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94 honda accord ex wont start, sometimes

Honda Accord Ex Vtec 5 speed.

She runs like a dream when she starts… then no such luck. Replaced main relay, distributor including cap, rotor and Icm. Replaced the fuel pump. Still at a loss as to what can be going on. Help?

Does the engine turns over then quits?

Turn over does not mean start. Does it always turn over when you turn the key to Start - but sometimes it just turns and turns (cranks and cranks) but does not actually start (fire up a run)?

Or does it turn over and start, but then quit?

Or does it sometimes fail to turn over (crank, rrr-rrr-rrr) when you turn the key to Start?

I presume it cranks ok, but doesn’t start and run. If so, the first task it to determine if the cause is no spark, or no fuel. Either use a spare spark plug to check for spark during cranking, or spray some starter spray into the air intake. If it starts with starter spray, then stalls, some sort of fuel problem.

This method won’t be effective in all situations, for example if the problem is the engine is flooded, but it is usually the best place to start the diagnosis.

It does crank and run sometimes, when it doesn’t, it cranks acts like it’s trying to fire and then immediately dies . Will not stay running.

It is getting spark, and fuel both. I am assuming electrical at this point?

Could be a bad ignition switch.

Tester

This works on my 1999 Honda - the key dance: turn the key to Run (not all the way to Start) and wait a few seconds. The fuel pump should run for a few seconds - you might hear it back there in the gas tank. Turn key to Off, then back to Run. Each time you do this Run-Off key dance, if the fuel pump is running it will bring fuel and fuel pressure up to engine. After a few repeats, turn the key all the way to Start. Whaddya got?

It does the same. It will crank, fire and then immediately die. Switch off, back on, try to start , fire and die. Pump is kicking on, have fuel pressure and fuel at the rail. Have spark. Have checked all the vacuum hoses. So, should be able to fire. That why I was leaning towards maybe a short somewhere in the electric? When it finally does crank and run, she runs smooth and will run all day. Then it’s usually the next day and she has the same fire, no start issue.

Is it worse when the gas tank is low on fuel, and/or the temperature has dropped since it last ran? Those conditions could cause a drop in fuel pressure at the engine. A few repeats of the key dance - do they solve the starting problem?

Maybe the oil pressure sender is not working. Once started, many cars will turn off the fuel pump if it sees no oil pressure.

No, it seems it is really random. It’s not seeming to be affected by temperature ( starts when cool and hot, won’t start when it’s cool or hot) and not by fuel level either. It doesnt seem to effect it at all with the key moving back and forth in to the different positions.

Hondas of that vintage had an ignition switch problem and a TSB for it. Yours might covered.

Its your main PGM/Fi relay… Probably the most common failure in that vehicle besides the ignitor failures inside the distributor. Those two problems are basically the only issues this vehicle known for. I’ve owned many of this same model…and they are excellent vehicles.

If you pay attention… when it doesn’t want to start you will notice the dash lights aren’t entirely lit up as they normally would be and you dont get the 2 second prime fuel pump pulse with key on engine off. I would put good money down on the table as a bet that this is your main relay dying…the terminals inside the relay get dirty and or burnt and this is why it is an intermittent issue.

I would replace the main relay… and motor on.

That is a well known problem - but would that account for a start, and immediate shutdown? If the dash light situation you describe is an indicator, that’s a strong clue.

The main relay solder joints crack.

Tester

Oh Jeez… Yet another display of Blackbird just sailing past the pertinent details in the original post… LOL… It will happen again I assure you.

If those items listed were indeed replaced… I hate to bring it up… but where did you source those items? El Cheapo Ebay distributor ? Parts these days are in a sort of Wild West situation…the market is flooded with inferior items that should never have seen daylight let alone under a hood.

Your issue sounds very strongly like either of those two main issues that arise in this Honda with regularity the PGM/Fi relay… and or… the ignitor inside the distributor.

However… If I were to assume your parts are solid and not defecto… Lets proceed to the next item I would strongly suspect in this situation. The ignition switch. They wear out internally and lose the ability to make n break the connections that are needed when they are needed. Most commonly they fail to provide the ignition system with power while in the spring loaded start position…yet they do provide it while in the On or run position…or visa versa OR some mixture of other connection woes, at the end of the day its all No Bueno. You can of course test this theory out using a multi meter instead of guessing its tedious esp with something intermittent but…

Just letting you know what I’ve suspected, seen, and successfully repaired in this model before. Main relays, Distributors,(read ignitor), Ignition switches, fuel pumps…and sometimes the errant wonky connection at the ECM plugs due to corrosion. Otherwise they are very solid vehicles. Sorry to suggest such a list but its just so much easier when you are with the vehicle…they talk to you after a while and its much easier to diag and repair.

I’ve had her for 11 years. She cranked this morning when it was cooler. Now it’s pretty hot and she isnt cranking. I went back and checked, I’m getting fire and fuel. The fuel pump is kicking on, the main relay is kicking on all 3 stops. I’m guessing it may be the ecu.

I forgot to mention, when she does decide not to run, the CEL does come on and I get code 15 which is ignition output signal

Please try to use the words “Turn over” or “Crank” properly as it confuses those “in the know”.

Turning Over AND OR Cranking are the same thing… This is defined as the Starter motor actually “Turning Over or Cranking” the engine… This turns the flywheel and the crankshaft in order to or in hopes of Starting the engine and subsequently allowing the engine to RUN.

Are you saying that you went to start your engine… The starter cranked / turned over the engine and then later you could not do the same action?

This would describe an electrical issue between the ignition switch/ starter relay and the starter motor.
Or are you saying that It cranked and then started and ran this morning… and now it only cranks and does not start/run?

Very very confusing when the words are not used properly.

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