do it, or bring it to the dealer. The independent guy has always been fine for my previous car, but that was a domestic truck and he never had to actually go inside the engine...


Cho Baka
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-23
there
kudos:2
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to bemis
It could as easily also be piston slap.

If you do have it looked at, drop it off the night before and return to start it together with someone from the shop (tech preferably).

I would suggest a dealer, as they will be well acquainted with what a normal level of operating noise is.

They should be able to tell by listening if it is valves or piston slap.
Even if it is piston slap, it isn't necessarily anything to worry about unless it remains at an unacceptable level once warm.
--
The talented hawk speaks French.


Rifleman
Premium
join:2004-02-09
p1a
reply to bemis
I think the only VTEC for that year was in the SI model.

Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey
reply to bemis
I believe the non-VTEC engines also have a valve clearance adjustment.

When you have the timing belt replaced, make sure they replace the water pump at the same time.


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
reply to bemis
said by bemis:

For some reason I thought I remembered reading somewhere that this engine was not VTEC, but I'm not sure.

That may be. I'm only really familiar with my 07 Accord with regards to VTEC. Until now I guess I was under the mistaken impression that once VTEC showed with Civics, Accords et al that it was with all of them. I didn't realize that only the advanced models of Civics had it at one time.


DeltaElite
We Dont Dial 911

join:2002-03-29
Tucker, GA
kudos:1
reply to bemis
I'd change to 5w20 oil and a good quality oil filter....Might even buy the Honda filter and see if it goes away....

But, if its got any more then 100k on it AS LONG as it only does it cold I would crank it early in the day and let it idle until it quits.....Then drive it like normal. There used to be a saying that on high milage motors any engine noise that happens in the first 3 minutes of running THAT GOES AWAY should be ignored.

Possibly a none-OEM filter that doesnt have a drain-back filter...Possibly something that might be adjusted...I might even put a 1/4 can of Sea foam in the oil the day before I changed it but if it goes away when warm I'd forgetaboutit.

2000 Chevy Silverado has had a valve tick COLD since it had 80 k on it....she just made 209k.
--
Protect your right to keep and arm bears!

bemis

join:2008-07-18
Reading, MA
Reviews:
·Comcast
said by DeltaElite:

I'd change to 5w20 oil and a good quality oil filter....Might even buy the Honda filter and see if it goes away....

I just had the oil changed on Tuesday, I've noticed the noise every start up, and it hasn't been that cold, some days it's even above freezing. It will usually last as long as it takes me to get out of the parking lot of work, which is about a 30 second drive. This morning it's 18*F, I will warm the car up at idle for ~5 mins.

Next oil change (which will be in early Spring) I will swap to 5W-20, I suppose I will have to supply the material to the mechanic to be sure he's using it. My guess is since he's an older-style local shop he just has the one weight in any quantity.


mattmag
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois
kudos:3

2 recommendations

said by bemis:

Next oil change (which will be in early Spring) I will swap to 5W-20, I suppose I will have to supply the material to the mechanic to be sure he's using it. My guess is since he's an older-style local shop he just has the one weight in any quantity.

You're not doing yourself any favors by waiting until spring. The damage occurs when there is noise, even if it is just a small amount. I would have the *proper* oil installed as soon as practical.

And, you're being too easy on your shop. I owned "an older-styled local shop" for 18 years and stocked well over a dozen different oil weights and brands. 5W-20 isn't a new thing, it is very common.

bemis

join:2008-07-18
Reading, MA
I'm going for a recall at the dealer, I'll have them do another oil change.


Juggernaut
Irreverent or irrelevant?
Premium
join:2006-09-05
Kelowna, BC
kudos:2

1 recommendation

You also may want to consider moving to a full synthetic, as they flow far better in cold.


Hall
Premium,MVM
join:2000-04-28
Germantown, OH
kudos:2
reply to bemis
If you had said "a ticking noise" instead of "clatter", I think that is almost considered normal on Hondas (on cold startup and only for about the same length of time you indicated).

Regarding the VTEC engine design, in years past, it was only available on the higher trim levels. Over time, I think they've moved to that engine for all levels.


Rifleman
Premium
join:2004-02-09
p1a
reply to bemis
I had an 03 Civic DXG and the motor wasn't VTEC.