June 7, 2009
My Honda Accord LX 2004 sputtered and stalled every time I came to a light or stop sign. I brought it to a local chain repair co. They charged me $105 for the computer diagnostic check and said it was either the fuel injector/lines and/or fuel pump.
The car is still in the shop today. What costs should I realistically expect and approve for these repairs? Am I being treated fairly? It seems expensive.
Finally, is there a web site that lists fair-market repair costs to expect for future repairs on this car?
June 7, 2009
We don’t know this car’s background regarding its maintenance, but I can tell you that unless its maintenance is totally up to date according to “the book”, then accurate diagnosis is just a hit or miss proposition, and can result in just “throwing parts” at the problem randomly until something finally works.
Unfortunately, taking a car to a chain repair operation is unlikely to provide a satisfactory solution. Generally speaking, the mechanics working there are not the best ones, and if they follow the usual business model of chain auto repair places, the mechanics receive commissions based on the number of parts that they manage to sell. Thus, you tend to wind up with inexpert work with higher costs.
While this is difficult to diagnose from afar, I am going to speculate that the Idle Air Control (IAC) may be defective, or that the Mass Air Flow Sensor (MAF) may be dirty. The latter situation can be maintenance-related, as a dirty air filter can lead to problems with the MAF.
Please give us the maintenance history of this car, and try to avoid vague descriptions such as “the car has been well-maintained”.
It could be worn out spark plugs. Were they ever changed?
The fuel pressure is one of the first things to check. If your 2004 Honda Accord had an external fuel filter, I would say to change that. Unfortunately, the fuel filter seems to be in the gas tank. So, that’s out.
Possible repair actions are: Inspect/replace spark plugs, air filter; Clean the MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor, the IAC (idle air control) valve, and the throttle plate and bore. If there is still a problem, perform a fuel injector cleaning.
Moving away from the fuel/air system, there is the electric/electronic systems, that bring you spark and electric power.
They did try to replace the spark plugs but this made no difference. Thanks for the advice. I feel helpless since they can charge me anything they wish and I have no choice but to nod my head and pay up.
Tell the shop you are coming to pick up the car. It is running so you can drive it home. Then decide who you trust to repair your car? Honda dealers are more expensive but they usually can be trusted to fix the car.
A better option would be to find out from other Honda owner’s where they take their car? Even the yellow pages can lead you to a new mechanic. This web site has lists of mechanics. Honda’s are very common now and most good mechanics can fix them. The suggestions by earlier posters make sense. 1st step is to replace all filters and maintenance items. Since Honda says the spark plugs last 100K miles (that way on my '03 Civic) the plugs were not the problem.
Don’t feel helpless, take possession of your car and do some homework and start over with a mechanic you have some faith in.
“they can charge me anything they wish and I have no choice but to nod my head and pay up.”
I think you have verified why I don’t trust chain auto repair shops. They rely on a naive customer base that will go along with them randomly throwing parts at a problem until–hopefully–something finally works. You need a competent mechanic, and they are rarely found at chain operations.
You forgot to tell us whether it’s a 4 or the V6, and what transmission. And how many miles you have on it.