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Honda Accord (1994-1997) Maintenance and Repair



  • You're right, I cannot do the repairs myself, I'm not a mechanic by any stretch of my imagination. I bought this car because the price was one I could afford, the owner assured me it had been driven gently, it had low mileage and Honda's have a reputation for being solid vehicles. I agree I have been taken to the cleaners and am afraid the car is a money pit. Will an auto diagnostic show me whether the problems are even more monumental than I realize or is that a waste of my money as well? Single mom here with limited income, I really need to know.
  • tallman1tallman1 Posts: 1,874
    You took a good gamble. My son is driving my old 95 EX and it has over 230k miles. There are some normal maintenance issues but nothing like you've experienced.
  • I feel your pain. You will find my posts regarding a cold weather crank no start problem with my 97 Accord Lx. I paid $2000 for it and just shelled out $1250 to an electrical specialist recommended by a trusted mechanic. It turns out that the electrical specialist was wrong and didn't fix my car after all. If it makes you feel any better, since early November I have only driven it a total of four times and have had it towed three. But I am hopeful that I may offer some advice. I truly get that what you bought it for plus what you have put into it will be hard to walk away from. I am in a similar situation and I'm either stupidly stubborn or over zealously determined. First, where is the car from and where are you driving it as far as State/climate. Your brake problem sounds similar to my last car a Honda Civic 99. Bad brake lines, they failed and I almost died. The leaking brake fluid may be hitting your exhaust and giving off that acrid smell. The rough idle and junk bucket sound may be your catalytic converter. A faulty one will cause your car to run rough and can also make it hard to start. Lights dimming may just be symptomatic of the car wanting to stall. You can get the alternator checked at autozone for free. Any check engine lights or codes from the computer? Autozone will check for free. Also it is very important to check the obvious; battery and terminals/muffler exhaust. Maybe you can call for estimates to get a feel for what your looking at price wise. If your going to ditch it, take it to a honda dealer and see what they say. Then take it to another dealer and compare info. Maybe you can shame them into treating you fairly. Unfortunately for us there are way to many posts regarding our vintage of car. If anything you will become more savvy and might even pick up a wrench. PS look up Eric the Car Guy on Youtube. Hes a Honda tech and offers free advice/diagnostics. Do yourself a favor and watch all of his vids. Peter
  • Thanks for the empathy, Peter. I was told my car was worth $4200 blue book with the low mileage and condition of the car. Now I wonder whether the seller rolled back the odometer or just never drove it much due to it's problematic condition. In any case, at this point I am well over the $4200 invested with the purchase price, repairs done, battery and tires replaced as well, I may not be a mechanic, but I am very proactive when it comes to maintenance. I used to own a 1989 Accord Lxi coupe, loved the car, it ran great, but I sold it a few years back and have regretted it ever since. I am so disappointed that this car has completely skewed my confidence in Hondas, but it's all I have, so I need to live with it for now. The last mechanic that worked on it advised me to take it to a muffler shop to check the catalytic converter, I did research that online, and I have all the symptoms of a faulty cat converter, but they are soooooooo expensive!!Online they only cost about $135, unless you live in California, which I do, and then they cost $350 and up, not to mention labor. Does anyone know, can a timing belt slip during operation of the car, causing a feeling of "coasting or running on air" prior to actually going out? Because of the way my car drives, I don't listen to the radio, I am always listening to any sounds the car makes, and watching for any new symptoms, convinced the car is going to take a dump on me. This sucks. And what else could be causing the burnt plastic smell? This just started, and initial online research says to check the brakes,................wait a minute, I already replaced the master cylinder and front and back brakes! UGH!!
  • jimdempsterjimdempster Posts: 34
    edited January 2011
    The way you describe the problem was very helpful, specifically that the gas mileage improved (most people wouldn't think to check it). If this is the case, what is going on is that the fuel/air mixture is getting leaner (less fuel is consumed for a given amount of air).

    While this WILL improve your gas mileage, it will also cause a loss of power (a 14.7 part air to 1 part fuel is the ideal emmisions point). Anything leaner (say, 16 parts air to 1 part fuel) will result in not only loss of power, but it will burn hotter and lead to overheating. A lean mixture doesn't have as much power, so will also lead to stalling, hesitation problems (but you will get better gas mileage).

    Possible causes: The car's computer controls the exact amount of fuel being injected continuously, and corrects for any departure from the ideal 14.7:1 ratio. So why is your car's computer not correcting for the lean mixture? There are two possibilities:

    1) there is an "oxygen sensor" in your car's exhaust manifold that senses when the mixture is too lean and is supposed to signal the car's computer to correct for it - but it doesn't appear to be working properly in your case.

    The other possibility is 2) that the fuel pump system is just not capable of delivering enough fuel to the fuel injectors, and so even despite the car's computer's best efforts to request more fuel, it just can't pump enough fuel to supply the engine's needs (under certain circumstances).

    A good mechanic would have a fuel/air ratio meter and could check the exhaust mixture to confirm if it is too lean or rich - the smog check people used to have this equipment but it's been dumbed down in recent years so I don't know if they could tell you (worth asking). An excessively lean mixture results in high NOx readings (not good for smog). If you had an old smog report, you might see a high NOx reading.

    A great mechanic would own a fuel/air meter; they can be purchased for ~$350: - - x.html

    There are two relatively simple checks that can be done: 1) have the mechanic take a "plug reading" by pulling the spark plug and looking at it to confirm if the mixture is running lean, (plug will be clean and WHITE, not black with carbon) and if so, consider replacing the oxygen sensor. A oxygen sensor that is mistakenly sending a "too rich" signal will fool the computer into leaning out the mixture. The voltage from the oxygen sensor is measurable and runs about 0.45V; this can be checked at the car's computer to confirm an electrical connection.

    Kragen Auto Parts has a replacement oxygen sensor for around $35 while the dealer will charge ~$100 - a special wrench is needed ~$12, plus labor. A broken wire leading from the oxygen sensor would also cause similar problems, but the car would run really bad if at all. Personally, I'd like to confirm with a fuel/air ratio meter before replacing the oxygen sensor, but this is not always practical.

    The 2nd simple check is to check the pressure on the fuel injector "rack". The pressure gage can be obtained from Harbor Freight Tools for $9. The pressure should be a specified amount (say, 36 psi - the mechanic should look up the required pressure). If the fuel pump is bad, the pressure may only be 5 psi - which would starve your engine of fuel during acceleration, but the car would idle. A plugged fuel filter ($12) would also limit flow - it's rare these days, but possible. A marginal fuel pump system is really hard to diagnose without the pressure gage, but don't overlook the possibility. Some days the car will work (cold days), but when it gets hot it fails - very tough to diagnose when the problem is intermittent. Fuel pumps are expensive compared to oxygen sensors (~$350-$450).

    A improperly operatiing oxygen sensor is most likely. It could cause rough low speed operation, lack of power, poor drivability due to hesitation, overheating, although it might be possible (depending on the computer) that the car could idle, or more likely, the car will idle when it is cold, but start behaving badly as soon as it warms up (the computer gives a slightly richer mixture on cold start).

    Another possibility is a vacuum leak (or a vacuum hose that was not replaced where it belonged - look for loose hoses or cracked vacuum line hoses) - a vacuum leak will lower the vacuum, and therefore lower the amount of fuel/air being sucked into the engine, but the oxygen sensor SHOULD compensate for this - to a point. Shouldn't cause overheating if the oxygen sensor is working right. Check for loose wires also (left unplugged from where they belong). I've had rabbits eat my wires, so it's possible that some wires are broken/disconnected, but usually the check engine light will turn on (not necessarily with the oxygen sensor gone bad).

    Some of the newer cars have multiple oxygen sensors; if one of them goes bad, the computer will know it and usually will set the 'check engine' light, or certainly be readable from a download off of the car's computer.

    A plugged PCV valve can also cause rough operation ($7) - it just needs to be checked that it's not plugged with junk and air can get thru. If the previous owners didn't change their oil often, it tends to get plugged, otherwise it should be OK (won't cause overheating or better gas mileage though).

    The burnt plastic smell may be an artifact from an engine that is running very hot, or it could be that plastic has in fact fallen on some hot part in the engine. Be very careful to avoid overheating the engine - a boiled-over radiator is very serious - don't drive the car when it is overheated, park it and call a cab. What happens is that when the engine overheats hot enough, the piston rings will lose their "spring" as a result, and the engine will start burning oil - get the overheating problem fixed pronto. If they put in a new radiator, did they put in a new thermostat?

    Your timing belt will either be working great or broken completely - no in-between. Recommendations for timing belt replacement is every 100k miles, although I've gone 185k before replacing and the belt still looked servicable. Replacing a belt is expensive from the labor standpoint, but if you can get the car to operate properly, then consider getting it replaced (along with the water pump). Quotes I've heard are ~$1200 for fan, timing belts and pump with labor - you might do better.

    You ought to be able to find someone to fix this problem, but it's amazing how few people that work in the car business seem to know what they are doing. You've done a very good job describing the problem - you ought to be able to take the written statement to a dealer/mechanic and they should be able to diagnose the likely problems (like we did here) withou
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    edited January 2011
    If you are in the San Francisco Bay area, I can send you to mechanics who are highly competent.

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  • omarromarr Posts: 88
    I thought California required a vehicle to pass an emission inspection.
    If you are having O2 sensor problems, catalytic converter problems how did you get it through inspection?
  • Just bought a 1996 Honda Accord. I have two questions:
    -What's the normal RPM range for a V-6 Honda motor? At 70 mph, I'm running around 3200 rpms... is that normal?

    -My temp gauge is way low (seemingly). Came down a mountain today, temp gauge went below cold. Heat in car didn't work. I'm assuming new thermostat... am I correct? And do i need to replace the gasket on the thermostat if I replace the thermostat?

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    3200 sounds about right.

    You should check the coolant level before you do anything. A gauge will not read correctly if the level is too low, and will also read incorrectly if you have air trapped in the cooling system.

    You can take your thermostat out and test it, and yes, you do need to replace the gasket as well. I'm not so sure the thermostat is your problem here, but maybe. WIth an old car, who knows what someone else put in there.

    A car will tend to run colder when coasting downhill anyway.

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  • omarromarr Posts: 88
    I agree with your info.

    Couple other things.

    There is a hot water shutoff valve inline with the hose going into heater coil.
    lever inline with hose = open, lever 90 degree with hose = off. this will affect air condition and heat. Location, engine side, near fire wall.

    Bleed air by opening screw located on or near thermostat housing.

    Old hand trick, is the engine hot or cool to touch. Is the radiator hot or cool to touch.
  • I would suspect you have no thermostat at all (it has been removed), or, it is stuck open; otherwise the coolant temperature wouldn't drop below the normal operating temperature. Usually there are problems with the temperature being too high, not too low. Yes, you need a new gasket anytime the thermostat is replaced to avoid O-ring compression set (unless it was a week ago-they're cheap and you don't want a leak).

    The other possibility is a defective temperature sending unit causing the temperature gage to read low - you can check it by removing the coolant cap, starting the car, and putting a thermometer in the coolant while the car warms up - the thermometer should track the gage on the dash.

    Your RPM's depend on whether you have an automatic or manual transmission: automatics run the engine 500 RPM faster than manual transmissions, by design.
  • have you replaced the ignition coil assy, I had problems similar to yours and I replaced the ignition coil assy, all fixed problem gone(two years now) hint is if any tach irregularities at all.
  • I wish I were in the Bay Area, but I moved to Modesto 2 years ago, and keep getting juiced by auto mechanics over here. The last mechanic that worked on my car (replaced the radiator, thermostat, engine coolant sensor and temperature sensor, major tune-up, 4 wheel alignment, front and rear brakes, paid him $800!) told me my catalytic converter might be going out. I researched online and found that extreme engine overheating probably had something to do with the cat failing, and that now the failing cat is causing my car to continue to overheat, is that true, and if so, how ironic is that?!! My fuel economy has now dropped sharply, I seem to keep losing coolant, though it hasn't leaked underneath the car or at least that I can see, I have checked the oil to make sure there is no coolant mixed in with it, and just last week when I was driving the car I suddenly found it painful to breathe. It was as if my sinuses were breathing in fiery hot fumes, and I actually began to panic. I rolled down all windows and opened the sunroof and could not get in any air without pain and distress. When I did get home, I ran into my house and immediately found that I could breathe without any discomfort or burning sensation. For lack of automotive technical knowledge, I have to ask, is what I experienced a symptom of an extreme exhaust leak? Is that caused by the catalytic converter going out? I am now afraid to drive this car, and convinced it's going to kill me. I know it sounds dramatic, but this is so scary and unbelievable for me. What would you advise I do to achieve at least a short term fix so I can try to sell the car and get something else that doesn't freak me out everytime I have to go somewhere? I should mention that the interior of the car is immaculate, title is clean, there are some dings on the body but nothing serious, and the car doesn't even have 109,000 miles yet. I've had it for 13 months now, and it's been nothing but trouble for months now. What would you do if you were me?
  • Thanks for your words of wisdom, I will definitely take the advice you gave so generously, anything helps at this point!
  • Did you find a solution to your problem. I have a 1996 Accord LX 5 speed and I also have NO Dash Lights or Rear Lights. The only thing that works are my head lights. I need solutions PLEASE Anybody
  • alfistaralfistar Posts: 1
    I have a 1994 Honda Accord the old Axle broke now that I'm trying to put the new one in it will not go in all the way i have attached a picture of what i think is on the way of the axle can you confirm that and please tell me what i should do next.

    Thank you for your help and time.
  • I don't see where I can view the pic. But as long as you removed the end that goes into the transmission and the clip on the spline is still on the old one than the new axle should go in really easy. Just --- with one hand holding the outer end of the shaft and the other end holding the inner end. Slide the spline into the trans and push it in as far as it will go. Then put both hands on the outer cv joint, pull it out a very little and then with some force snap (push) it in. It should go right in, just as long as you haven't already damaged the clip on the end of the spline.
  • My honda seems to be leaking oil pretty heavily. It looks like it's coming from the back left corner, as I'm standing infront of the car. I replaced the valve cover gasket. Didn't help. I started the car again, when pressure builds it looks like the oil is coming from the base of the EGR valve area. Could this be possible? Would that mean that oil is getting into my exhaust system? This car has over 210,000 miles. 2.2 VTEC engine. I'd like to fix it myself it possible. I don't want to put a bunch of money in this car.

    Any advice / help will be much appreciated.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Is this at the exhaust manifold bracket, near the AC compressor? If so that's a known issue---a cracked engine boss that holds the exhaust manifold bracket. You'll have to use some kind of bonding sealer on that crack and then attach a new manifold bracket to the AC compressor bracket. If there is no AC, (DX model) you'll have to install an AC bracket.

    Other known areas where this engine leaks would be the cam sensor gasket and the balance shaft seal.

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  • airbrn508airbrn508 Posts: 2
    Ok, my mistake. I now believe the part I'm referring to is the Solenoid Assembly. I think maybe I need to replace the Solenoid base Gasket. I'll let you know if that was the problem. Thanks for the help.
  • nikkie24nikkie24 Posts: 3
    ok so my honda is overheating the water pump thermosate cooling fan and most hoses are new. i looked at the radiator no leaks. what i want to know is there any hoses that are underneith where i cant see from the top? i really need someones help with this one.
  • omarromarr Posts: 88
    edited May 2011
    Who replaced all the parts?
    Did they bleed the system?
    There should be a bleeder plug in or near the thermostat housing.
    It is also possible to bleed at one of the higher hoses by removing it.
    Are you sure it is overheating or is the gauge giving you a false reading?
    Could be temperature sensor or gauge is bad.
    Are the fans running when hot. If not you need to look at the fan sensors.
    The system not being bleed will cause all the sensors to read incorrect.
    Look in the radiator cap and see if you can see the water moving. :D
  • nikkie24nikkie24 Posts: 3
    i changed the parts myself and yea i did bleed it the fans r running like they should yes the water is moving in the radiator my car is overheating i got the waterfall to prove its not giving me a faulse reading u can see it coming out if u look under the car but i cant find where its coming from i dont know if there r hoses some where that i cant see from the top or what
  • tybumtybum Posts: 4
    Nikkie, check to see if you have a head casket leak. I did and use a new stop leak from Advance Auto that is guaranteed to fix it. On the second try it did work, pour it in slowly.

  • nikkie24nikkie24 Posts: 3
    ok thanks i will try that
  • des1243des1243 Posts: 2
    From the sounds of your problem it seems that your fan is wired to the air conditioning which isn't the way it should be. You may have to have it rewired to where it's correctly wired and make sure that it won't continuously go because if it does after that then it's connected to the battery and that's wrong to. I hope this might be a consideration in the problem.
  • des1243des1243 Posts: 2
    The radiator in the car was replaced recently and the secondary fan never stops going because the repair shop wired it to the battery and it keeps killing the battery in my fiance's car. We had to disconnect it so I was wondering if anyone would know how to rewire the secondary fan so that it isn't wired to anything that it's not supposed to be wired to. I would very much appreciate the help.
  • tallman1tallman1 Posts: 1,874
    If it were me, I'd take it back to the repair shop and make them do it right.
  • omarromarr Posts: 88
    Go to

    Wait for Free Download (timer count down) and download PDF file.
    Go to AC/Heater section to trouble shoot
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