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M/T not accelerating under load when first started (warm weather)


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Hello, I have an interesting situation and am eager to find some expert advice.


I have a 2003 civic with manual transmission. Just recently, the car started having trouble accelerating in 1st and 2nd gear only in the first 1-2 minutes after the engine is started. This has only occurred in the past two weeks when weather has been 60+ degrees (no cold weather issues).


The most noticeable problem is when trying to put the engine under load in 1st or 2nd gear. When trying to accelerate to shift into gear, everything is fine. Once fully in gear, then the engine drops to idle even if the accelerator is further depressed. If I put the accelerator all the way into the floor, the car will suddenly lunge as the rpms come up and then everything seems to be fine until the next time the car is started.

To try to diagnose further, I have started the car and held it at 3000 rpm while in neutral. When doing this I noticed a slight oscillation between 2500-3500 rpm, but it generally maintained the high revolutions without dropping down to a low idle like when placed under load.


This only occurs when first started including if started after about a 15 minute cool down period (enough time to run a short errand at the store).


Of note, I just had my safety inspection completed a few days ago and all emissions tests came back OK. Also, no check engine light or abnormal readings during the safety inspection.


From reading other threads, it seems that the likely candidates are EGR ports clogged, EGR valve, O2 sensor, or catalytic converter clogging. All of these however seem to cause unacceptable exhaust levels.


Any suggestions on how to better diagnose the problem or other tests to run before taking it to a mechanic?


Thank you!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Updated with video of the problem if anyone has suggestions:



Please help! Manual transmission 2003 honda civic with following indications.
Indications: The car starts without any problem and behaves normally for a short period. Within the first 2 minutes after startup, the car cannot maintain RPMs either in gear or in neutral (manual transmission) with approximately 2000 RPM. This only happens in the first two minutes then will not happen again until the car is restarted after a shutdown. The check engine light has NOT come on and there are no error codes in the computer.
Candidates identified so far:
-- O2 sensor: no error codes
-- EGR valve: replaced
-- fuel pump: not yet checked
Any suggestions??
Checks to date: Honda just completed both the state safety inspection and 120K maintenance inspection. No check engine light was on and the dealer verified no error codes had been generated. The EGR valve was just replaced last week and the problem continued. I have used fuel injector cleaner without improvement. The mechanics were unable to identify the problem during their inspection but did not inspect the fuel pump.
Testing: I performed the test as shown in the video allowing the car to start normally then increasing RPMs to 2-2.5k by holding the accelerator at a constant position with the transmission in neutral. The car will start to sputter under constant accelerator position (about 0:48 in video) then drop to less than 500 RPM with accelerator still depressed. It will clear and RPMs will shoot up. In this video it happens over approximately 30 second period then is fine the rest of the drive with no recurrences finally clearing around 1:40.
Environment: Temperature has been warm (greater than 50 degrees) and this occurs the same regardless of hot or mild day.
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