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Ok so I recently bit the bullet and bought my first project car, it's a 1990 Integra GS. Some pros are that it has superb paint and exterior, windows, windshield, bumpers, etc. No rust on or under the car at all. Interior is also in amazing shape. Two tires are great and two are ok, maybe got a couple thousand more miles in them so not a priority. Steering and suspension seems top notch. Transmission is great, shifts smooth, and has a brand new clutch. It's also got a brand new distributor. Brakes are iffy and will probably need replacement soon but they are also ok for now. So now the bad. The engine is low on power, it's really tough to get it up to speed and is awful at going up hills. It also smokes like a freaking bonfire. From what I can tell, it seems like bluish smoke and I'm certain it's burning oil. It's not really drivable at the moment because of the absurd amount of smoke it spews and the low power issue.

So, if I want to get this car up to driving capabilities, what do you think it's gonna take and how much is it gonna cost? I know there's no hard answer, and that's not what I'm looking for, but just in your general experience how much might an engine rebuild at a fair mechanic cost to fix issues like low power and burning oil? And also how long does it typically take for an engine repair or rebuild at a shop?
 

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Congrats on the new Integra. Im sure you will get her up and running in tip top shape as she was the first day out of the factory if not better.

well if its blusih your burning oil so your rings on the pistons are most likely going out on your motor so thats gonna be a start for power loss.

im guessing that the engine is a b18a or b and the next question is what do you want to get out of the car. If i was you and im looking at this, if your not gonna go boost than i would get your money and find your self a b18c, and do a swap on the car. The cost of rebuilding a motor can sometime be more that you want to spend and the other factor is that its a non-vtec so that is nail if your not going to go boost (turbo).

The time to build a motor at a shop can be in and around 2weeks or so depending on the shops load. With COVID alot of shops have a lot more work on hand since projects are now the thing. Also they wont take your motor unless you have all your parts ready to go if they are putting it together for you. If they are slow a week turn around on most builds

Cost you gotta look at what needs to be replaced and than look at what you wanna replace to make it a stronger motor and also the treatment to the block and to the head if you keep the motor as one.

Parts (example):
  • rings if you keep the same size pistons ( but i would replace pistons ) miles on car.
  • oil pump
  • water pump
  • timing belt
  • head gasket
  • valves and retainers and springs as you said motor has heavy miles on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Congrats on the new Integra. Im sure you will get her up and running in tip top shape as she was the first day out of the factory if not better.

well if its blusih your burning oil so your rings on the pistons are most likely going out on your motor so thats gonna be a start for power loss.

im guessing that the engine is a b18a or b and the next question is what do you want to get out of the car. If i was you and im looking at this, if your not gonna go boost than i would get your money and find your self a b18c, and do a swap on the car. The cost of rebuilding a motor can sometime be more that you want to spend and the other factor is that its a non-vtec so that is nail if your not going to go boost (turbo).

The time to build a motor at a shop can be in and around 2weeks or so depending on the shops load. With COVID alot of shops have a lot more work on hand since projects are now the thing. Also they wont take your motor unless you have all your parts ready to go if they are putting it together for you. If they are slow a week turn around on most builds

Cost you gotta look at what needs to be replaced and than look at what you wanna replace to make it a stronger motor and also the treatment to the block and to the head if you keep the motor as one.

Parts (example):
  • rings if you keep the same size pistons ( but i would replace pistons ) miles on car.
  • oil pump
  • water pump
  • timing belt
  • head gasket
  • valves and retainers and springs as you said motor has heavy miles on it.
So I'm in talks with a few shops in my area but all the ones with decent reviews are backed up at least a week. The top rated shop I found, which works specifically on Honda and Acura, will take in the car tomorrow but won't start diagnosis until next week. I think I'll bring it there and see where things go.

I'm primarily looking for reliability/longevity and budget friendly. Not necessarily "cheap" per se, but I don't want to break the bank. I'm not particularly interested in boosting it, I'd rather just get a straight rebuild or swap.
 

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i would say if that the idea than just do a swap and get some vtec screaming from that GS. way to go and hope all works out.
 

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As you stated, this is extremely hard to answer, especially since a proper diagnosis has been performed yet. I don't think the topic of an engine rebuild should be in anyone's mind yet, as that's a "worse case scenario". If for whatever reason a rebuild would be required, my suggestion would be to find another motor to drop in, as they're a dime-a-dozen, there's an abundance of them, and it would be more cost effective.

Again, your best bet is to have a proper diagnosis first (compression test, leak-down, etc) and find out the health of the motor first. You could just have blow-by in the PCV system causing the smoke, for example. Alternatively, a headgasket. After knowing exactly what the engine needs, then you can start asking about cost averages.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
As you stated, this is extremely hard to answer, especially since a proper diagnosis has been performed yet. I don't think the topic of an engine rebuild should be in anyone's mind yet, as that's a "worse case scenario". If for whatever reason a rebuild would be required, my suggestion would be to find another motor to drop in, as they're a dime-a-dozen, there's an abundance of them, and it would be more cost effective.

Again, your best bet is to have a proper diagnosis first (compression test, leak-down, etc) and find out the health of the motor first. You could just have blow-by in the PCV system causing the smoke, for example. Alternatively, a headgasket. After knowing exactly what the engine needs, then you can start asking about cost averages.
I tend to assume the worst and be pleasantly surprised when it’s not so bad, so I’m just preparing myself mentally and financially if it needs a swap. I’ve never done a swap before, but I did have a Suzuki motorcycle that I replaced with new rings and a head gasket. So I just want to be prepared. If it’s a head gasket or something along those lines, then so be it, the shop can fix that. But in the worst case scenario it needs a swap, then I want to know my options (ie what motors will be compatible with this car) ,what that’s gonna cost, and how that process works. Anyway, I’m taking it to a shop today but they won’t be able to diagnose anything till next week since they’re backed up. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
As you stated, this is extremely hard to answer, especially since a proper diagnosis has been performed yet. I don't think the topic of an engine rebuild should be in anyone's mind yet, as that's a "worse case scenario". If for whatever reason a rebuild would be required, my suggestion would be to find another motor to drop in, as they're a dime-a-dozen, there's an abundance of them, and it would be more cost effective.

Again, your best bet is to have a proper diagnosis first (compression test, leak-down, etc) and find out the health of the motor first. You could just have blow-by in the PCV system causing the smoke, for example. Alternatively, a headgasket. After knowing exactly what the engine needs, then you can start asking about cost averages.
So I was able to get the Integra checked out by a well-reviewed shop specializing in Honda/Acura. According to the mechanic, the fuel injectors were sticking and there was a bad oxygen sensor. Does that make sense for having a loss of power and excessive periodic smoke coming from the exhaust?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
A bad oxygen sensor can definitely make it smoke. It can cause the ECU to be dumping a ton of fuel causing smoke. Additionally, if the injectors are sticking, there's no control of fuel, all of which can cause a loss in power.
Ok cool, I guess I’m just not great at telling what color smoke is coming out. It looked white to me, leading me to believe the head gasket blew, but it may have been like a blue-grey.
 

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Did you end up having them repair it? Also curious if you plan on doing a compression test to see how healthy each individual cylinder is. My first post in a long time, but you definitely piqued my interest.
 

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Did you end up having them repair it? Also curious if you plan on doing a compression test to see how healthy each individual cylinder is. My first post in a long time, but you definitely piqued my interest.
Yeah so I brought it a Honda/Acura shop near me and they quickly figured out that it was sticking fuel injectors and bad oxygen sensor. So I got that fixed up and it runs great now. I fixed up the headlights and got a new head unit last week along with re-wiring some of the audio components.. Subwoofer is coming in this week. The AC system doesn’t work at all. Like no fans are blowing on any setting. So I’m currently diagnosing that issue and might take it in to a shop again to have the blower motor replaced since that seems to be the problem. I will also eventually want to fix the moonroof switch since it’s really tough to get it close back up and needs a ton of pressure on the switch itself.
 
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