Piston Slap: The Annoying, Lazy Civic

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap the annoying lazy civic

TTAC commentator SpeedJebus writes:

This issue has boggled me from Day 1. I own a 2007 Honda Civic EX Sedan, with the 1.8 litre 4-cylinder, and the oh-so-wonderful Drive-By-Wire throttle system.

My issue is that it is LAZY. Lazy to rev that is. Also, at some points it appears to lose power for just a split second in the middle of a gear. Now at first I thought this was the result of an A/C compressor kicking on (I picked the car up in June 2007). But it has demonstrated this year round.

It doesn’t happen every time though. But it’s enough of an annoyance for me to bring it to the dealership. So my lovely Civic has been there a few times. They can’t figure it out. They’ve reflashed, and cleared the ECU, so that it will learn my driving habits all over again, etc however, it still happens. Can you, or anyone else explain to me how Honda can get this so wrong (And by comparison, a VW GTI with a DBW system can get it oh-so-right)? Can anyone suggest how I can get this remedied? It’s getting more and more of an annoyance. Especially since it IS (was) a new car. I’m not looking to replace the car, since I do plan on keeping it, so that is out of the question.

Sajeev answers:

The first thing is to level the playing field between your used Civic and a new one. Which means a tune up is in order. In some form: depending on mileage, new spark plugs, wires, PCV valve (if applicable, not here) and most importantly, a new fuel filter are in order.

If that fails, have a mechanic test fuel pressure while duplicating (driving) this problem. Have all four coil packs tested too. If that fails and it passes emissions and gets great fuel economy, I have one last idea: Hondata.

Maybe getting an aftermarket tune on a dyno will fix your problem. At the same time, a good tuner will also speed up your transmission shifting, optimizing fuel and timing curves for more power, and a host of other goodies (like electronic throttle mapping) specific to your application. So finding someone who uses Hondata, and verifying their street cred, might be your only way out.

[Send your technical queries to mehta@ttac.com]

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2 of 19 comments
  • SpeedJebus SpeedJebus on Jul 03, 2009

    Ponchoman49: Apparently they did this at the dealership. No faults. Also: I forgot to mention in my original message to Sajeev, it's a manual transmission. I was reading another article somewhere, and the author had mentioned a fuel pump problem causing the car to temporarily lose power. This almost exactly sums up the feeling. Is this something I can diagnose on my own? I'm not mechanically inept, just a bit superstitious about messing with the warranty.

  • SpeedJebus SpeedJebus on Sep 28, 2009

    Satisfaction! The culprit was a bad 1st O2 sensor. I had taken the vehicle in last week for it's scheduled service, and this time made the decision to follow this through and get a resolution. The dealership: A) Advised me that others have complained about the same problem. B) Drove my car back to back with an 09, and easily replicated my issue. They contact the Honda techs, and found out what (if any) hardware changes occurred between the 2007 and 2009 model. They started swapping sensors, driving the car, and so on. Bottom line, they replaced the O2 sensor, which was throwing readings all over the place. They also reset the engine computer. It's been 5 days now, and I have not yet experienced any of the issues that I had been complaining about. SO: I'm a happy guy. :)

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