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1988 Honda accord fuel troubles

So my car is an older vehicle, as understood by the year, and it has the typical old car problems. Yet one problem has stumped me and my colleague. My car has had a vapor lock before when it reached about a third of a tank. This however, was fixed by taking the fuel line off the secondary filter and pressing the gas/cranking. Today, a similar set of symptoms arose when I woke for school in the morning. It’s about 45° and still dark. I turn the key and I can hear the fuel pump (as usual) and I crank it over. It starts quickly, then shortly dies after a second. This usually happens, and I usually get the car started on the third time. The second time it started up and gave me a hint of glory, then after 4 seconds of running it shut off. Again, not uncommon, so I tried for the third time. When I tried, nothing happened. So I stopped cranking, pumped the gas a few times, then tried again. After one more time trying, I gave up and pulled the hood and did as I did before. But when I did, no gas came out. I turn the key and the fuel pump makes a different sound, but it still is functional. I have a third tank of fuel left, and it’s not receiving any of it. It’s not the filter, not the lines, and not the pump. My guess is the carbon filter, but I’ve never heard of that going bad or anything before. You guys have any ideas?

No fuel at the carb and you DON’T think it is the filter, pump or lines. And ANY fuel filter needs periodic replacement, just so you know. But let’s assume you are correct.

By fuel at the carb, do you mean you pump the gas pedal, look down into the carb and no fuel squirts? If that is true, the carb float or needle has failed and is blocking the flow. If you disconnect the fuel line from the carb, point it into a bucket and key-on or even to crank, gas should flow out as long as the pump runs. If no gas then the pump, filter or lines are, indeed, the problem. If gas shoots out, and plenty of it, the carb needs to come apart and be rebuilt.

And BTW, a 1988 carb does not have internal parts compatible with the ethanol laced modern gas we all use.

But given your vapor lock problem, I’d suggest you are wrong, there IS a problem with the pump, filter or lines. Change filters first and re-test flow. Then check pressure. Not familiar with Hondas but 4-5 psi at the carb should be enough.

I’m sorry, I intended to say that I had changed the secondary filter. I had changed that last week due to the prior experience. By the gas coming out, I mean it on the literal fuel line that I had disconnected from the spoken filter. That filter is placed before it reaches the carburetor. I’m no mechanic, and I don’t intend to come off as one. Are fuel pumps known to just die at random?

Very much so. Totally random. And given the ethanol (alcohol) in modern fuel, it can dissolve the pump internally so that it runs, but does not pump, or pumps, but does not build pressure.

Test the fuel system as I described. The fuel needs to get to the carb, obviously, or the car won’t run. It also needs to get through the carb so if adequate fuel comes out at a good pressure, the next step is the carb.

Try loosening the fuel filler cap, to let air in. Your fuel pump may be pulling against a vacuum it’s creating, because of a problem with the evap control system.

Now that this is mentioned, every time I do open the fuel cap there is a hissing. I’m not sure if it’s sucking in, or out. I’d have to honestly check that.

“Vapor lock” is caused by gas boiling, and it has nothing to do with how much gas is in your tank. This problem sounds more like the fuel tank vent problem mentioned above, or a fuel pump. Next time it happens pull over somewhere safe and loosen the gas cap, see if it helps.

I had to go to school so I didn’t have much time to fiddle with it. When I get back I am gunna spend some time trying everything you guys mentioned. I really appreciate everyone’s help. I’ll keep y’all updated!

Good luck. It’ll be good to hear back from you!

Vapor lock isn’t something that usually happens to engines using a tank mounted electric fuel pump, which I presume is your car’s configuration. The 88 accord had two fuel system options, electronic fuel injection, or 2 b carb. Which is yours? In either case a fuel pressure test is where I’d start on this.