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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 03 Jul 2006, 11:49 am
andrew m. boardman
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Default Debugging a Funny PGM-FI EACV Problem ('89 1.5)


The short version: What, on an '89 DPFI 1.5l engine, does the ECU use to
determine target EACV opening and idle speed? What would cause the ECU
to suddenly decide to command a full-open EACV without also indicating an
error?

The long version:

I've got an '89 Civic Wagon, 1.5l DPFI, 2wd, 5sp, and its idle speed
bounces randomly up and down between normal and 1-3k RPM over normal.

The "check engine" light is off, and the ECU displays no trouble codes.
The EACV has been cleaned and then replaced (twice!) and the ECU once
with used and known-good parts, and the symptoms are identical in all cases.

We've spent some time driving around with a portable oscilloscope wired
up to the EACV and various sensors. When the idle shoots up, it's
because the ECU is actually commanding the EACV open. Readings from the
MAP sensor, TPS, ELD, and O2 sensor look perfect compared to the graphs
in the Helms manual while it's doing this. We've made briefer checks of
the intake air and coolant temp sensors and they look OK; more
importantly I've driven with them disconnected and the periodic idle
jumps still happen.

Running the car with either the EACV disconnected or with its bypass air
hose plugged results in the expected low idle and no other problems
except for possibly a 15% fuel economy hit. (What with rapildly changing
gas formulations, though, it's hard to be sure the fuel economy issues
really stem from the engine control problems.)

My best guess is that there's some intermittently failing sensor that's
important enough to the ECU at idle to make it want to whack the throttle
open. The thing is, outputs from what seem like the obvious culprits
(MAP sensor and TPS) check out fine at both the sensor and the ECU
harness. Wiring and vacuum hoses have been thoroughly checked. The
RPM/crank position sensor hasn't yet been checked during operation, but
my understanding is that they usually either work perfectly or fail badly
enough for the ECU to throw an error, but it's on the agenda for the next
time we have a few free hours that aren't rainy.

Any educated guesses would be deeply appreciated. Anyone who can provide
a fix gets both my undying gratitude and (if you want it) a free bonus
used-known-good EACV!

thanks,
andrew
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 03 Jul 2006, 12:05 pm
jim beam
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Debugging a Funny PGM-FI EACV Problem ('89 1.5)

andrew m. boardman wrote:
> The short version: What, on an '89 DPFI 1.5l engine, does the ECU use to
> determine target EACV opening and idle speed? What would cause the ECU
> to suddenly decide to command a full-open EACV without also indicating an
> error?
>
> The long version:
>
> I've got an '89 Civic Wagon, 1.5l DPFI, 2wd, 5sp, and its idle speed
> bounces randomly up and down between normal and 1-3k RPM over normal.
>
> The "check engine" light is off, and the ECU displays no trouble codes.
> The EACV has been cleaned and then replaced (twice!) and the ECU once
> with used and known-good parts, and the symptoms are identical in all cases.
>
> We've spent some time driving around with a portable oscilloscope wired
> up to the EACV and various sensors. When the idle shoots up, it's
> because the ECU is actually commanding the EACV open. Readings from the
> MAP sensor, TPS, ELD, and O2 sensor look perfect compared to the graphs
> in the Helms manual while it's doing this. We've made briefer checks of
> the intake air and coolant temp sensors and they look OK; more
> importantly I've driven with them disconnected and the periodic idle
> jumps still happen.
>
> Running the car with either the EACV disconnected or with its bypass air
> hose plugged results in the expected low idle and no other problems
> except for possibly a 15% fuel economy hit. (What with rapildly changing
> gas formulations, though, it's hard to be sure the fuel economy issues
> really stem from the engine control problems.)
>
> My best guess is that there's some intermittently failing sensor that's
> important enough to the ECU at idle to make it want to whack the throttle
> open. The thing is, outputs from what seem like the obvious culprits
> (MAP sensor and TPS) check out fine at both the sensor and the ECU
> harness. Wiring and vacuum hoses have been thoroughly checked. The
> RPM/crank position sensor hasn't yet been checked during operation, but
> my understanding is that they usually either work perfectly or fail badly
> enough for the ECU to throw an error, but it's on the agenda for the next
> time we have a few free hours that aren't rainy.
>
> Any educated guesses would be deeply appreciated. Anyone who can provide
> a fix gets both my undying gratitude and (if you want it) a free bonus
> used-known-good EACV!
>
> thanks,
> andrew


hmm, the #1 cause on this group is insufficient coolant level. check
inside the radiator - if there's the smallest leak, air sucks back
rather than coolant, so the expansion bottle level stays the same.
insufficient coolant level in the block means the coolant foams and
gives spurious temp readings to the ecu, so it hunts back and forth
between "cold" and "normal" idle behavior.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 03 Jul 2006, 12:10 pm
jim beam
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Debugging a Funny PGM-FI EACV Problem ('89 1.5)

jim beam wrote:
> andrew m. boardman wrote:
>
>> The short version: What, on an '89 DPFI 1.5l engine, does the ECU use to
>> determine target EACV opening and idle speed? What would cause the ECU
>> to suddenly decide to command a full-open EACV without also indicating an
>> error?
>>
>> The long version:
>>
>> I've got an '89 Civic Wagon, 1.5l DPFI, 2wd, 5sp, and its idle speed
>> bounces randomly up and down between normal and 1-3k RPM over normal.
>>
>> The "check engine" light is off, and the ECU displays no trouble codes.
>> The EACV has been cleaned and then replaced (twice!) and the ECU once
>> with used and known-good parts, and the symptoms are identical in all
>> cases.
>>
>> We've spent some time driving around with a portable oscilloscope wired
>> up to the EACV and various sensors. When the idle shoots up, it's
>> because the ECU is actually commanding the EACV open. Readings from the
>> MAP sensor, TPS, ELD, and O2 sensor look perfect compared to the graphs
>> in the Helms manual while it's doing this. We've made briefer checks of
>> the intake air and coolant temp sensors and they look OK; more
>> importantly I've driven with them disconnected and the periodic idle
>> jumps still happen.
>>
>> Running the car with either the EACV disconnected or with its bypass air
>> hose plugged results in the expected low idle and no other problems
>> except for possibly a 15% fuel economy hit. (What with rapildly changing
>> gas formulations, though, it's hard to be sure the fuel economy issues
>> really stem from the engine control problems.)
>>
>> My best guess is that there's some intermittently failing sensor that's
>> important enough to the ECU at idle to make it want to whack the throttle
>> open. The thing is, outputs from what seem like the obvious culprits
>> (MAP sensor and TPS) check out fine at both the sensor and the ECU
>> harness. Wiring and vacuum hoses have been thoroughly checked. The
>> RPM/crank position sensor hasn't yet been checked during operation, but
>> my understanding is that they usually either work perfectly or fail badly
>> enough for the ECU to throw an error, but it's on the agenda for the next
>> time we have a few free hours that aren't rainy.
>>
>> Any educated guesses would be deeply appreciated. Anyone who can provide
>> a fix gets both my undying gratitude and (if you want it) a free bonus
>> used-known-good EACV!
>>
>> thanks,
>> andrew

>
>
> hmm, the #1 cause on this group is insufficient coolant level. check
> inside the radiator - if there's the smallest leak, air sucks back
> rather than coolant, so the expansion bottle level stays the same.
> insufficient coolant level in the block means the coolant foams and
> gives spurious temp readings to the ecu, so it hunts back and forth
> between "cold" and "normal" idle behavior.


also, make sure your "hard" idle setting is correct - disconnect the
eacv plug and set idle for 750 with the throttle body adjusting screw,
just like it says in the honda manual. the eacv provides supplemental
air in addition to the "hard" idle setting - it's not a substitute.
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  #4 (permalink)  
Old 03 Jul 2006, 12:50 pm
andrew m. boardman
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Debugging a Funny PGM-FI EACV Problem ('89 1.5)

jim beam <nospam@example.net> wrote:
>hmm, the #1 cause on this group is insufficient coolant level. check
>inside the radiator - if there's the smallest leak, air sucks back
>rather than coolant, so the expansion bottle level stays the same.


Yeah, I spent some time reading through the archives and was impressed by
all of the ways that low coolant level can make the engine misbehave.
Unfortunately, the coolant level is good, overflow isn't dropping after
use, and it's been bled by the book.

It's also jumping around very sharply; the EACV signal will jump from
3.5v or so up to 9v, sit for a bit, then back down to 3.5v; I don't think
a temperature sensor could react that fast. More to the point, though,
it does this even with the coolant temp sensor disconnected. (Voltages
quoted are the difference between the two EACV wires; it gets a constant
+12 plus a control line from the ECU which varies between +12 and ground
depending on how far the ECU thinks the EACV should be open.)

>insufficient coolant level in the block means the coolant foams and
>gives spurious temp readings to the ecu, so it hunts back and forth
>between "cold" and "normal" idle behavior.


What might also be important here is that the engine is being revved up
way way beyond what might be called for even with a very cold engine;
seeing it pop up to 4k RPM is not unusual. I suppose there's some chance
that flaky coolant temperature sensor wiring is making the engine look
really really really cold, but not far enough out of spec to flag the
sensor as failed. (It does flag it as failed when unplugged, though.)
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  #5 (permalink)  
Old 03 Jul 2006, 03:36 pm
jim beam
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Debugging a Funny PGM-FI EACV Problem ('89 1.5)

andrew m. boardman wrote:
> jim beam <nospam@example.net> wrote:
>
>>hmm, the #1 cause on this group is insufficient coolant level. check
>>inside the radiator - if there's the smallest leak, air sucks back
>>rather than coolant, so the expansion bottle level stays the same.

>
>
> Yeah, I spent some time reading through the archives and was impressed by
> all of the ways that low coolant level can make the engine misbehave.
> Unfortunately, the coolant level is good, overflow isn't dropping after
> use,


but it should! level in the expansion [overflow] bottle should go down
as it cools. and you /did/ check inside the radiator, not just look at
the bottle? need to be sure...

> and it's been bled by the book.
>
> It's also jumping around very sharply; the EACV signal will jump from
> 3.5v or so up to 9v, sit for a bit, then back down to 3.5v; I don't think
> a temperature sensor could react that fast.


sure it would!

> More to the point, though,
> it does this even with the coolant temp sensor disconnected.


ok.

> (Voltages
> quoted are the difference between the two EACV wires; it gets a constant
> +12 plus a control line from the ECU which varies between +12 and ground
> depending on how far the ECU thinks the EACV should be open.)


ok, but that's output - you need to find the input that's triggering
this response from the ecu.

i read before that you disconnected the temp sender, but there are three
on this vehicle: one for the radiator fan, one for the gauge on the
instrument panel and one for the ecu - just check you have the right
one. and i'd test the ecu output with a potentiometer wired in place of
the sender. it's supposed to range between about 20k and 100 ohms, with
lower resistance being the higher temp, so you can read the effect it
has on ecu output accordingly. that area of the head tends to get badly
fouled with oil leaks from the distributor, so check the quality of the
connection as well.

if still no dice, i'd check the electric load sensor.

>
>
>>insufficient coolant level in the block means the coolant foams and
>>gives spurious temp readings to the ecu, so it hunts back and forth
>>between "cold" and "normal" idle behavior.

>
>
> What might also be important here is that the engine is being revved up
> way way beyond what might be called for even with a very cold engine;
> seeing it pop up to 4k RPM is not unusual.


that just corresponds with open eacv.

> I suppose there's some chance
> that flaky coolant temperature sensor wiring is making the engine look
> really really really cold, but not far enough out of spec to flag the
> sensor as failed. (It does flag it as failed when unplugged, though.)


right, but the system also tolerates a degree of noise, so a full
disconnect is different to something fuzzy or high resistance.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 04 Jul 2006, 06:52 am
TE Chea
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Debugging a Funny PGM-FI EACV Problem ('89 1.5)

| Any educated guesses would be deeply appreciated.

Air Boost, Fast Idle & EGR valves, disable 1 @ a time & see.
http://www.autozone.com/images/cds/g...3d800cf4a6.gif



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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 04 Jul 2006, 10:15 pm
TeGGeR
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Debugging a Funny PGM-FI EACV Problem ('89 1.5)

amb@bronze.lcs.mit.edu (andrew m. boardman) wrote in
news:e8bhrc$13nt$1@grapevine.csail.mit.edu:

>
> The short version: What, on an '89 DPFI 1.5l engine, does the ECU use
> to determine target EACV opening and idle speed? What would cause the
> ECU to suddenly decide to command a full-open EACV without also
> indicating an error?
>



You have a giant air leak.

I don't know if you have a Fast Idle Valve, but on multi-port cars this is
the prime culprit.

--
TeGGeR

The Unofficial Honda/Acura FAQ
www.tegger.com/hondafaq/
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old 04 Jul 2006, 11:07 pm
jim beam
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Debugging a Funny PGM-FI EACV Problem ('89 1.5)

"TeGGeR�������������� �������" wrote:
> amb@bronze.lcs.mit.edu (andrew m. boardman) wrote in
> news:e8bhrc$13nt$1@grapevine.csail.mit.edu:
>
>
>>The short version: What, on an '89 DPFI 1.5l engine, does the ECU use
>>to determine target EACV opening and idle speed? What would cause the
>>ECU to suddenly decide to command a full-open EACV without also
>>indicating an error?
>>

>
>
>
> You have a giant air leak.
>
> I don't know if you have a Fast Idle Valve, but on multi-port cars this is
> the prime culprit.
>

yes, but the ecu's commanding the eacv to do stuff. it's got to be one
of the input sensors...
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 05 Jul 2006, 06:28 am
TeGGeR
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Debugging a Funny PGM-FI EACV Problem ('89 1.5)

jim beam <nospam@example.net> wrote in
news:UsGdnczhoJVjpzbZnZ2dnUVZ_oGdnZ2d@speakeasy.ne t:

> "TeGGeR�������������� ������
> " wrote:
>> amb@bronze.lcs.mit.edu (andrew m. boardman) wrote in
>> news:e8bhrc$13nt$1@grapevine.csail.mit.edu:
>>
>>
>>>The short version: What, on an '89 DPFI 1.5l engine, does the ECU use
>>>to determine target EACV opening and idle speed? What would cause
>>>the ECU to suddenly decide to command a full-open EACV without also
>>>indicating an error?
>>>

>>
>>
>>
>> You have a giant air leak.
>>
>> I don't know if you have a Fast Idle Valve, but on multi-port cars
>> this is the prime culprit.
>>

> yes, but the ecu's commanding the eacv to do stuff. it's got to be
> one of the input sensors...
>



It's a big air leak. That means one of the secondary air inputs into the
intake is bad. Or there is an input that is not supposed to be there
(something split, etc). The ECU is feeding gas to keep the mixture correct,
then cutting fuel when the RPM limit is reached, then repeating itself...

Another diag tool I forgot to mention: Partially cover the throttle body
with your hand. Cover more and more until the idle settles down. If this
works, something is admitting way too much air.

With any port-injected car, the thing to do is to cover the lower port when
the car is warm and idle is fluctuating. If vacum is present at that lower
port and idle settles down when you cover up the port, then that's the
problem.

--
TeGGeR

The Unofficial Honda/Acura FAQ
www.tegger.com/hondafaq/
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old 20 Jul 2006, 12:47 am
andrew m. boardman
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Debugging a Funny PGM-FI EACV Problem ('89 1.5)

Thanks again for the replies; sorry about the long delay in answering the
latest. (Some unexpeted travel, then some unexpected getting-sick.) I'm
back under the hood of this thing, though, so here are replies to
suggestions that were offered while I was in la-la land:

>also, make sure your "hard" idle setting is correct - disconnect the
>eacv plug and set idle for 750 with the throttle body adjusting screw,
>just like it says in the honda manual.


It's within spec, though that spec is 625rpm (+/- 50) in my Honda manual
with the EACV unplugged and no load, 750 with the EACV plugged in.
(Well, sometimes it does 750 just fine, sometimes it does 1800+.)

>> Unfortunately, the coolant level is good, overflow isn't dropping after
>> use,

>
>but it should! level in the expansion [overflow] bottle should go down
>as it cools. and you /did/ check inside the radiator, not just look at
>the bottle? need to be sure...


Sorry, I meant it wasn't dropping between checks with the engine cool.
The overflow bottle fills up an inch or two when the engine is hot, then
goes back down when it cools. I did indeed check the radiator (full up)
and the bleed point (bleeds, no bubbles) after driving. I've also just
put another thousand miles on it, which I'd hope would chase any bubbles
out.

>i read before that you disconnected the temp sender, but there are three
>on this vehicle: one for the radiator fan, one for the gauge on the
>instrument panel and one for the ecu - just check you have the right
>one.


I do believe so. "TW sensor" per the book, 20k ohms cold and a few
hundred hot, just under the distributor, six blinks on the ECU when it's
disconnected. (But even disconnected and blinking, the ECU pops the EACV
mostly open from time to time.)

>I don't know if you have a Fast Idle Valve, but on multi-port cars this is
>the prime culprit.


Nope, no Fast Idle Valve. (Also not multi-port; throttle-body injection
with stacked main and and aux injectors.) I do have a dashpot diaphragm
that cracks the throttle during cranking, but that's not misbehaving
either.

New data after 1k+ miles: I'm really confident the coolant system is
bubble-free. Mileage is definitely down the toilet, though, so it
appears that the ECU is not only opening the EACV but increasing injector
opening as well, which makes me think one of:
- throttle angle sensor (ECU is seeing "full open" when it's not)
- crank position sensor (ECU is seeing "high RPM" when it's not)
....even though neither of them is far enough off for the ECU to indicate
an error.

Side question: the Honda manual says "replace throttle angle sensor" if
it's bad. It doesn't have instructions for doing so, though, and a quick
look at the sensor on the throttle body shows what looks like a pair of
rivet heads. Is this actually replacable without swapping the entire
throttle body?

I've got a friend coming by with a multi-channel digital recorder this
weekend; we'll wire up *all* the ECU inputs plus the EACV control and see
what corresponds to the EACV getting thrown open.
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