Mechanics

99 - STRANGE STALLING ISSUES! HELP!

1999 Honda Accord • 4 cylinder AWD Automatic • 143,000 miles

My 1999 Honda Accord is having sporadic stalling problems. I've noticed a pattern. It stalls while going slow speeds and stop and go traffic, etc. The engine just dies and usually restarts just fine. The engine also loses power while driving high speeds, but after less than a second or so the engine just comes back on. In this situation, the car usually bucks when power is regained. I have also noticed that prior to stalling my temperature gauge starts becoming unstable, for instance, it shoots up to the top red area, and then within a couple minutes shoots back down to the normal, cool range. This is usually the indication that my car will start with the stalling issues. I can go days, even weeks, without any problems whatsoever, so the problem is very frustrating! I've tried many dealers and independent shops and while they've tried many things, nothing seems to work. They replaced the EVR valve (?) (Sorry, might not have the right name) and cleaned all all of the backed up carbon from it not being backed up in the engine. That cost a lot, maybe $400. They also sealed a few oil leaks. The computer does not show anything wrong. According to Honda's records, I've had the ignition switch replaced as part of the recall (some mentioned that could be the issue) but to be honest, I have absolutely no recollection of EVER bringing my car in for that or ever receiving notification of the recall.
Any thoughts? I would love to get another season out of the car but if it's not safe, which it's not, and no one can fix it, it doesn't seem worth it, especially if the fix is going to be at all expensive! I've about given up on it!
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Barnn
February 16, 2011.



The temperature funny gauge readings indicates a possible electrical fault and the ignition switch is prime suspect.

When engine stalls, note if the dash indicator lights comes on immediately. If not, the ignition switch should be the cause.
Even if a recall was done, the replaced switch can still fail.

EGR, Ehaust Gas Recirculation, should be the correct word.

The other thing to check would be ground circuit connections, es[ecially at intake manifold, they are linked to the engine computer and the erratic temperature gauge. When they are not secure or contaminated, they can cause intermittent faults.

KHLow2008
Feb 16, 2011.
Thank you so much. I very much appreciate your response! I'll see what they find this time around now that I have some additional insight!

Tiny
Barnn
Feb 17, 2011.
Keeping my fingers crossed that the problem will be fixed.

Keep me updated.

KHLow2008
Feb 17, 2011.
Hello, KHLow2008!
You asked to keep you updated, so here goes.

One month since you replied, I have only been using the car for short weekend errands around my small town (no highway or fast driving). Given a busy schedule, and an alternative vehicle if I need to drive on the highway or longer distances, I hadn't taken the time to see about the above issues as wanted to get through March. Yes, dumb I know! Anyway, during this past month the car continued to have a few idle stalls at stop signs which then started right back up, a couple starting issues that easily resolved after turning the key a couple times and one almost-stall while driving that I was able to "come out of" by pressing the gas peddle down (i.E, the car bucked and kept going when I pressed the gas down). Temp gauge still up and down. Could still go a week or more and have no issues whatsoever. Same stuff as before. Note: When it did stall, all dash lights came on, power steering lost, etc. Check engine light never stayed illuminated, however. The one time it 'almost-stalled' while driving (pressed gas and I came out of it)a green warning light which was the pictre of a key flashed a few times. My car passed the state inspection in late Febuary.

The latest, just few days ago I had an emergency and I had no choice but to take the car on the highway. About 30 minutes into my trip (it was downpouring on this particular day) my car lost all power. There were no warning and I did not hear any sort of click or sudden change in driving which would have led me to believe I was going to have an issue, thus to hold the gas pedal down and come out of the stall. It felt totally different. The RPMs immediately dropped to below 0, no dashboard lights came on. It was like the car just died. The strange thing is that the power steering still worked and therefore, I didn't have any problems steering to safety, whereas before when it stalled it was so hard to steer. The car started right back up without any hesitation. I had to drive another 1.5 hours (hazards on going 40 mph) and had no issues whatsoever. When I got my destination 2 auto shops gave me two different diagnosis.

1) One shop recommended plugs, wires, dis. Cap and rotor be replaced. They said they checked the ignition switch and it is the new version (there was a honda recall and I had it replaced in 2003)And a code came up for the temperature gauge but he told me it has nothing to do with the stalling. He quoted me a price of $675 for the distributor work and would get back to me with the price to fix the temp issue.

Went to get a second opinion.

2) Second shop gave me something else altogether. They said it was a bad battery (severely corroded with very corroded battery terminals and 2 dead cells). They replaced the battery and cleaned the battery terminals. They also tightened the air tube (?), Said it was loose. They also told me I needed a new coolant sensor, but I did not give them the green light on this.
They also checked the following and according to them, came back OK.
--Distrib. Cap and Rotor - OK
--Charging System - OK

So, given I was 2 hours away from my home when all of this happened, even though the battery was changed, terminals cleaned and air tube was tightened, I refused to drive the car back home as highway driving would have been unavoidable. I rented a car for the trip back home and my car remains 2 hours away where I have a friend driving it about 10-40 miles each day on country roads (no traffic) and he has reported no problems since the above-mentioned battery replacement, cleaning of the terminals and the tightening of the air tube.

The car is getting a THIRD opinion end of this week. I cannot make any decisions until that time, my decisions being 1) whether I feel safe driving it on the highway to get it back to where I live with just the work recently done(I need to get it here even if I decide against any new repairs and get a new car as there are no dealerships in the area the car is currently). With 144,000 miles it is probably time for a new car if the repairs are high but at this point have no idea who to trust!

So, the piecemeal list I have for the mechanic giving me the third opinion is as follows. I am clueless and some of these things might be one in the same. I am unsure whether you or anyone can help me put together a more comprehensive or understandable list. Clearly they will do their own diagnostics but I would love the comfort knowing if EVERYTHING was ruled out before making any repair decisions or driving anymore. It is getting confusing when I have no idea what to ask, or what they need to rule out, etc. Based on what you told me and what I am researching, here is the list. Again, any suggestions would be so appreciated.

1) Ignition switch - the first shop said it was the new version (honda recall - 2003) but as you mentioned, does that mean it's good?
2) Ground Circut Connections at Intake Manifold
3)Idle Air Control Valve
4) air Temperature Sensor
5) Coolant Sensor (is this the same thing as the temp. Sensor?)
6) Ignition Coil
7) Alternator Ground for Corrosion?
8) Distributor/wires and all of that (the second shop said dis cap and rotor was ok, but how can he tell? The first shop told me they cannot get into that area and it is taking a chance to repair everything as it's just an educated guess on their part since they cannot get at it. Seems strange when the second shop said both checked out fine? HELP!

Thank you SO SO MUCH! Sorry for the novel, but wanted to give you all of the information.

Tiny
Barnn
Mar 21, 2011.
The more information you can provide, the easier it would be for me to understand the actual situation and come to a conclusion. It is good but the only problem is the system, it lumps everything into one big paragraph, making reading difficult. I have to paste the information and reparagraph them to make reading easier.

"... The one time it 'almost-stalled' while driving (pressed gas and I came out of it)a green warning light which was the pictre of a key flashed a few times...

The RPMs immediately dropped to below 0, no dashboard lights came on. It was like the car just died. The strange thing is that the power steering still worked and therefore, I didn't have any problems steering to safety, whereas before when it stalled it was so hard to steer. The car started right back up without any hesitation...
The above symptoms indicates power supply to or from the ignition is the main concern...

1) Ignition switch - the first shop said it was the new version (honda recall - 2003) but as you mentioned, does that mean it's good?...
Ignition switches prior to the recall had a problem of the symptoms indicated, that was the reason which prompted the recall. After 7 years and if under frequent stop/start driving conditions, I would not rule out the possibility of a failing ignition switch. Infact the symptoms do point to that, or the connections between the ignition switch wireharness to the fuse box. Check the connector terminals for signs of overheating and contamination.

...2) Ground Circut Connections at Intake Manifold... If this is the cause, retignthening the connection would solve the problem. Should be a straight forward job...

3)Idle Air Control Valve... This would cause stalling and low idling speed, especially after warming up but it would not be affecting anything if you are driving on the highway as at higher engine rpms, the IAC circuit has been bypassed when throttle is opened. However the******** after regaining power indicates this is not the likely cause...

4) Air Temperature Sensor.... Any fault with the Intake Air Temperature (IAT) would result in difficult starting and stalling after starting and similar to IAC, does not affect stalling at higher engine rpms...

5) Coolant Sensor (is this the same thing as the temp. Sensor?)... There are 2 different sensors, one is the temperature gauge sending unit which would not throw any trouble codes as it is solely for showing the temperature in the meter cluster. Engine Coolant Temperature (ECT) sensor is the one that tells the Power Control Module (PCM or engine computer) the engine temperature and would throw a code, which you mentioned that it did show when a scan was made. An ECT fault can cause stalling as the engine could be running too lean or rich, however you would most likely have difficulty restarting and the problem is going to be more frequent, especially after engine has warmed up. Spark plugs would most likely have signs of rich conditions with the tips being sooty. Check the connectors for looseness/contaminations which might cause intermittent connection failure. It under the distributor and if the O-ring of the distributor is bad oil would leak onto it causing contaminations or loss of connectivity...

6) Ignition Coil... If the ignition coil is failing/bad, the chances of restarting after stalling is almost zero, so I am quite confident this is not the cause...

7) Alternator Ground for Corrosion?... Alternator is bolted onto the engine brackets and if the holding bolts are secure, the grounding circuit should be good. Any fault would most likely result in the charge indiator light on dash flickering or showing intermittently...

8) Distributor/wires and all of that (the second shop said dis cap and rotor was ok, but how can he tell? The first shop told me they cannot get into that area and it is taking a chance to repair everything as it's just an educated guess on their part since they cannot get at it.
Seems strange when the second shop said both checked out fine?...

Any fault with the distributor is similar with the ignition coil failure, coil is inside the distributor. Distributor cap and wires can be tested for resistance and if they are within range, should be good. Furthermore, any fault with the above ( plus ignition coil) would have symptoms of performance loss, engine misfiring or********, especially when cold and would seldom result in engine stalling, especially while driving...

2) Second shop gave me something else altogether. They said it was a bad battery (severely corroded with very corroded battery terminals and 2 dead cells)... A battery with 2 dead cells would not allow cranking which is not the case so I doubt that is correct. The contaminations to the battery terminals should also not be the cause as cranking would be affected. Good to have the terminals cleaned though...

The strange thing is that the power steering still worked and therefore, I didn't have any problems steering to safety, whereas before when it stalled it was so hard to steer... When vehicle is moving at higher speed or minimal turning of the steering wheel is required, you would not feel any heavy steering. It is only when travelling at low speed and mmore turning is required that you would feel a heavy steering.... If the problem recurs, my recommendation is to check the ignition switch and its connection between main fuse box under hood to fuse box under dash and to ignition switch.

KHLow2008
Mar 21, 2011.