How To Test Engine Compression (1992, 1993, 1994,1995, 1996, 1997 2.2L Honda Accord, Odyssey, Prelude)

In this tutorial I'm going to explain how to test the engine compression on the Honda 2.2L 4 cylinder engine.

I'm also going to explain how to interpret your test results to find out if an engine compression problem is causing your Honda to not start or if it's causing the engine to misfire.

All the test steps are explained in detail.

En Español You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar La Compresión Del Motor (1992-1997 2.2L Accord, Odyssey, Prelude) (at: autotecnico-online.com).

APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:

  1. 2.2L Honda Accord: 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997.
  2. 2.2L Honda Odyssey: 1995, 1996, 1997.
  3. 2.2L Honda Prelude: 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997.

Tools You'll Need:

  1. Compression Gauge Tester.
  2. A Helper
  3. Pen and Paper

Symptoms Of Low Or No Engine Compression

For the most part, engine compression problems will cause one of two types of problems.

Either the engine will not start or the engine will start but it will run with a misfire.

The most common issue that you'll see with engine compression problems is that the engine will run with a misfire.

If your Honda is OBD II equipped and the engine compression problem is causing a misfire, then you're going to see the check engine light lit up by one or more of the following trouble codes:

  1. P0300 Random Cylinder Misfire.
  2. P0301 Cylinder #1 Misfire.
  3. P0302 Cylinder #2 Misfire.
  4. P0303 Cylinder #3 Misfire.
  5. P0304 Cylinder #4 Misfire.

Generally, when an engine compression problem causes a rough idle, you're only going to feel the problem when you come to a stop light. But as soon as you accelerate the engine, the engine feels fine.

You're also gonna' see:

  1. Bad gas mileage. This is caused by the simple fact that the engine is now running on less than all 4 cylinders.
  2. Engine pollutes more. This is also caused by the simple fact that the engine is now running on less than its full complement of cylinders. The live cylinders have to compensate for the ‘dead’ ones.

If your 2.2L Honda Accord (Odyssey or Prelude) is NOT OBD II equipped, you won't have any codes lighting up the check engine light, but you'll definitely feel a rough idle condition.

OK, having covered the most common scenarios of low compression and no compression, let's get testing to see if this is the case on your 2.2L Honda Accord (Odyssey or Prelude).

Which Compression Tester Should I Buy?

There are lot of engine compression testers to choose from and many places to buy them. I'm gonna' make two recommendations to you:

1) Which one to buy:  The engine compression tester that I have always used is the Actron CP7827 Compression Tester Kit. My only complaint about this engine compression tester is that it does not come with a case to store it in.

Engine Compression Gauge Testers

2) Where to buy:  You can buy an engine compression tester just about anywhere, but you'll end up paying more for it (especially at your local auto parts store). The above links will help you comparison shop. I think you'll agree it's the better way to save money on the compression tester!

TEST 1: ‘Dry’ Engine Compression Test

How To Test Engine Compression (1992, 1993, 1994,1995, 1996, 1997 2.2L Honda Accord, Odyssey, Prelude)

The thing that makes testing the compression on the 2.2L 4-cylinder Honda engine is the fact that the spark plugs are very accessible, which makes removing them a piece of cake.

You're going to need and engine compression tester to check the engine's compression.

If you don't have one, you can run down to your local auto parts store and either borrow or buy one from them.

If you'd like to save a few bucks on the purchase of a good quality engine compression tester, take a look at my recommendations here: Which Compression Tester Should I Buy?

NOTE: It's important that you test the compression of all four cylinders.

IMPORTANT: You'll be working around a cranking engine, so you have to be careful and stay alert at all times. Think safety all of the time!

These are the test steps:

  1. 1

    Disconnect the distributor from its electrical connectors. This will prevent the ignition coil from firing off spark to the spark plug wires during the test.

    NOTE: Disconnecting the distributor's electrical connectors is important, since it'll prevent damage to the ignition coil.

  2. 3

    Remove all 4 spark plugs.

    As you're taking them out, be careful and don't drop any of them on the floor, or you could cause the spark plug's ceramic insulator to break, and this will cause a misfire!

  3. 4

    Thread the engine compression gauge into the spark plug hole for the number 1 engine cylinder.

    NOTE: Hand tighten the compression gauge only! Do not use any type of tool to get it tight.

  4. 5

    When everything is set up, have your helper to crank the engine. Your job is to keep your eye on the compression tester's gauge.

  5. 6

    Once the needle on the gauge stops climbing, have your helper stop cranking the engine.

  6. 7

    Write down the compression value on a piece of paper. Include the number of the cylinder this reading belongs to.

  7. 8

    Repeat steps 4-7 on the other 3 cylinders.

Let's take a look at what your test results mean:

CASE 1: No compression in 2 or more cylinders. This test result tells you that the engine has serious internal problems.

The most common issues would be: Broken timing chain. Or a blown head gasket. Or the engine threw a rod.

CASE 2: Low compression in one or more cylinders. To a certain point, it's normal for the compression to vary a little between cylinders (as the engine accumulates thousands of miles).

But if these values vary too much, then you're gonna' have a bona-fide misfire on your hands.

The next step is to do some math to find out if this low compression value is within a normal parameter or not. Go to: Interpreting Your Compression Test Results.

Honda Vehicles:

  • Accord 2.2L
    • 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997
  • Odyssey 2.2L
    • 1995, 1996, 1997
  • Prelude 2.2L
    • 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997