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Discussion Starter #1
hey this is my first post here, I'm not sure if this has come up before but i didn't find anything so here it goes. Oh, and before anyone says it, yes i know this car is 20 years old so i should just let it go but I kinda like the car and would like to try and fix it..anyways the problem:

My car has idle issues when I come to a red light or stop sign or something. I'll be parked and the rpms' just drop almost to zero and just before the car stalls the rpms go back up to normal. Then, when I'm ready to drive i give the car gas and the rpms drop down again and the car really stuggles to accecerate but then runs reasonably well once you get going. I've replaced the EGR valve and the sparkplugs but that didn't help. I'm wondering if maybe its a oxygen sensor. Anyways, has anyone else had this problem or any ideas how I can fix it? Thanks a lot!
 

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Sam22:

You neglect to mention if your '88 is carbureted or fuel-injected.

On the EFI (fuel-injected) engines, there is an "idle-control" valve attached to the back of the throttle body unit. There is also an "idle-control" solenoid attached to the left (driver's side) strut tower/wheel housing. AND, there is an IAT (Intake Air Temperature) sensor attached to the intake manifold. (Mine is green, attached with two Phillips-head screws.)

If faulty, ANY/ALL of the above components can create an "idling" and/or "stalling" issue.

In the case you have a (DX or LX) carbureted engine, given the age of your car, I'd first suspect a defective FLOAT. Finding parts for the "carb" motors is becoming a serious ordeal. Good luck.

But perhaps I have pointed you in the right direction. Again, I wish you the best of luck. Your (and my) 3rd Gen Accord is one of the BEST cars Honda ever produced!

Robert Warden
BSME (retired)

**********************************
1986 Accord Hatchback, LX-i, 5-speed, Misty Beige Metallic over Silky Red (216K miles)
VIN: 1HGBA5348GA167648
2002 Accord Coupe, LX, V6, Satin Silver over Charcoal (81K miles)
VIN: 1HGCG224X2A011655
 

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Discussion Starter #3
hey thanks a lot, and sorry for not mentioning if it was fuel injected, which it is. I'm glad somebody agrees that the 88 accord style are great cars! Thanks again for the advice, wish me luck lol!
 

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Sam22:

I thank you for clarification that you have an "LX-i" Accord.

There are ALSO other "fuel system" concerns I (unintentionally) neglected to mention.

You may need to replace the fuel filter; it's located on the passenger's side of the firewall, just below the emission control box. Unlike carbureted engines, fuel-injected engines tend to be very sensitive to a clogged fuel filter. This will cost you about $20 (plus labor) to replace it. It's really NOT a big deal, if you care to do it yourself; simple hand tools are all you need. Just make sure you keep everything extremely CLEAN and TIGHT.

Another concern (given the age of your car) is the fuel pump. It is electric, and is located in the gas tank. It has a "sock" (plastic-mesh screen) on it to filter out possible contaminants in gasoline. Again, it is NOT a big deal to replace. Lift up the trunk carpet and remove the "press board" spare tire cover for access; it is underneath the (black rubber) cover on the left (driver's) side of the trunk floor. Disconnect the two (2) electrical plugs and remove five (5) bolts. Again, it's NOT a big deal. Depending upon whom you shop with, it will cost you a hundred-or-so dollars for the part. While I will recommend an OEM pump from Honda, you may care to price shop with your local parts stores. And I also suggest you check around on Ebay Motors. They often have great deals.

If the fuel injectors on your car have never been replaced, this is yet another concern. While kind of pricey (about $100 each), they are nevertheless quick and easy to replace. Disconnect the wire connected to each injector, unbolt the fuel rail (running across the engine), then they just pop out. Clean the ports thoroughly with carb/brake cleaner before you install the new ones. And I add just a TOUCH of high-temp, silicone grease to the "O" rings before installation.

If you are not "savvy" to all I say above, then please present this information to your mechanic. There are so many possible causes of your "idling" problem. I am really unable to speculate on a precise solution. But again, I hope I have got you moving in the right direction.

Per the photo you post, I see that your car is equipped with automatic transmission. While I enjoy shifting my trusty five-speed car, yours would be preferable, giving my declining health. (I am Diabetic, afflicted with severe Neuropathy.) The automatic cars are rather RARE; over fifty-percent of 3rd Gen Accords are equipped with a five-speed manual transmission.

Is your car a Sedan or Hatchback? What color scheme is it? How many miles now? And what (overall) condition is it in? Doesn't matter to me, I am merely curious.

OK, I openly admit to being prejudiced. The 3rd Gen Accord is one of the BEST Honda ever built.

WHY???

It is the ONLY generation of Accord equipped with "hide-away" headlamps, borrowed from the 1984-1985 Prelude. First time I laid eyes on an '86 Accord, I went hog wild! As a kid, I LOVED the "hide-away" headlamps on the 1963 "split window" Corvette "Stingray." "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." And Honda gave me a feature I dearly LOVE, when they incorporated it into the 3rd Gen Accord!

As the famous baseball player George Herman "Babe" Ruth once said, "It ain't no brag if you can do it...or have done it."

And as Sargeant Joe Friday (on the ancient "Drag Net" TV show) was prone to say, "Just the facts, Ma'm. Just the FACTS."

FACTS:

The 3rd Gen Accord was the NUMBER ONE selling car in America, for three (3) consecutive years. (During 1987, 1988, and 1989.) It consistently beat out the Ford Taurus and everything else.

Sales:
1986: 700,000 units
1987: One million units
1988: One million units
1989: One million units

"Pet" and "Pamper" on that nice "girl" you own, Sir. Like mine, she is a "Living Legend!" A real "Keeper!"

Robert Warden
BSME (retired)

**********************************
1986 Accord Hatchback, LX-i, 5-speed, Misty Beige Metallic over Silky Red (216K miles)
VIN: 1HGBA5348GA167648
2002 Accord Coupe, LX, V6, Satin Silver Metallic over Charcoal (81K miles)
VIN: 1HGCG224X2A011655

Registered member with the American Honda Owners' Association
 

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Discussion Starter #5
wow i really appreciate all the info. Ya, when a car gets to be this old it could be one of a million different things! I'll just keep ticking things off this list! The car is in decent condition...I've only had it for 3 years and the guy who had it before kinda drove it into the ground but i've slowly been fixing it up. It has over 325 000km on it, so its getting up there. Its also getting some rust on it, but not to bad. The interior is in really good shape. It was a fancy car in its day..power everything, sunroof..it has more extras than my much newer mazda! Anyways thanks again...hopefully this works!
 

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Sam22:

Given the sheer production numbers and popularity of the 3rd Gen Accords, you will be pleased to know that most any part is still available from HMC. Exceptions (that I know of): Water pump pulley, some external trim, and OEM seat covers. (Last year, I paid $550 for a set of OEM "Silky Red" (upper and lower) seat covers, for the driver's side side ONLY. Yeah, I griped. But I was happy to get them...since they were the LAST set shown in HMC's entire inventory!)

Be careful if/when you need a water pump replacement; ham-fisted mechanics are often prone to bend/warp the pulley when they remove it. No longer available from Honda, you'll have to dig one out of your local salvage yard. It should cost you about $10-to-$20, in good condition.

If you have 325,000 KILOMETERS showing on the odometer, that translates into about 195,000 MILES. You must live in Canada, Europe, etcetera.

Doesn't matter, either. With regular service (engine oil/filter, trans fluid, timing belts, etcetera), I've seen many Honda engines ROUTINELY go 400-to-500,000 MILES before they expired. That would be ~833,333 KILOMETERS, in your book.

The engine in the 3rd Gen cars is the LAST Honda engine utilizing an aluminum cylinder head with a cast-iron block. (What I have is the "A20A3" engine.) Both the "A" and "B" series engines are rugged "Work Horses." The "B" series engine is a very popular swap, for the kids building a "Rice Rocket," given availability of aftermarket "high-performance" parts. Beginning in 1990, on the Gen Four cars, they are fitted with an all-aluminum engine; an aluminum cylinder head atop an aluminum block, featuring steel-sleeved cylinders. Reduced weight and manufacturing costs are but a few of the advantages.

Take great care of that "Fine Lady" you own, Sir. I wish you ONLY the BEST!

Robert Warden
BSME (retired)

**********************************
1986 Accord Hatchback, LX-i, 5-speed, Misty Beige Metallic over Silky Red (216K miles)
VIN: 1HGBA5348GA167648
2002 Accord Coupe, LX, V6, Satin Silver Metallic over Charcoal (81K miles)
VIN: 1HGCG224X2A011655

Registered member with the American Honda Owners' Association
 

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What kind of spark plugs did you use? Hondas like NGK's or Denso's.

Maybe do a fuel pressure test before replacing the fuel pump. No need replacing lots of parts that are still ok. If you start doing that it will be neverending spending. Just when your done replacing all these parts that are ok the engine or trans can die on you.

One thing that gets overlooked is the pcv valve..replace with an oem one. Except the air filter your better bet is using mostly oem parts/fluids.
 

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To All:

I was NOT suggesting the "Shotgun" approach, whereby you raise the hood and start throwing in tons of money. That is both very expensive and utterly foolish. As Satinsilver astutely points out, a qualified mechanic can perform various tests to try to pinpoint the exact cause of your problem(s).

I am simply saying that, given the age and mileage of your car, most ANY part is questionable.

Per what Satinsilver says, I also recommend that you stick with OEM NGK or Denso spark plugs. They work extremely well and tend to last a long time.

YES, please check the PCV valve. It is located on the intake manifold, in a grommet, on the right (passenger's) side, between the fuel rail and the intake plenum (manifold). A clean PCV should "rattle," when you shake it in your hand. You MIGHT be able to clean it with brake/carburetor cleaner. (Amazingly, the PCV on my '86 is original!)

Have you ever had the cooling system serviced? A faulty engine thermostat and/or the thermo-sensors ("A" and "B," respectively, located in the thermostat housing) CAN affect engine idling and overall performance.

Have you checked all the vacuum hoses? And I mean ALL of them! A cracked/broken vacuum hose, most anywhere in the system, will guarantee you one or more problems.

AND (Darn It!)....I forgot to ask if you have checked/changed the air filter element???

AND, I will add yet ONE more thing for you to check: The valve clearances.

I am ASSUMING you have the 12-valve cylinder head. (i.e., two intake valves and one exhaust valve, per cylinder. Some of the Canadian and various other [non-US] engines have 8-valve heads.) Incorrect valve clearance CAN cause idling issues, in some instances.

Intake valve clearance: .005 - .007 Thousandths of one Inch.
Exhaust valve clearance: .010 - .012 Thousandths of one Inch.

WHILE you (or your mechanic) are under the hood...PLEASE check the condition of the TIMING belt (and all the drive belts, for that matter.) Unlike say, a Toyota, a Honda engine does NOT "free wheel" if the timing belt breaks. What you will hear is a LOT of "expensive noises." (As in, pistons smacking the valves.)

And we haven't even gotten into many other possible causes, such as a defective throttle-body unit (the throttle-angle sensor is built into it). And the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) valve. Sheesh. The more I THINK, the more I realize it could be anything!

If you take your car to a shop, I also suggest you have your mechanic perform a "code check" on your ECU. This is especially true if you see the "PGM-FI" light illuminated. (It's on the left-hand side of your instrument cluster, with you sitting in the car.) The ECU (computer) is located underneath the driver's seat. This is a very SIMPLE test, taking about five (5) minutes. Push the seat fully forward, then open the (plastic) cover on the back of the ECU, to expose the LED. With the ignition switch in the "ON" position, you simply count the number of "blinks" between two-second pauses, to get an "error code," if one exists. Then you can use said "error code" for further diagnosis.

Let me be VERY SPECIFIC: If you get a "Code 12" or (else a) "Code 13," this indicates an issue that is NOT carefully explained in the HMC factory service manual. It's just something you learn from a Honda (or other) mechanic, else from your own personal experience. WHAT am I talking about?

There is a vacuum modulator located inside the emission control box (which is mounted on the passenger's side of the firewall). It is WHITE, with three "legs" (vacuum fittings) on it. Inside the modulator, there is this ultra-TINY (metal) orifice, on one "leg." It is so SMALL, I'd bet you can't stick a fine sewing needle through it. (I can barely see through it!) IN the case it becomes stopped up....with (vacuum) line trash, it WILL affect EGR valve operation...which, in turn, affects IDLING, fuel economy, and overall engine performance. While it IS a common problem on the fuel-injected engines, it is NOT a big deal to fix, either. You pull it off, then wash it out with brake/carburetor cleaner. If that micro-orifice is stopped up, in a FEW instances, you will need to use a very FINE piece of wire to unclog it. I am talking about, for example, a very fine piece of stainless-steel wire used to clean a paint gun nozzle...such as that used for painting a car. Are you with me, so far?

I have to clean mine out about every three-to-four years. The problem is especially acute for those Third Gen "LX-i" owners who drive in very dusty and/or high-pollution environments. It's just "the nature of the beast."

Therefore Sir, the list of possible causes for your "idling" issue is almost endless. But hopefully I have got you pointed in the right direction.

Robert Warden
BSME (retired)

**********************************
1986 Accord Hatchback, LX-i, 5-speed, Misty Beige Metallic over Silky Red (216K miles)
VIN: 1HGBA5348GA167648
2002 Accord Coupe, LX, V6, Satin Silver Metallic over Charcoal (81K miles)
VIN: 1HGCG224X2A011655

Registered member with the American Honda Owners' Association
 

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Discussion Starter #10
well at least i wont be bored!! One thing i should add that i forgot to say is that the car likes to change idle while its parked..like it just loops up to 2500rpm then back down to 1500rpm then back and forth like that for awhile...then then you put in in gear it usually stops, but putting back in part it does it again..i donno if this changes anything, but i figure i should add it. Thanks again for all the advice, i really appreciate it!
 

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Sam22:

Your "idling" malfunction could POSSIBLY be caused by a defective IAT (Intake Air Temperature) sensor. IF faulty, it WILL tend to produce an erratic "idling" issue.

It is located on the intake manifold, on the left (driver's) side. It has (typically) a green cap, with a twin-conductor element attached.

There are tests to check it, per the Honda factory service manual.

Check with your Honda dealer and/or an ASE-certfied mechanic.

ONE MORE TIME: There are virtually COUNTLESS possible reasons for your issues.

You will just have to INVESTIGATE!!!


Robert Warden
BSME (retired)

**********************************
1986 Accord Hatchback, LX-i, 5-speed, Misty Beige Metallic over Silky Red (216K miles)
VIN: 1HGBA5348GA167648
2002 Accord Coupe, LX, V6, Satin Silver Metallic over Charcoal (81K miles)
VIN: 1HGCG224X2A011655

Registered member with the American Honda Owners' Association
 

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Discussion Starter #12
thanks again...I'll probably wait till summer (its still to cold here in canada to do much!) to start working on the car...and just see what happens. I'll just keep ticking things off the list! Thanks again for all the advice, you've been more than helpful!
 

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To All:

BEHOLD...a few pics of my "Old Girl." Purchased from the original owner July 22nd, 1993. Virtually (mechanically) rebuilt from end-to-end, I have some $20,000 invested (including the price of the car), with YET more in store. Always SOMETHING to do to a an old car. New ones, too!

Robert Warden
BSME (retired)

**********************************
1986 Accord Hatchback, LX-i, 5-speed, Misty Beige Metallic over Silky Red (216K miles)
2002 Accord Coupe, LX, V6, Satin Silver Metallic over Charcoal (81K miles)

Registered member with the American Honda Owners' Association
 

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Sam22:

Your "idling" issue can be narrowed down to TWO (2) categories: Fuel or Fire.

Either the fuel system...or the electrical (ignition) system.

Which brings to my mind yet ANOTHER possibility: The distributor.

On the fuel-injected cars, the distributor is made by "Tec." The "crank-angle" sensor is built into said distributor. Along with the ECU (computer), the CAS determines when the spark plugs fire. IF faulty, the CAS can create an "idling" issue.

The condition of the distributor cap, the rotor button, the plug wires, and the coil should also be considered.

Again, there are simple tests a trained mechanic can perform to check it out for you.
 

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Wow...nicest 86 I've ever seen. No rust, dents, and so clean. Looks like its a few yrs old with 30k on it. I wouldn't hesitate eating off your engine bay.

I'd seriously consider putting a new oem pcv valve in it. I know the old one prob still clicks when you shake it but a new one is prob better..ie moves more freely(sp). Conversely, if the old one had a broken spring it would still make a noise when you shake it.
 

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SatinSilver:

I DO appreciate your compliments, Kind Sir!

My "Old Girl" tends to draw a lot of (unsolicited) attention. Aside from an enormous financial investment, I have a lot of my personal time and hard labor in "her." I enjoy the car as much today as when I purchased it almost 16 (sixteen) years ago.

I have the (Monroney) "window" sticker, along with a full set of factory manuals for the car. I have every receipt for every part/component I ever installed on it. (YES, I keep thorough records about my vehicles!)

Like my '02, my '86 is a Southern car. (It came from Raleigh, NC.) Aside from very light (minor) surface rust on a few of the suspension parts (typical for its age), it has no "cancer" issues I am aware of.

I'm real PICKY about "underhood" details. And I mean a real, neurotic "perfectionist type" about the condition and appearance of EVERYTHING!

Planned work for this Spring/Summer: Finish rebuilding the A/C (install the new compressor kit), new seat cover/cushion for driver's seat, replace all the struts/springs, and installation of new 14-inch Michelins (Harmony) on 1988 "LX-i" rims.

(WHEW! Makes me TIRED just THINKING about all that work! But since I have all the parts, I don't have any excuses! I need to get BUSY!)

I agree with you about the PCV valve. Simply because it "rattles" does NOT necessarily mean it's working correctly. My point being, if it does NOT "rattle" I would almost guarantee you it is defective. I've not yet had to replace mine, but they are still available for about $15.00.

As far as Sam22's 1988 "LX-i" Sedan, there are just so MANY possible causes of his erratic "idling" issue. I hope I have been helpful with my offered suggestions/advice.

Obviously, I LOVE the 3rd Gen Accords. IMO, they are some of the BEST vehicles HMC ever designed, built, and sold! :thmsup: :yes:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
you have been more than helpful! And your car looks amazing. I wish mine was in as good condition as urs. One of the people who had my car before me was brutal to her, which may explain why it isn't running too well right now. I did consider the CAS and actually replaced the distributor twice. I used 2nd hand distributors off a car at the auto wreckers so there is no gaurentee the ones i put on worked, But i figure that since I have had 3 different distributors on it and the problem isn't fixed I'm thinking it is probably something else. Either that or I have horrible luck! The rotor, spark plug wires and distributor cap are all new as well. Thanks again for all the help!
 
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