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Hi Pete - just to clarify the situation - all engines are mounted on rubber insulated mountings otherwise the driver and passenegers would have no teeth due to the vibration. Subsequently the engine needs to have a connection (a fairly heavy cable about as thick as a pencil) between the engine and the body work or battery otherwise any of the engine electrical parts will not function properly or be damaged. In fact apart from the main cable many engines have secondary earthing cables (not as thick) especially for this purpose. The main earth cable is usually secured by fairly heavy bolts at both ends and is hard to miss although you may have to search for it around the engine. Creating a temporary earth is unlikely to cause damage unless some of the other earth cables are broken. I suggest you try looking closely around the timing cover end of the engine or around the gearbox for signs of the main earth cable.
Currently in madnoel10's garage:
Honda Civic 1.4l