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Honda Civic Randomly Stalls

amanhayeramanhayer Posts: 6
edited August 2014 in Honda
I need some help. My 2002 Honda Civic randomly stalls. It is hard to figure out exactly when it will happen.

This is the story.

Back in February back I was in the parking lot and once I started the car it started shaking a bit. Much like if you miss the friction point slightly on a five speed. It wasn’t bucking just shaking. I didn't make much of it until the car stalled.

Then a few days later I was on a freeway and as I was approaching the lights the car stalled. I don’t remember if I was decelerating or not all I remember is that the car did stall. That is when I realized something was seriously wrong. This time their was not shaking, not nothing the car just stalled.

In both of these cases when the car stalled I didn’t get a check engine light. All I got with the key in the ignition light.

I called the dealer and booked an appointment. The mechanic spent the entire day with the car and could not replicate the problem. He hooked it up to the computer system and found no error codes. The dealer then checked all the parts and found everything was alright. Including the sparks plugs and the alternator.

The only the thing they thought was a little off was the battery. They said the charge was a ‘little’ low. The way the receptionist said ‘little’ made it seem insignificant. The mechanic charged up the battery. They told me I was driving the car too little and that might be the reason the battery is going low. They said if I am going to drive the car very little the few times that I do make sure the RPMs go high, and drive it on the freeway.

It is true that I don’t drive the car much, but I drive it more than my dad when he had the car. He never had a problem, and he only drives the car a few blocks every day. Whereas I drive from one end of the city to the other. But I followed their instruction and kept the RPMs high when I was merging onto a freeway (about 3,000-5,000 RPMs).

For the next few months I did not have a problem, then this past week I was on an ordinary residential street and the car stalled again. I called the dealer and booked another appointment. But really I am not in the mood to go in again and pay another 200 bucks and hear that it is my fault.

Anyways there are a few things in common. It was usually at the lights but I know for sure that I wasn’t coming to a stop but I may have been decelerating. The two times it stalled in February it was unseasonably warm. As in the snow was melting or completely melted. While the time it stalled in May it was raining after a week of really nice weather.

But I am not sure if that is even significant. Because every time it does stall the car takes a few days before the car will take three turns to start. Usually the weather would be consistent, so I don’t think that is the route of the problem.

Since the dealer said the alternator is fine a few people have suggested to me that the battery might be bad. I still have the original battery in my car (seven years old). I also noticed a bit of battery acid on top of the battery. But it is only a very thin layer and it doesn’t touch the battery cables.

Does anyone have an idea about why the car stalling? Could it be the battery?


  • amanhayeramanhayer Posts: 6
    I forgot one important point when the car stalls, I can easily bring the car to a stop put the car back into park and then restart it. The car starts with no problem.
  • ltistudentltistudent Posts: 5
    Hi how many miles do you have on your honda ?
    if it;s automatic transmission and around 100k check your transmission fluid level and conditions (if it is brown and smells bad) you should flash the transmission, but dont do it if car has more than 110.000-120.000 miles

    inside transmission there is torque converter, turbine is conected to the flexplate and impeller to the tranny. Between them there is a stator, which can cause your stalls. That stator has bearing which is probably going bad and it slows the stator in low engine rpm. and car stalls, it doesnt have to happened every day ... next day car can drive perfectly fine.

    there is a simple test for torque converter, start the car, put in 1st gear keep your foot on brake pedal and start slowly pressing the gas pedal at the same time, check your rpm, the car should attempt to move in around 1100-1500rpm if it is more than 2800rpm you need to replace your torque converter.

    good luck
  • amanhayeramanhayer Posts: 6

    My car is an auto and it has 83,000 KM (51,000 Miles). So it is a little lower than what you are suggesting.

    But I will check it in the morning. It sounds almost exactly like what you are suggesting.

    But one quick question I drive an automatic, so how would I keep it in the first gear?

  • ltistudentltistudent Posts: 5
    L1 or D1 on shifter
  • amanhayeramanhayer Posts: 6
    Their wasn't a D1 or an L1. I only had D, D3 and D2. But I tried all three highest it ever went was about 1,500 RPMs.

    Anyways I also checked the oil it is fine. I have a good colour, no smell and good volume.

    I called the Dealer and asked them what they did and they did check the transmission and did a stress test and it didn't stall. But they do have a new theory. They think it is either the starter or the spark plugs or some other part of the ignition system.
  • ltistudentltistudent Posts: 5
    So the car passed the test thats good (tranny jobs are expensive)

    Check the spark plugs before you go to dealer, again check if its wet smeels like fuel or black that bad, check the proper gap, you should have that info in your owners manual, remember when you replacing the spark plugs you have to check the spark plug gap !!!!!, wrong gap might cause spark engine fireing order proglems, (I would guess that prark plug gap is between (0.040" to 0.035") but please double check.

    To be honest I dont think that is a starter problem (starter is used only when you cranking the engine, starter engages and turns the flex plate) so starter cant stall the engine while you driving. Gear ratio between starter and flex plate is 1:30 so if starter would accidenly engaged while you driving (so let say in about 2300rpm) flex plate teeth would brake the starter sprocket (teeth).

    What I think also that you might have fuel delievery problem
    - one of your injector might have wrong fuel trim so can cause engine to stall,
    but then your car probably would stall even in crouse speed,
    To check injctors you need to have automotive lab scope.
    -check fuel lines, fuel filter might be clogged

    tell me what kind of fuel are you using ? 87 octanes - regular?

    In these days car is all computer, other think that fuel delievery problem can be poor conection to the PCM/BCM, check all the connectors which are going to your PCM (Power Train Control Module) in your honda yours is probably behind front passenger side kick panel, REMEMBER voltage spike can overload the PCM Guard causing several components to overheat and fail, SO WHEN YOU'RE GOING TO CHECK CONECTORS Thatch witch your hand good ground to avoid any spikes!

    If I were you I would run all posible tests on lab scope, including all pressure tests off course myself in the shop they would charge you fortune,
    I think that your engine stalls causes some small buls.....!

    good luck

    one more think ! ? at idle, outside the car can you smell fuel, take your hand behind the tailpipe and smell it?
  • amanhayeramanhayer Posts: 6
    Interesting that you mention fuel. This whole thing started when I put 91 octanes in my tank. The Shell station changed the layout of their station and I stuck the wrong nozzle in my tank. I mentioned that to the dealer and they said it might not have anything to do with it, but even if it did it would have cleared up by now. I only use 87 octanes now. I refilled it 3 or 4 times since.

    Anyways the dealer is doing diagnostics for free now. They had my car for the last few days so I mentioned the spark plugs, fuel filter and fuel pump to them and they said all that is fine. They could pull it apart but there is no point because I don't get a check engine light or an error code.

    As for the computer, I am not touching that one. Even if it is a problem with the computer I would just buy a new car. The cost is too high to justify a fix on a 7 ½ year old car.

    The dealer is going off a theory now; they believe the ignition switch is worn. When I brought my car home, I did a quick google search for “Ignition Switch” and “stalling” and I came across Honda’s Ignition Switch Recall

    An affected vehicle will likely experience difficulty in starting for a period of time prior to experiencing any engine stall. Normally, the vehicle can be restarted immediately.


    While drving the vehicle, the engine just quits. There is no stuttering, stalling, or engine misfires, it quietly just quits. The radio, heater fan, brake lights still work but not the signal lights.

    Even though, mine is 2002 the way they describe the problem is exactly the same as mine. I even have noticed it will take a few cranks to start at times. I don't need to flip the key back, the car keeps cranking. Not sure if that is the same.

    I wonder if that is it or even the heavy key. I have about four keys on mine plus a USB stick. The first time it happened was a few weeks after I bought the stick. Like I said it feels like some just turned the key and it turned off. I am going to take off the USB Stick and my bike lock key and see if anything changes.

    Anyways what they told me is every time it stalls just make a log of it. After it happens a few times bring in the log and they will judge it.

    I would appreciate any more suggestion?

    As for the tailpipe thing I will give that a try in the morning. But so far I haven't smelled fuel.
  • ltistudentltistudent Posts: 5
    I had acura tl 99 and exacly same problem engine stalls and they had Ignition Switch Recall owner before me changed that and car still stalled, my problem was torque converter !

    try that ignition switch !!!
  • amanhayeramanhayer Posts: 6
    Did you get a check engine light when that happened? Also did it restart right away?

    But anyways I removed extra set of keys so if it does stall then I am going for the ignition switch. Is there a way to test the ignition switch?
  • civiicx1civiicx1 Posts: 1
    i have a silver 2 door 2002 honda civic.
    i just bought the car used a week ago
    when i start the car in the morning as i reverse out of my drive way once i put the car in drive the gas pedal wont budge and the car begins shaking and im pressing on the gas pedal as hard as i can and the RPM shoots up but the car doesnt move anywhere after it shoots up the car stalls again and repeats 3-4 times and after that the car starts moving again, i brought the car back to the dealership and they claimed they fixed it, the next day it did it again and i brought it back and they claimed they fixed it again, the next day it did it once again, im not sure what the problem is can somebody help
  • I have been dealing with this problem for a few weeks now. I can usually get the car going right away but it's pretty dangerous as it only happens while I'm moving so dropping it into neutral and restart is the only way to really do it for my commute. Two times I've had to pull over and wait. I just put in a STP fuel injector cleaner so I'm going to see how well that works. I'll probably do it on my next two tanks of gas. FYI, mine is a 1998 civic ex w/ 222k on it.
  • imm19imm19 Posts: 12
    Had this problem on my daughter's 99 Civic Automatic. Replaced the ignition switch ($30 from Advance Auto Parts and 1 hour labor) and is like a new again:)
  • Hi
    Was leaving work accelerating down highway... let up on gas (car in front was travelling slow)... car stalled... hasn't started again.
    Gas is full
    Oil was low about 1.5 litres (now topped up)
    Car has 350000km
    Plenty of battery
    no light flicker/dim (no alternator issue)
    starter spins but engine doesn't fire

    Has given no problems ever ... any ideas .. ways to eliminate possilitlies
This discussion has been closed.