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1992 Honda Accord Starting Problem

1992 Honda Accord occasionally won’t start. Turns over but doesn’t catch. First repair they said it was a gas issue - bad gas, old gas, or not getting enough gas. They drained tank, replaced with new gas, cleaned throttle. Started ok for a few weeks. Then did it again. Second repair: replaced distributor and ignition coil. Started ok for a couple weeks, then you guessed it - it did it again. Third repair: found oil on the spark plugs, cleaned them, tightened gasket where oil appeared to be leaking. That repair was today so I am holding my breath waiting for the car to fail again. They said if it happens again the gasket needs to be replaced. Having spent almost $700 on these repairs so far I am reluctant to spend any more, but at the same time reluctant not to! And reluctant to take it to someone else after so much has been invested here. What do you think?

That sounds a lot like the notorious Honda main relay problem. The relay that supplies power to the fuel injection computer is for some reason a common problem on 80’s and early 90’s Hondas and the symptom usually is maddeningly intermittent no starts.

I’m not sure if this is true on a '92, but on my '86 when you turn the key to “on” (but not start) you should hear a few clicks and the PGM-FI light (may be a Check engine light on your car) comes on with a click and then goes out with a click. If you don’t get the second click and the light stays on, that’s a classic main relay symptom. Try googling about “honda main relay” for your car-- you should be able to find the specifics for your car and, on some models, the relay is actually pretty easy to reach and it could even be a DIY job.

Of course it could be that your shop ruled that problem out early and it really is something else, but if they’re not familiar with this vintage of Honda they may not be aware of it.

If the starting problems are associated with hot weather, or just a hot interior, then the fuel pump relay is probably the cause. As GreasyJack pointed out, this is a common problem with Hondas of a certain age.

I think you need a mechanic more familiar with Honda vehicles. It sounds to me like they are throwing parts at the car, hoping something will work.