1983 Accord fuel system (?) troubles



Car: 1983 Honda Accord Hatchback. 4-cyl, 4-spd automatic, carbureted.

I’ve been trying to pin this down for a while now, but I don’t really know THAT much about cars. Just enough to be a bother, I’d say.

The main symptom of the problem has two ways of showing up. When the car is cold, or not quite warmed up yet, it is very easy to stall it by pressing on the gas at a normal acceleration rate. If I’m in a rush for work in the morning, I have to very VERY gently apply throttle to get it to accelerate (slowly) without killing it. It also shows up in difficulty to start the vehicle, as it often takes four or five cranks and starts which it immediately (or within 10 seconds or so) loses rpms and dies.

This problem is irrespective of ambient temperature, but is alleviated by driving it for more than about 5 or 10 minutes.

I’m trying to figure out where the actual problem lies in the fuel system. I suspect the carburetor because the vehicle had been sitting unused for nearly a year with fuel still in the systems when I acquired it. I have run several carb cleaning products through the system, and it definitely runs better now than it did then, but the problem persists.

I also suspect the fuel pump, as it has a tendency to click as the vehicle is running. The clicking increases in frequency as A) the gas tank empties, so that when the tank has 2 or 3 gallons left, the fuel pump can be clicking quite rapidly. Maybe, 4-8 times a second. B) as the throttle is depressed. These conditions seem sorta additive, so if the car has 5 gallons left, but I accelerate a little harder, it can click 5-10 times a second or so.

I suspect the fuel tank because whenever i refuel (at a third of the tank remaining, usually), there is a BIG sigh of escaping gas, and the visual distortion of gas vapors coming from the tank cap, along with a strong scent and accompanied by a clicking-creaking type noise of metal relaxing, as if the can is under very high pressures, or a vaccum, and the pressure is released when the cap is. This sorta confuses me, as when I last had the car smogged, last year, the tank cap and vapor return system displayed as “passed.”

Another symptom is a rather low idle, but only sometimes. I have the Honda shop manual for the car, and it says the RPMs should be around 750 at idle, and sometimes it sits there just fine and dandy. Sometimes it’s closer to 500 and the car gets kinda bouncy at a stop.

So… how do I narrow it down? Which culprit sounds most likely? Whodunit? Maybe something I haven’t thought of

I really love this car, as it’s only a month younger than myself, and I don’t see many of them driving around nowadays. Unique is good :smiley: Car’s in great condition aside from the fuel system giving me minor grief and some small patches of rust around the windscreen.

Thanks for your time! Cheers!


Good detailed data. Hopefully someone here is experienced with Honda carbs and can help clear up the problem for you. If you don’t get more direct information I recommend checking locally for an older independent mechanic, especially one who specializes in Hondas or Japanese cars.