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Honda Accord (1994-1997) Maintenance and Repair

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  • Replacing the main fuel relay would only be justified under the conditions you described earlier: you can hear the fuel pump charge when the car is cold, the car starts and runs normally, and then after a while either the relay or the car gets hot (worse in summer), and then the car won't start.

    So the key question is: can you hear the electric fuel pump charge up pressure when the car has sat overnight? If so, you have a power to the fuel pump, and the fuel pump is supplying pressure to the fuel injectors.

    If you don't hear the fuel pump charge up after the car has sat overnight, your electrical connection to the fuel pump is faulty - could BE a failed fuel relay, but could be other connections too. Most important thing is that you SHOULD hear the fuel pump charge up after sitting overnight.

    Now, if you hear the fuel pump charge up, then you must have electrical power to the fuel pump, so the next likely thing is that you don't have ignition spark. You can test the ignition spark with a spare spark plug by disconnecting one of the ignition wires, plugging in the spare plug to the wire, then holding the threaded portion of the plug against a clean metal surface on the engine while you have a friend try to start the engine. Careful examination will show a spark to the bent electrode as the engine cranks.

    Obviously, you need to be careful to hold the spark plug by the rubber insulator (not any metal), keep your hands away from any moving belts/fans/moving parts. There is a nice description how to do this at http :// techauto.awardspace.com/ignition.html#spark

    Clearly, if there is no spark (or weak yellow spark) you must repair/replace ignition parts. Most problems like this are electrical in nature (either ignition or connections to fuel pumps), but they can also be things like failed/failing fuel pumps (no pressure/$$$ to replace) or faulty ignition coils. I've had ignition problems (replaced coil, electronic ignition transducer), but fortunately the fuel pump itself is holding up well.

    One trick you can do is get Starting Fluid from your local auto supply retailer (or Wal-Mart/K-Mart). It is an aerosol can containing ether. Open up your air filter and spray the filter element until it gets wet with starting fluid. Quickly reassemble the air filter and then attempt to start the car. If it starts up and runs (even if roughly and for a short time) then this directly points to a lack of fuel for one reason or another - ignition is fine because the car will run fine momentarily, and a bad ignition won't do that. If it still won't start, then it point to lack of ignition (because you have manually supplied sufficient fuel). Cost of a can of Starter Fluid is about $2 or so. Starter Fluid is also used to start cars on VERY cold days by the same means.

    Thermostat replacement is a good idea - just be SURE to get the correct replacement thermostat - you might consider the original Honda replacement part for this. I forget the exact opening temperature (190°F), but it is important that the temperature open up at the right temperature because the computer is basing it's operation on that precise temperature. After market parts are more cheaply built and will work, but probably fail sooner than the Honda part. Also, replace the temperature sending unit at the same time for the same reason - the computer is basing it's operation on correct readings, and this part can wear out/fail too and substantially affect the correct performance of the car.

    Look carefully at the cavity the thermostat resides in - if you see a lot of white-ish "hard water deposits" in that cavity, the engine and radiator need to be chemically cleaned out to dissolve these deposits; they can cause overheating of the engine because they block cooling. The cause is from not using distilled water to dilute the coolant - a common oversight.

    Prestone has a Part A/Part B cleaner (it is oxalic acid in powder form - the other Prestone liquid flushes ARE INSUFFICIENT) - you may have to order it because I don't frequently find it on the shelves. Again, you only need to do this if you see white deposits inside the engine or under the radiator cap.

    It is actually good that the car won't start - you can track the problem down to the failed part and replace it. It's the intermittent problems that are difficult to find.
  • Again, today she would not fire. When I turn the key to on, I hear a buzzing, not only the first time I try, but every time I switch the key on. I plugged an old spark plug into the plug wire and grounded it against a bracket and got a good spark. Even though my gas gauge said a quarter tank, I added a couple gallons of gas from my can. As I removed the cap, pressure hissed out.
    I tried to soaking the air filter with spray ether, but got no fire either. But it was windy as hell outside.
    Since the fuel pump runs with each key turn, does that indicate anything?
    ??
  • Ok - one question before we go further: is your car parked facing downhill? The fuel siphon is located at the back of the tank so if the gas is tilted forward there will be no fuel to the engine - just a check (it's happened to me). A couple of gallons won't be enough to fill the tank sufficiently under these conditions.

    You will know that the fuel pump is not charging up pressure if it runs continously (it is sucking air). The fuel pump ought to stop after a few seconds on the first key turn and stay pumped up for ~30 seconds or more (and it won't make a noise the next time the key is turned on until the fuel pressure leaks down, which could be awhile). Mine sounds like is makes maybe 7 "pumps" and then goes quiet (if there is gasoline available).

    It appears you have spark, but still no sputter? You can't have BOTH spark AND fuel, and have no sputter - it WILL pop.

    Two other things to check:

    1) It is possible the engine is "flooded"? (too much gas for the spark plugs to ignite) The easy and accurate test is to pull a plug and look to see if the plug is wet with gasoline.

    If so, the correction is to crank the engine with the throttle FULLY depressed to "air" the cylinders out. This is one of the scenarios where the Starter Fluid won't start the engine: too much fuel all around. Cranking the engine with the throttle fully depressed for awhile will drain the battery a bit - if this is problem, pull all the plugs and let the engine dry out overnight, or put the battery on a battery charger.

    2) Your fuel pump appears to be working (that's good), but since there is no pop, it indicates there is no fuel is getting to the cylinders.

    Again, the quick and accurate test is to pull the spark plug: if it is dry, then your fuel supply system is stopped up somewhere. The obvious locations: empty gas tank, plugged line, fuel filter, but fuel filters rarely plug up so quickly, even then a dribble tends to get out, so the car runs badly, but it runs. I've heard of people putting sugar in gas tanks, but try it yourself: sugar doesn't dissolve in gas, so it might as well be salt or sand - this is unlikely.

    The other possibilities are that the fuel injectors are all clogged (very rare); the more likely possibility is that the electrical connection from the computer to the fuel injectors is broken (or fuse is blown), or computer is bad. While this is possible, it is not common (and is expensive to fix). Let's look at the less expensive alternatives.

    One scenario is that you appear to have *no fuel at all* to the cylinders. Why? You have spark, but no pop. It's a pretty reliable test: if you have both spark and fuel (and compression) to the cylinders, you **WILL** get a pop.

    It is possible the spark plugs that are installed in the engine are not gapped correctly or are worn out (unlike the one you used for the test), but *all four* don't fail suddenly like this, so it is quite likely your ignition system (coil, distributor, reluctor, etc) is working (as you have confirmed).

    If the spark plugs are working, then in a "non-flooded engine" you should get a pop with Starter Fluid - it's that simple. We know the ignition was working fine recently when you drove it, so the timing (and timing belt) were working at that time.

    The following is a simple test:

    A) If you pull the spark plugs and find they are wet with fuel, then a flooded engine is likely the problem.

    B) If you find they are dry, then you have to ask yourself: why it is when you appear to have spark, and supply fuel manually with the Starter Fluid, there is no pop?

    *You'd have to look again at the ignition system* (since you've supplied the fuel manually, you now have both spark and fuel).

    Is the ignition timing right? (It has to be at top dead center of the cylinder timing).

    Is there compression (a compression test tool is possible through the spark plug holes and is inexpensive to conduct).

    There is a remote possibility of ignition working OK on a good spark plug held manually against the engine block, and then an old plug in the engine fail under actual engine compression, but this is almost always due to a single bad spark plug, and *all four* are unlikely to fail like this. Flooded engine or complete lack of fuel are much more likely.

    Believe me, the engine will pop if you have spark and *not too much* fuel (especially with the Starter Fluid, which is very volatile and explosive). It's how I get my Honda started quickly if it has been sitting six months or longer - try again when not so windy. Add fuel gradually: you can always add more ether to the filter step-by-step, or spray directly into the intake system, up until the point you flood the engine with ether.

    You can't have a situation where 1) the spark is correctly timed, 2) you have compression and fuel in the right ratio, and 3) not get a pop.
  • Thanks again for the input. The car is on level ground. When I added gas, the fuel gauge went up to nearly a half tank. I am hearing a whirrring sound for 3-4 seconds each time I turn the key to on. There is also a clicking noise from under the dash at the start and finish of the whirring. I can not hear any sort of pumping throbbing type sound at all.
    I will pull the plugs and see what they look like. Would they stay flooded for days??
    Thanks again for your help.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I am hearing a whirrring sound for 3-4 seconds each time I turn the key to on. There is also a clicking noise from under the dash at the start and finish of the whirring.

    That's exactly the sound my car makes when I turn the key to the ON (II) position before cranking. It's the fuel pump priming, from what I understand. The car is so old I try and let it do that before I ever fire it up.

    Drive it 105 miles a day now, and it still delivers 32mpg at 70-75mph. Gotta love 'em!

    1996 Accord LX I-4 Automatic
    233,000 miles
  • jimdempsterjimdempster Posts: 34
    edited November 2011
    The ideal fuel air mixture is around 14.8 air to 1 part fuel. When an engine is flooded with fuel, the fuel is in a liquid form, when it really needs to be in an aerosol form (for the spark plug to ignite it). If it is warm enough to evaporate some of the fuel (or you put in ether which is very volatile even when cold), then you have a combustible mixture. If the engine is really wet with fuel it can stay wet for days and you can run your battery down trying to start it.

    Once you pull a plug you'll be able to determine if the engine is flooded with gasoline.

    If you find the plug(s) are dry and the car won't start, you have a deficiency of fuel (assuming you have spark and no fuel). What is a little puzzling is that, if you supply fuel manually through the starter fluid, you ought to get a pop. If the plugs are dry then perhaps you need to add more starter fluid (although getting the air filter wet and spraying a little extra down the intake tube before closing up the air filter; usually works for me, even after 6 months being parked and I want a quick start.

    You are going to want to get a 'pop' from the starter fluid before proceeding further.

    If you can get no pop (and you have provided the fuel), then there is no working ignition (that is properly timed with compression of course). Even though you see a spark, it is possibly too weak (perhaps an ignition component is weak or failing or just failed now) or improperly timed (although it was working recently).

    If you get a pop (but the engine won't continue to run), then you have a deficiency of fuel supplied through the injectors. In all likelihood you aren't getting fuel pressure to the injector rack for one reason or another. There is a low cost fuel pressure gage from Harbor Freight tools for this purpose that can measure injector pressure in the rack (should be a constant 36 psi or thereabouts, I have to look up the exact pressure each time), and is invaluable for tracking down problems like this.

    I had a weird situation recently where the fuel pump appeared to work (made noise, etc.) but would fail (and the engine would die) going around a right-hand turn. Turned out it was a "almost failed" fuel pump that would provide just enough gas to get the car started and run slowly, but would provide insufficient fuel when demands were placed on it. Replacing the pump ($400) solved the problem and the car runs great. We thought initially it was flaky ignition parts getting hot and failing intermittently, but replacing the ignition components did not solve the problem. A fuel pressure gage test on the injector would have shown insufficient pressure immediately and revealed the problem for <$20.
  • omarromarr Posts: 88
    Trying again!!!

    Please tell me how you go from an overheated engine to a major overhaul, fuel pump problem.

    It sounds like the engine was tuned off as soon as the over heat was noticed.

    I have never had a automobile or anything else that needed a new fuel pump or an engine overhaul from a simple overheat problem.

    You had one problem, a bad radiator, that was replaced.
    The other problem was moisture through out the engine compartment.

    Check the electrical connections!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If it does not fire on starter fluid it is not fuel related, It is electrical.

    Have a nice day.
  • This morning I removed the fuel pump fuse, then each spark plug. Both 3 and 4 were dripping with oil. #2 was wet, but not dropping. #4 was moist as well. When I looked down the plug holes, the 2 piston tops i could see were wet looking. I cranked the engine for a couple minutes then wiped off and reinstalled the plugs. At the same time I checked the oil. It is now more than a half quart over the holes on the dipstick. The engine sputtered on the first crank, and several times in succession a few seconds later . I again aremoved the plugs and they were all wet and stinky of gas.
    I also removed the radiator cap, since I hear coolant gurgling back into the over flow reservoir and though cold, it really popped when I turned it a quarter turn to release the pressure.
    I guess you all can probably confirm my fears about worst case scenerio. In meantime, I will begin looking for a donor car.
    Thanks for everyone's responses.
  • jimdempsterjimdempster Posts: 34
    edited November 2011
    This explains why the car won't start, even though there appears to be fuel.

    Let's take the least expensive scenario: if the head gasket has worn out/broken between the combustion cylinder and the coolant passage, you would expect the very high combustion gases to get into the coolant system (since they are at higher pressure than the coolant when the engine is operating). You would expect the coolant tank to overflow, radiator hoses to burst, engine to overheat, a lot of pressure to be released when the radiator cap was removed, etc.

    Conversely, when the engine is not running/turned off, the pressurized coolant (which you noticed when you took off the radiator cap) will leak back into the engine, causing the ideal air:fuel ratio to be upset, so the car runs poorly, or won't start at all. You would also possibly see oil in the coolant, or see the oil levels appear to rise (because coolant/water was getting into the oil pan).

    Starting the car is very difficult because of all the water/coolant around. The drips on the plugs could be ethylene glycol coolant mixed with oil. The fact that plugs #3 and #4 were wet may indicate the location of a possible break in the head gasket.

    It's IMPORTANT to confirm this scenario: a radiator coolant pressure test will fail to hold pressure for any length of time. A good coolant system should hold ~12psi for many hours with no pressure drop, maybe even overnight.

    A coolant pressure tester can be obtained very inexpensively from Harbor Freight Tools (in-store or on-line). A blown head gasket (or cracked block) won't hold pressure for any length of time. You mention that a lot of pressure came out of the radiator, but not how long after starting/attempting to start the engine. (A leaky head gasket would leak down all the pressure overnight or even within a few minutes)

    *IF* it is a "blown" head gasket, it is a comparatively simple repair: the head is un-bolted and the gasket replaced, then the head is re-torqued down and the rest of the equipment re-assembled. A coolant pressure test confirms the effectiveness of the repair.

    If you wanted to do the work you will need to purchase some new, really good quality sockets and breaker bar (because the head bolts are REALLY tight and difficult to remove; 1/2" drive tools aren't adequate, they just bend; you need 3/4" drive; the bolts are high-strength 12-point ; cheap tools will just break and damage the bolts).

    If you take the head off, you can replace the gasket (follow the appropriate instructions). It is possible to exchange the head as well to get re-worked valves in the exchanged head (if you want to keep the car).

    The worse case situation is where the head gasket is fine, but the block is cracked into the coolant system. The symptoms are identical. It's tough to diagnose which it is: from my perspective it's easiest to pull the head off and hope it's a blown head gasket.

    If there gasket is nothing wrong with the gasket however, then the block (or head) must be cracked and replacing the engine (engine block) is the next step to consider. A cracked head can sometimes be welded, but it's a little cheesy so be careful.

    Rebuilt engines are not hard to find (or too expensive considering what you're getting), but the labor to remove and replace the engine is what will be most expensive. Engine hoists can be rented.
  • I see some kits have new head bolts included. Are they necessay? I have craftsman 1/2 inch sockets and a 2 ft breaker bar.
  • 1) Yes, the new head bolts are necessary. Why? These bolts are torqued so tight that they are actually have an "installed stretch". What the Honda Engineers want to do is make sure that these high-performance bolts have a consistent stretch - and old bolts that have already been stretched won't behave in a predictable manner. You may see the same thing on connecting rod bolts. It's a good practice if you want your car to be dependable. (The engineers are depending on the 'springiness' to hold the parts together).

    2) I tried loosening the bolts on my head with a 1/2 drive and 2 ft breaker bar, and the bar bent without loosening the bolts. Those bolts are really torqued in there.

    This is a case where you will need some good tools. You will need a 12-point impact grade socket (a cheap 12-point socket is likely to crack or strip), a 3/4" drive 2 ft breaker bar (1/2" drive will bend), a short 3/4" drive socket extension bar (so you can get to the bolts), and a torque wrench (1/2" torque wrenches go up to 150 ft-lbs and are built a little stronger, so may be OK to tighten the bolts down; otherwise you need a 3/4" torque wrench).

    Harbor Freight Tools (on-line or in-store) sells a nice 3/4" breaker bar and extension (and impact socket set too) for a very reasonable amount. It is possible also to rent 3/4" drive tools too (America Rents, try Home Depot too).

    There are at least three places on the Hondas where 1/2 drive tools are inadequate: a) the head bolts, b) the front wheel axle nuts, and c) the crank pulley bolt. There are times I'm standing with my entire weight on the breaker bar, and a 1/2" bar just bends. A 3/4" breaker bar "speaks with authority" and removes the bolts safely and without damage - it's a good investment.

    You'll need to look up the torque values for your head bolts (or ask the Honda parts dealer).

    Don't forget: conducting a radiator pressure test is an important test to confirm the diagnosis of a blown head gasket or cracked block (just to be sure). You're going to have to run a pressure test anyway after the head gasket is reassembled to test the gasket, your hoses, and the coolant system in general (to look for leaks and confirm it holds pressure overnight) - and coolant pressure testers are inexpensive (from Harbor Freight Tools).
  • zenman223zenman223 Posts: 1
    edited December 2011
    Hello, I have a 95 accord ex recently I have been having trouble getting it to start and cant seem to pinpoint the problem. When it started out, I though it was the PGM-FI main relay and bad solder joints. So I resoldered them and it would still not crank sometimes. So I replaced it with another used one. Now I wasnt able to resolder properly so I thought I may have just screwed the first one up. Now Im wondering If I possibly got another bad one? Seems unlikely so Im beginning to worry I have a Bad ECM.

    The sysptoms are as follows. When I turn the key on. The relay does not click. I hear one click under the passenger dash or somewhere but no relay click and the fuel pump does not engage. It will turn over but not crank b/c its not getting fuel. Whenever this happens the MIL/CEL will stay on constantly and the D4 light will start to blink after a few seconds. Its not blinking a code just steady blinks. There is no code stored for the MIL. Last time I checked, when it was working the TCM gave me a code 14 on the D4 light. But apparently that can be from PGM-FI or the ECM.

    This is driving me crazy b/c I cant fix it when It is working. I have a shop repair manual but the electrical diagrams are confusing to me. Can anyone give any insight into whats causing this? Thank you for any input.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,593
    Ah, Harbor Freight sells cheap Chinese made tools that won't perform!
  • Correct, the tools are cheap, but for non-professionals their one-time use is very helpful - especially if you are out of work and have a broken car!

    Always buy the best tool you can afford.
  • There are several pages of schematics to go through (about 16). You really need to get the Honda schematics if possible because the Chilton schematics are "iffy" whether they will show you your exact schematic. If you don't have the original manufacturer schematics, check on-line at your library(s) to see if they have a auto reference section. On my '90 Honda, the Honda schematic #14 contains the main relay.

    The good news: I don't recall it was difficult to trace. The ignition switch turns on power to the PGM-FI; your check engine light should turn on if there is power to the PGM when the ignition key is first turned. If not, check your fuses (on my '90 Honda, it is the BLK/YEL wire that powers the PGM).

    There is a clutch interlock switch involved on the manual transmission (like mine) - starter won't turn unless the clutch is depressed - just something to consider.

    There needs to be 12V applied to the YEL/BLK wire going into the main relay - this closes the relay and supplies power to the fuel pump. I've supplied 12V manually with some insulated lead w/alligator clips from the YEL/BLU connector on the main relay connector. This does manually what the PGM does electronically: closes the main relay. You will know you have power when you can measure 12V on the YEL lead coming out of the relay - and the fuel pump will start up. At least if you get this far, you'll know the mail relay is working to provide power to the fuel pump.
  • omarromarr Posts: 88
    You buy one saws-all from harbor freight for $24.00 and remove one wall.

    You buy one saws-all from Lowes for $224.00 and remove one wall.

    Now what would be the best investment?

    I go for Harbor Freight,

    Love the place
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,593
    Point taken in fact I bought a cordless reversable drill from HF last year.

    I'll probably use it twice a year. It looks cheap, it feels cheap and no professional would use one of these. Still, it does work.

    Still, I try to avoid buying the Chinese stuff and feel guilty when I do.

    Wrenches are a different story. Have a jaw spread and round off a fastener or snap when pressure is applied and your "savings" go's out the window.

    I wouldn't want to crawl under a car supported by HD jack stands either!
  • blinking D4 means your speed senor needs to be change it on your transmission there is 2 of them change both
  • The knob connects to a mechanical cable (technically a 'Bowden' cable): an outer sheath with an inner cable.

    Your problem is likely that the outer sheath has come loose; that's why it will close but not open.

    Look under the dash on the passenger side - you may be able to see the cable (wiggle the knob). If you see the outer sheath moving, then you just need to reattach it. It's a very common problem with Hondas as a result of a bad design. The adjustment is sensitive and not very reliable (that's why it failed for you). It can also cause the heat to run slightly even when the knob is turned off - that's a problem during the summer.

    There is another cable running out into the engine area for the coolant shutoff valve, but this is not likely your problem.
  • 94accordsw94accordsw Posts: 1
    edited December 2011
    I just found this forum because I was trying to check on problems with Honda Accords.
    Things not working: both passenger door actuators, driver's door lock cylinder, pump for window washer (front), shocks for tailgate seem to be going bad. I have had the car for just short of 4 years and have put on about 36000 miles (it has 201000 miles on it).
    Are all these things common problems? Also how difficult is it to take off the door panel? I was told it would cost 220/250 dollars to replace the front passenger door actuator and about 240 dollars to replace the rear door. Am I throwing money down a hole?
    I am feeling a sense of deja vu. I used to have a 1987 Mitsubishi pickup truck and after I had the truck about 13 years with 150,000 miles on it I kept spending money to get it fixed all the time. I finally sent it to the junkyard in 2006.
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