99 Honda Starts Temperamentally

Hi! I drive a 1999 Honda Accord, 6 cylinder, I think. (General Info: I replaced the alternator last February, replaced the battery in spring, replaced rotors? recently, replaced a catalytic converter this summer, and intend to take it in soon to replace two motor mounts)

However, I’ve been having a problem with starting the car over the past 7 or 8 months, but only sporadically.

Here’s what happens.

If I get into my car after it’s been sitting for a long period of time- approximately more than 2 hours- it cranks right up and I’m on my way. I noticed this summer, however, that if I was out running errands and had driven the car for approximately a half hour or more, parked to run an errand, and returned to start it up, the engine started, but made a kind of coughing sound- almost like a liquid/air choking sound, as if it was flooding or something, and died. I would try to start it multiple times with the same result and the engine dying, and found that I could only get the car to stay on if I quickly threw the car in gear and gave it gas. This also happens if I’m driving a long distance- like 2 hours on the interstate and stop at a rest stop- when I go to start it it gurgles/coughs and dies.

Originally, because it was really hot out, I assumed maybe it was a temperature/overheating thing because I was out driving a lot in one day over a short period of time.(Can you tell I’m not mechanically inclined? :wink:

This issue would happen like two or four times a week for a couple of weeks, and then not happen for a few weeks, regardless of how much I drove it.

I took it in to the dealer we’ve always taken it to for this issue twice, and they couldn’t tell me what was wrong, but did replace a catalytic converter and some sort of ignition switch thing. (I can get info on what this was specifically if needed)

The car keeps repeating the behavior, however, even in winter.

I’m worried that I’m doing further detriment to it by putting it into gear and giving it gas so suddenly when it tries to die, but no one can tell me what the problem is. Any suggestions? I’m happy to provide any more info anyone needs! PLEASE let me know if you have any suggestions! Thanks so much!

Also, FYI- the timing belt has been replaced, and the car has approximately 130k miles on it. Thanks!

First, why take it to a dealer when the repair is not covered under their warranty?  Dealers are no better (or worse) than your local independent mechanic, but they do tend to charge a lot more.  Ask around (family neighbors co-workers) and find a local independent shop.  

In this case it is a long shot, but it could be those motor mounts you are neglecting.  Leaving one thing go on a car can often cause other more expensive things.

I’m a supporter of independent mechanics, however, I don’t technically own the car, and it’s owner generally makes decisions on where to take it. Therefore, in this case, we take it to a dealer’s shop with which the owner has a personal relationship. I’ve primarily used independents in the past on my own vehicles.

Do you have any idea what kind of a problem could be caused by the motor mount issue, specifically?

Welcome to the world of frustrating intermittant problems. The worse it gets, the easier it will be for them to find the problem.

Just a couple guesses. If it had a leaky injector that leaked when first shut down and floods the engine, it “might” cause a similar problem. Once it coughs enough, the fuel is burned, and back to normal. After sitting for a while, the fuel is dissipated. Only time I had a sticky injector though, it caused long cranking time and was tough to find. It finally did it when the mechanic and I were looking at the pressure guage and could see it.

Another thing might be a sticky idle air control that is allowing too much air in the system for the temperature (or possibly the air temp sensor telling the system it is colder or warmer out than it actually is). Same thing with a bad engine coolant sensor.

I don’t think it would be fuel pump, relay, etc. since you can keep it going by stepping on the gas.

After cranking a flooded engine, you should be able to smell gasoline coming from the exhaust pipe. If you suspect flooding, as you crank the engine, hold the gas pedal to the floor. As the engine starts, ease up on the gas pedal. If this action gets you starts, inform your mechanic. He can do various fuel pressure checks, etc.

My 2015 EX-L has been doing the cough/gag/gurgle stuff like every other time I go to start my freakin car lately. Its funny I never heard anyone describe it exactly like it sounds. Like my car basically almost starts, but it shakes a bunch and tries starting super fast, then if it doesn’t start then, it just keeps cranking like normal sounding starts (normal for everyone else that is lol). Fortunately it starts right after that 1st sputter/stutter like 3 out of 4 times it messes up for me. But like once a month (and it used to be like way more!) I just can’t get it to really start up until I sit there pressing my stupid start button like 2-5 times and hoping itll be able start so I can drive. I mean like all the way started up, like none of this bouncing gages, fake out crap that happens when it gags/gurgles and stumbles (which I must say sounds freaking embarrassing as all heck having a newish car struggle and sound that bad!). At least a few times now I think it like actually started but I didn’t even know it was being pissy untill it stopped stuttering and went back to the normal sound of it trying to start for 10s.

But yeah, I really hate the stuttering/gurgling sounds when it’s trying super hard but just can’t quite start. It’s my pet peeve in life right now, I don’t get it, like it’s a new(ish) car still! I had a 00 civic and it did that annoying stuff every time I let my gas get less than 1/4 tank, but at least that was easy to avoid by filling my tank (especially when I knew I was driving people somewhere). But this crap with my 2015 happens at the absolute worst (and most embarrassing) times possible now, and seemingly completely randomly too. I get so worried it’ll mess up and take a while like literally everytime someone gets in my car now, it stinks, I hate worrying about it! It bothers me so much that if I’m driving somewhere with like coworkers or friends (or my BF especially), for example, I rush out first to start the car, then I pick them up near the front trying to act like I did them a favor (which they really love haha), but really I’m just trying to avoid an awkward situation. The only time it took a really long time at work, my one know-it-all annoying coworker was like, I know you’re a girl and don’t know any better, but you’re literally killing your car when you try it for that long each time. He told me to read the manual so I don’t break my starter (bring it on, it’s new haha). I was like dude, it’s the dumb push button start thingy, it does what it’s programmed to do, I’m def not holding it down for that long. I press it once, normally it starts after a couple secs, but if not it tries for 10 excruciating seconds each time when it’s being real bad for me. I get it though, if I heard like 30-60s of a new car trying to start I prob would think they were stupid and the car was a POS. It’s so odd to hear a newer car flail/stumble for so long, maybe since cars basically start right up every time these days. Why does mine have to be so annoying?


Why did you tag on to a 11 year old thread about a different vehicle then yours.

Please start your own thread and be brief and just state facts. I did not even make it through that long post of yours. On the main page click on the New Topics button.

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Bc it sounds like their car is doing the same crap as mine. And no other 2015 civic seem to have the same issue.

The title of this particular discussion is “99 Honda Starts Temperamentally”

that guy had an Accord

And now we’re talking about a 2015 Civic EX-L with push-to-start, which the 99 Accord definitely didn’t have

Here’s what’s probably going to happen . . .

Since the discussion has been revived, somebody might just respond to the original comments from 2008, which will only serve to confuse the situation

And the op from 2008 never bothered to tell anybody what the ultimate fix was, anyways . . .

Lol I’m the original poster, and no one could ever determine what the issue was and I traded the car, so no resolution.

Well, that’s good news . . . in the sense that you solved your problem by getting another car :smiley_cat: