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Honda Accord (1990-1993) Maintenance and Repair

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
edited November 2017 in Honda
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!



  • amazonamazon Member Posts: 293
    I have a 93 Accord with auto and 135KMi. Recently, I have noticed a shudder during light throttle starts. I am wondering what this could be. Is the transmossion dying? *EXPENSIVE*
  • zoom42zoom42 Member Posts: 1
    If it feels like a "miss", it may be a carbon problem. I have a 92 and had a similar problem at slightly higher mileage. (mine now has 236K) It turned out to be carbon blocking the internal bypass holes between the intake manifold and the exhaust manifold. There is a tech bulletin on it which you can get from your dealer. You can buy a kit to fix it or have the dealer do it. The kit was cheap (maybe $15-25) Involves drilling,tapping and removing some plugs in the intake manifold, cleaning the carbon from the holes beneath the plugs, and replacing the plugs (in kit). Kit comes with excellent instructions.
    Not likely it is the trans. Make sure you change the fluid often (25K) it only holds about 2qts ($3) and there are no filters you can change, so it's simply drain and fill. Clean dipstick area thoroughly before you check or fill trans to prevent sand/grit from falling in hole.
    Tell the dealer just what you said "stumble on light acceleration"
  • tmaliktmalik Member Posts: 27
    Hi all,

    I'm driving a 1993 Accord in cold Canadian weather. Last few days weather has been really cold and I find my windows (all of them) frosted on the inside. One of the side windows does not seal properly and I think it allows the night-time cold into the cabin, dropping the temperature and freezing up any moisture in the cabin. I can't scrape the frost off from the inside and even after a day of driving and trying out the various climate control settings, I can't get rear side windows defrosted. Any advice, recommendations? The cars a beater and I'll be trading in by spring time, so I don't want to spend a lot of money getting the driver side window fit into place. Its only out by a quarter of an inch when fully closed. Is that an easy fix? Thanks.
  • cwg42cwg42 Member Posts: 2
    How many miles can you expect to put on a well maintained 1992 Honda Accord LX? I have an option to get one for my daughter. Any words of wisdom on this car?
  • mrbill1957mrbill1957 Member Posts: 823
    If you have tracked in alot of snow/slush and the floor mats or carpeting are soaked, this can be a source of the humidity.

    You may also have a slight leak in the heater core, which will also add humidity. Usually though, you can smell the sweet smelling anti-freeze.

    Running the car with the A/C on will also aid in defrosting the windows.

  • haefrhaefr Member Posts: 600
    How many miles does the car already have on it? A really well-maintained engine will be capable of over 300,000 miles. If the owner will permit, have a trusted mechanic remove the valve cover to inspect the cylinder head's top end. Have him also put the car on his lift so he can inspect the bodywork for rust. (Rust is the automotive equivalent of termites in a house...) If the motor's varnish and sludge-free, that'll confirm that the motor's been well-maintained. (Honda motors are not generally perceived as "sludge-monsters", but any motor can have a sludge problem if it's not given timely oil changes or is used extensively in urban crawl driving - especially in regions with cold winters. Even quality-brand motor oils up until 1999 were no where nearly as robust at retarding sludge buildup as current also-rans are now.) However, there's more to a car than its motor. Honda automatic transmissions have a spotty reliability record even as recently as 2004. If the car you're considering has an automatic, and if it tanks, expect around $2,000.00+ to make it right. Other nagging considerations, no where nearly as expensive, but a financial bother nevertheless, are wheel bearings, suspension struts, and suspension bushings. This IS a 13-14 year old car, and it will develop problems under your ownership. If your daughter neglects or abuses the car, even unintentionally, that'll also affect how gracefully it continues to age.
  • lastwraithlastwraith Member Posts: 350
    No offense meant as I basically agree with your post, but why even mention newer Accord transmission woes? The generation in question (90-93) is generally considered to have rock-solid, though some would say harsh-shifting, transmissions. Besides, if a problem with the transmission should occur I seriously doubt anyone would be willing to shell out anywhere near $2k to fix a tranny in a car worth nearly that amount.

    I have a '90 LX and at 175K I enjoy driving it more than nearly every other car I've driven, new or old. The rare times something breaks on it (the original distributor finally gave it up at 170K) I can always find a cheap replacement nearby or on ebay and have it back on the road immediately. Parts are everywhere and any problem you have will likely be one that is well known and easily fixable.

    I would not hesitate to buy a well maintained 90-93 Accord as a daughter/son first car. I only wish I had been given something that reliable as a first ride. Then again, you do learn a lot with a car that rarely runs.

    In summary, I think you can expect 200K miles out of a 90-93 Accord. I think you will routinely get near 300K with care. And considering just how well-built the cars are, how well documented the few common problems are, how popular that vintage of Accords are (many available cheap parts!), and how helpful other owners are, it's a car you should not lightly pass by.
  • cwg42cwg42 Member Posts: 2
    Your posts have been very helpful to me and I appreciate all the tips. I think I will have it checked out before I buy the car. What is the most a car like this is worth?
    I live in the Denver area and these are very popular little cars that are sold for more than Blue Book value.
  • cwalticwalti Member Posts: 185
    Hi all,
    I am a newbie here. I currently have three Hondas. A '91 Accord LX, a '99 Ody EX, and an '05 CR-V EX. My Accord (170,000 miles A/T) has developed a ticking sound coming from somwhere under the timing belt cover towards the lower end of the block. Everything with the head and valves and compression has been adjusted and found to be OK. The ticking is not present at idle and will become audiable at around 2000 RPM and cannot be heard anymore over 3300RPM. I don't know if it goes away or is simply drowned out. Main crank, rod and wrist pin bearings have all been ruled out. The engine runs fine and acts normal under all road conditions. The ticking does not appear to be load related as it is present at a high idle as well as under acceleration. It does seem to be less pronounced during deceleration, when the wheels are 'pushing' the engine... All mechanics want to drop in a new (used) motor, but nobody has been able to identify the source. ...an idler? ...which one? Any pointers or like experiences are greatly appreciated.

  • coffeeblackcoffeeblack Member Posts: 2
    I have a 1990 accord ex and have noticed that it has been pulling to the left...I have had it aligned twice and its alignment doesnt seem to be the problem...could it be a tire is out of round??? Is there something else that could be causing this....tires are inflated to specs...I havent been able to figure this out...has anyone else had this problem??? Any info would be appreciated....thanks.
  • haefrhaefr Member Posts: 600
    Switch the front tires side-for-side. If the car still pulls to the left, suspect a bad left front wheel bearing, bad intermediate shaft bearing, or bad constant velocity universal joint*. If it now pulls to the right, bad tire.

    *You might be able to verify this before doing the tire switcheroo by inspecting the weather boots on the left side - if any of the joints' rubber sealing boots are torn, grease has exited while moisture and dirt have entered. Bye-bye joint. But CV joints can fail just from normal wear even when the sealing boots are intact.
  • coffeeblackcoffeeblack Member Posts: 2
    thanks for the info Haefr.....will check out joints and bearings and possibly switching the tires L & R....Thanks and will post if I find anything that works....
  • femifemi Member Posts: 5
    I have a 1990 accord exr and have noticed that if i take off from rest its slow. upon advice from someone i checked the TCU, the code is 8. i believe this is solenoid problem. Where is the Solenoid and what is the solution?
  • kazumakazuma Member Posts: 50
    a while back i posted about a blown head gasket and fortunatly i fixed that. but know theres a new problem. At any given speed the engine loosees power and if you hold the gas out durig this it wil begin to shudder until you let off the gas. then the car just decelerates normally. again hitting the gas it will accelerate normally but after a second or two the engine begins to lose power as you press the gas peddle further and further until the down shift kicks in and it will accelerate out of it. but eventually you have to let off the gas producing the same problem again. sometimes will cease and drive norm aain but eventually it comes back. it seems to only occure durig longer runs and mostly when going up hill. but it does do it down hill rarely and on flat surface.

    im getting code 43 and my book only goes to 42. I dont seem to be loosing fluids and normally it runns great. no misses no off beets. i Know its not the tranny as if you down shift to D3 from d4 the problem does not change.

  • kazumakazuma Member Posts: 50
    as well as my other problems my tachometer has begun to act strangly as well.

    under normal acceleration the tach operates fine, but under heavy acceleration it begins to spike and jump all over the place in a range from 4k to 7k on the gauge. Im mean its seriously all over the place under any moderate to heavy acceleration.

    Any one have any idea what is causing this??
  • chuksychuksy Member Posts: 1
    i have a 93 accord(american specs) and the engine recently got bad and i want to replace it. but i would like to replace it with the engine of a 94-96 accord models. please can anyone tell me the pros and cons of this move and if it is really worth it. the reason is that i dont want to put an engine that is too old into this car so that i can enjoy the engine for another 5 years before i make any changes. also i need to know what to look out for when buying a second hand engine cause here in nigeria,there are no equipments to check if everything is okay before buying it. thanks very much. i will very much appreciate whatever suggestions.
  • dompowerdompower Member Posts: 1
    The problem with your tachometre going all over the place is the speed sensor. I had the same proplem and you'l find that sometimes it will do it and other times it wont. So the ecu over under the carpet on the passanger side will indicate that by the code that it flashes. You may even start getting the check engine light on or if its auto the S (sports mode) light on. When the speed sensor goes, the engine is confused how fast the car is travelling and is not as smooth between gear changes.. (for manual anyway) in normal driving it holds the revs for a small amount of time between gear changes but when the tacko is reading 0 k's an hour it thinks it is ideling and everything it not right.. all it is is your speed sensor. Just get a new one fitted.
  • picard12picard12 Member Posts: 55
    I have a problem with the lights on instrument cluster. I have accord 93 4cyl for 12yrs now. The engine runs great. The lights on instrument panel seem dimmer than when I first bought the car. I set the knob switch to maximum level with no success. while i was driving the car during the week, the lights dimmed much more for few seconds as I press on the brakes at traffic lights.

    Does anyone know if this problem is related to bulb burning out or alternator is having problem?
  • user777user777 Member Posts: 3,341
    i'd go to an auto parts supply chain like autozone and have them test your alternator and battery under load.
  • picard12picard12 Member Posts: 55
    ok, thanks man. what happens if the alternator is not working properly? Should it be replaced or fix?
  • user777user777 Member Posts: 3,341
    i'm not sure it can be "fixed". maybe but i doubt it. you can check on-line for the cost of the alternators. the parts store may have a replacement / aftermarket (probably remanufactured) for your vehicle. i think there is typically an extra charge at purchase (like for a battery) that is refunded to you when you bring back in your old one (so someone else can refurbish it).
  • tjb189tjb189 Member Posts: 2
    My 1990 honda accord's driver side window wont go up. passenger side is ok. this happened before but only for a few minutes. right now it is all they way down, and wont go up. Anyone know if its possible for me to fix this, and how? or is this something that i will havew to bring it to a shop for. right now i am just hitting the thing hoping that it will fix itself, but no progress so far. any tips will help thanks.
  • picard12picard12 Member Posts: 55
    the problem of your window is due to motor. You have to replace the motor. It burned out or wear out. It happened to my honda too. The driver side window is used most often in the car unless the driver transport passengers frequently. You can buy cheap motor from scrap yard for 50bucks and installation fee from a reputable mechanic for 100 bucks. If you try to get it replace at dealer, it will cost you 400bucks.
  • user777user777 Member Posts: 3,341
    it could be other things. or there is the possibility of window jamming/binding on the rubber seal that goes around the door window frame. see any evidence of the rubber being pulled down into the door?

    with it dark and your lights on, when you activate the window switch, do you see the lights dimming? a slight dimming of the lights would suggest the motor is getting power when the switch is activated but it isn't moving the window.

    if you don't see dimming, then it's possible the switch has gone bad.

    to completely diagnose it, i'd probably take it to an independant shop specializing in hondas.
  • femifemi Member Posts: 5
    I have a 1990 accord exr and have noticed that if i start the car and take the gear to drive the "S" light keeps on blinking and take off from rest its slow. Upon advice from someone i checked the TCU, the code is 8. i think this is a solenoid problem. Where is the Solenoid and what is the solution?
  • user777user777 Member Posts: 3,341
    follow the links to on-line parts and specify the year and model of your accord. i like looking at the exploded part views of the various systems.

    i looked at everything AT related but couldn't find an image with a "solenoid". maybe it is a part labeled "valve" that has an electrical pigtail.

    it is something with a plate, and some cylinder looking things attached to it.

    go to
    and type in:
    honda accord shift solenoid
    there is one on there - this would give you an idea what it looks like.

    this site has information on diagnostic codes for the TCM

    "8" seems to imply trouble with the Shift Control Solenoid Valve B...

    googling indicated "B" was the lower of the two. not very helpful huh? googling also turned up a procedure where one person recommended using wd40 to clean the screens of the solenoid. i misplaced that link. sorry. ;)

    perhaps a local library for a Helms, Haynes, Chilton service manual for your model year? otherwise an independant specializing in honda repairs.
  • tjb189tjb189 Member Posts: 2
    thanks for you input guys. it stayed down for a few days, then i finally took off the inside door panel. after playing around with the wires for a few minutes i was lucky and got it to go up by using the switch. id say the motor is definetly going, for now the window is staying up, dirving around in below frezzing temps with the window down isnt something i want to experience much more of.lol. thanks again guys.
  • haefrhaefr Member Posts: 600
    "i'm not sure it can be "fixed". maybe but i doubt it."

    Of course alternators can be fixed. :P The sealed, but replaceable bearings aren't usually the problem, though. The usual problem is just worn brushes and/or one or more faulty diodes making up the full-wave rectifier bridge that converts generated AC current to DC current that the car can use. A rebuilt alternator from an autoparts store is likely to be just as reliable as a very pricey brand-new unit from a take-yer-money-ship's parts department - and may not only even be cheaper than having your old alternator fixed through a mechanic, but carries the peace of mind of a warranty and having had all its electrical subsystems inspected and replaced if necessary. (Most if not all alternators over the last twenty years have the voltage regulator built-in.)
  • user777user777 Member Posts: 3,341
    well - yes... i meant that depending on who the alternator is brought to, a tear-down may be possible, but economically, is this practical? who does this kind of work today? i think most shops just swap the unit out. the voltage rectification ckt, if simple - how much are a few zener diodes anyway? on the order of dollars at most but they have to have the right characteristics, and you must be able to locate them. in the long run, is it brushes, is it bearings, etc?

    for me, a rebuilt from an autoparts store is the way to go specially if the car is no longer under warranty and it's your dime right? under warranty? new OEM parts please.

    two true stories about refirbished parts:
    1). i failed a CV joint in my old 5spd/MT accord because i didn't attend to a leaky / torn boot (since then i've learned my lesson). i was told it was cheaper for the half-shaft (?) and CV joint to be replaced... aftermarket / refurb parts, and service done at a shop i trust very much. three days later, my wife out on her own, the shaft failed (?) in the middle of an intersection. the service manager said in 26 yrs in the biz, he's never seen that happen.

    2). more to the point, my toyota corolla's alternator dies on my wife. she has it replaced with a remanufactured unit. one week later the replacement dies.

    things happen with remanufactured parts, just as they can with new parts... i have a tendency to place more trust in new parts where i think the serviceability of the old part may be complicated or error prone.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    problem with most rebuilds is that the rebuilders just lump everyone's alternator all together in a pile and mix up all the parts during rebuilds---so you get one person's pulley, another's case, another's armature, etc. etc. Rebuild failure rates, right out of the box, can easily be 10% immediate failure, and who knows about premature failure further down the road.
  • haefrhaefr Member Posts: 600
    Automanufacturer warranty replacement parts may be new or rebuilt per the discretion of the automanufacturer. In the case of smaller components I wouldn't want to bet against the liklihood that Honda, Toyota, Nissan, etc. contract with the same rebuilders in the U.S. that supply Pep Boys, Autozone, Kragen, etc. (only the shipping box's graphics protecting the "guilty") Large assemblies such as short blocks, transmissions, etc. are more likely dealt with by automanufacturer owned and operated facilities in the countries of distribution. As for mixing components at time of rebuild, so what? The original pullies, case halves, armatures, etc. were pulled at random out of a bin, off a tray, or snatched from a conveyor belt, too. (Hmmm... Didn't Henry Ford have some grand notion of the concept of "interchangeable parts" used on "repetitive assembly line work stations" to assure a greater degree of efficiency and QC? But, I guess that was just for American products - too bad it never caught on with European and Asian automanufacturers... ;))
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yes but while they are manufactured to the same tolerances each and every part, they do not wear or stress to the same tolerances. Rebuilt failure rates are generally higher than new.
  • tom1sharon2tom1sharon2 Member Posts: 40
    Hi. I'm new here (just discovered this site) and have a question concerning engine vibration in my 1993 Accord LX. I just had the local Honda shop replace the timing belts, drive belts, water pump, and balance shaft seal.

    When I got the car back it had a bad engine vibration that can be felt all the way through the RPM range, not just at idle. At highway speeds the high frequency vibration can be felt throughout the car so much it will make your hands and feet tingle. The engine noise inside the car has also increased dramatically, probably due to harmonics from the vibration. The car has just been tuned up and is otherwise running great.

    I immediately took it back to the dealer. They didn't seem to think it was a problem and after a few minutes determined the culprit was probably the front engine mount(torque rod). This seems an unusual coincidence to me, since the car was smooth and quiet prior to the timing belt replacement.

    My question is, does this type of vibration sound characteristic of a worn engine mount?
  • cmoney99cmoney99 Member Posts: 2
    I've had a problem with my 1990 Honda Accord for a while now. My taillights will work with the headlights when my engine is off, or else when the engine and the e-brake are on. They will not work as soon as I take my e-brake off or start my car. In short, when I drive at night I do not have taillights. The brakelights do work, as do the signal lights. The problem began when I had my distibutor replaced a year ago. I removed the automatic car starter thinking that was the problem but it has persisted. I have checked the bulbs and the fuses but nothing seems to be wrong there. Anyone have any ideas? I should mention that it is a manual transmission.
  • femifemi Member Posts: 5
    thank you so much user77. i will go through the links you provided.
    Happy new year
  • meche2bmeche2b Member Posts: 2
    (90 Accord DX Automatic w/115,000 miles)
    I replaced the battery and the following day I ran into the following:
    Went to work and back (35 miles) with no issues.
    Parked the car and then drove it about 10 miles when the sport shift light started flashing.
    Parked the car for the night. On the way to work the light was off initially and then started flashing again. A couple of miles later the check engine light came on and the speedo and odo stopped working.
    I leave work at the end of the day and dont have any idiot lights on initially but the speedo/odo is still not working. Within a mile or so it all starts over again.

    All the while the car is running and shifting like it has since I bought it with 110,000 miles on it. The upshifts are fairly harsh from time to time and often it upshifts at a low rpm (when it probably shouldnt) and does so in a harsh manner...almost like it has a old school shift kit in it.

    I've seen similar posts but nothing noting a battery change or all of this stuff happening at once. Can somebody give me some idea as to what I can do to rememdy it? I am assuming that all of the issues are tied to a common cause and that the battery swap probably started the sequence of events.
  • user777user777 Member Posts: 3,341
    FWIW: i'm not an expert but the fact you drove 45 miles without an issue after replacing the battery... i don't think there is a connection (battery replacement and speedo / CEL). anyway, i don't see how that would / could happen. if the battery were really bad, i'd expect you'd have other lights on, and the alternator would fail to keep it charged.

    i suspect everything is connected to a speed pickup sensor which is intermittent. perhaps just a loose wire. i don't know. i think the speedo dropping and the harsh shifting are a result of it failing to sense speed properly.
  • patf1patf1 Member Posts: 1
    What special tools are needed to repair brakes on my 1990 Honda Accord ex? My son and I are trying to do ourselves. The brake pads are completely missing. Where do we start?
  • meche2bmeche2b Member Posts: 2
    thanks. I will head to my parts store and pick one up. Does anybody know what the error code will pop up if it is the sensor? I just want to be sure because electrical devices are darn near impossible to return (if its not the source of the problem)
  • tammy1966tammy1966 Member Posts: 1
    1990 honda accord won,t start pulled spark pugs out 2 see if it was firing but theres no sparks
  • mbohbotmbohbot Member Posts: 1
    I had the exact same problem with my car, the problem was the (DRL) day time running lights relay, located on the drivers side inside car. change that or if you have enough knowledge you can re solder the board inside.
  • germ_011germ_011 Member Posts: 1
    Hi i have a honda accord 1990 manual
    the problem is the acceleration is going up and down
    when this is hapenig the temperature marker dont work
    can some body help me
  • aeridiaaeridia Member Posts: 1
    Hi. I bought a '92 Accord in December with 93K, and have been very pleased so far.

    Anyway, I'm having a rough time changing a burnt out driver side headlight bulb. I finally got the power cable off, but I still can't seem to get the actual bulb out. I guess it's supposed to rotate counterclockwise until it releases, but I can't get it to budge. Do I need to push it in while turning it or something? Can anybody walk me through this part? Thanks a million.
  • lastwraithlastwraith Member Posts: 350
    A little more info would be helpful. When does this usually happen? Just when starting the car, randomly while on the road, when in Park?

    If it's just after starting the car (which is a pretty common problem for this vintage), it could be something as simple as a Fast Idle Valve needing to be replaced. This is also a pretty easy part to troubleshoot. Just undo the 2 screws holding on the lid after starting the car, lift the cover, and feel for vacuum.
  • lastwraithlastwraith Member Posts: 350
    On mine the bulbs pull out, but there is a retaining collar that needs to be twisted to unlock. That may be stopping your progress. On some cars Ive seen though, the collars are gone or broken off long ago.
  • jordanusajordanusa Member Posts: 2
    I have a 1992 Accord 173K, and it's recently started to accelerate on it's own when its in park, or when I'm driving under 40mph. Basically, the tactometer won't go below 2000RPM, without a fight. I can keep it in control, using the brake, but when I let off it, it takes off. Any ideas what it is?
  • venanzik3venanzik3 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 92 accord with and automatic transmission which is difficult to move from Park to any gear and from any gear back to park. The transmission shift and works great except the lever is difficult to move as stated. It moves fine everywhere else (D1 to D2 to D3 to neutral) Any ideas as to why? and if so and ideas as to a fix? Thanks
  • jordanusajordanusa Member Posts: 2
    I had this problem a few months ago...it got to the point that I almost couldn't put it in park at all. I took it to my mechanic, and he removed the consol between the seats so he could get underneath, and he said he just greased the track or whatever you call it, and it's shifted fine ever since. If it's the same with your car, this is a really inexpensive fix...lucky you :)
  • cmoney99cmoney99 Member Posts: 2
    Where exactly is the relay? You said it was on the drivers side but I'm not sure where I should be looking. Thanks for your help!!
  • fguzzofguzzo Member Posts: 3
    I have a 92 Accord DX and the Cigarette Lighter is not working . I dont have the manual for this car does anyone know which fuse controls the Cig adapter.
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