1991 honda civic-Check engine light is on-how do i check it?

1991 honda civic hatchback with auto trans and 1.6l FI 16 valve motor. when the gas pedal is suddenly depressed more than about 1/3 of the way the engine revs down and it bucks many times until the driver lets off. the check engine light is now on and i need a site detailing how to check it (i went to autozone and asked them but apparently this is one that requires a jumper wire or paperclip and as a result flashes a light a specific number of times). if someone could help me find such a site and or give me some ideas on whats wrong i would certainly appreciate it. (by the way, please dont respond with answers such as take it to a mechanic, or buy a code reader-because that is not what im asking). thanks!

Answers:

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It sounds like a knock or oxygen sensor. How does the car run? What I would suggest is check the gas cap and make sure it is not cracked and has a good seal. Buy a good fuel injector cleaner and gas treatment and put that in the tank.

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Well, I am sorry that I don't remember exactly the spot where to find the test connector in the engine compartment. However from the symptoms you are describing, there are some basic things you can check before worrying about the check engine light.II am assuming your car has fuel injection and not throttle body.
1. Check the following for dirty: Air-filter element, fuel filter, the electric connectors on the throttle position sensor(TPS), if all these are ok, then you might start worrying about the check engine light. If it is continually on, your car has an OBD I engine control system, it means that the problem is constantly affecting engine efficiency, which might result in high emission of unburnt gas, which is the basic function of warning system.
Another common problem with Hondas is the distributor, it tends to give up after working for a couple hundred thousands miles. You can check it by removing the cap (it has 3 securing screws).
If you find it cover by sulfer, whitish/bluish ash, especially around the igniter, then that might suggest a potential problem. But do not conclude too soon, try to verify if all the wires fire when the problem is happening. The coil pack might be failing under heavy load, like 50-90% TPS.
Be careful when handling sparkplug wires while the engine is running. I would suggest you get an insulated pliers.

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Good luck.
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