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Hesitation in a 1998 Honda Accord

I’ve had a couple different mechanics look at this problem, and neither have fixed it, so I figured I’d give this board a shot.

Car is a 1998 Honda Accord (4 cyl.) with ~180K miles, 5-speed manual transmission.

The problem is isolated to a relatively short period of time before the engine warms up - it goes away pretty quickly, lets say 1 mile max of driving.

When I first start driving with the car cold, I experience a major hesitation. Press on the accelerator, get a second or two of acceleration, then no matter how far you press the gas pedal you get nothing except this lurching (assuming you keep it in gear). I can overcome it until the car warms up by lightly pressing the gas pedal and “feathering” my way through the gears, working the clutch as necessary. But at any point in that process before the car is warmed up, I get the same effect pressing down on the pedal regardless of what gear I’m in.

There is no indication of a problem in the computer (no check engine light, and when the mechanics checked for codes there was nothing).

The first mechanic I brought it to didn’t find much, cleaned the throttle body, and the problem went away for a short period of time (a week maybe?). The second guy flushed the fuel system which did no good whatsoever.

One last thing that I’ve noticed (not sure if it is related) is that if I just let the car idle when cold it will run for a little bit, then almost kill itself on low idle before sputtering its way through, (might happen a couple of times), then it will be fine (arguably after the engine has warmed up).

So anyone have suggestions on what the problem might be? I’m considering giving the car to a friend whose kid is going to college, but it is a bit dangerous if you aren’t used to how the car behaves. Pulling into traffic, for example, after the car has been sitting a while, can be a difficult experience.

Thanks in advance!

It really seems related by symptom and temporary solution to a choke problem. If you plan on attempting a repair yourself let us know, otherwise leave it with a good mechanic overnight so they can diagnose the problem in the am.

You included some useful info (e.g. no check engine light or codes found) but really said very little otherwise. Minor problems like this are often from simple little maintenance things - air/fuel filters, spark plugs & wires. If those things are even close to being due they should just be done.

Other things that would never hurt and don’t cost much

  • check the fuel pressure
  • pull and clean the idle air control valve (IAC). Also check its wiring. (Based on your description I would not be surprised to find a problem there - probably a sticking open kind of problem allowing too much air).
  • clean the MAF sensor
  • check for vacuum leaks, though based on your description if there is one it would be small and thus hard to find.

Thanks for the response. Really wouldn’t mind attempting a repair myself, and am hesitant to bring it back to another mechanic. Both mechanics I brought it to had it over night, the first guy had it for several days. I’m not much of a mechanic myself, but this might not be the worst car in the world to learn on. If I were going to attempt repair myself, any suggestions?