1997 Accord electrical problem

While driving on the highway, the cruise control shuts off and the speedometer stops working. Check engine light comes on. Car continues to run fine.

Five days later, I start the car and the following do not work: clock, intermittent wipers, neutral safety switch, tachometer, temperature gauge, gear indicator lights, rear defrost, windows, and I believe that is all. Car runs and drives fine. Other electrical items working. I check all fuses and only find one burned out - (#1, inside, labeled ‘back up lights’ meter lights) I replace the fuse and it blows when I start the car again. Take the car to AutoZone and they put it on their computer and it shows one code - P0501 - CVT speed sensor.

Two days later, the car will not start. Turns over strong, but will not start.

I have checked the grounds on the transmission and body and they appear to be fine. Battery cables, also.

Any information appreciated, thanks!

I looked it up and the Backup light switch is on the exterior of the tranny. Then it goes directly to the lights from the switch. Shorted wire, switch or could be a bad bulb.

CVT should not stop the car from starting.

Basically this means that the vehicle’s speed as read by the Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS) is not working properly.

Potential Symptoms

This code is different from the P0500 code in the fact that it may not trigger the malfunction indicator light (MIL). Potential symptoms are basically the same as the P0500 VSS code:

loss of anti-lock brakes
the “anti-lock” or “brake” warning lamps on the dash may be lit
the speedometer or odometer may not work properly (or at all)
your vehicle’s RPM limiter may be decreased
the shifting of an automatic transmission may become erratic
other symptoms may also be present

A P0501 DTC trouble code may be caused by one or more of the following:

The Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS) is not reading (functioning) properly
There is a broken/frayed wire leading to the vehicle speed sensor
The vehicle’s PCM is not correctly configured for the actual tire size on the vehicle
Possible Solutions

The simplest thing to do is to reset the code and see if it comes back.

Next, check all wiring and connectors that lead to the speed sensor. The location of the sensor depends on your vehicle. The sensor could be on the rear axle, transmission, or perhaps the wheel hub (brake) assembly.

If the wiring and connectors are OK, then check the voltage at the speed sensor. Again, the exact procedure wil depend on your make and model of vehicle.

If everything looks OK, replace the sensor.

This isn’t going to get fixed over the internet, you need to take it where a pro can get “eyes on”. One thing that does not make sense is that you say the neutral safety switch doesn’t work, if that were so, the engine would not crank over, unless you mean it will start in gear.

You have an underhood fuse/relay box located at the back of the engine compartment on the passenger side. Pull the cover and look in and look under it. It almost sounds like you have a rodent problem. Some thing is chewing on the wiring harness under there.


Thanks for the replies and Happy New Year!

One note - the car now starts and runs great, again. My bad - I have the car parked on the city streets of Denver, with quite a slant to the right. Like I said, none of the gauges work along with the other listed electircal items. Last week I charged the battery as it had died from sitting so long. I also found out that when I replaced the one fuse that is blown, the items work. I also noted that the fuel gauge was not coming up and because of the slant and the fact that the car turned over strongly, that fuel might not be getting to the fuel pump. Sure enough, I put a few gallons in and it started right up!

So that one fuse does blow when the car is started. All other fuses are still good.
I checked the back-up lights and both bulbs are good.

knfenimore - I have to think that the VSS has something to do with it. And will also look into the wiring of the back-up lights.

keith - I agree that the internet is a ‘longshot’, but just like to have an idea of what is going on. I will probably end up having a pro look at it.
Not sure if I phrased it correctly, the car will start in ‘park’ but I cannot shift into gear by pressing on the brake pedal. I have to stick a key in the slot next to the shifter to get it into gear.
I have heard about the rodent problem and a friend suggested the same idea of looking at the wires under the hood fuses. Only problem is that two of the fastners are some sort of rivet that I will have to remove.