P0301 P0302 P0303, P0300 Misfire & Rough Idle After Timing Belt Change, 2009 EXL
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Thread: P0301 P0302 P0303, P0300 Misfire & Rough Idle After Timing Belt Change, 2009 EXL

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    P0301 P0302 P0303, P0300 Misfire & Rough Idle After Timing Belt Change, 2009 EXL

    Hello all,

    Glad to be a part of the new forum... however unfortunately for this reason:

    -After completing a timing belt change on 09 EXL the motor has a misfire and runs horribly at idle. After idling for approximately 1 minute the check engine light flashes on the dash and runs smoother but not to its potential.

    The van had no misfires or check engine lights prior to new timing belt installation and ran well.

    The following codes pulled are P0301 P0302 P0303 P0300.

    The codes indicate a misfire in cylinders 1,2,3 and random misfire. My first concern was that the rear cam gear (firewall side) was off a tooth. I'll note now that this isn't my first timing belt job on a honda. I've successfully installed timing belts on 2 other honda v6 j series engines (early 2000 models) and also countless 4 cylinder engines including rebuilds. I'm doing this for a family member and it's their most practical vehicle to haul the kids around.

    So I went back and triple checked all timing gear alignments. Everything was spot on. All replacement parts are genuine Honda, which includes water pump, timing belt and tensioner, and spark plugs.

    Same results when starting. I swapped coil packs from the other cylinder bank that weren't causing misfires to rule out igntion or coil pack failure. Checked spark and fuel on cylinders 1-3. Compression test yielded relatively even numbers across all 6 cylinders.

    When doing the install the rear bank cam gear DID slip from its tdc alignment mark ONLY when the timing belt was OFF the engine. My grave concern, was that I potentially bent a valve(s) on cylinder 1 when the piston was at tdc. At tdc, pistons 2 and 3 are sunken down enough in the cylinders that the valves would not contact.

    After exhausting other options, I wanted to confirm whether any valves were bent. I pulled the rear bank head. Head and valves appeared to be in good condition. The valves had no evidence or marks contacting the pistons which I've seen on other engines. I took the head to a reputable machinist to double check and he confirmed there were no bent valves. The head was cleaned and he reseated and did a valve job on all 12 valves.

    I installed the reconditioned head and used a new oem honda headgasket, did a valve adjustment to spec, and reinstalled the timing belt spot on. Even had a friend, former Honda dealer mechanic, come over and verify timing marks. Unfortunately it still runs the same, rough idle for around a minute until the check engine light flashes and increases the revs to around 2k rpms. Same misfire codes as before. I went back and ensured all wiring clips were fully seated on the injector housings. Same results.

    I'd greatly appreciate any advice or curious if any of you had a similar scenario. My main priority is to get this van running back the way it was. There was one post listed on this forum with similar circumstances but the original poster never updated the thread with the outcome. I will surely keep this updated with the fix to aid others in the future.

    Any possible issues with VCM? The other j series engines I've worked on before did not have VCM. I'm not too familiar with which cylinders it controls but wonder if it's possibility it could cause an problem.

    Thank you all
    Last edited by legacy377; 08-20-2016 at 08:25 PM.

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    Registered User John Clark's Avatar
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    Wow. You did a lot of extra work for suspected bent valves. Just as tip for the future, a compression test, followed by a leak-down test on any low cylinders, would have told you the same thing about the valves without having to pull the head. It would have been worth the money spent on the tools.

    Can you tell if any of the three rear cylinders are firing at all? While running, if you unplug a coil does the engine bog down? Try that test (called a cylinder drop test) and see if unplugging the coil packs on each individual cylinder, one at a time, changes anything. You've ruled out compression, so now you just need to figure out whether the problem is fuel, spark, or timing. Timing is done by cam and crank sensor and the crank sensor is down there by the crankshaft timing belt gear. I would think if that was the problem, though, that it wouldn't run at all or would be running on pre-programmed data.

    I'm getting ready to do a timing belt on a friend's Pilot on Monday so reading something like this is always a bit alarming.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Clark View Post
    Wow. You did a lot of extra work for suspected bent valves. Just as tip for the future, a compression test, followed by a leak-down test on any low cylinders, would have told you the same thing about the valves without having to pull the head. It would have been worth the money spent on the tools.

    Can you tell if any of the three rear cylinders are firing at all? While running, if you unplug a coil does the engine bog down? Try that test (called a cylinder drop test) and see if unplugging the coil packs on each individual cylinder, one at a time, changes anything. You've ruled out compression, so now you just need to figure out whether the problem is fuel, spark, or timing. Timing is done by cam and crank sensor and the crank sensor is down there by the crankshaft timing belt gear. I would think if that was the problem, though, that it wouldn't run at all or would be running on pre-programmed data.

    I'm getting ready to do a timing belt on a friend's Pilot on Monday so reading something like this is always a bit alarming.
    Hi John, thanks for the reply.

    I performed a compression test. After the pulling the intial misfire codes my first gut reaction was that maybe the valves made contact. Worst case scenario. However, before I removed the rear head I:

    -Triple checked the timing marks with timing belt on. Spot on. Used a mirror especially for the rear cam gear alignment to get a direct line of sight. Rotated the crank several revolutions to ensure proper alignment.
    -Performed a compression test. Cylinder 1=255psi, Cylinder2=260psi, Cylinder3=260psi

    -Checked spark on rear bank head. I inserted a spare plug on all 3 rear coils to physically check for spark. I also swapped coil packs from front to rear heads.

    -Vaguely checked fuel by looking at intake manifold ports. All 3 rear bank intake ports were wet with fuel. At this point the intake manifold was removed already and I was prepared to pull the head.

    -I have a leakdown tester and could have used it but the compression numbers were good. Most likely the leakdown numbers would have passed. It would have been ideal to check. Logically speaking good compression numbers indicates no bent valves. Although in that moment, my mindset was a “simple” timing belt change should not impact fuel. Possibly spark because I removed the spark plugs and coils but I also checked spark as indicated in above.

    What variables have changed? I was aware the rear cam gear slipped from the tdc mark with the timing belt off and it was unnerving not to pull the head to confirm and to eliminate that variable.

    Typically a faulty cam or crankshaft positioning sensor will trigger a CEL or the engine will not start at all. I did ensure that both wiring connections are firmly in place.

    I'll have more time to update this tomorrow...
    Last edited by legacy377; 08-21-2016 at 12:09 AM.

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    Sorry. I missed your initial comment where you said you did a compression test. After getting those good numbers I wouldn't have pulled the head but that's neither here nor there. You went above and beyond. You've ruled out compression for sure.

    You didn't mention anything about the cylinder drop test. While idling, disconnect and reconnect each coil pack one by one and see if there is any drop in RPM when you disconnect. If no change in RPM that is telling you that cylinder is a problem. The misfire codes can lie and be deceiving sometimes. If disconnecting the rear cylinder coil packs individually doesn't change the rpm, try disconnecting all three of them. If it doesn't change the idle rpm that will tell us a lot.

    The service manual does mention doing a crankshaft position sensor relearn procedure after a timing belt job. I did my Ody a few years ago and didn't do it and it worked fine. I don't know what the ramifications are of not doing it. From the service manual, the steps are: start the vehicle and run it at 3000 rpm until the radiator fans come on. Then test drive on a level road. Decelerate (with the throttle fully closed) from an engine speed of 2500 rpm down to 1000 rpm with the transmission in 2. Repeat several times. Then turn the ignition switch to Lock (0). Then turn the ignition switch to ON (II) and wait 30 seconds.

    I've no idea if that will help any at all but it's a procedure they say to do after the timing belt job. My only concern at this point is damaging the cats running it with such a bad misfire (flashing MIL.) I don't think the CKS relearn will help but thought I'd throw it out there in case you weren't aware of it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Clark View Post
    Sorry. I missed your initial comment where you said you did a compression test. After getting those good numbers I wouldn't have pulled the head but that's neither here nor there. You went above and beyond. You've ruled out compression for sure.

    You didn't mention anything about the cylinder drop test. While idling, disconnect and reconnect each coil pack one by one and see if there is any drop in RPM when you disconnect. If no change in RPM that is telling you that cylinder is a problem. The misfire codes can lie and be deceiving sometimes. If disconnecting the rear cylinder coil packs individually doesn't change the rpm, try disconnecting all three of them. If it doesn't change the idle rpm that will tell us a lot.

    The service manual does mention doing a crankshaft position sensor relearn procedure after a timing belt job. I did my Ody a few years ago and didn't do it and it worked fine. I don't know what the ramifications are of not doing it. From the service manual, the steps are: start the vehicle and run it at 3000 rpm until the radiator fans come on. Then test drive on a level road. Decelerate (with the throttle fully closed) from an engine speed of 2500 rpm down to 1000 rpm with the transmission in 2. Repeat several times. Then turn the ignition switch to Lock (0). Then turn the ignition switch to ON (II) and wait 30 seconds.

    I've no idea if that will help any at all but it's a procedure they say to do after the timing belt job. My only concern at this point is damaging the cats running it with such a bad misfire (flashing MIL.) I don't think the CKS relearn will help but thought I'd throw it out there in case you weren't aware of it.
    I did the cylinder drop test again today. I have spark in all 3 rear bank coils. Tested by removing coil and inserting a spare plug. If I unplug the rear coils one at a time it DOES NOT impact the idle. Even with all 3 rear coils unplugged it DOES NOT impact the idle and it runs the same.

    In addition I also pulled the intake manifold and disconnected all 3 rear fuel injector clips. Installed the intake manifold back and started the engine. It runs the same without all 3 injectors clips connected. I also checked power and pulse on all 3 rear injector clips. All 3 rear clips have constant power to the yellow/black wires like they should and the colored wires show injector pulse with a test light. So unless all 3 injectors went bad (highly improbable) then I should have fuel because the injectors are getting proper signal.

    I have not tried the CKS relearn procedure. Most likely the ecu will not let me. After 1 minute of the misfires it triggers a blinking cel and increases the revs to around 2k rpm.

    Planning to do another compression test here shortly once the battery charges again.

    Is there a camshaft positioning sensor on the rear bank cylinder head? I'd like to try replacing it to rule it out. Those usually trigger a cel if faulty but at this point I'll try it.
    Last edited by legacy377; 08-21-2016 at 04:40 PM.

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    Just an update... I tested compression again on rear bank. Cylinders 1 through 3 are at 240psi. Slightly lower then before but likely due to battery drain.

    So to confirm: I have spark, I have fuel (or at least signal at the injector clips) , I have compression, and my timing marks are Dead On. But I still have 3 misfire codes on the rear bank. UGH...

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    1. No change in idle when unplugging any of the rear coils. (this is 100% proof it's the rear bank causing it.)
    2. Spark is occurring.
    3. Fuel injectors are firing.
    4. Compression is good

    Using the FASTEC no-start checklist (we really have a no-start on the rear bank) leads us to one area...

    Fuel: Good-since the injectors are firing
    Air: Good-since the other cylinders are firing and compression is good.
    Spark: Good-tested with spark tester
    Timing: ?
    Exhaust: Don't know why there would be any problem here but it's part of the checklist.
    Compression: Good-compression tested, leak down tested, physically inspected.

    You've pretty much ruled out everything except the timing which includes camshaft timing as well as cam and crank signal. There has to be something you're missing on that rear cam timing. A lot of times there are multiple marks. Are you absolutely sure it's correct? Could the sprocket be off somehow? It's definitely getting spark and fuel but obviously firing at the wrong time. Have you physically inspected that that the rear cylinders (1, 2, & 3) are coming up on compression stroke in the proper firing order? Firing order is 1-4-2-5-3-6 which means if you rotate the crankshaft those three cylinders will come up, in order, ever other time. If you have the upper cover installed on the front bank it has an inspection hole that will show you which cylinder is at TDC (used for adjusting valves.) If you line that up until you see "1" in the window the rear cam should have the #1 at TDC. Then rotate again until you see "2" in the window. Now #2 should be at TDC, valves closed on the rear bank, etc.

    If that is all correct then the only other thing it could be is some kind of problem with the crank sensor or VCM. However, when VCM kicks in all the valves on cylinders 1, 2, & 3 close so you'd have all the valves closed and there'd be no compression. I would think you'd get a code for that, too.

    Have you cleared the codes at all? Sometimes the computer will shut down the cylinders when those misfire codes are up but usually it will do that by shutting off fuel in order to save the cats.

    Beyond that I'm out of ideas. It sure sounds to me like that rear cam is out of time.
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    There is only one cam sensor and it's on the front camshaft.
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    HI,

    I went through a somewhat similar situation. I skipped a tooth, though it was still derivable,
    it had a loss of power and flashing check engine lights. I pulled about the same codes you
    have. I got my timing belt job done, and now the engine seems happy even though it ran
    for a while with a tooth off. I had a slight tick at first after the repair - I think due to something
    temporary around the timing belt tensioner - definable not a bent valve issue. It sounds and
    runs good now.

    What timing mark did you use on the crank pulley?

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Clark View Post
    1. No change in idle when unplugging any of the rear coils. (this is 100% proof it's the rear bank causing it.)
    2. Spark is occurring.
    3. Fuel injectors are firing.
    4. Compression is good

    Using the FASTEC no-start checklist (we really have a no-start on the rear bank) leads us to one area...

    Fuel: Good-since the injectors are firing
    Air: Good-since the other cylinders are firing and compression is good.
    Spark: Good-tested with spark tester
    Timing: ?
    Exhaust: Don't know why there would be any problem here but it's part of the checklist.
    Compression: Good-compression tested, leak down tested, physically inspected.

    You've pretty much ruled out everything except the timing which includes camshaft timing as well as cam and crank signal. There has to be something you're missing on that rear cam timing. A lot of times there are multiple marks. Are you absolutely sure it's correct? Could the sprocket be off somehow? It's definitely getting spark and fuel but obviously firing at the wrong time. Have you physically inspected that that the rear cylinders (1, 2, & 3) are coming up on compression stroke in the proper firing order? Firing order is 1-4-2-5-3-6 which means if you rotate the crankshaft those three cylinders will come up, in order, ever other time. If you have the upper cover installed on the front bank it has an inspection hole that will show you which cylinder is at TDC (used for adjusting valves.) If you line that up until you see "1" in the window the rear cam should have the #1 at TDC. Then rotate again until you see "2" in the window. Now #2 should be at TDC, valves closed on the rear bank, etc.

    If that is all correct then the only other thing it could be is some kind of problem with the crank sensor or VCM. However, when VCM kicks in all the valves on cylinders 1, 2, & 3 close so you'd have all the valves closed and there'd be no compression. I would think you'd get a code for that, too.

    Have you cleared the codes at all? Sometimes the computer will shut down the cylinders when those misfire codes are up but usually it will do that by shutting off fuel in order to save the cats.

    Beyond that I'm out of ideas. It sure sounds to me like that rear cam is out of time.

    THANK YOU! I'm baffled that I didn't pick up on this. And it makes complete sense. Should have took a break and thought it over more the first time. Misfire codes indicate cylinders 1,2,3. Completely related to only rear bank cylinders.


    Remember when I mentioned the rear cam gear moved after the timing belt removal? In the process of reinstallation I marked the front cam alignment with a red paint marker...well the mark is at cylinder notch #5 rather then #1. The fact that I marked it with paint really through me off. Exactly 180 degrees off. Geez...

    I may have even removed the timing belt with the cams 180 out because i followed a youtube video that mentioned it was difficult to see the rear timing mark. I should have had a manual with a diagram of cam markings while doing the job. I've done a j35 timing belt before but it has been a long time ago.

    SO...moral of story:
    The crank pulley marks may be lined up but that doesn't ensure the cam gears are at TDC. The crank rotates twice for every cam revolution. There multiple marks on the front cam. Make sure the mark on the front cam gear with the #1 is lined up with the valve cover alignment mark.

    The firing order is what triggered the eureka moment. I should have picked that up while doing the valve lash.

    Next step: I will the remove timing belt, then angle the crankshaft 45 degrees from TDC at 10:30 or 1:30 position so the valves don't contact the number 1 piston, then rotate the rear cam to it's proper position, reinstall timing belt. Then go back and redo valve lash on cylinders 1-3. Keep you posted...

    Here's also a great resource of how the alignment marks should look. It's a youtube video but it shows the j35 engine out of car so you actually see all the cam marks. Notice the various marks on the front bank cam:
    Last edited by legacy377; 08-21-2016 at 07:44 PM.

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    Well, that's great news. I figured it had to be a timing issue but you said even the Honda tech looked at it and said it was good. What's up with that? I watched a South Main Auto YT video where Eric O and another YT'er, MotoYam82, tackle a similar situation where a vehicle had some timing issue and after much head scratching they finally found a twisted camshaft. If you don't subscribe to SMA's YT channel I highly recommend it. It illustrates the need to go methodically through it and rule everything out. It's too bad you went to all that trouble to replace that rear head gasket. I'm just glad you didn't hurt anything by being 180 off.

    In addition to starting out at TDC on everything before disassembly, my plan for the timing belt I'm doing tomorrow is to mark the old belt at each of the cam timing marks, and mark the belt exactly opposite of the crankshaft mark. Then, transfer the marks from the old belt to the new belt by counting teeth. Then you put the new belt on and match the marks. The belt marks won't match again after two revolutions of the crankshaft but the regular timing marks should. That method especially helps if the rear bank slips on you a little just as yours did.
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    Quote Originally Posted by legacy377 View Post
    ...I may have even removed the timing belt with the cams 180 out because i followed a youtube video that mentioned it was difficult to see the rear timing mark. I should have had a manual with a diagram of cam markings while doing the job...
    Before disassembly, if you lined up #1 on the front cam, the rear cam would have been in place. For whatever reason you just marked the wrong spot on the rear cam. Just an error. Can happen to anyone.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Clark View Post
    Well, that's great news. I figured it had to be a timing issue but you said even the Honda tech looked at it and said it was good. What's up with that? I watched a South Main Auto YT video where Eric O and another YT'er, MotoYam82, tackle a similar situation where a vehicle had some timing issue and after much head scratching they finally found a twisted camshaft. If you don't subscribe to SMA's YT channel I highly recommend it. It illustrates the need to go methodically through it and rule everything out. It's too bad you went to all that trouble to replace that rear head gasket. I'm just glad you didn't hurt anything by being 180 off.

    In addition to starting out at TDC on everything before disassembly, my plan for the timing belt I'm doing tomorrow is to mark the old belt at each of the cam timing marks, and mark the belt exactly opposite of the crankshaft mark. Then, transfer the marks from the old belt to the new belt by counting teeth. Then you put the new belt on and match the marks. The belt marks won't match again after two revolutions of the crankshaft but the regular timing marks should. That method especially helps if the rear bank slips on you a little just as yours did.
    I know, not going giving any grief though.. I think my red mark threw it off, it could have been looked at closer for sure. I'm just relieved at this point.

    Interesting...I'd like to look into that channel. Methodical Approach is best. Taking a day to reflect would have helped, rather then pushing for time constraints.

    Yes that would be helpful.
    Something to keep in mind... the valve spring force is very tight on these engines so moving the cam takes some effort. Also when routing the timing belt it will have hardly any slack starting from the crank gear to front cam to rear cam, then around the tensioner pulley. If you can't get the belt around the tensioner pulley then your off a tooth and have too much slack in the belt. And obviously, check the rear cam alignment

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    In my opinion, the best channels for auto repair and diagnostics are:

    South Main Auto

    Pine Hollow Auto Diagnostics

    Schrodinger's Box

    ScannerDanner

    My favorite is the first one, Eric O at South Main Auto. I've learned a ton from him. He does lots of different things and I learn something from every one of his quality, always entertaining, videos. Even when he posts something I think I'm not interested in I always pick up something from him and am always glad I watched.

    If you want good educational type videos then Schrodinger's Box is really good. He recently went to mostly a premium channel but he still has a lot of free good videos up...if you can stand his attitude toward people that he thinks don't know as much as him. He's pretty good, though.

    Ivan at Pine Hollow Auto Diagnostics is really good and he and Eric O are friends. Ivan does great diagnostic videos but is young and learning, and while he is extremely good at diagnostics I've seen him do some so-so wrench-turning. He's really sharp, though, and I've learned lots from him.

    ScannerDanner is an instructor at a tech college in PA and is VERY good, and considered the diagnostic king of them all. He has a text book out that I've considered buying and then you subscribe to his premium channel and follow along through his text. That's on my bucket list but I've been getting along fine so far. He has lots of free videos out there that are really good.
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    I did my timing belt by watching South Main Auto clip on youtube and having the repair manual to look up information and cross checking. The hardest part for me was to mount the timing belt onto the first tooth of the rear cam. It took me 3 hours to finally got it on. At time it seemed like an impossible task to do. I still can't figure out how the guy in SMA just slip it right on like that. It took me a total of 36 hours (or 3 days) for the job because I purposely went slow to avoid making mistakes. In addition, I had to do some extra tasks like fixing the leaky power steering pump issue. Mine started up and ran perfectly afterward.

    I will check out the other recommended links when I have time.
    Quote Originally Posted by John Clark View Post
    In my opinion, the best channels for auto repair and diagnostics are:

    South Main Auto

    Pine Hollow Auto Diagnostics

    Schrodinger's Box

    ScannerDanner

    My favorite is the first one, Eric O at South Main Auto. I've learned a ton from him. He does lots of different things and I learn something from every one of his quality, always entertaining, videos. Even when he posts something I think I'm not interested in I always pick up something from him and am always glad I watched.

    If you want good educational type videos then Schrodinger's Box is really good. He recently went to mostly a premium channel but he still has a lot of free good videos up...if you can stand his attitude toward people that he thinks don't know as much as him. He's pretty good, though.

    Ivan at Pine Hollow Auto Diagnostics is really good and he and Eric O are friends. Ivan does great diagnostic videos but is young and learning, and while he is extremely good at diagnostics I've seen him do some so-so wrench-turning. He's really sharp, though, and I've learned lots from him.

    ScannerDanner is an instructor at a tech college in PA and is VERY good, and considered the diagnostic king of them all. He has a text book out that I've considered buying and then you subscribe to his premium channel and follow along through his text. That's on my bucket list but I've been getting along fine so far. He has lots of free videos out there that are really good.
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    Last Post: 11-30-2011, 08:47 AM

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