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Q: Jumped Timing? on 2003 Honda Element

I accidentally let my 03 Honda Element get very low on oil (still on the stick, and no oil light on, but pretty low). The car started acting weird: once the engine warms up, if I try to accelerate hard, it won't respond, it just slows down. Even if I accelerate slowly, it will only let me get to 70mph and then it immediately starts slowing down until it's down to 60. If I only accelerate slowly and I keep it below 70, it acts fine. I've refilled the oil, but that hasn't fixed the problem. Does anyone know what might be wrong with it or how much it might cost to fix? From doing some research on my own, it sounds like it might have "jumped timing," but I don't know what that means. Will I definitely have to replace the timing belt, and have all of the valves checked, etc.?
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The symptums you describe don`t match a vechicle that has been starved of oil for any amount of time,which tells me the symptums may be unrelated to the low oil you talk about. You didn`t mention how many mile your Ele has on it. Those have a tune up interval of 102000 miles if you are at that point it may be time for a tune up which will consist of spark plugs and maybe spark plug wires. Also replace your air filter and run one tank of high octane gas, and add one bottle of Valvoline fuel injection cleaner.... Do these things before you do the tune up unless you are above 102000 miles....Keep records of all the maitnaince you do.....List: problem,symptum,repair,repair location cost of repair,date,milage of vechile at time of repair..... that will make things easier to track then just by memory ...Your HONDA is a timing chain engine, no timing belt!!! timing chains normally last the life of the engine....jumped timing means the time chain has gotten out of sync with the cams...very unlikely this is the problem...CHECK YOUR OIL TWICE A MONTH And start think-in with your dip stick.......
I don`t think an absente radiator cap would have caused this lack of power that you mentioned, did the engine blow out lots of lava tempitured coolant when the cap was missing...?Please up-date me on what maintaince you have done or havent done in the past 50000 miles or so. If you overheated the engine due to low oil or low or no h20 in the radiator the car would overheat very easily even if you top up both the oil and coolant and replaced the radi cap instead of letting it bounce around on top of the engine...This was a very wordy way of asking Is it overheating?....Lets not overlook maintaince issues that may need to be solved that may be causing the drivabilty problems.Remember HONDAS are beasts that feel it is their Civic(sorry) duty to serve you so a little low oil or low fluid in the radiator are small issues......
Im glad to hear that you do keep up on the oil changes,that will insure your engine lasts up to or above 200k miles. at 118000 miles you should be conidering a tune-up,that should take care of the check eng light, and send the drivabilty issues away with its tail between its legs....
Thanks for the answer. My car is at 118000 miles. Another possible issue is that I accidentally drove it for about 50 miles without the radiator cap on. Could that have affected it somehow? There's still plenty of coolant in there.
The temperature meter hasn't ever been high, so I don't THINK that it has ever overheated. I bought the car at 73,000 miles and since then I've done regular oil and lube, had brake pads and rotors replaced, and (usually) checked the radiator/reservoir and oil. The engine light is perpetually on and the rear wiper fuse blows out as soon as I replace it because of an electrical problem, but that's the only real problem with the car as far as I can tell. Is there anything else that I should have been doing?
The one thing you should look at is the check engine light. Usually when the light comes on and there is a performance problem the two are related. In your case I do see issues with a VTEC oil pressure switch that can cause problems that you describe.
Resolution: rdude is right, the oil pressure switch was causing the problem, I have an electrical problem that has kept the check engine light on so I didn't notice it coming on because it was already on. Just for the record this was a $0 fix. Thanks everyone for all of your help!
I see you said this was a $0 fix... did you 'reset' the VTEC oil pressure switch?
From what I have seen and have this same problem with my honda accord is that it sounds like you catilyst converter has gone bad it will cause the vehicle to lose power until eventually you won't be able to go faster than 35 mph. Have your technician check that out first. One way to tell is if you smell something like a rotten egg after its warmed up.
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