1998 Honda Accord Car not picking up the way it used to

Tiny
SAM2008
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 HONDA ACCORD
Engine Performance problem
1998 Honda Accord 4 cyl Manual 144757 miles

Ok! I got this used car 3 years ago from a dealership. Three days after I got it, the check engine (orange) light came on. Dealer wanted to charge me $2000 for a catalytic convertor replacement. But my oil change mechanic saw the oxygen sensor wire deliberately pulled apart. He suggested its the oxygen sensor and not the catalytic convertor. I was not ready to spend money on either one of those and car had been running fine with check engine light on for past 3 years until recently when I decided to replace spark plugs on my own. But while changing the plugs by mistake I pulled the pin out of one of the wires. Car pickup and performance became terrible. After suspecting a misfire, I got a new wireset (4 in total) from autozone for $45. They looked cheap but autozone people said its the standard for 4 cylinder engines. Although car is running better than the misfire but its not as good as it used to be before I changed the plugs and wires. Plugs are of fine quality but wires look cheap and dont fit as good as my previous ones. Autozone insists that it is the standard for 4 cylinder cars. What should I do and how much is it gonna cost me to get everything fixed!

All replies appreciated!

Thanks.

Sam.
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Friday, July 18th, 2008 AT 4:19 AM

13 Replies

Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Hi Sam,

If the car does not misfire under acceleration, the plug wires are ok.

Did you check the ignition timing?

When did you last replaced the fuel filter?
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Friday, July 18th, 2008 AT 8:20 AM
Tiny
SAM2008
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I got fuel filter changed couple of months ago as a part oil change.

I dont know anything about ignition timing!

Please tell me more.
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Friday, July 18th, 2008 AT 11:54 PM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Hi Sam,

Fuel and oil filter are different components so hope you got them right.

Ignition timing is the moment the spark is supposed to fire in the cylinder before the piston reaches the top.

You need a timing light to check it and adjustment is by turning the distributor clockwise or anticlockwise depending on advancing or retarding the timing.
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Saturday, July 19th, 2008 AT 11:19 AM
Tiny
SAM2008
  • MEMBER
Hi KHLow

Thanks for your replies. Since replying to you the other day. My car's misfire has returned. It came on and. I decided to change one of the bad new wires (which autozone insisted is the right one but didnt fix properly) with one of the old good ones. But nothing really changed. In fact it became worse and the car trembles violently in 2nd gear while going up the hill and there is a lot of resistance while driving. I went in search of a mechanic but couldnt find one. Tomorrow I ll be taking it to my dealer. He will be charging $99 for diagnosis. I spent more than $2500 since I got it for $6000 3 years ago (on tires, battery, music system etc.). I just pray that I dont lose all of it.

My question to you is this.

1. Can you give me a short list of problems that I could anticipate the mechanic will give me.

2. Can you give me an estimate how much it can cost me (just an idea) - so that I dont get duped due to my lack of knowledge and make informed decision. Anyway he is going to charge me $99 to diagnose the problem tomorrow.

I ll keep checking my email regularly and wait for your reply.

Once again, I appreciate all the information!

Sam.
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Sunday, July 20th, 2008 AT 11:12 PM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Hi Sam,

If the engine is misfiring, most probably they will tell you to replace the

1. Spark plugs
2. Ignition wires, cos they are non OEM.
3. Air filters.
4. Distributor cap and rotor.

Why don't you try a free scan at Autozone and what are the codes from the CEL?

Sorry, I am unable to provide any costing as mine do not apply to your area.
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Monday, July 21st, 2008 AT 7:31 AM
Tiny
SAM2008
  • MEMBER
Here is what the autozone people said.

Catalyst efficiency low - bank 1

Explanation

The oxygen sensors monitor the catalytic converters ability to store oxygen

Probable causes

1. Catalytic Converter defective (Failure possibly due to #2, 3 or 4)

2. Engine misfire or running condition

3. Large Vaccum leak

4. Engine oil leakage into exhaust - valve guide seals, piston rings.

I left my car with the dealer. I didnt show him the above reciept and is waiting for his call what he comes up with.

Thanks to you!

I ll keep you posted.

Sam.
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Monday, July 21st, 2008 AT 10:17 AM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Hi Sam,

Probably they will tell you to replace the catalytic converter.

If it is clogged, the engine performance would be very much affected depending on the blockage.
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Monday, July 21st, 2008 AT 3:52 PM
Tiny
SAM2008
  • MEMBER
I spent the whole day at my dealer and it turns out. Its not just catalytic converter.

Its clutch plate + catalytic converter. Catalytic coverter has been there for a long time. The clutch plate is the real culprit for current problem.

It makes sense to me. I think that is why I spent money on plugs and wires thinking they might improve the performance whereas in fact the clutch plate was failing.

Total cost to fix it - $2300. I am not ready to put that much money on a 98 car.

Thanks for your input. I learned a lot and made informed decisions all along the way.

Have a nice day.

Sam.
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Monday, July 21st, 2008 AT 10:11 PM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Hi Sam,

When the clutch is failing the engine should be racing with not much speed improvement. You did not mention it so we going in the wrong direction, checking for engine power loss.

Anyway we have it under the belt so if you have not replaced the clutch, you need to be light with the gas pedal to prevent the clutch from slipping and burning off soon.
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Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 AT 7:56 AM
Tiny
SAM2008
  • MEMBER
Thanks KHLow. I was not even looking for it either. I just decided to replace the plugs and wires thinking they are long overdue and will improve the performance of my car. But I had that pin incident with one of the wires leading to misfire and got all my attention. And I kept thinking about that might be causing the problem and making it worse.

I think the clutch plate has already burnt out. I met with another mechanic today. He gave me a warranty of 1 month for labor and 1 year for parts and will cost me somewhere around $650. I think thats reasonable.

I have another question. Supposing he is gonna go for OEM parts. How bad are they as compared to the orginal parts from the dealer.

Also should I go for a catalytic coverter replacement. Will it improve the performance. Does check engine light matter much? How much it should cost me (I just need an estimate because the dealer was charging me $640 just for the converter + labor. I did some research online and there are a range of catalytic coverters for 1998 Accord LX from $130 - $450. If you would like please give an estimate in your area. I just want an Idea how far is it from a reasonable range and why there is so much difference.
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Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 AT 8:44 PM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Hi Sam,

If they are genuine OEM parts, then it would be ok because I have seen after market parts that are not that good in quality which might cause some juddering at initial take off.

If your present catalytic converter is clogged, it would definitely affect the overall performance especially at higher speeds.

Difference in prices might mean a difference in quality.

Sorry to say that in our country emission controls are lacking and if there is any problem with the original catalytic converter, I have never seen anyone change them before, they just discard it. It is very expensive to replace one. Most of the vehicles here uses only one O2 sensor in front of the catalytic converter so discarding does not affect others.

My prices also do not apply for you.

You have been running with the bad catalytic converter for so long, don't you need to send your vehicle for emission tests? It would definitely fail.

.
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Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 AT 10:15 PM
Tiny
SAM2008
  • MEMBER
Hi KHLow

I have another question for you.

I have left my car with the mechanic to fix the clutch plate.

Can you tell me more about timing belt.

I got my car at 137000 miles 3 years ago. Should I be concerned about it?

When do people typically get it replaced?

I heard, it is also very expensive to replace.

What is the normal life cycle of it?

Are there any warning signs of it needing to be replaced? If so then I wont worry about it. And if I dont get it replaced and turns out bad. What can it do to my car?

Also can my mechanic take a look at it while replacing the clutch plate?

After looking at my Autozone diagnostic receipt and my story regarding Oxygen sensor wire being pulled apart, he is also going to look for the oxygen sensor and replace it if need be. He said its lot cheaper than the catalytic converter. If still light comes on. I will ask for the catalytic coverter replacement. Anyway I need to get it done to be able to sell my car. Otherwise it will go for pennies.

Thanks!

Sam.
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Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008 AT 7:01 PM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Hi Sam,

Sorry for the late reply.

The normal recommended timing belt replacement interval is 60,000 miles and it is important to follow as failure can cause a lot of damages.

There are no warning signs for timing belt failure. A visual inspection is the least you need to do. Ask your mech to have a look and a belt adjustment might help.
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Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 AT 5:50 AM

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