99 Honda Accord Goes

Hi, I have a Honda Accord that has a very strange kind of failure. I’ve taken it to two mechanics - both fixed “something” - but I’m still without a car.

99 Honda Accord LX
202,019 Miles

My check engine light is on and one time while driving down the road my car turns off. I need to make a road trip so I go see Mechanic 1.

Mechanic 1 - Check engine light had been on and his machine tells him the O2 sensors need to be replaced. We replace both. Light goes off. When asked about the ‘spontaneous shutoff’ - said it was a fluke and probably no big deal. He can’t see anything other than what the computer tells him to replace.

Instrument panel currently shows no lights on. Everything works normally. I drive 1500 miles back to Wi and right as I get there…

Case 1 - I am driving down the street (residential, freeway, whatever) going any speed and the instrument panel suddenly loses all power. Speedometer drops to 0. Odometer drops to 0. The cabin (radio, clock) remain on and undisturbed. Engine is completely unresponsive to depressing the pedal and seems to be completely disengaged. The car is hard to steer but can be angled off the road. (but you can still hear your music…hooray…as you try to not get killed dodging off the side of the road)

Case 2 - On the side of the road/parking lot and the car will not turn on. Seems like it is about to start, but then dies before completing turning over. You wait 15 minutes. Then the car will actually turn over a bit more, but still not complete a start.

Case 3 - As I start the car I press the gas and rev the engine up to 4K RPMs for 4 seconds. The car then remains on. I drive for as long as it will go before Case 1 happens again.

While in WI I take it to a mechanic 2.

Mechanic 2 - Runs a test and believes there is a failure in the ignition assembly. Replaces 1 part that spans 3 different parts because he believes its cheaper to do that than to have him go all the way in there to get the 1 that he thinks is bad.

I drive the car 1400 back to AZ and Case 2 happens when we stop to get supplies. I peform case 3, the car starts and we make it back to California alive.

I try to drive the car around locally after getting back but cases 1-3 happen every other time I drive it.

Case X - The car sat idle for a few weeks as I thought it was “not safe to drive.” Power locks on the car start to fail. No longer can get into the car without putting a key in a door and only that door will open. Car now has no power.

Any ideas what is going wrong?

My guess is that something has become heat sensitive. If that part that mechanic 2 replaced was the “coil pack”, that would make sense, even though it didn’t do the trick. Look at your copy of the shop order and post exactly what it says. That could eliminate some guesses at our end. And it might suggest a possible next step.

It sounds like the car has now lost its battery after only two weeks sitting. How old is the battery? Has anyone checked the battery cables for good connections and possible corrosion at the cable ends?

Post back.

These vehicles have a common problem and it’s usually heat related. The first thing that I would change is the Main Fuel Relay. It provides power to the fuel pump and the engine will not run if it’s not functioning. It’s located just above the driver’s knee in most Hondas and they are inexpensive and easy to replace. The power door locks failing and no power is a separate issue. I would look for a different independent mechanic to have a look at those problems.

EFI main relay is the most likely culprit for the dies while driving and the later is just a dead battery from sitting.

Nearly every working mechanic knows about the pattern failure for EFI main relay and that should have been done first. You may need a different mechanic.

Another possibility is the ignition switch.

I had a similar problem and it was the main relay. Google the problem and read the reports from Honda sites. It’s about a $35 part and on my 93 accord wagon the main relay is located in the back of the car. Check w/ Honda or your mechanic for the location of yours. Good Luck!!


Thank you so much for your responses!

I’ve continued to pursue fixing this issue (and digging up paperwork) and this is the update that I have.

This is the work order from CA prior to leaving on the trip:

The work order from WI where the ignition (distributor?) was replaced:

Seeing how most of the advice seemed to trend toward the main fuel relay, I went ahead and purchased that from Honda and installed it with the help of a YouTube video. I also installed a new battery.

This is the packaging of the part I just installed:

The car fired up and I took it for a drive on a hot day. The car made it about 2 miles prior to shutting off in the same manner as before. It did restart right away (possible improvement but unlikely) and I was able to get the car back home.

So, the car is now parked on a different part of the street but I still don’t want to take it anywhere.

Would you be able to provide any more ideas?


This model of Accord should be under a Recall for the ignition switch which can cause intermittent stalling or no-start conditions. It’s due to heat-related contact failure in the switch and is a fairly common problem even on Hondas that are not covered under the Recall.

If the Recall has never been done in the past you can have it done free of charge at any Honda dealer.
Just call the service department, provide the VIN of the car, and they should be able to tell you very quickly whether or not the switch is covered. There is no time, mileage, or number of owners limit with Recalls.

A suggestion to anyone driving a car with this many miles: Buy a voltmeter to plug into your cigarette lighter. Your engine being slow to turn over (Case 2) leans me toward the battery/alternator as a possible source of your problems. Be prepared to observe volts changing between about 12.8 and 14.5 like my Hondas have all done with their “dual voltage” charging.

It does indeed sound like an ignition switch or relay problem at first glance anyway. Since others here post of a main relay, are you certain this is what you replaced? You refer to it as a “fuel relay” which may not be the same thing. My Corolla for example has a main engine relay, a fuel injection system relay, and a fuel pump relay.

Faulty fuel pump or fuel pressure regulator could be part of this too.



Thank you again for all the responses. I wanted to pay respect to your time and energy and also give you an update.

After the follow ups to my post on May 4, I got the feeling that I just had to get Honda to tell me directly what was definitely going on. I wanted to pursue every thread but money was starting to add up - I called them, agreed to a $120 diagnostic, and took it in.

They called a few hours after drop off and relayed that the contacts in the ignition switch were failing. When the key loses contact with the interior of the switch the car stays on but the engine, etc. turns off.

Using information AndrewRA provided regarding the recall I called Honda corporate, explained that my car had indeed already gotten this recall, and that I still almost died on the California freeway because the recall job failed before the rest of the car did. I had confirmation from the dealership that it was the recalled part that failed and Honda corporate instructed me to pass this info on to the Dealership Services Manager. They perhaps would grant me reduced work or a 2nd recall repair.

I called the Service Advisor I was working with, explained that I needed to talk with his manager. He listened, got the info and told me he’d call me back. Three hours later he confirmed I would not need to pay the $340 time and materials quote to fix the ignition switch. Honda would be taking care of it on the house.

In short, thank you all for your help getting my car fixed!

And thank you Pacific Honda on Convoy in San Diego - specifically John Newman! You have once again made me enjoy car ownership just because you did something for free on a car with 212,000+ miles on it that you didn’t have to.

You kept one of your cars (and the driver in it) on the road.


It is really nice to hear that a dealership service manager decided to be honorable.

Even though the dealer might have lost a few bucks, the customer is happy, praised the dealer and the service adviser. Good publicity

This is the way to foster good public relations and retain customers

I have personally owned a 99 Accord, and my sister has a 98 Accord and my brother owned a 1999 for some time. This generation does not typically run into main relay problems. Also, Honda’s do not typically have fuel pump problems. If you are not careful you could spend $1,000’s throwing parts at the car. First check for coolant leaks. My 99 Accord V6 leaked coolant onto a computer and the thing revved like a recalled TOYOTA.

From what I have experienced the main issues from this generation are: Ignition switches, shift-lock interlocks (Recall), and clogged EGR (Check engine light). As far as the gauge cluster shorting out, I have never experienced that before. Transmission problems can loom if fluid is not changed every 30k miles.

sister’s 98 accord needed a new fuel pressure regulator. But the fuel pump was fine.

@0708Honda Did you not see that Luke has his problem fixed?