Engine dies between short trips, why?

Thank you for taking a look at my question.

Some background on the car. My uncle gave me his 99’ Honda Accord 4 door v6. He was in charge of tank maintenance in Vietnam so he always talks about preventative maintenance and took impeccable care of the car. He gifted it to me with 144k miles and it runs fantastic. I have noticed one sporadic issue however and I will describe it and would appreciate your thoughts.

I have noticed that from time to time I will start the car and it will sputter a bit and then die, if i don’t give it gas quickly. This only seems to happen in between short trips though. If I drive the car and then turn it off for a short period of time and start it up again this happens. It has never happened after the car has sat for hours. This doesn’t happen all the time but it’s happened maybe 5 times.

Does this sound like maybe spark plugs or perhaps fuel injectors need service? Thanks!

There’s a component on the engine called the Idle Air Control valve.

What the IAC valve does is controls the engine idle speed under all conditions.

Sometimes these valves become dirty or defective where they fail to allow enough air into the engine to allow it to idle.

One way to determine if the IAC valve is dirty or defective is, anytime you feel the engine is about to stall while idling. slightly step on the gas pedal.

Doing this opens the throttle plate slightly and allows air into the engine that the IAC valve isn’t, which prevents the engine from stalling.


I’ll await other responses but I wonder if it could be an injector leaking or something and flooding the engine a little? Maybe try a bottle of injector cleaner. My only other thought would be an engine temp sensor maybe not reading the temperature correctly for a short stop. I dunno.

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Had similar problem on a different make, had the shop working with me that if she had a problem go right out and diagnose it. That was after we got 2 tows to the shop after short trip no start and tow guy could not get it to start. Under warranty and it started right up when they got it. No diagnosis possible. So every trip had her stop by the shop, and see if it would restart, at the shop it did not, they pulled it in, failing fuel pump. Not saying it is your problem, if you can get a shop to work with you see if you can stop by and get a diagnosis while in failure mode. No codes!

Thank you to everyone that has posted so far.

Seems Idle Air Control valve, as suggested by Tester, is pretty easy to check so parts/labor seems pretty inexpensive and worth having my mechanic check out. Any other attempt at solving the issue would probably be more expensive, other than injector cleaner

My experience is injector problems can cas issues, but not the ones you listed. Try some seafome or techron first if you want to chase that cat.

If you are going to a mechanic, they can hook the computer up to it and take a look at the reading the engine temp sensor is giving off to see if it matches.

Another possibility is a failing ignition switch. The electrical contacts degrade to high current and that can cause no-starts, erratic running, or stalling at any time.

These cars are under a Recall for this problem and there is also a second Recall related to the ignition switch interlock.
Contact any Honda dealer with the VIN and they can tell you quickly if that Recall has ever been performed or not. If it has not this Recall will be performed free of charge to you.

There are a number of Recalls on these cars so ask that any outstanding ones be done at the same time.
It’s free so take advantage of it.

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Definitely a possibility. The injectors aren’t supposed to leak gasoline into the engine when the engine is turned off. If they do the engine will sputter at first when it is restarted b/c of too much gas, and that problem will be much worse when the engine is still warm. Next time it occurs, hold th gas pedal all the way to the floor and crank the engine. Does that help?