1997 Accord "Catching its Breath"

I have a 1997 Honda Accord, 156k miles, 4cyl. Last month, at a stoplight, in regular idle, the car seemed to be trying to “catch a breath” and jerk forward just slightly. At another stoplight same day, it really felt like it wanted to cutoff. I had not had an oil change in awhile because of finances, but had that taken care of last month and everything seemed ok. Tonight, same thing again. Only happened once just before getting home. The car runs fine in drive, I dont run the a/c. Would appreciate comments, ideas, suggestions. I love the car and hope this is not the start of big ticket things starting. Thanks for your help everyone

When was the last time the spark plugs/wires etc were done? Do you have a check engine light on?


Clean the throttle body first

If that doesn’t help, post back.

Beyond what is said above, all great advice, and assuming it isn’t just that a simple tune-up is needed to bring the routine engine maintenance up to date, it sounds like it is running lean due to some issue or another. Or the EGR is sticking. Check for vacuum hose or device leaks. And have the EGR system double-checked.

Oil change is budget killer? Changing oil will not make car run better. Might make it last longer but

Clearly your engine at idle is wandering on occasion. That’s loading up the torque converter causing the tendency to jump forward as well as causing the engine to almost die. The device that controls the engine idle is the Idle Air Control (IAC) system. I’ve attached a procedure for cleaning the IAC valve. It’d be a good process to follow.

The suggestions made are all good ones, however I’m just adding to them.


I 2nd the IACV. I used to have a 92 Acura Integra which do the same thing. Problem went away after cleanig the IACV. Older Hondas and Acura are known for this issue.

Sounds like a tune-up or IAC issue as suggested… Since the oil was neglected, you might also look into having the transmission flushed. These tend to fail more than engines anyway and changing the fluid will keep it going longer.

Also, I HAVE seen cars and small engine equipment where the oil is so bad that the engine actually runs better after a change. Unfortunately most of these engines are just about ready to come apart and the good clean oil cleans out whatever crud is holding things together or cushioning worn bearings. Some of these will start knocking or burning more oil than before the change, often throwing a rod. Not that this wouldn’t have happened anyway but it is possible that changing the oil in a seriously neglected engine can trigger its demise. I know a guy who runs a small engine shop and has actually had customer complaints about how their engine blew up after having him change the oil. The oil had been neglected for a very long time on all these engines and the change either loosened something up or it was a total coincidence. I think he now makes people sign something if he changes the oil and it looks severely neglected as they try to blame him for the failure.