Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start - Honda Civic Forum

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Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

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Old 07-08-2015
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Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

10 days ago, my engine started making a weird grinding noise from the belts area. Took it to a mechanic and he said it was the AC Compressor Clutch Pulley, but the timing belt and tensioner were fine. Car has 115k miles on it so its due for a timing belt, tensioner, water pump, etc. change anyway. He was charging $700 so I said forget it and would do it myself in the next few weeks.

A couple of days later, I noticed a burning smell every time I would shut off my engine after driving for a bit. It was a very strong smell. I didn't think too much of it. Well a few days ago I started the car and heard a loud squealing from the belt and the engine was really rough and idling really low. I shut it off, but tried a few more times to start the car after that. Same issue. So I left it alone, didn't start it and didn't drive it.

Yesterday, car is not starting. When cranking, it sounds weird as if its really struggling and underpowered. No battery issue and spark plugs didn't seem to be flooded (haven't checked to see if they spark or not).

I'm at a loss. I asked a local friend and he said the timing belt might have skipped a couple of teeth and bent a valve. I opened the head to inspect the timing belt through that little window and it looks okay (i.e. not snapped).

The bottom half of engine seems to be soaked in oil. I don't think it was like that before, but I can't be sure. Here are some pics. Any ideas on steps I should take to diagnose it?? Its a 2000 Honda Civic Automatic LX. No check engine light.
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Last edited by 1khilari; 07-08-2015 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 07-08-2015
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Re: Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

making a weird grinding noise from the belts area. Took it to a mechanic and he said it was the AC Compressor Clutch Pulley
What has been done to resolve this issue?


I know, nothing was done to it.

Remove the belt for the AC and see if it will start.
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Old 07-08-2015
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Re: Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

Correct. The mechanic said not to worry about it and it is just making noise because of the bearing. Are you suggesting the pulley seized and is preventing the other belts from doing their job? I don't know much about that stuff, but it makes sense.
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Old 07-08-2015
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Re: Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

Originally Posted by 1khilari View Post
Are you suggesting the pulley seized
It was my first thought, based on what you wrote:


I noticed a burning smell
It was a very strong smell.

heard a loud squealing from the belt
and the engine was really rough and idling really low.

When cranking, it sounds weird as if its really struggling and underpowered. No battery issue and spark plugs didn't seem to be flooded
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Re: Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

Ok thanks. I'll give it a try.
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Old 07-08-2015
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Re: Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

Is this is a 96-00 car?
After removing the AC belt, spin the two pulleys and see if one is locked up or noisy.

The adjuster pulley is known for its bearing going bad and becoming noisy, and the compressor pulley can do the same.
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Re: Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

Yes, it's a 2000 Honda civic lx.
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Old 07-09-2015
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Re: Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

ezone - you are a genius! I can't believe I didn't put that together myself. I took the belt off and tried spinning the idler pulley and the A/C clutch pulley. The AC clutch pulley was seized. Couldn't spin it at all.

Tried starting the car and it was cranking nicely, but wouldn't start. Probably because of all the other crap I tried doing prior. Had to give it some gas to get it started, but it did finally.

Seems to be idling a little rough, but not that bad. I'm planning on doing spark plugs, timing belt, etc. stuff soon, so hopefully its better.

Do you think I should try and replace just the A/C Compressor Clutch or the whole condenser? The clutch is about $100 but I think I've read its hard to remove the clutch from the condenser.
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Old 07-09-2015
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Re: Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

Probably because of all the other crap I tried doing prior. Had to give it some gas to get it started, but it did finally.

Seems to be idling a little rough, but not that bad.
Drive it around a while and get it all warmed up, see if it's better.
Maybe it was rough all along but the bad pulley drowned it out?


Do you think I should try and replace just the A/C Compressor Clutch or the whole condenser? The clutch is about $100 but I think I've read its hard to remove the clutch from the condenser.
Compressor, not condensor? The condensor is out in front of the radiator.



Compressor complete, or just the clutch?? If the compressor is ok internally then it's your choice.
Was the ac working prior to the pulley locking up?
When the pulley locked up, did the bearing race spin on the snout of the compressor and trash it?


If the compressor shucked its guts out then yes on also replacing the condensor, but if it was only a pulley locked up then probably not.
If the inside of the pipes are dark gray or black once you open them up then you probably want the condensor.

Tough to make that call from here until you start taking stuff apart or open up the system.

You probably want a receiver-drier too, most aftermarket companies make you buy it to get any warranty.
NEW O ring seals for all connections you take apart.
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Re: Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

Or leave the belt off and drive with no AC?
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Re: Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

Yeah, i meant compressor. The A/C worked fine before the failure. I hope the pulley failure didn't ruin the compressor. Which pipes would I need to check to make sure they aren't dark gray or black?
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Re: Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

Yeah, i meant compressor. The A/C worked fine before the failure. I hope the pulley failure didn't ruin the compressor.
If the system was working fine before the pulley locked up then I would not open the system if at all possible......if I planned on replacing only the pulley and clutch set. I'd leave the system sealed, don't mess with the freon unless absolutely necessary.

Make sure the clutch plate will turn ok, that verifies the shaft or guts aren't locked up. (The damaged pulley may not allow you to do this yet though)

I'd start by pulling the clutch and pulley off and check the snout for damage, then decide what to do next.
Just a few new pieces to make it work again, or a whole new compressor?

Which pipes would I need to check to make sure they aren't dark gray or black?
Don't mess with it unless you have to replace the compressor (or have to take the compressor out of the car).

IF you end up deciding to remove or replace the compressor, just take a q-tip and swab inside the discharge port after you remove the lines from the compressor.
Since you say the compressor was working and the system was cooling ok then you probably won't find anything substantial.
Clean is good, of course.
Gray or darker, or metal particles would be bad and you need to do more checking to see how far it went.

If you need it, I can probably find you some info that outlines the checks but it's for a CRV so it's not the same car or system, but you should at least get the idea of what's going on.

Very dark or black powdery residue (black death) is usually found in systems that had compressor failure or compressor trying to fail. It could be burned oil and aluminum powder and teflon seal residues from operating with a serious lack of lubrication causing overheating and 'grinding itself to death inside'.

This residue can ruin a brand new compressor in a very short time.

Some systems (newer cars) have a screen that is somewhat easily accessible that can be checked for metallic contamination.
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Old 07-09-2015
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Re: Engine diagnosis - Crank but no start

Got it. Thanks so much for the info!
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