Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Does this sound like a fuel delivery problem to you?

My car will not start. It started yesterday, made some sputtering sounds and moved about 10 feet across the parking lot, then stalled and would not re-start. The link above is an audio recording of the sound it makes when it’s trying to start.

My guess is that it has something to do with the engine not getting fuel, maybe a bad fuel pump or fuel pump relay. But then again, I don’t really know a lot about cars.

It is a 1997 Honda Accord with about 97,000 miles on it, as far as I know the fuel pump is the original.

My computer tells me that since I don’t have the latest version of nero I’d have to update it in order to hear your audio. Sorry. Do you know of a “work around”?

That said, does it seem to crank at a higher speed than normal with the starter? If so, I’d suspect a timing belt at this age and miles. Since it’s an interference engine, the valves are probably bent, if that’s the case. Do you have a friend with a sparkplug socket and compression tester? Can you do a compression test? That’s the next step.

I’ve attached the file to this email, maybe that will work, I tried to save it to a different format, but don’t have any software to do that on this computer.

I’m not sure how to describe the sound, but I think what I’m hearing is the starter turning but the engine not picking up.

Chasing the fuel pump theory, I took my dad’s advice and had my girlfriend try to start the car while I stuck my ear against the gas tank and listened for a ‘whirl’ sound of the pump. I heard nothing. We also did the same thing in her car (97 jeep cherokee) so I could tell what to listen for and did hear the whirling he was talking about. Has anyone tried this on an Accord before? Is the fuel pump normally pretty audiable from the gas tank? I had my ear against the tank inlet (where you put the nozzle in to fill up), with the cover off, and also listened from under the car near the tank itself.

Sounds like you’ve found the problem & now you need to find out why the fuel pump is’nt coming on.

Try this old trick & give the gas tank a good whack with your hand. Does the car start now?

This trick has brought a dead pump back to life & gotten me home a coupla times.

One of those times was in the middle of the desert & my buddies Jeep would’nt start.

The other time was with a MG midget. Had to whack the floor board on that one once a minute to keep the pump going.

If whacking the tank gets you going, replace the fuel pump.

If it does’nt, you need a wiring diagram to undersatnd how the pump circuit works & test it.
Could be as simple as replacing a bad relay.

BTW, the link did’nt work for me

I listened to the recording repeatedly and all I can hear is a starter thats turning rather slowly,like the battery charge is low. I cant identify your problem noise because it is not comming through on the recording,good attempt though

Well, I can hear it now. It doesn’t sond like four even beats. One cylinder sounds like it is going by a little faster than the other three. It should be four even beats. That points to at least one cylinder that may be low on compression. That could be a burned valve, or a bent one due to the timing belt. I don’t know about your fuel pump, but you should be able to hear it as pointed out earlier. Try whacking the tank, but if it starts, that’s only a temporary fix. You still need to check compression. Do you have a nearby Autozone or O’Reilly’s? They will loan certain tools like compression testers. You still might have to buy a ratchet and socket to pull all four spark plugs. Clean out the spark plug wells with compressed air (avaiable at a gas station, but you will need to supply a blowgun attachment) before pulling the plugs, then screw the compression tester into each hole in sequence. You’re looking for fairly EVEN compression on all four, probably in the 130 to 150 psig range.

Hmmmm, interesting. Usually you have to whack an MG’s SU pump directly. It’s not that close to the floor.

Yeah, I had to whack he floor behind the passenger seat with a crescent wrench while driving on the freeway. If the pump is frame mounted then I have no idea why pounding on the floor kept it going.

This was back in about 1970 & it was a friends 60 something MGB or MG midget.

If its a Honda, and no fuel, the first thing to suspect is the fuel pump relay under the dash. These have been a problem. You don’t need to turn the starter over to listen for the pump running. Just turn the key from off to on and it should turn on for a few seconds to pressurize the system and then shut off again.