'98 Accord Flashing warning lights and loud sizzling type sound

Over the last 3 months my 1998 Accord has stalled for a few seconds, then restarted itself while I was driving; happened about 4-5 times. Also stalled a couple times and I had to restart it. Always started back up. Seemed occasionally I smelled a slight burning type smell but it only lasted 10 seconds or so. Spoke with my main mechanic and another mechanic. Suggested to them that it might be my ignition switch, which was changed during the recall; that was 101,000 miles ago. They both said it could be many things, hard to determine until the car actually stopped running completely, etc. So I’ve just ignored dealing with it I guess, as the problems seemed fleeting and brief.

So today I got in my car started it and there was a loud grinding, crunching type sound, all the warning lights on the dash started flashing rapidly, and then I heard a sound that seemed to resemble a sizzling type sound, like when you put meat on a hot grill. I turned the car off, waited 30 seconds and then restarted it, and it seemed fine. Drove home, about 2 miles, and called the local Honda service dept. Have an appointment there tomorrow morning.

My questions: does this sound like the ignition switch could likely be the problem, how do they determine if it is the ignition switch, and is it safe to drive the car to the dealer, which is about 20 miles away. I drove it tonight to where I’m spending the night, which was 12 miles, and it drove fine. I’m just scared it could catch on fire while I’m driving to have it fixed.

Thanks so much for any insight.

How many miles total on it and what warning lights have come on?

If it happens again, try to see if you can tell where the ‘sizzling’ sound is coming from. Also try gently wiggling the ignition key to see if it remedies the situation.

It has 151,000 miles; it’s a manual, 5-speed. When the car has stalled while driving and then restarts itself immediately I think it’s the maintenance light that comes on, but it happens to quickly. The few times it stalled and I had to restart it the ‘maintenance needed’ light had come on. last night all the lights on the dash…check engine, maintenane light, the red ‘car’ diagram, etc…they all rapidly flashed when I turned on the car, then stopped when I turned the car off.

Just an update on my car. I did drive it to Honda on Friday. After much discussion and hanging tough they agreed to replace the ignition switch again on the car under the recall (it was done in 2002 at 55,000 miles). Rented a car for the weekend. They replaced the part yesterday. When I asked if the switch was a problem the technician said yes. I asked if it could have resulted in a fire, he said likely not, but possible. Hope this is the cause of my problems and this fixed it. The Honda dealer in Benninton, VT was great to work with overall.

On another note, they of course did a ‘free’ inspection of the car. Said that the catalytic converter was bad (which I sorta knew) and some connection points were worn severely. Recommended the entire exhaust from front to back be replaced for $1700. Also noted the brake lines were rusted and worn, needed replaced for $1600. Brushings on sway bar replaced for $100. All total around $3500. in work. So the question is, get the work done or look at buying a different vehicle in the next year. It will also need a new timing belt in a year, which will be ~$600 or so. As mentioned the car has 151,000 miles now. I drive about 18,000 miles a year. What do you think about putting the money into this Accord or buying a new/newer car within the year? Thanks!

You have a third option. Find a good independent and get all of that work (if needed) done for much less than the dealer charges.

Right, I’ve thought of that option also, and have a great mechanic that I’ve used for a number of years. It’s still going to likely run about 2/3 of the total cost, at least $2,000 I’m guessing, plus the timing belt in a year. Just not sure if putting that much money into the car, which I would likely drive two more years until it’s around 200,000 miles, is the most logical way to go. I have a full time pet sitting business and I do use my car for work, 7 days a week, and a reliable vehicle is essential. Not buying a new vehicle right now would financially be more desirable, but reliability is crucial also. Just not sure what way to go. Thank you for your input.