Accord 98 Mother of All Chugging

honda
accord

#1

I have a 98 accord that has an occasional loss-of-engine-power problem in the first few minutes of driving. I’ll be headed off down the road and the engine will progressively lose power and the car will slow down. I’ll continue depressing the accelerator pedal further until it’s floored, but the car continues to slow. Then, suddenly power returns to the engine and the car surges forward like a rocket ship and I’m slammed back into my seat! This behavior only lasts about 5 minutes, and then the car runs just fine. A couple of other details:



- seems to happen more often when the engine is warm - e.g. if i drive to mall, then shop for 30 minutes, then return to my car. It’s less likely to happen on a cold engine.

- the car always starts and idles smoothly

- when the car is having the chug/surge issue, I can depress the clutch (it’s MT) and tap the accelerator and the engine generally peps back to life. But as soon as i drop the clutch and load the engine back up… no power again.

- the engine has never actually stalled during one of these episodes



Yes, the CEL is on… it adds nice color to the dash - like xmas lights. I had it scanned years ago and I think the code was a bad o2 sensor. I’ve ignored it.


#2

I think I’ve identified your problem: “Yes, the CEL is on… it adds nice color to the dash - like xmas lights. I had it scanned years ago and I think the code was a bad o2 sensor. I’ve ignored it.”

Time to stop ignoring it. Have the codes read and post them here.


#3

Yeah dude, The CEL is on for a reason. That’s a good place to start with troubleshooting this car. I’m envious, my Accord is an automatic :frowning: Good luck with the repairs.


#4

“Yes, the CEL is on… it adds nice color to the dash - like xmas lights. I had it scanned years ago and I think the code was a bad o2 sensor. I’ve ignored it.”

Well, in the intervening years, that one code has probably morphed into 2, or 3, or 4 trouble codes.

Ignoring problems does not do anything except make the ultimate repair bill higher than if the problem was attended to in a timely fashion. For several years, your car has telling you, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later”. Unfortunately, later is invariably more expensive.

Get those codes read, and proceed from there.


#5

Yes, the CEL is on… it adds nice color to the dash - like xmas lights. I had it scanned years ago and I think the code was a bad o2 sensor. I’ve ignored it.

 That CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P0123) not just their translation into English and post it back here. 

 You know the CEL is trying to tell you something.  By now it may have serval somethings to tell you.  Some may be serious and ignoring them could be causing damage to your car.  

 BTW if that light starts flashing, it means shut down right now.  Not drive home, not drive to the next exit a mile down the freeway, but to pull over at the first safe opportunity and don't try to drive home.

#6

OK - I had the OBD codes scanned and came up with the following

P1259 - "VTEC system malfunction"
P0420 - "Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold"
P0401 - “Insufficient EGR Flow”

The car certainly has had routine maintenance - oil, plugs, spark plug wires, and air filter…

Regarding the P0420, this is a 12 year old ULEV car with the original catalytic converter. I’ve got to imagine the ULEV rating places some tight thresholds on that error code. What is the service life of the cat? Could this downstream component really have anything to do with the symptoms I describe? I live in a state that does not do emmissions testing and the car will pass state inspection with the CEL - so I’m less worried about this code if it has nothing to do with the engine performance issues I described.

The other two codes sound like they are perhaps more relevant to my symptoms… any ideas?

Thanks!