Edmunds dealer partner, Bayway Leasing, is now offering transparent lease deals via these forums. Click here to see the latest vehicles!

Honda Accord (1976-1989) Maintenance & Repair

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
In order to make the original and highly popular “Honda Accord Owners: Problems and Solutions” forum more manageable, we are dividing that forum into “Accord generations”.

Please make sure you are in the right generation for your Accord, and then post your questions concerning any maintenance or repair item.

Thank you again for helping to make the Accord forums so great here at Edmunds!



  • bonzmanbonzman Member Posts: 1
    i have an '88 accord with 170,000 miles on it. it has been running great up until this year when the weather started to get cold. i don't know if there is a correlation or not, but the engine has begun developing a habit of quitting when i get to a slow enough speed or just plain sitting at a stoplight. today i could not sit at a single red light and idle without my foot on the gas ensuring that the engine would stay about 2000 rpms. what is the problem? and is it fixable?
  • haefrhaefr Member Posts: 600
    Could be fuel related. Could be ignition related. Could be general electrical related. Could be an air intake problem. Could be an internal engine problem. Wow, it just ocurred to me! Why not have a real mechanic take a look at the car and diagnose your car's problem?
  • rcc8179rcc8179 Member Posts: 131
    I am assuming you have either a DX or LX (carbureted) and not a LX-i (fuel-injected). I suspect it is something with the carburetor. A couple possiblities I can think of are a leaking vacuum hose or a problem with the choke.

    I would try to find an experienced Honda mechanic--you may have to go to a dealer--to have it checked out. Honda carbs by this time are a maze of vacuum hoses due to EPA regulations.

    Good luck!
  • gube2gube2 Member Posts: 5
    Hi everyone !

    Just bought the car ( 1985 Accord Hatchback 1.8 ) the day before yesterday.

    Like topic :
    Where can I find
    1) Technical specifications for the car (preferably w. torque diagram) ?
    2) Repair instructions (manual), preferably w photos and/or good illustrations. Is there any info on the Internet any place ? Workshop Manual would be great, but even a manufacturers spare-part catalogue would be very helpful.

    Thanks in advance !


    P.S. Engine runs "fine" , but lacks a bit muscle I'd say.
    It pulls just fine from lower revs, but seem to get a bit pale from , say, 3,000 rpm and up.
    Any ideas ?
    My 1.8 litre engine has a carb.
    Are they (the engines)sensitive on air filters ?
    Mine is really dirty, though other cars I've owned
    have not been that affected by old air-filter... ?
    Another idea is that the ignition might be set at a too late timing ?
    I'd appreciate any input ! :)
  • rcc8179rcc8179 Member Posts: 131
    I had a 1985 Accord years ago. It wasn't a bad car--but was very underpowered (especially with the A/C on). The air filter is only a few bucks at an auto parts store, so you should go ahead and replace it.

    The most economical option would be a Chilton's manual. I know there is one that covers the 1984-1995 Accord and Prelude. It is not as detailed as a factory shop manual, but will cover general maintenance/repair. It has technical specs, though I am not sure it has a hp vs. rpm and/or torque vs. rpm curves.
  • haefrhaefr Member Posts: 600
    Haynes also has decent manuals. About that air filter - guess what the engine needs MOST of to attain its rated output power? If you guessed free-flowing air, go to the head of the class. (For every molecule of gasoline to be efficiently burned, the engine needs 10-15 times as much oxygen - you're literally throwing unburned gasoline out the exhaust as excess pollution. And paying good money to do it.) Buy a new FRAM or Purolator air filter at most any autoparts store or WalMart for that motor. (Or you can pay top dollar for a Honda air filter at any Honda take-your-money-ship.) You may also want to take a look at the fuel filter. That can also affect available power at higher speeds if its dirty.
  • user777user777 Member Posts: 3,341
    as haefr indicated haynes publishes a repair manual, so does chilton. a quick scan of ebay with honda accord 1985 chilton scored a few for sale.

    i find this site excellent for pricing OEM parts and seeing exploded systems diagrams:

  • deerhunter5deerhunter5 Member Posts: 1
    hello, i just purchased an 89 honda accord, it is in great shape, however it drops out of fifth gear when you are going down the highway. it also is hard to get into reverse. it seems like there is a part that came loose or broke inside the tranny. because its not always the same. you can feel something moving inside. my question is how do i get to it, and can i just take out the saftey catch. without too much problem.
  • gube2gube2 Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for your answer arcc8179. :D

    Re. "underpowered :
    Did you have the 1.6 litre engine? And
    did you have automatic gearbox?
    >> I can imagine the combination of 1.6 litre + automatic + AC =
    resulting in a very underpowered car...

    Re. air filter :
    OF COURSE I'll change the air filter !
    I merely wondered if this specific engine is more sensitive than usual , on air filter.
    This is varying on different engines.
    Obviously a highly tuned, high revving (sports motorcycle) engine IS demanding on airfiltering - no doubt there.
    But THIS 1.8 litre/100 hp car engine appear to be modestly tuned and might (or might not) be more tolerant in this aspect.

    Re. reading info :
    I'll get a Chilton's (or Haynes), for sure.
    I just wondered if there's some place on the Internet w. info ?

    ? Question :
    Do you know if there's any HP gain (worth mentioning) to be achieved from altering the cam timing (adjustable cam-belt gear) ?
    I'd be prepared to sacrifice some low-end pulling-power to gain
    a bit more "fury" on higher revs. ;)

    Cheers !

  • gube2gube2 Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for your answer " haefr ".

    Believe me , I know about air-flow, volumetric efficiency, A/F ratios, break mean effective pressure, et.c.

    I'm doing my best to come across the "language barrier"... ;)

    All engines "respond" to changes in flow resistance - both inlet and outlet.

    Different engines "respond" differently though, and
    the issue I was asking about ( and perhaps a bit carelessly put ) was if THIS particular engine (Honda 1.8 litre 12valve , 100 HP) is more fastidious than other (car) engines regarding the air-filter issue.

    OK ? :)

    Cheers !


    P.S. The fuel delivery issue will obviously be thoroughly investigated - do you know if that carb is fastidious on adjustments (f. ex. float level) ?
  • gube2gube2 Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for your answer " user777 " ! :)

    Great to finally get a web-site w info ! *thumbsup*

    Guess there's no way to enlarge the illustrations ?
    My guess is they're originally Honda's ?

    Any more tips on Internet sites ? :D

    Thanks again !

    Cheers !

  • user777user777 Member Posts: 3,341
    i think you can't increase size (i.e. zoom) without loosing clarity. however, performing an ALT-PRINT SCREEN and pasting it into a Paint or Imaging program may allow you to increase the size, but like I said, you are limited by the original resolution.
  • jtemplejtemple Member Posts: 1
    #1 check engine light comes on at the same time every morning and afternoon. This is after it sits for a while. If I stop, cut the car off then turn it back on the light stays off. #2 When I stop the rpm's drop down low enough to cut the car off. #3 I changed the fuel injector seals, but still smell gas when driving.
  • delladldelladl Member Posts: 1
    I have an 88 accord that up until today was about perfect. I changed engine oil and filter today, went about my business and made several stops and did a variety of driving. late in the day I headed home and the car started shifting late at a much higher rpm than normal, I kept going trying to get home which was about 20 miles. By the time I got home the car wouldn't shift to 4th at any rpm and I hard time gtting to shift even into third. The car runs perfectly, and even the trans feels fine except that it won't shift at anywhere near the expected rpm. Being mostly familiar with older american cars the only thing I did was look for a disconnected or cracked vacuum line other than that I need advice????
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    vacuum modulators don't change shifts in a car that old, only "soften" them...I think you need transmission work, sounds like. Have a look at the fluid first off and check for dirty blackish fluid with a burned smell like cork. If you can drop the pan on that unit, have a shop examine the leavings in the pan. Lots of shiny metal is a bad sign.

    You could try a fluid and filter change, you might get lucky. Hope so.
  • mrbill1957mrbill1957 Member Posts: 823
    An 88 Accord trans has no pan to drop or filter to change.

    I had an interesting thing happen with my 88 Accord just the other day, it was shifting at all the wrong points, and actually dropped into neutral while driving uphill at around 50 mph. Turns out that I had shifted it part way between D4 and D3. As soon as I shifted it into D4 the problems went away. I wonder it there could be a linkage issue with yours, and your not solidly in D4.

    Maybe just a fluid change is all you need, easy enough to do since all you can do is drain and refill.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yeah but his won't shift out of 3rd--different ball game there...
  • hondagirl5hondagirl5 Member Posts: 2
    I'm wondering if anyone out there can help me. I have a 1988 Honda Accord LX with approx. 208450 miles on it. And it has suddenly developed a problem that unfortunately only happens with me!! When I am driving around town, it drives fine, But when I get on the freeway and up around 65-70 mph. I will be driving along fine, when suddenly I lose power. I can be pushing my foot to the floor and only able to do about 40 mph. When i get off the freeway and on side streets, it will eventually start to go back to normal. I;ve been to 2 mechanics and it does not act up for them. I have had both of the fuel filters changed, timing checked, air intake checked and i have even tried a different gas. But it still happens. Any ideas??? :(
  • haefrhaefr Member Posts: 600
    Fuel pump? (I'm presuming the air filter's been changed, yes?)
  • hondagirl5hondagirl5 Member Posts: 2
    when i got my oil changed about a 2 months ago, i was told that my air filter was fine. some extra info....i noticed that the last time this happened, my speed went down into the 20-30 range, but my rpms stayed in the 2500 range. thanks for your input! :)
  • gube2gube2 Member Posts: 5
    Transmission problem.

    If you have a manual gearbox, the
    "my speed went down.... but my rpms stayed up"
    certainly sounds like a slipping clutch.
    Also the fact that it runs OK in town = low gears , and shows problem at highway = high gear , points to a slipping clutch.

    Clutch could be in the stage where it just barely manages gentle driving, but at highway speed ( 5th gear ) actually exercises a certain amount of "micro-slip" , something you don't usually notice;
    this micro-slip eventually overheats the clutch, and thus makes it start to slip severely ( speed dropping ).

    Change of friction plate would be mandatory ->
    hope that the pressure plate hasn't warped from the heat.
    Clutch could just simply be worn-out, but
    a careful inspection for oil leak(s) recommended ! Oil would smear the clutch surfaces ( and cause an early death ).

    At standstill shortly after a "speed-dropping trip" ,
    you should be able to smell a hot (burnt) friction-plate, and/or hot ("burnt") oil.
    Or both.

    If it's an automatic - I suppose it have to be a defect converter ( I'm no good at automatics ).

    Good luck !

    Best wishes


    P.S. Make SHURE there's no brake dragging ( car should easily be pushed by hand on level, even ground ) - a brake drag could heat up and eventually worsen ( increase friction ).
  • dljudge422dljudge422 Member Posts: 1
    1987 honda accord lxi pfi while driving it just cut off any answers
  • simsoo51simsoo51 Member Posts: 2
    Is it possible that the car will start but the reverse light will not work. In other words that a part of the neutral safety switch that controls the reverse lights does not work?
  • simsoo51simsoo51 Member Posts: 2
    what exactly happens?
  • mrbill1957mrbill1957 Member Posts: 823
    I'm not exactly sure what your asking.

    My 88 Accord has a sticking neutral switch. Sometimes the backup lights don't come on, and sometimes the car won't start in park. When that happens, I shift into neutral and the car starts fine. I'm assuming the swith could use a shot of WD-40, I just haven't taken the time to do it.

  • djvonbargendjvonbargen Member Posts: 1
    89 accord man trans

    Check engine light comes at start.
    Does not go out.

    Car stalls after about 30 seconds.

    Where to start?

    Not o2 sensor, is it?
  • nacowboy2005nacowboy2005 Member Posts: 1
    I recently bought a 1989 Honda Accord LX, it only has 73,000 miles on it, is in excellent condition, with the exception of a minor oil leak, 2 Damaged motor mounts, exhaust leak, and the power door locks won't work. I had the exhaust leak fixed, and the oil leak and motor mounts are getting fixed this week. I recieved a keyless entry remote, with one button on it. No label on it and it doesn't do anything but light up(on remote). The lock/unlock switches do nothing, I have been locking by hand, but would like to know anything that has to do with the locks. Thanks for your time and any help. :confuse: Also, is it normal for the engine to drop by 200 rpms when running A/C on hi. When idling???
  • lastwraithlastwraith Member Posts: 350
    Not sure I can help with the locks as I don't have that generation accord, but the idle should not stay down when the a/c is on. Most cars utilize a solenoid to "kick-up" the idle when the a/c is activated to counteract the extra draw on the engine. Even my friend's '78 Fairmont has this.

    good luck
  • chedonnachedonna Member Posts: 2
    :lemon: Over the past year, I've had a reoccuring, though highly irregular and unpredictable problem. Without warning and seemingly without patterned reason, the rpm will climb from it's regular 1100 idle to 2500, 3500, sometimes exceeding 5000 rpm. Tapping the gas peddle as though to disengage the choke only worsens the high idling problem. The only way to stop the rev is to shut off the engine which makes it diesel which I then stop basically by stalling the engine. Believe me, it's a blast. Start the car and it continues to happen. But just as quickly and unexpectedly as it arose, the problem vanishes, the rpms drop to normal choke idle of 2000 rpm and a quick tap of the gas peddle disengages the choke and the rpms drop to their normal 1100 rpm. My dad and I have run every check we could think of. #1 we can't recreate the problem when we want to check it. and #2 we can't seem to find any mechanical reason for this to happen. Other than the possbility of bad fuel, a weak reason in itself, none of the mechanics and car buffs I've talked to have been any help thus far. Any advice, thoughts, or suggestions including past experiences, would be greatly appreciated as I don't want to buy a new car until the summer busy season at the restaurant is over and my savings stores are fully replenished. And that's at the very earliest.
  • john128john128 Member Posts: 1
    Anyone know how to turn off the Maint. Required light on the dash? It comes on if your gas cap is not tightened and stays on forever. I know it has something to do with the trip reset button, but can't find out how to do it. Thanks.
  • lastwraithlastwraith Member Posts: 350
    Here's a post I came across similar to yours with a diagnosing answer from someone who usually gives good advice (they have an online car column). Maybe it will help narrow the problem.
    Q: For the second winter now my ‘91 Mercury Grand Marquis has had an idle problem. At temperatures below 5 degrees (F) the engine will race when I try to slow down. The engine will start and run normal until sometime after it's been driven at least 10 minutes. It will then start racing at a very high RPM and will not go down. The engine must be shut down for a few minutes for it to return to normal, only to repeat the problem. All the usual culprits have been replaced including the throttle position sensor, air sensor, and temp sensor. Any ideas?.....Andy

    A: What has to be determined is if the idle problem is a command or mechanical problem. A command problem is the computer deciding the desired idle speed. If it is a command problem then it can be isolated rather quickly. Have your technician show you where the Idle Air Control (IAC) motor is located and how to electrically unplug it. When the condition occurs, unplug the IAC motor’s electrical connector. If the idle drops then you have a command problem. If it doesn’t you may have a sticking IAC motor. The fix for a sticking IAC motor is a cleaning or replacement. Most of the time I’ve found that a problem like yours lays with the IAC motor.
  • mountnmontymountnmonty Member Posts: 5
    It sounds like you have intermittent vacuum leaks that suddenly appear when engine movement (however slight) opens up th crack or break your vacuum lines. I recently took on my son in laws 85 Accord that quit running several years ago.

    My symptoms are similar, however my vacuum leaks are constant and on a much larger scale.

    It starts up ok, then the idle speed rpm climbs just as you described. This continues until the engine warms up then the motor dies, will not idle at all.

    I forgot the techncal discription of the following; I went to the dealership and talked the service manager into letting me read their engine manuals on this car he gave me 30 minutes.

    There is a idle speed boost meachanism that over rides the set idle speed if needed to keep the engine running, during startup, when cold and during periods of intermittent loss of vacuum.

    check all vacuum line hose ends and connections. makes a clean cut just behind the damaged hose ends and re-connect the hoses. If the condition continues, check for vacuum leaks at the manifold. You may need to replace or overhaul the carb.

    I need a vacumn diagram (exploded view) for a carburated 1985 accord. I have never seen a car with this many vacuum lines. right now I am trying to determine which line feeds the brake power booster (blown Diaphram) to cap it off without removing the booster.

    I want to make sure i can get the car to run normal before buying any parts.
  • mountnmontymountnmonty Member Posts: 5
    replace fuel filter, check vacuum line to fuel system vent charcol cannister at the firewall. if it is collasped replace that vacuum line and the cannister
  • mountnmontymountnmonty Member Posts: 5
    I need a vacumn diagram (exploded view) for a carburated 1985 accord. I have never seen a car with this many vacuum lines. right now I am trying to determine which line feeds the brake power booster (blown Diaphram) to cap it off without removing the booster.

    I want to make sure i can get the car to run normal before buying any parts.
  • accordman214accordman214 Member Posts: 1
    i purchased a 1987 honda accord 5-speed, knew it had problems but bought it anyways. when it low idle its missing and jumping, and then sometimes it revs up to 4000 rpm by itself. some black smoke from exhaust tells me i am running very rich, the owner before put a new carb on it, and have read on this website that it could be the idle air control motor but cant locate the part, when accelerating up to 65 mph, the cars seems to run fine, but when not accelerating it jerks and jumps like it is missing, would appreciate any open suggestions,
    Thank you
  • mcurriemcurrie Member Posts: 3
    I just bought a 1989 honda accord lx automatic. When I drive the car it jerks when it changes gear and it hesitates to change to the next gear. I have took the car to one place so far and they say it needs the transmission replaced. Want to know if that is true. Please advise me and the person wants to charge me $900 to replace. :cry:
  • mountnmontymountnmonty Member Posts: 5
    At wide open throttle there is very little vacuum present in a gasoline piston engine. thats when it seems to run ok to you. At low throttle and at idel is when the most vacuum is present. Thats when you notice its not running right.

    In the early 80's all car mfgs did not know how to make horse power and still get fuel economy with computer controlled cars. one of the first methods dropped was using vacuum relayed sensors, devices and conduits as the primary input support system.

    check all vacuum line hose ends and connections. makes a clean cut just behind the damaged hose ends and re-connect the hoses.
  • mrbill1957mrbill1957 Member Posts: 823
    I just had a problem with my 88 Accord idling. It acted just like there was a vacuum leak, but I could not find any leaks. The last thing I checked was the PCV valve. I looked inside the valve, and I could see right thru it. The little ckeck ball was missing!! Replaced the PCV valve and the car idled like new. With the ball missing, it created an 1/8" round vacuum leak hole.

  • chucko3chucko3 Member Posts: 793
    I would check the tranny fluid first.
    It might be low.
  • chucko3chucko3 Member Posts: 793
    Read the blinking red LED from the ECM underneath driver seat.
  • scent_icqscent_icq Member Posts: 1
    89 accord drove fine, parked it, started it next day , no start. plenty gas, in past once in a while had to pump one time to get it to start, its carborated, feed gas straight to carb it starts and runs.... you stop it stops running, was suggested fuel pump not getting juice, ck fuses , its fine , now what?....... and can i get more info somwhere else anywhere else on my car?
  • mcurriemcurrie Member Posts: 3
    Thank you very much. I will have someone check the hose connections.
    mcurrie :)
  • mcurriemcurrie Member Posts: 3
    Thanks I will change the fluid it has a burnt smell and looks very dark. That is the reason the person said to replace the transmission. He did not test the drive the car or anything. He just checked the transmission fluid. I'll see if any of these suggestions work.
    mcurrie :)
  • mountnmontymountnmonty Member Posts: 5
    PCV valve failure, another good example of loss of vacuum related engine conditions. The vacuum was going right through the empty PCV valve body.
  • gold_drivergold_driver Member Posts: 1
    I just bought a 1989 Accord LX auto-trans with 135k miles. Mechanic changed the oil filter mount O-ring when I bought it (no time to do it myself) but said the oil pan gasket may be leaking since there still was some oil drops happening. I finally had some time on hand and I'm mechanically capable myself, so I changed it out. I was very careful and meticulous in setting some gasket sealant (pliable non-hardening type) on both sides of the gasket. When I was under the engine looking up to the oil filter and surrounding area, I saw plenty of oil droplets clinging to several surfaces/hoses/bolt heads above the oil filter and filter mount. With the extra clearance of the oil pan removed, I changed out the oil filter with a rag stuffed right under the mount, so no dribble. Then installed the pan with the new gasket and sealant.

    Problem: still leaking oil. Assuming it's not the pan gasket, or the filter mount O-ring, what other likely suspects are there? Rear main seal? And/or?

    Any and all advice/suggestions are greatly appreciated.
  • seabirdseabird Member Posts: 3
    Runs great, only 40,000 miles. I'm told it needs a new clutch, but when I've called dealerships I get quotes of 700 up to 1200 dollars for the work. Should clutch replacement only be done at Honda dealerships? How much should this realistically cost? How will I know when the old clutch is about to completely go out on me? Thanks for any help/advice.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    $1,200 seems high. It depends on what they replace in there. If you need flywheel resurface (or a new flywheel) plus clutch disk plus pilot bearing plus throw-out bearing plus rear main engine seal, plus labor, it's going to add up.

    If your clutch is slipping at all, it's ready to go. You can test a clutch by putting stress on it, like deliberately going slightly uphill while in too high a gear (say fourth at 20 mph) and stepping on the gas forcefully...it should slip like crazy if it's weak.

    Any independent shop can do a Honda clutch....$700 seems more reasonable, or around there. But don't cut corners and don't go to some grease pit of a shop. If the flywheel is grooved or burned or cracked, REPLACE it or you'll have clutch shudder.
  • seabirdseabird Member Posts: 3
    Thanks! Finding a hill in Chicago can be tough, but I'll test it. Glad I found you.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    You don't really need a hill...just high gear at low speeds and it should slip if you really load it up...if the engine judders and shakes but slowly pulls the car up to speed without the tachometer going crazy from a slipping clutch, then you're okay.

    Don't do this very much though, as it is stressful to an old clutch.

    And make sure you're watching the road ahead while you're test-piloting. The slippage won't be subtle...the engine will race like you are in neutral.

    If it slips badly, you have very little time left.
Sign In or Register to comment.