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I found good advice from this Board awhile ago, and I'm now back.

I took my '03 Civic in to the dealership for a timing belt change (7 year old car but only 33,000 miles-manual says to change at 7 years or 110,000 miles, whichever comes first)--plus water pump, oil seals and a couple other changes which I cannot recall just now. It was also time for a "minor maintenance," such as oil and filter, check fluids, tire rotation, etc. Dealership was 12 miles away and I went home without incident.

The next day I was going home after driving perhaps 20 miles, when, after making a left turn at a green light, the car suddenly would not get above around 22 MPH, even with flooring it. I got off the highway, then got back on to test it again. Same result. No check engine light. The car was towed back to the dealership. It was in the back of my mind that since so much was done to the car the day before, that someone perhaps failed to connect something properly.

They later called me that day and said that they had taken the car out to 80 MPH without problems. Obviously, I did not know what to say. This was on Saturday.

They called me again this morning, Monday, and said that a "check engine light" did go on when they took the car out again. They apparently ran diagnostics and told me that "the oxygen sensor was bad." I asked if that was related to the failure I had with getting the car over 22 MPH and they said "no."

Okay, does anyone have any idea what's going on here? This car was just fine when I took it in. Is this all just coincidence? Seems the odds here of nothing being related to anything else--the timing belt and accessory changes, my issue of suddently not getting above 22 MPH and now the oxygen sensor problem--is pretty long.

Thanks for any insight here!
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Do you have the car back? Can you drive eighty mph now? Does the car accelerate/idle generally perform like you expect it to?

If not then something is wrong and I would suspect the timing belt is not on correctly, throwing the valve timing slightly out and affecting performance. This problem will not go away unless the timing belt is correctly reinstalled if my guess (incorrectly installed timing belt) is correct.

if they are saying the car runs fine up to eighty mph than you should pick the car up and make sure that it does.

To your expectations and experience with the car.
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If not then something is wrong and I would suspect the timing belt is not on correctly

That was my thought, as well - I suspect that they *may* be trying to cover their initial error in installing the belt... *could* also be a fuel pressure problem, but I'd look to an incorrectly installed timing belt, first, though it wouldn't hurt to install a new fuel filter and check the fuel pressure and flow.
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That was my thought, as well - I suspect that they *may* be trying to cover their initial error in installing the belt... *could* also be a fuel pressure problem, but I'd look to an incorrectly installed timing belt, first, though it wouldn't hurt to install a new fuel filter and check the fuel pressure and flow.

I would think that a timing belt issue would be immediately apparent, not something that suddenly happens on a left turn. You drove it quite a ways before you noticed the symptom. That's not to say the shop didn't do something wrong and covered up later, but even if the belt suddenly jumped time on your left turn, it wouldn't recover on its own later.

Certainly a new fuel filter wouldn't hurt, and if the old one is seriously compromised, I'd look inside the tank too. Crud sloshing into the pickup on your left turn may have been the source of the problem.

Richard
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but even if the belt suddenly jumped time on your left turn, it wouldn't recover on its own later.

but it would, if the shop reset a belt that had slipped and subsequently tightened the belt tensioner bolt properly, no?

Bob
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but it would, if the shop reset a belt that had slipped and subsequently tightened the belt tensioner bolt properly, no?

Only thing that bothers me about that conclusion is that there were no codes set from the time the problem appeared until the customer took it to the dealer. At least the warning light didn't illuminate.

But a mis-adjusted tensioner could certainly have allowed the belt to jump time suddenly, and it would explain the loss of power and even the destruction of the oxygen sensor. For all we know, it was the wrong belt installed anyway.

Richard
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Update:

I picked up the car this morning after they replaced the O2 sensor, and took it out for a 50-mile drive, including highway, couple towns, turns, stopped for gas, etc. Everything seems just fine now, runs smoothly, good acceleration, sounds good, etc.

The dealership thought that if it were a timing belt issue, it would not be an intermittent problem. I mentioned the fuel filter to them and they said that my year Civic ('03) has a lifetime filter located in the fuel tank. They said that older models do have filters which need replacement. Changing of a fuel filter is also not mentioned anywhere in the 2003 Civic manual, as far as I could see.

Some of this just may have to remain a mystery, or be sheer coincidence. FWIW, that particular dealership does have a good reputation which is one of the reasons I changed to using them fairly recently. They could be wrong about some things, but I don't think they are dishonest.

Thanks to everyone for input.
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Gothamgal,
An O2 sensor can definitely explain your symptoms and I would be ok with that conclusion to the story.

Rich, and others,
I promise a timing belt that is one tooth off can cause intermittent drivability issues. Especially on twin cam engines. Years ago I held the same belief you have, and because the customers drivability symptom was intermittent I removed the timing belt from my list of possibilities of what was wrong with the car. Eventually I got it. Very eventually and after a few incorrect parts were installed - by me.
The exhaust cam was one tooth retarded.
That was a humbling week for me and I would not have fixed the car except for the suggestion of another mechanic that I take the time to check the timing belt despite my disbelief that it could cause an intermittent symptom.

If you are out there - Thanks again Tom.
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