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94 Honda Blues

Dear Car Talk Community,
About 3 years ago my wife and I purchased a 95 Honda Accord LX from an older couple. The car is still in fantastic shape minus 2 problems that have all the local garages stumped. I have yet to take it to a Honda specialist due to fear of price. Here are the problems.

  1. At 3,000 rpm the exhaust vibrates and it resonates throughout the car. I have been told that I need a flex pipe. Is that true? The muffler is standard after market, but not stock and the catalytic converter could be original. What do I do here? Do I through money in the wind and get a whole new exhaust system? Or just replace certain parts? By the way this car is bone stock no performance parts what so ever.

  2. For about 10 months the over drive will kick in and out frequently. The other shifts are smooth and on time. If I am lucky I can control it by putting my foot on the gas at a certain degree. But if it is engaged in cruse control it will act up and shift in and out of overdrive. Every 10 to 30 seconds at cruising speed at 70mph. This behavior starts after the car hits 55mph.

I feel I don’t need a new transmission. And last but not least the car has 144,000 miles.

Can you help with some advice?

Thank you

You have an after market exhaust (resonator) pipe. I had this issue with our 97 Accord which is the same generation. The manufacturer of these pipes has the correct drawings, but it seems that in manufacturing them, the make the second bend too tight. It should have a mean radius of about 4.5" as I recall, but they make it with about a 3.5" mean radius, so it hits the heat shield.

The only thing that I can recommend is that you go to a muffler shop that makes their own pipes and have them re-bend that radius, or remove the heat shield. It is near the back so removing the heat shield should not be too much of an issue.

[quote=“jdonlon09, post:1, topic:98629”]
I feel I don’t need a new transmission
[/quote] You might not but it does sound like it has a problem

For the flex pipe - second opinion
I don’t know if you have a timing belt but if you do check the manual you might be ready for another one. Why not pay about 100.00 for an inspection to see what you might need.

You are right! I do have an after market resonator pipe. The local muffler shop installed it. Will I be okay if I just replace the entire exhaust system? I’d like to get the stock muffler and not one the muffler shop had laying around that fit. I really don’t want to take the car back there. Because they claim and swear up and down that is the engine’s problem(they don’t want to admit their mistake). You and I both know that is wrong, it has a new timing belt and it has been checked over and over again for the correct timing.
Thank you!

There is nothing wrong with the after market muffler so why replace it? Try another shop because you may actually need a flex pipe.

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About that transmission, Have you ever had the ATF drained and refilled? If you did, did they use genuine Honda ATF? If you have either not had it changed or had it done at a place other than the Honda dealer, then you should take it to a dealer and have it changed. If it was done at a non Honda place, you may need to have 4 drain and fills done back to back to get the wrong ATF out. Its only 2.5 qts for each drain and fill, no pan to drop and no filter to change. Also have the throttle to transmission cable checked, it should be just taunt.

Just have the pipe rebent. If you get a new system, you will have the same problem.

Re: the resonation, it’s impossible to tell from here if you need a new flex pipe. If you’re using a trustworthy shop, trust their judgment or get a second opinion.

A 20 year old Accord? Going in and out of overdrive on the highway?
Start with a compression test. I’ll bet lunch your engine is too tired to maintain highway speeds in overdrive. Post the results.

Why do feel the engine is the problem, as far as overdrive is concerned?

OP said he has about 144K miles, so I would think the engine still has relatively decent compression, but it wouldn’t take long to verify that

I suspect that because the symptoms are typical of exactly what a tired old small engine does.
144K miles on a 20 year old car suggests a life of short stop & go drives. A city car with 144K can be as worn out as a rural car with 300K miles.

As you said, a compression test will easily fill in the answer. I wouldn’t sink much into an engine this age displaying these symptoms until I’d performed one.

Well, the compression results would be interesting

In any case, my old 1995 Corolla still had above 180psi compression, just before I got rid of it, and it had more miles than OP’s car, and it was actually a much smaller engine

As far as sinking money into a car, I believe this car is worth perhaps a trans solenoid or speed sensor, but not a transmission overhaul, if that’s where this is headed

But I totally agree about city usage. Some of our fleet trucks are just plain worn out, but the odometer shows low mileage

I wonder if this car has ever had the transmission fluid changed, the valve lash inspected, and the timing belt kit replaced.
A compression test is a good idea so you know generally speaking what you’re dealing with on the top end.
Maybe the exhaust is vibrating because of an engine performance issue…

It’s a 20+ year old car with 20+ year old transmission seals and possibly 20+ year old fluid so an internal fault would not surprise me.

I did and so did the previous owners. My wife had it done at a quickie lube place. I am not confident the put the right fluid in. I will see what fluid my favorite garage has. I will make sure I check the throttle cable.

Interesting take on the situation. would you still say that if the problem is intermittent? We took it down to Florida and it tackled those mountains through Tennessee like a champ while staying in the correct gear. It doesn’t shift out of gear if I apply certain pressure to the pedal.

Yes to both. I had all the belts replaced less than a year ago. Due to the interest in the compression, I will get that checked out. I will post results.

Sadly they are the only true muffler shop in town. I will talk with them again and post results.

In the past I’ve had a 94, 96, and 97 accord. the flex pipe cracked on all of them. the parts are cheap because I think we paid under $200 for the entire exhaust Cat back. the dealer will charge over $700 but offers a life time warranty.

as far as the transmission, it’s a 22 yo car, I don’t think there’s much you can do apart from checking fluids and the wiring for damage. if the previous owner changed the fluid often it would be good to do a drain and fill of the fluid with only honda fluid. honda transmissions are not to be flushed. if the previous owner never changed the fluid, it might be bad to change the fluid because all the released particles over the years may give you shifting problems.

The difference might be that the $200 system is “aluminized steel” and the dealer system is stainless. I always go with stainless.

If this was the year 2004, and the car had 75,000 miles then I would spend that extra money. But a 22 year old car that could possibly need thousands more because of age I wouldn’t spend that much. The $200 system would probably last at least 5-7 years.