1994 Honda Civic DX Hatchback Engine Replacement

October, 2021

This car has been sitting for years waiting for me to get around to it. I had such good results putting some new parts in a 1992 Hatchback that I wanted to try the same thing with the 1994. Here it is after a good wash:

See my 1992 Civic page for the prep work to pull off the head. Pulling here:

Rusty cylinders. Too rusty.

Also, crankshaft would not budge, even with this beefy custom breaker bar:

I decided to look for a salvage-yard engine, found a 1993 D15B7 (same model as the '94 engine) with 153,000 miles on it, first try at a nearby yard.

The old engine had to come out. According to YouTube and Haynes and Chilton's, best to pull the engine out with the transmission. I disconnected exhaust header, hoses, wires, shift linkage, clutch slave cylinder, axles. I have done this all before but I took hundreds of photos anyway, so I could figure out how things would go back together. Here are some helpful photos, tricks and tips for future me when I do my next engine swap:

Use Blaster on all rusty nuts and bolts.

I used a breaker bar with a 6-point socket with a slot for oxygen sensor wires:

The shift linkage spring pin was hard to remove. I made a big, heavy punch from scrap because the spring pin was really tight.

There are five engine/tranny mounts. I took the weight off the mounts with hoist and two straps, one strap to the alternator bracket, one strap to a transmission bracket. I took the mounts off in this order:

Rear tranny mount bolt:

Lower front tranny mount:

Lower left engine mount, 4 bolts in the block:

then I loosened the two top mounts, one on the engine, top left:

one on the top of the tranny:

Engine and transmission came out together:

Engine bay:

I took the tranny off the seized engine. A rusty dowel pin in the tranny case made it difficult to separate the cases. I used a metal paint scraper and hammer to wedge the cases apart:


I took off the clutch pressure plate, removed the clutch disc, then took off the flywheel with impact gun and 12-point socket:

Here is the salvaged engine. I picked it up in the '92 hatchback.

I banged together a simple but strong engine stand out of scraps of 2x8 lumber:

November, 2021

Here is the engine with the valve cover removed. The head and cylinders look many years younger than the '94.

A piston in the salvaged engine:

Looks good.

To remove the stubborn crankshaft pulley, I had to lock the pulley and use a pipe extension on the socket wrench.

Long wrench.

Like I did on the '92, I replaced the oil pump, oil pan gasket, water pump.

To correctly torque the clutch pressure plate I had to lock the flyweel. I cut a ring gear brake out of a piece of flat iron with an angle cutter, bolted it to the tranny housing.

New clutch.

New timing belt and alternator.

Grease splines:

Getting together.

The front bolt on the lower left motor mount was quite stuck in the frame. I had to cut away some of the old mount to get at the bolt head with Vise-Grips:

Vise-Grips with extension:

I could only get the bolt out about half way. It was getting harder and harder to turn, didn't want to risk snapping the bolt, so I cut off the head:

I primed and painted the area, secured the mount with the original bolt and a new nut:

The motor/tranny goes in:

Adding oil!

New distributor:

New left axle:

December, 2021

More unexpected news: bad fuel pump. Here I checked voltage at the pump, got about 13 volts, but no fuel pump whine.

The fuel pump is under the back seat. Disconnect the fuel line and return hose:

Fuel pump out:

New fuel pump:

While the fuel pump assembly was out, I inspected the gas tank, saw fine red particles, figured I must wash out the tank. That required the removal of the tank. Ready to drop:

Fuel tank out, but difficult to drain. I ended up draining the tank by inverting it over an old oil container and rinsing the tank thrice with fresh gas. This cleared the tank of fine rust.

Only light rust on the tank. I roughed up the surface with sandpaper and sprayed the top with undercoat:

I reinstalled the fuel pump assembly and put the tank back in the car. Once I verified gas flow and fixed an improperly attached fuel line at the fuel rail, I filled the radiator:

And started the car!

There was some steaming of antifreeze off the exhaust manifold and also off the thermostat housing. Research and inspection showed this was due to old leaking radiator hoses. I replaced both upper and lower radiator hoses, still had leaks at the thermostat housing. I noticed a slightly rough mating surface. Here it is after some wet sanding with 400 grit paper.

More sanding.

It was difficult to center the thermostat in the housing. I squashed the thermostst gasket at least once during assembly. I tried this, it worked:

I loosened the housing bolts a little, then I reached into the housing, was able to center the thermostat with my finger, tightened the bolts with my other hand. No more leaks.

A typical old Honda issue, brake light switch failure due to a broken plastic part on the brake pedal. I fixed it by replacing the broken part with three clean pennies and epoxy.

Now I was ready for a road test but I noticed then that seat belt was stuck in the retractor. I did a quick dash up the road to give the car its first test drive. Old tires made for a slightly bumpy ride but the engine ran, clutch smooth, brakes noisy with rotor rust.

After more research, I removed the seat belt extractor which was mounted on the wall behind the driver's seat:

Inside a housing labeled DO NOT REMOVE I found this device. The wobbling barrel pushes a pawl into a ratchet when the car accelerates, decelerates, or turns. The ratchet locks the belt.

I cleaned it up and put it back together, had a working seat belt again. I did the same thing to the passenger retractor.

I detected scraping from the rear right wheel on my test drive. Changed the rear brake shoes. Here is the left wheel with new brakes and springs except the spring on the parking brake cable:

A test drive showed a softer brake pedal so I tried to bleed the brakes. I got the left bleeder bolt loose, but careful as I was, I broke the bleeder bolt and then the brake line off the right wheel cylinder. I put in a new wheel cylinder and brake line on the right wheel:

What's left? The fan blower was jungle animal noises on the high setting. This is what I found in the blower.

I cleaned it up, as well as the duct over the blower. Fan restored.

December 31, 2021

I put on new tires, filled the gas tank, took the car for a test drive. Very smooth ride, acceleration, steering, brakes, all smooth. There are some small issues I will attend to but the car is road worthy. I'm happy to be driving it again after nine years.

For the record, I spent $903 on parts and $640 for the salvaged engine.

Happy New Year

Update, 1/13/22. The starter motor gives intermittent performance, sometimes clicking instead of turning the flywheel, so I ordered a starter motor today from Rock Auto, will install it when it arrives. I can rebuild the old starter to keep as a spare. I was stubborn, wanted to believe in the old starter. *sigh*

Update 1/17/22 The new starter behaves as the old one. It is intermittent, however it has more power, turns the engine faster. I removed, cleaned and reattached the tranny ground wire. No improvement.

Today I pulled the main relay since it is accused of causing starting issues. I found at least three full-circle cracked solder joints.

The smoking gun? I tinned all the solder joints because I was there. I reinstalled the relay. The engine started. I must have a reliable string of quick starts under all conditions before I am sure.