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  1. #1

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    Default Car help needed.....

    I have a 1998 Honda Accord LX 4 cylinder. It has 192,000 miles and is used as my everyday commuter. About three weeks ago, my wife was driving it and said that it shut down in the middle of the highway for like 4-5 seconds. Gauges all went to zero and dash lights illuminated. After 4-5 seconds everything came back on and was fine. It didn't need restarting or anything. It just started working again she said. I thought maybe it was because she was running on dead empty and the fuel pump shut the computer down for a few seconds.

    Fast forward to yesterday. It happened again. Exact same scenario but had a half tank of gas. Same exact symptoms. Again, didn't need to restart or anything. Just started working again after 4-5 seconds.

    Needless to say, with a 40 mile commute on major highways, I am a bit nervous to drive it. There are no codes and no service engine lights on. I replaced the O2 sensors last year. New radiator 4 months ago. Literally those were the only repairs in the last 4 years. It did have the ignition switch recall performed.

    I have read on line and talked to some buddies that it could be anything from fuel pump, alternator, or distributor.......I know there are a few guys on here that give really sound advice and was wondering if there was any input you could give. I have a shop to take it to but would like more information before I go if possible so that I don't get taken to the cleaners.

    This car has been AMAZING in its performance and reliability and am willing to spend some money to keep it going, but at some point it will become diminishing returns.


    Thanks in advance,
    Shawn

  2. #2

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    Sounds like a coil or coil relay. Those can be tough to trouble shoot from what I remember.
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  3. #3

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    sounds electrical. like a bad ecu or a circuit somewhere making a bad connection - but I'm not a mechanic.
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  4. #4

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    I already checked the battery terminal cables and the ground. All seem OK to me and I have some experience. I would be more worried about something like that if it happened when going over a bump or hard acceleration or braking or something similar. I am thinking a relay or coil as well and it is possible that the ignition switch is bad again considering there wasn't a redesign - the symptoms are similar to a bad ignition switch from what I can gather on the internet.

    The only issue I have is what has been stated before. These issues can be very hard to troubleshoot and without a definitive diagnosis I could be just replacing things hoping it fixes the problem. Most of these are fixes I can do myself (the ignition switch, etc are easy do it yourself projects). But if it is an electrical issue or an alternator or distributor, I have never done anything like that.

    If this wasn't such a reliable car, it would be a harder decision. But how much more can I expect out of a 15 year old approaching 200,000 mile car. I REALLY don't want another car payment, but if I end up sinking 2-3 grand into a car hoping it fixes a problem, that's no better. Decisions, decisions.......

  5. #5

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    Shawn474,


    Check the cap and rotor. If you can't remember the last time they were changed, it is probably time for a tune-up anyway. Cap, rotor, plugs, wires, etc..... I had a similar issue happen to me years ago with a honda civic. The problem was a worn out cap and rotor.

  6. #6

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    This sounds like something in the ignition switch. If you turn the key on and then slowly rotate to start, I would venture to guess that just before the starter engages, your gauges will drop and all the dash lights will come on.

    I'm not totally clear on if the engine actually stopped while she was driving or if it was just the dash that went wonky.

  7. #7

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    I've had goofy things like that happen on a car with the alternator going out, usually wouldn't come back after that though. Maybe the voltage regulator is going flakey on you...

  8. #8

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    You said that you inspected the terminals at the battery, but did you check the other end of the cables. For everything to die, you may be experiencing a bad ground, or as others have suggested, a bad ignition switch or relay. Another possibility is a bad connection inside the battery. I had this happen once and I had to replace the battery. Most shops can load test the battery, but if the problem is intermittent, it may not show up during the test.

  9. #9

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    I think ignition/accessory switch as well. Check the accessory fuse too.

  10. #10

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    Have the exact same car with 180,000 on it. Reliable as all hell too. Haven't had the problem your having, but I'm thinking the ignition switch may still be at fault. Electrical issues are some of the hardest to figure out. From past experiences though, I've had that problem on other cars and the problem after tearing my hair out was a worn cable off the starter or battery. Over time the plastic coating rubs off and you have bare wire contacting metal on the cars body creating a short. So before dumping more coin into it, trace the wires inside the engine compartment and under the car. Always check the easiest stuff first as these types of things go by process of elimination.

  11. #11

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    Thanks all; inhave rechecked the battery cables and ground with no obvious problems. I just had the battery replaced 5 months ago so cant imagine it would be that. I ordered the ignition switch electrical connection and will try that first. Fingers crossed......

  12. #12

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    I dont think it would be the battery. An ignition switch sounds reasonable though. The crappy thing about problems like that is, even if you take it to a shop, it's almost impossible to diagnose without just throwing parts at it and hoping for the best :(

    Good luck!
    -Cody
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  13. #13
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    I had the same symptom when my alternator went out

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by j1mmy View Post
    I had the same symptom when my alternator went out
    I haven't ruled that out either. That was what one of my friend's said to check - but he was also saying that if it was the alternator, it would have probably shut completely off and needed to be restarted. Both times this has happened it hasn't needed to be restarted. It literally was just drifting and the whole care just started working again mid drift.

  15. #15

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    There's a number of things that could cause it, and not all of them electrical.
    The dash lights would go OUT if the power went south. Fuel cutting out
    or an ignition problem would stop the engine. Time for some general diags and a
    good look around under the hood. Look for loose or corroded connections.
    On a 15 year old car start simple. Check fuel pressure. Check for loose/corroded
    fuel pump connections. Check ignition parts, connections. It wasn't misfiring,
    so it isn't plugs and wires. If it has a distributor, look there and towards the computer.
    Pull some codes. Not all codes light the check engine light. Start the car and wiggle some wires.
    I've had a lot of old cars, and a good physical inspection goes a long way to
    solve stuff like this.
    Last edited by sucks2beme; 06-17-2013 at 04:39 PM.
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  16. #16

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    I would subject the Main Relay. There's a circuit for the ECM, and fuel pump. The relay is under the dash by the steering wheel.

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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by disneyjoe7 View Post
    I would subject the Main Relay. There's a circuit for the ECM, and fuel pump. The relay is under the dash by the steering wheel.
    Is there any way to tell if the relay is bad? Or maybe it's worth it just to replace it just in case? Reading Over some posts on line it seems that this could be the culprit and seems to be pretty common. How hard is it to replace ? Looks like some people have taken the board out of the ECM and resolve red some of the connections. ThatbI a, not comfortable doing or attempting but replacing a relay is easy enough. Any chance you know what it looks like and where to buy a new one?

  18. #18

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    Shawn here's a video on repair, you could just replace it if it's easier with you.

    Another video I seen on this subject the relay powers the fuel pump and ecm via another relay in it. There's 2 relays in the box.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viIZ8k60awY


    This video shows a better location where this relay is.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38DQ5IVQQ68
    Last edited by disneyjoe7; 06-18-2013 at 06:22 AM. Reason: added another video for location.

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  19. #19

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    I hope that fixes you problem, very command issue with Honda but not a biggie.

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  20. #20

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    Thanks everyone for all the help and advice. I am replacing the ignition switch today when I get home from work. If the problem continues I will buy a new main relay and swap it. To the best of my ability I visually inspected the battery terminals and ground connection and didn't see a problem at all. I scanned for codes and nothing came up. If those two issues do not remedy the problem I will bite the bullet and get it professionally diagnosed.

    Thanks again all.

  21. #21

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    I think the main relay could be 98% of problem, I never heard anything about an ignition switch issue so I would skip that.

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  22. #22

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    How does the car not need restarting after being off for 4-5 sec? I guess if it's still in gear, it's just like popping the clutch on a manual to start it when the starter goes out. Does the car have a remote start feature? Maybe something wonky there?

  23. #23

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    The Main relay has 2 relays one is powering up the engine computer and one is for the fuel pump. If the relay that is powering up the computer it could kill the engine before it repowered the computer again. The engine would loss power but still spinning so no I don't think he has needed to restart the engine.

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  24. #24

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    I had the same problem with my 98 Honda Civic. Bad alternator.
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