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Honda will not start in the sun

mdc32mdc32 Posts: 2
edited March 2014 in Honda
I have a 93 Accord LX, 2.2 liter, with 170,000
miles on it. On days when it is 90 degrees or above
and the car sits in the sun, the thing will not
start. I have changed the plugs, wires, and
distributor, all are passing a good spark. I also
drained 2 cans of fuel injector cleaner in to the
gas tank the last few fill-ups, and changed the
fuel filter. Any ideas on the next step? Fuel


  • kwhkwh Posts: 68
    I have 3 accords and get them all services by a private country garage (they are excellent)
    They told me that they had seen alot of 90-93 accords that would not start when the temp got over 90 and the car was left in the sun. This happenned with my 92 sedan. They said to open the hood and inside doors if the car wouldn't start-that it may help. I got the car started and they said the problem is usually the relay switch - don't know what they were talking about but trust them (billed me as r & r efi relay) no problems since -hopes this helps
  • gusgus Posts: 254
    They replaced the fuel injection relay, that's what the note on the bill means. (mdc32), maybe you might want to price that replacement. Of course, there's no guarantee that replacing the relay will fix your particular problem, but it's something you might consider.
  • friday1friday1 Posts: 2
    Hi... similar non-starting problem that Honda blames on flooding of car. What does the relay switch do & can it flood a car?
  • Very common problem on this model, replace the main fuel relay.
  • I had an '89 accord w/ 176,000 that I recently sold to a family member. I warned him of this problem. Dealer couldn't find a thing. They replaced the thermostat (didn't work) and something else (which didn't work). Of course they charged me each time, and reasoned that they had to replace these things in order to rule them out...yeah right. I'm glad it's now someone else's problem.
  • I have a '91 Accord with 105,000 miles. No problems starting for 8 years. This past summer I began to have problems starting the car. It would crank and crank but not kick over. I replaced the plugs, fuel and air filter. Same thing. Then I replaced the battery. It seemed to be ok, but then it just happened again today. Its cool outside 60 - 70. As it would happen, I was getting gas when the car wouldn't start. The mechanic came out and told me he has seen this happen before on Accords of this age and mileage. He said its the distributor, not the cap - the distributor. Said its about $300 - $350 to fix. Anyone else hear the same thing?
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 817
    Auerbach, go to a reputable Honda dealer with
    these service bulletin #'s (from the NHTSA's
    website) and see if yours is covered for

    I seem to recall they warranted the distributor
    for X number of miles, and think yours may be over
    the limit.

    Not sure, but think the distributor gear tended to
    wear out...?

    Good luck!

    Service Bulletin Number: 89-027R
    Bulletin Sequence Number: 044
    Date of Bulletin: 9107
    NHTSA Item Number: SB028211
    Make: HONDA
    Model: ACCORD
    Year: 1991

    Service Bulletin Number: 93-035
    Bulletin Sequence Number: 043
    Date of Bulletin: 9312
    NHTSA Item Number: SB035269
    Make: HONDA
    Model: ACCORD
    Year: 1991

    Community Leader/Vans Conference
  • gusgus Posts: 254
    Guitarzan, thanks for doing the service bulletin legwork. You've done it before, and if the other Town Hall users don't appreciate it, I certainly do.

    Conference Host
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 817
    Any time buddy! Especially for my fellow Honda pals!

    Community Leader/Vans Conference
  • gusgus Posts: 254
    Aw, garsh!! He called me "buddy"!!

    Conference Buddy

    (And I think you win a special award for using "buddy" and "pals" in the same post!

    Keep up the great work, 'tarzan!!
  • Guitarzan,
    Thanks for the info. I'll check it out with dealer I bought the car from - 8 years ago!

    I have been in contact with a guy from He says its the main relay?? The part is about $50 bucks.
    I'm not sure if he's trying to push parts or what.
    But it certainly is cheaper than a new distributor.

    Any thoughts on thise new wrinkle to the problem?
  • $50 part. Just have them change it.. If your car starts every morning but not during those hot humid days after sitting 6 hrs or more in the sun...then the Main Relay is most likely your problem.. I think when your oil pressure is below 2 or 3 psi the relay is responsible for sending voltage to the fuel pump, otherwise it gets handled by some other circuity. So when your car is sitting around for several hours on those hot muggy days.. the pressure falls just enough to require the MAIN RELAY to kick in...which exposes your problem.. But I bet your car starts each and every morning, as well as when you only leave it a couple of hrs or less during the day , correct ??? Try a squirt or two of some starter fluid spray into the air intake next time and see if it starts.. It may take a few times, but by turning the engine, the oil pressure will build up just enough to where it's higher than the cutover point, and it bypasses the relay mechanism..and it should start.... Good luck
  • auerbachauerbach Posts: 110
    Everyone I talk to seems to think it's that part. The weird thing is, there is no pattern to when it happens or under what conditions.
    Also, every time I start the car its seems to start differently. Sometimes it kicks right over, other times its cranks a few times then starts. It very odd and frustrating.
    I'll try the part!
  • tom3ktom3k Posts: 91
    I have the same problem with my '90 Integra. It seems to get worse as the years go by, but never happens unless it is in direct sun for several hours. If it's cloudy or I park in the shade (with the window shade and the side windows cracked), It could be over 100 degrees and the car starts just fine. Usually get the car started by pumping the gas pedal (often many times). Have heard both the main relay and fuel pump as possible problems. Seems directly related to high temps in the passenger compartment. Is the main relay in or anywhere near there, or is that just a coincidence?
  • auerbachauerbach Posts: 110
    I've been in contact with a guy at
    These are his exact words:
    "It takes about 30 mins to install. It is located above the metal box in the left knee area under the dash."
    Being that Acuras and Hondas are very similar I suppose it would be affected by high passenger compartment temperature.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 817
    I forgot about this problem. Now that you mention it, I remember someone saying that when the car won't start, by banging (don't damage your car!) the underneath dash area, they got the car to start right up. If the relay is sticking, this makes sense. I think this is the "Fonzie" fix.

    Community Leader/Vans Conference
  • been going on for a few years, but no real pattern seen. can go for 6 mos. no probs, then i'll have a few bad will sit in parking lot in boiling sun for 8 hrs and start no problem. never really fires up right away..almost always a 5-10 engine turns before firing up. new wires plugs cap etc... still starting same way. problem used to occur only when car was partially warmed up. ie) drive 5 mins to store, park , come back 10-15 mins and no start...wait 15-20 mins and starts...noticed fuel inj light on dash sometimes doesnt come on...then it does and i hear the pump working and it in mechanics shop right now...please help if you can...thanks!!!
  • I was surfing tonite looking for comments on a VW passat which I am now considering buying after owning hondas for 20 yrs.. have had my car in 5 x's to mechanics this yr for same problems you described has 110K miles and being in Miami only when it sits in the sun do I run into this problem. Of course, all the mechs dismissed me as a "woman" who's loca in describing the problem. They replaced my clutch, etc., and it still continues ..spend nearly 1K this year in charges. these msgs restores my faith thanks but out of hondas
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    A VW ? If you think your Honda is a problem....

    Well, I've read all of these posts and have to say that I've never heard of the problem.

    But then, I'm in Seattle, where a scorcher in August can hit 85 degrees!
  • tom3ktom3k Posts: 91
    Doesn't it rain at least 365 days a year in Seattle? ;-)

    In my experience, you need long-term direct sunshine on the car to reproduce the problem. I have parked in the shade on 100+ degree days and had no problem, but if it's in the sun any length of time (usually over 4 hours) over 80 and it won't start. Seems directly related to high cabin temperature (which is where the master relay is located).
  • Sat in the sun for hours. Wouldn't start. Leave it under shade or cover (or wait for the evening) and it would start up. Took it into mechanics and had a battery and the main fuel pump relay replaced over it. Sparks, wires, and other electrical reported fine. After paying $$$, problem would return within days.

    Finally took it to dealer and explained the problem and earlier solutions. They reported that the igniton needed replacing. Had it done and that did the trick.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I used to have an 86 Honda Prelude with 160,000 miles. On occasion it would not start. Everything checked out ok. I found that by tapping the fuel pump which is near the rear left hand wheel, I could get it to start. I fitted a new fuel pump and tore the old one down and found that there was a dead spot on the comutator of the motor. The brushes and comutator were worn down which is not surprising for that milage. The pump is not reservicable. Maybe this is the cause of many Hondas not starting. I also seem to recall that if it was a hot day the fault used to come up. Hope this helps.
  • reddogsreddogs Posts: 353
    Sun=Heat=Vapor Lock problems
  • I've a 92 accord and it wouldn't start either. Exact symptoms others are explaining. And the answer is............relay under the dash. The Honda dealership nailed it on the head when I described the problems. They said this was a major problem & assured me that after replacing you'll not have anymore stalls.... By the way, I've got 250,000 on it & it runs like new.
  • My 1990 Accord in Arizona had this problem for 9 very long hot summers. Last summer, they finally replaced the main fuel relay. Problem solved.

    Interestingly, an independent shop told me they had known of the solution since about 1993.

    Hey, and go to any other Honda topic and mention this problem and you will be called a liar.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Nobody would think you are distorting the facts.

    Your long list of "problems" nobody has heard of before does cause some doubt!
  • Any advice for a somewhat similar situation but under wet conditions?
    Specific Problem detail:
    When my car sits in rainy or wet (heavy morning dew) conditions for a number of hours, it has trouble starting. If it does start, it quickly stalls when put into drive. To get past this, when I can get it to start I let it idle for at least 10 minutes. That seems to warm the car up enough so it drives fine; after which it will startup w/o any problems, at least until the next time it sits in wet conditions. I replaced the distributor 3 months ago, no problems for 2 1/2 months and now its back. Any ideas? Possible same solution - the Main Relay?

  • This is for a '90 honda Civic with 230,000 miles. After the car is turned off, there is a window in which it won't start. From about 5 to 10 minutes after being turned off, the engine won't start. Otherwise it is fine. It doesn't appear to be the relay problem, not connected to ambient temperature or sun. Is this vapor lock? What is vapor lock anyway?
  • If you give me permission to e-mail you, I will gladly provide documentation of all problems with my car. Please be aware that some of the problems, like 5 batteries in 6 years and the 2 ignition replacements were actually misguided attempts to fix the starting problem. There were also several times they just called it a vapor lock and told me to use better gasoline. Realizing that you live in Seattle (where I grew up), I also wonder if you know what it is like to be stuck for even 10 minutes (let alone 40-60) in 110 degree heat where the interior of a car can heat up to over 180 degrees in just a short time. It is a felony in this state to leave your dog in a parked car for even 10 minutes once the temperatures reach 85 degrees outside, and hardly a summer passes that at child does not die from being left in the car.

    I will also be glad to document that my first correspondence with American Honda was just after the 1992 models came out, when the local dealer offered me a trade with a $6000 loss (to me not him).

    The Honda Accord is a great car. I happened to have had one with a number of problems. On the freeway, it ran like a charm. The gas mileage was FANTASTIC. It was not me that labeled it a lemon, but my fellow employees who made it the but of many a joke. And in 10 years, not one other person at work (out of about 70) has purchased a Honda. Personally, I find it sad that a company that makes such great cars would refuse to stand by one bad one. And unfortunately, so do my colleagues, who have heard not a wimper or complaint from me in all those years. They just wondered why it didn't run and got tired of picking me up at the shop.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    I once blew a tire in Red Bluff, CA. I had to change it in 115 degree heat. No fun! I could NOT live where you live if I had to and realize that there may be unique problems due to the heat.

    I don't doubt that you have had troubles. It just seems that you may embellish them a bit.

    And...I have to wonder what your co-workers are buying since they are now scared of Hondas?

    No car is perfect but I suspect that mis-diagnosis of your problems may have been a problem.
This discussion has been closed.