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98 Accord worth repairing?

I have a 1998 Honda Accord, manual transmission, 172,000 miles. It runs great. I replaced the clutch at 130,000 and it passed inspection this past June.

There is a leak in the fuel system that is causing gasoline vapors to come out. The smell is very strong outside the car. Inside it’s much fainter - possibly only there at all because it comes in from outside when I open and close the door.

My mechanic says there is no leak visible without starting to take things apart. To fix it, they would need to remove the fuel tank, which itself is a long procedure and involves removing rear axles and other parts. Best case, assuming just some hoses need replacing, is around $500. Worst case is that the fuel pump or tank or both need replacing which could get the cost up to $1,750.

I’m reluctant to put this much money into such an old car. On the other hand it runs extremely well, and any replacement alternative will be more expensive. I believe the mechanic to be competent and trustworthy. Questions :

  1. Do you agree with the mechanic’s assessment?
  2. Is it worth putting this much money into such a car? How much longer can it possibly last?


If it were my car, I’d fix it and keep driving. It’ll require more parts as it ages, but the engine will go well past 200k miles if you maintain it, and keeping the car running will still cost less than payments on a new car.

Yes, there’s a leak, probably in the vapor recovery system. Likely a mouse nested under the car and chewed through one of the hoses. Have someone do a smoke test to identify exactly where the leak is before they start pulling things apart.

I doubt a fuel pump or tank need replacing, but they may need to drop the tank in order to replace the hose. Yes, it’ll be a costly job due to the labor involved. Bite the bullet and keep the car.

Is the fuel smell coming from the rear or from the engine compartment?

@RemcoW it seems most pronounced at the rear.

My wifes 96 Accord had a recall for the filler neck. We got the recall notice 2 months AFTER I replaced the leaky filler neck.

Not sure if that problem existed in 98.

Mice seem to like nesting atop gas tanks and chewing through the vapor recovery hoses. If the smell is coming from the rear, that’s my bet. But there could also be a crack in the fuel tank, etc. Have a smoke test done first.

I have a 1950 New Jersey type wife. There are occasional gas vapors coming from the rear, just like your Honda. I’m not considering replacing her. You should do more investigating.

Might be the purge valve or lines going to it. I’m pretty sure the tank has to come out on a Honda to get to those lines, unfortunately.

Thanks everyone for your helpful responses. A couple of you mentioned mice chewing through the hoses and this is a distinct possibility since the car is kept outdoors. Any tips on preventing this from recurring? I’m leaning toward going ahead with the repair but I’d hate to spend all that money only to be foiled by a mouse a few months hence.

Agree with others. You could have them drop the tank or do enough work to identify the problem and then junk it if the repairs will be too much, but at this point you have to try and fix it. If it was a mouse problem, maybe they could wrap that part of the line with screening or that metal hose wrap before putting it back together again.

Sorry couldn’t think of what it was called. Metal braided hose sleeve. Napa or Autozone has it I believe.

Another tip is to keep any potential mouse food away from the car. My parents kept their car in a garage and had their gas vapor line chewed through by mice. I discovered the mice had been attracted by bags of grass seed that they were feasting on during the winter. I put the seed into covered metal trash cans and they never had a problem again.

PS…actually I think it was bird seed.

I like the smoke test idea. They should be able to see it before tearing your car apart and charging you a bunch of money.

@jesmed Precisely! We had the same problem when storing birdseed in the garage; it attracted mice. Now we have it in METAL garbage can with locking lid. Metal, since we have a lot of squirrels here and they have chewed through the handles and lids of plastic garbage cans.

The lawnmower is stored in a garden shed, since mice also like the grass clippings under the deck.

No more mice in the garage.